More than 4.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with chronic liver disease, and the condition is associated with over 44,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. It’s not just a genetic predisposition to liver health issues or bad luck that causes this chronic ailment, however—in many cases, what you eat and drink could be causing liver damage over time. If you want to keep this vital organ healthy and avoid serious illness, read on to discover which of your eating habits could be contributing to liver damage, according to experts.
1. Eating sugary foods
If dessert’s part of your daily routine, you may find your liver health flagging over time. Among the biggest risk factors for Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is a “high intake of simple sugars,” says IdealFit partner dietitian nutritionist Andrea Grange, RD. “Simple carbohydrates, especially fructose, have been linked to NAFLD,” she explains.
2. Drinking soda
Drinking soda isn’t just bad for your waistline—it can cause serious damage to your liver, too.
“Soft drinks and sodas often contain high levels of the sweetener high fructose corn syrup. Unlike glucose which can be used for energy, fructose has to first be processed by the liver before it can be used by the body,” explains Kylie Ivanir, MS, RD, founder of Within Nutrition.
“When excess fructose reaches the liver, it is used to create fat. Over time, this can result in too much fat being stored in the liver cells, which can result in liver inflammation and damage,” Ivanir explains.
3. Eating a high-fat diet
That high-fat meal plan you’ve been adhering to may help you shed a few pounds, but that weight loss may be coming at the expense of your liver health.
“Low-carb, high-fat diets can be damaging to the liver, among other organs required to filter and process nutrients,” says Trista Best, MS, RD, a registered dietitian at Balance One Supplements.
“High-fat diets can create a type of overload where excess fat may be deposited into the liver rather than filtered out.” Over time, Best says, this may lead to the development of NAFLD.
4. Cooking with vegetable oil
Vegetable oil may sound healthy, but it can be a major contributor to poor liver health over time.
“Refined vegetable oils high in omega-6 fatty acids and cooking with fats beyond the smoking point” can cause chronic inflammation that potentially leads to NAFLD, says Tina Marinaccio, MS, RD, CPT, an integrative culinary registered dietitian nutritionist with Health Dynamics LLC.
5. Drinking alcohol
Drinking alcohol can cause serious liver health issues over time—and it doesn’t take much to cause damage.
“Excess alcohol over time leads to excessive liver inflammation, which can lead to permanent scarring,” says Taylor Graber, MD, owner of ASAP IVs.
“As this scarring becomes worse, liver function becomes impaired as the condition approaches cirrhosis and ultimately liver failure.”
However, the threshold for “excess” consumption may be lower than you expect. “Drinking more than 1-2 alcoholic beverages per day will lead to accumulation of a toxic by-product called acetaldehyde. This is very damaging to your liver cells and over time can lead to cirrhosis,” says Sanjiv Lakhia, DO, a physician with Lakhia Integrative Health.
Article by Sarah Crow. Photo credit: EatThis,NotThat.com
Filling up on fiber may save your heart: The more total, insoluble, and fruit and vegetable fiber that you consume, the lower your risk of both coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disease, a new UK study reports.
So which foods are best to eat? Check out this list to see which foods are full of fiber.
Get a complete breakfast of nutritious fruits, protein and whole grains in this Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Smoothie. It’s simple to pull together in the mornings for a delicious breakfast smoothie you can drink on the go.
I don’t like my oatmeal overly sweet, and I don’t want my smoothies to be that way, either. So I rarely add a sweetener (unless it’s a bit of honey) because I like my fruits as they are, thank you very much. The banana sweetens this up nicely, and the yogurt helps, too.
And if you forgot to freeze your blueberries and bananas the night before, don’t worry. Just add a half a cup or cup of ice to the mix and toss in a few more blueberries to boost the flavor after it gets “watered down” from the ice.
Kids love this recipe, too, so if your kiddo isn’t keen on oatmeal, it’s a great way to sneak some in!
Blueberry Banana Oatmeal Smoothie
What a great start to the morning! This blueberry banana oatmeal smoothie is packed with lots of fruit and healthy whole grains to fill you up without tons of calories. It’s a terrific meal on the go! Course Breakfast Prep Time 5 minutes Total Time 5 minutes Servings 1 smoothie Author Donella Crigger
1 c. frozen blueberries
1 frozen banana
1 5.3 oz cup vanilla Greek yogurt
1/2 c. coconut milk or any other milk you like
1/3 c. whole grain oats
Add milk, yogurt, fruit and oatmeal to blender.
Blend and pulse for 1-2 minutes, until smooth and creamy.
Pour, garnish with oatmeal and blueberries, and enjoy!
If your blender is small or low-powered, add the oatmeal first, grind it up, and then add the remaining ingredients to blend.
Add 1 cup of ice if using fruit that is not frozen.
Changing your lifestyle for the better isn’t easy. Luckily, there are many ways to make your weight loss journey less stressful. From focusing on portion sizes to making your fridge a “healthy snack” zone, here are some foolproof tips for shedding pounds.
A new study from Harvard indicates that “higher intakes of fruit and vegetables were associated with lower mortality”—so have your 5 a day to live longer. But how can you look younger doing so? Rather than chase the Fountain of Youth, simply avoid the Pitfalls of Aging. “You can’t change what you were dealt with genetically but you can take control of other factors which will help to stay looking younger,” says Dr. Eugene D. Elliott of MemorialCare.
1. The Sun Can Cause “Photoaging” and Make You Look Older
A tan makes you look young and cool—but it can have disastrous effects that can lead to wrinkles—or worse. “The sun’s rays can take a toll on your skin. In the short-term, that can mean contending with a scorching sunburn,” reports Yale Medicine. “But, there can also be long-term consequences lurking within the skin, even if you don’t experience a burn. The sun prematurely ages the skin. Called photoaging, this can lead to skin cancer. Signs of this photo aging are:
Pigmentation changes such as age spots, liver spots (solar lentigines) and freckles
Loss of skin tone (decreased elasticity)
Rough, uneven skin texture
Broken capillaries (spider veins), usually around the nose and chest
Redness and blotchiness”
“My favorite sunblocks are mechanical, contain zinc and/ or titanium dioxide, and block the UVA damaging rays very effectively with frequent application,” says Dr. Elliott.
2. Soda Can Make You Look Older
It’s true—drinking sugary soda can age your cells. “Sugar-sweetened soda consumption might promote disease independently from its role in obesity, according to UC San Francisco researchers who found in a new study that drinking sugary drinks was associated with cell aging,” says one notable study, as reported in Science Daily. “Regular consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas might influence metabolic disease development through accelerated cell aging,” wrote the authors of the study in their conclusion. “The extremely high dose of sugar that we can put into our body within seconds by drinking sugared beverages is uniquely toxic to metabolism.” Same goes for sugary foods.
3. Lack of Exercise Can Make You Look Older
“Imagine a 90-year-old,” writes the Wellspring School of Allied Health. “They’re almost always slumped over, right? Well, a lot of that comes from limited flexibility and spinal support in younger years. Low flexibility in your 20’s and 30’s could cause some problems later on, the main ones being joint or muscle pain, and an overall hunched-over look. There are certain types of exercises that can help you loosen your muscles and joints, like yoga or pilates. But you can also increase your flexibility even if you are only into cardio or weightlifting. Just make sure that you are going to start and end with warm-up exercises, and focus on stretching both before and after exercising every single time.”
4. Disrupted Sleep Can Age You
Those with sleep apnea may actually age faster than the rest of us; if you have it, see a doctor. “Increasing sleep disordered breathing (SDB) severity and sleep disruption was associated with epigenetic age acceleration, independent of measured confounders. These associations were stronger in women than in men, suggesting that women may be particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of SDB. Future work should study whether treatment reduces epigenetic age acceleration among those individuals with SBD,” according to one recent study. “A good night’s sleep can do wonders for your youthful appearance and since your face relaxes while you sleep that can also help soften fine lines on the face,” says Andrea Paul, MD. It is recommended that you get eight hours of sleep per night.
5. Stress Can Make You Look Older
Don’t stress out too much over this, but stress ages you. “The telomeres are the ends of the chromosomes—the structures inside each cell that contain the genes,” reports Harvard Health. “Over time, the telomeres get shorter. When they get short enough, the cell dies. Chronic stress leads to shorter telomeres. And people with shorter telomeres are at greater risk for several major diseases, including heart disease and some forms of cancer. This is one more reason to reduce the amount of chronic stress in our lives. It’s really not good for us.”
6. Smoking Can Make You Look Older
A landmark study eight years ago proved cigarettes can age you. “In what is perhaps the best detail of the study, researchers used the annual Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio (the ‘Largest Annual Gathering of Twins in the World!‘) to round up the 79 identical pairs they include in the report. A panel of three plastic surgery residents compared the faces of the twins, one of which had been smoking for at least five years longer than the other,” reported the Today Show at the time. “They identified a few major areas of accelerated aging in the faces of the smoking twins: The smokers’ upper eyelids drooped while the lower lids sagged, and they had more wrinkles around the mouth. The smokers were also more likely to have jowls, according to the study, which was published in the journal Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery.”
7. Not Doing This Can Make You Look Older
“I think the single most important thing you can do to look younger is smile. It decreases the number of wrinkles that appear over time on your face,” says Dr. Leann Poston. “Smiling makes you happier and gives you more energy. A positive attitude encourages better eating habits and more exercise!”
We worry about our hearts stopping. We fret that we’re losing our marbles. Our stomachs send us so many daily signals that we can never forget it’s there, pressing against our belt buckle. But the liver? Whoever thinks about that 3-pound, reddish-brown blob that sits on top of the stomach, just under the diaphragm?
Your liver deserves better. It’s a life-giver and our natural detoxer. Without it, you’d be a goner. This unsung hero is one of your body’s workhorse organs, multitasking no fewer than 500 important functions.
“Your liver is a ‘detox center’ of your body—removing toxins and other harmful substances,” says Waqas Mahmood, MD, a physician at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
The liver also produces bile, which helps with digestion. It metabolizes proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, it stores vitamins and minerals, and is responsible for immunological functions, too, among others.
But let’s focus on its filtering function, clearing your blood of the drugs you take and the poisons you ingest. You’re probably aware that one of the most common of those poisons is alcohol and that heavy drinkers are at increased risk for cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. Studies show that repeated binge drinking can lead to severe forms of liver damage.
“Any beverage containing alcohol will adversely affect the liver by causing inflammation, fat accumulation, and potentially fibrosis (scar tissue) formation,” says biochemist Barry Sears, PhD, president of the Inflammation Research Foundation, and author of the Zone Diet series.
Women have a significantly higher risk of developing alcoholic liver disease than do men, according to the Mayo Clinic. One British study that followed women found that healthy women who reported drinking alcohol daily—but not with meals—were more than twice as likely to develop cirrhosis compared to those who did not drink daily.
“Sugar, especially fructose, is converted into fats in your liver,” says Dr. Mahmood. “Part of that fat is converted into triglycerides and gets into the bloodstream while the rest remains in your liver. If this situation continues over time, it can cause non-alcoholic fatty acid liver disease.”
By now, you may be thinking more about your liver than you ever have before. So, here are some popular drinks you might consider limiting in deference to that unsung hero under your ribcage.
This orange-flavored citrus punch boasts 5% real fruit juice. The rest of the drink is water and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), labeled as the first and second ingredient on the nutrition label. HFCS is a lot cheaper (and sweeter) than sugar, so food manufacturers love it. But your liver is not a lover of HFCS.
While several observational studies have linked HFCS to fatty liver disease, scientists were unsure just how fructose might cause NAFLD. Recently, National Institutes of Health scientists explored fructose’s role by giving groups of mice either a high-fructose diet or a control diet of glucose, the sugar that cells use for energy, for several months. The researchers found that the mice fed high fructose had inflamed livers. Experiments showed that HFCS caused intestinal damage that leaked toxins into the bloodstream of the mice that prompted the production of immune system proteins. Those proteins boosted levels of enzymes that convert fructose into fatty deposits on the liver.
“When your liver is inflamed, it does not work properly,” says nutritionist Jay Cowin, RD, with ASYSTEM and founder of FunctionalU Health Consultants. “If your body can’t eliminate toxins they go back into your bloodstream and the effects can be deadly.”
2. Coke, Pepsi, and other Sugary Sodas
Can drinking a lot of soda every day lead to weight gain? Sure. Is being overweight associated with fatty liver disease? Yes. No wonder your dietary habits are a prime driver of developing metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. All are related to the Western diet pattern of increased consumption of simple sugars like glucose and high fructose corn syrup. And it’s showing up most dramatically in kids. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common liver disorder in children and has doubled over the past 20 years, according to the American Liver Foundation. Researchers have hypothesized that fructose and high fructose corn syrup may predispose someone to fatty liver infiltration by creating an adverse metabolic profile.
Fructose is not the only risk factor for liver disease, according to researchers reporting in The Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology in 2008. The study followed people who drank regular Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, and sweetened fruit beverages. It and added to the growing body of research connecting sugar-sweetened beverages with fatty liver disease, but this study noticed something different: 40% of the people in the study drank Diet Coke sweetened with aspartame, not sugar or HFCS. The researchers note that aspartame is metabolized by the liver to form chemicals, including methanol, which disrupt mitochondria and may contribute to the accumulation of fat.
The sugar content of milkshakes and hot chocolates alone should put those drinks in your crosshairs, but nutritionist Andrea Ovard, RD, a sports dietetics specialist with IdealFit, points out another correlation to fatty liver.
“Too much sugar processed in the liver is usually associated with excess calorie intake,” says Ovard.
Is a chocolate shake your go-to order with your McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries? Even before you get to count the fat and calories in the burger and French fries, a medium chocolate shake saddles you with 81 grams of sugars and 16 grams of fat (18 grams saturated) in its 620 calories. Knock that out for your liver’s sake by ordering an unsweetened iced tea instead.
Smoothie King calls this a “strength and recovery” shake on its website alongside a photo of a dude doing a pullup. Make a regular habit of “The Hulk” and you may not be able to do a pullup. “The Hulk” delivers a gut punch to your liver with an enormous amount of added sugars, 183 grams, or the equivalent of eating 26 Tate’s Chocolate Chip Cookies. We’re talking the large 40-ounce version, but why would you order anything smaller of The Hulk? What’s more, you get 1,770 calories in that “recovery” smoothie and 32 grams of saturated fat or four and a half Burger King Bacon Cheeseburgers’ worth.
6. Beer, Wine, and Liquor
Even moderate drinking may end up negatively affecting your liver because alcohol increases levels of triglycerides, a type of blood fat. Beer, wine and cocktails are high in calories and, in your body, any calories that you don’t use immediately for energy are converted to triglycerides. The accumulation of triglycerides in your liver that don’t get used can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
A Korean study followed nearly 60,000 young and middle-age adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease for 8 years and identified those whose disease had progressed. It turned out that those who were moderate drinkers were 29% more likely to have worse fibrosis or scarring on the liver.
Another study in JAMA analyzed cases of alcohol-related liver disease from 2001 to 2018 and found that severe cases were on the rise, primarily in younger adults. The increasing deaths from alcoholic cirrhosis were driven largely by binge drinking among people aged 25 to 34 years, the researchers found.
Binge drinking for men is defined as consuming five or more drinks within two hours and, for women, four drinks within two hours. The American Liver Foundation defines heavy drinking as six drinks a day and says that almost anyone who has more than that will almost certainly have alcoholic fatty liver disease, and up to 20% of them will have cirrhosis.
“We are told that alcohol is good for the heart and therefore good for our health,” says Dr. Sears. “This is great news for the alcoholic beverage industry, but not so true for the rest of us. Alcohol is a toxic substance.”
When you think of your favorite fruit, what comes to mind? Bananas and apples tend to be the most consumed fruits in the U.S. year after year, but where do kiwis stand? Recent research suggests that these fuzzy fruits may pack a host of health benefits, one of which is pivotal for recovering from (intense) exercise.
According to a study published in the journal Nutrients earlier this year, elite runners who ate two kiwis a day for one month reduced oxidative damage from intense physical training. Athletes who routinely train at a high intensity tend to take in a large amount of oxygen when they work out, Matthew Kadey, MS, RD, explains in a Runner’s World article. While oxygen is essential for muscular contraction, inhaling too much of the stuff can also increase the number of free radicals in your body. In turn, oxidative stress occurs, which is described as an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body.
What is oxidative stress?
Over time, oxidative stress can damage DNA, as well as essential fatty tissue and proteins in your body. As a result, several health issues can arise, including hypertension, diabetes, atherosclerosis, and even Alzheimer’s disease. Aside from intensive training, oxidative stress can be caused by ingesting pesticides on conventional fruits and vegetables, pollutants in the air, and even consuming a diet that’s high in sugar, fat, and alcohol.
With so many potential factors contributing to increased free radicals, it’s key to eat antioxidant-rich foods to help restore balance. And we’re here to tell you a kiwi may be the underdog fruit that you never thought of eating to boost your antioxidant levels.
For the study, researchers in Japan recruited 30 middle- and long-distance male runners of college age who were regularly exposed to oxidative stress induced by training. Half of the participants were instructed to eat two kiwis a day for two months with no other changes in their diet, and the other half didn’t consume any kiwis at all. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that those who ate the fruit twice a day reduced the damaging impacts of oxidative stress-induced training on their bodies by increasing their antioxidant levels.
Previous research has indicated kiwis contain antioxidant properties that could combat oxidative DNA damage. One study even suggests that the antioxidant and vitamin C present in kiwis can help treat asthma.
At the least, we hope this research gives encourages you to diversify the fruits you eat each week. Even if you’re not an athlete, kiwis may still help you ward off oxidative stress caused by other environmental and diet-related factors. Consider giving this Kiwi, Cucumber, and Mango Salsa a whirl.
Article by Cheyenne Buckingham for EatThis,NotThat
Eating healthy and working out isn’t just meant for losing weight. In fact, these are important aspects of keeping your body healthy and happy for a longer life, and who wouldn’t want to add a few years onto their life? While a generic nutritious diet and workout regime will help with adding those years, there are a few foods you can focus on that will actually help boost your chances of living a longer life. One of the most popular—and one of the sweetest—foods you can eat include berries! Blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries are full of antioxidants that have anti-aging properties that have been scientifically proven to give you a few more years.
First, let’s look at why antioxidants are important. According to a study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Antioxidants help to protect your cells against free radicals, which is where the development of chronic diseases can develop such as cancer or heart disease. Typically these free radicals cause oxidative stress in your body, which can damage those important cells and cause some of these diseases, as well as Alzheimer’s, asthma, hypertension, arthritis, and more. Including antioxidant-rich foods in your diet is an important way to continue to neutralize those free radicals and lower your risk. Fruits and vegetables are certainly on the list, as well as other dark chocolate, mushrooms, and walnuts.
So does this mean any of these antioxidant-rich foods can lead to a longer life? They certainly do help! However, in a study published by the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, berries and pomegranates were specifically chosen over 25 antioxidant-rich foods as one of the best sources of antioxidant intake for your body. Berries are an easy source of antioxidants to get into your meal plan, especially because they are tasty toppings in some of your favorite breakfast foods—like oatmeal, yogurt, or smoothies.
Is there one type of berry that’s considered the best?
If you had to compare the antioxidant levels of berries, you would be shocked to know that blueberries would be considered the best berry to eat in terms of antioxidant levels and longevity. A study published by the Journal of Nutrition showed how blueberries were able to lower “bad” LDL cholesterol levels for obese people by 27% in an 8-week span! This is due to the polyphenols in blueberries which are particularly helpful for cardiovascular health. These polyphenols have also been proven in the journal Nutrients to limit the effects of the aging of your cells.
Regardless of the type of berries you love to eat, berries include a high amount of fiber compared to other fruits and they are a great source of vitamin C for your day. Eating a cup of mixed berries is a great way to ensure your body is getting the vitamins and nutrients it needs to live a longer life.
These fruit infused water recipes will show you how to make fruit flavored water at home. Therefore, solving the problem of how to drink more water when you don’t like it. Then, you can stay hydrated all day while saving money and improving your health.
I know I should be drinking more water. Even during the summer, I have a hard time drinking plain water. I don’t know why. Unless I’ve just worked out or been outside in the heat, water is not normally the first drink I choose. I like juice, Gatorade, and fizzy juice drinks, but I know I shouldn’t drink those all of the time. I wanted to know how to drink more water when you don’t like the taste of plain water. To help solve this problem, I’ve been making fruit infused water at home to help me drink more water every day.
HOW TO DRINK MORE WATER EVERY DAY
I know of many people that don’t like the taste of plain water. So, they want to find easy ways to drink more water ever day. Because of this, I’ve been experimenting with different fruits and herbs. I have been having fun making fruit infused water recipes at home. If you want to try making your own fruit infused water, then start with different combinations of fruit for your flavored water (bananas don’t work so well). In addition, you can add a variety of spices and herbs.
HOW TO MAKE FRUIT FLAVORED WATER AT HOME
First, to make your fruit infused water recipes, you’ll need some jars. I bought a bunch of Mason jars online that I use to make my fruity water. On Amazon, there’s a deal on this 9 pack of Ball Wide-Mouth Mason Jars with Lids and Bands.
WHAT FRUITS AND VEGETABLES ARE GOOD TO PUT IN WATER?
Start experimenting with your favorite fruits and veggies. Yes, vegetables make good infused water too. Some of the best fruits and vegetables for making infused water are lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruit, strawberries, raspberries, cucumbers, and carrots.
PREPARING FRUITS AND VEGETABLES FOR FLAVORED WATER RECIPES
Before you use the fruits and vegetables, be sure they are thoroughly cleaned. Wash your fruits and veggies before cutting them because cut foods can lose more vitamins and minerals during soaking and cleaning.
HOW TO ADD FRUITS AND VEGETABLES TO WATER
To make your infused water, you will want some type of containers for brewing and storage. I like to make and store my flavored water in Mason jars. Although, there are also infuser water bottles and infuser water pitchers that make the process a little easier.
INFUSER WATER BOTTLES AND INFUSER WATER PITCHERS
In these infuser water bottles and infuser pitchers, there are compartments to keep the fruit separate from the water. Because of this, it is easier to remove the fruit and fruit particles after use. Now, they even make fruit infuser sport water bottles you can take with you along to workouts.
HOW LONG SHOULD INFUSED WATER SIT?
Infuse your water anywhere from 2 hours to overnight. After your water has been infused, removed the fruits and vegetables. Then, store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator for 3-7 days.
For best results, drink your infused water within about a day or two.
If you would like some examples of fruit infused water, then here are a few of my fruit and vegetable combinations.
Strawberries and Lime infused water.
Watermelon, Cucumber, and Lime infused water.
Cherries, Strawberries, and Lemons infused water.
MORE FRUITY WATER RECIPES
For more, check out these recipes for fruit infused water.
DIY Fruit Infused Water Recipes For Weight Loss on Femnique