Liver and diet (I)

27 October, 2019

A proper nutrition is important to maintain a healthy liver.

The liver is the largest organ in the body, weighing about 1800 gr in men and 1400 gr in women. It performs more than 500 vital functions such as storing various substances (glucose, iron, vitamins…), producing bile, cholesterol and other proteins, regulating coagulation or neutralizing and eliminating toxic substances (alcohol, nicotine, drugs …). Due to the primary role that this organ plays in our lives, it is important to have a healthy diet, both in case of suffering from liver disease and to prevent its appearance. Regarding the most suitable drinks and foods for the liver, many doubts are generated, some of which are comment below.



More than 90% of the alcohol we drink is metabolized (eliminated) by the liver but in this process acetaldehyde is produced, which is a molecule that activates inflammatory responses that damage liver cells. Therefore, people who suffer from any type of liver disease should not drink alcohol so as not to aggravate the damage they already suffer. In healthy people, although it is preferable that they do not drink anything, alcohol consumption should be moderate, for example: 2 glasses of red wine or beer a day in men and 1 glass in women and over 65 years.



It has been shown that drinking at least 3 cups of coffee a day decreases the risk of liver damage in healthy people. Also, in people with liver disease, daily coffee consumption reduces fibrosis and transaminase levels. Drinking decaffeinated coffee also produces these effects, so it is thought that the benefits observed are not due to caffeine but to the antioxidant effects of coffee. This is why coffee cannot be substituted for caffeinated or energetic drinks, and these drinks can also be harmful because they contribute to the accumulation of fat in the liver.



There are fewer studies in this regard and the results are contradictory, probably because there are several types of tea (white, black, green, red, mixtures, etc.) and many reports do not differentiate between them. Green tea (the most consumed in Western countries) does seem to have the same beneficial effects as coffee (anti-inflammatory and anti-fibrotic) when taken 3-4 cups a day due to the antioxidant effect of the catechins it contains. On the contrary, it is not advisable to take green tea extracts (nutritional supplements) because cases of liver poisoning have been reported, probably due to the high concentration of catechins and other substances that carry these preparations

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