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Alcohol & Your Liver
A lot of clients I meet are worried about their liver - and rightly so.
I notice, though, that a lot of people have misconceptions about how their drinking damages their liver, and this section is a brief overview to clarify things. For more detailed information about alcohol and liver disease go to the British Liver Trust website.
Alcohol and Liver Damage
Drinking puts a heavy strain on your liver, which has to break down and eliminate it. So the more you drink, the more at risk you are of liver disease.
Unless you have very severe liver disease, you won't feel your liver hurting. A lot of people think they can feel it, but the chances are that you've either got a pain somewhere else or you're imagining it.
In fact the thing that should worry you is that liver disease is called 'the silent killer' because it often develops without any pain, or any other other obvious symptoms.
Liver Function Tests
It's well worth having a liver function test - or LFT - which measures a number of different enzymes produced by your liver in the blood. The amount of these enzymes present indicates how hard your liver's having to work, rather than the amount of damage it has sustained. It's a bit like having an emissions test on your car exhaust.
The enzyme most sensitive to alcohol consumption is GGT (Gamma-glutamyltransferase). Normal values are 15-85 (IU/l) for men, 5-55 for women.
The best way of actually finding out the damage to your liver is by biopsy - actually looking at a bit of your liver in the laboratory.
How to look after your liver
Can my liver repair itself?
Yes, up to a point, but that's not a good reason to carry on drinking.
What can I take that's good for my liver?
There isn't really anything that's good for your liver, just things like alcohol and other toxins that are bad for your liver. Don't take supplements that are supposedly 'good for your liver', you're being ripped off.
The best way to be good to your liver is to:
- Not drink alcohol
- Eat properly