How Does a Vegetarian Diet Lower Your Risk For Liver Disease?
Vegetarian diets come with many health benefits, including preventing heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. However, did you know that the plant-based approach also lowers your risk for liver disease? There are roughly 3.9 million adults suffering from some form of liver disease in the United States. Let a meat-free approach to eating help you reduce your chances of being one of them.
What is Liver Disease?
Liver disease is the term used to describe a range of conditions that affect the liver. Liver disease is caused by viruses, lifestyle choices (like heavy drinking and poor diet), autoimmune disorders, and chemical exposure. The most common types of liver disease include hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer.
Some types of liver disease, like fatty liver disease, do not have any obvious symptoms. This means they are not addressed until health screening services use point of care diagnostic testing to find them. Many types of liver disease are life-threatening, making early detection and prevention key for survival.
Why Does a Vegetarian Diet Help?
While healthy eating cannot prevent all types of liver disease, research suggests a diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy oils can prevent and treat conditions that affect the liver. The liver has many functions, including toxin removal from the blood, nutrient breakdown, and cholesterol production. However, our liver can only do these jobs if it is functioning well. The less stress our diet puts on our liver, the easier it is for it to achieve this. A vegetarian diet, which includes all the food groups listed above, is the stress-free diet we need.
One of the worst things we put our liver through is our modern meat-based obsession. Animal products are high in protein, and while our bodies need it, the average diet gives us more than what we need. It takes a lot for our liver to break down protein. Having too much means our liver is working too hard during the digestion process. A vegetarian approach, which has very few to no animal products, results in less demand on the liver.
Foods that are high in saturated fat (butter, cheese, red and processed meat), take a toll on the health of our liver too. When our liver breaks down fat, it sends it to various fat tissues throughout our body via the blood. However, when we have too much “bad” fat in our diet, the fat ends up staying in the liver, causing complications like fatty liver disease. Plant-based diets are very low in saturated fat, reducing the chances of adverse effects on the liver.
Should You Make Changes?
Patients already affected by liver disease are often encouraged to stick to vegetarian diets to give their liver a much-needed break. Foods too high in protein, saturated fat, cholesterol, and sugar, which are stressful to the liver, are often reduced or eliminated to help patients recover. A vegetarian diet, which is made up of plant-based options, prevents the consumption of those very foods that make our liver work too hard.
Your doctor can evaluate your lifestyle choices and rely on poct laboratory testing to tell you if you are at risk for liver disease. Obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, alcoholism, drug use, and genetics are all factors when it comes to conditions that affect the liver. Dietary choices influence most of the factors under our control, and they are the easiest to change.
Do you know anything about the health of your liver? Health and wellness services can get you the poc tests and dietary education you need today. While a vegetarian diet may seem like a big commitment, there are many forms of vegetarianism you can try to fit into your lifestyle. Remember, the less stress you give your liver, the less stress it will give you.