Saturday, 28 January 2017

Are You Drinking Alcohol? - Lets Check How Much Damage You Are Making Of Your Liver

liver disease

Liver disease doesn’t usually cause any obvious symptoms until it is fairly advanced.

While liver disease can be caused by conditions such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and hepatitis, it can also be damaged by years of alcohol misuse - alcohol-related liver disease.

Symptoms of the condition feel sick, weight loss, loss of appetite, yellowing of the eyes and skin, swelling in the ankles and tummy, confusion or drowsiness, vomiting blood or passing blood in stools.

Dr Luke James, Bupa UK’s Clinical Director has given advice on how to maintain a healthy liver and avoid the incurable condition.

He said many people take up dry January - a month of no alcohol - to make up for the excesses of the festive period.

“However, while there are certainly benefits like improved sleep, weight loss and better skin – 31 days isn’t long enough to make a lasting difference to our health.

“This is particularly true for the liver, the part of our bodies which plays a key role in helping us breakdown alcohol.

"Maintaining the health of our livers requires a long-term approach, rather than short, sharp shocks in the form of an annual Dry January,” Dr James warned.

A vital organ, the liver detoxifies harmful substances – but processing alcohol often damages liver cells leading to inflammation and scarring.

Cutting out alcohol can reduce the risk of liver disease, but this needs to take place over a sustained length of time.

“In my role as a GP, I often suggest to my patients who've taken the Dry January route, to think carefully before resuming ‘drinking as usual’ on February 1.”

The doctor has given his top tips to maintain a healthy liver.

He said: “Ease yourself back in and don’t immediately go back to drinking the same amount. After a month’s break, don’t underestimate how much your tolerance will have decreased – you will feel the effects more quickly than usual.

“Be aware of alcohol content. The UK Chief Medical Officer’s advice is that it is safest not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis - equal to six medium glasses of wine - but most people don’t actually know how much this is.”

Dr James said that after a month off, people should be much more aware of their drinking and should be able to ‘self-regulate’ consumption.

He said: “Try alternatives to alcohol like non or low-alcohol beer or mocktails. You will still feel involved with social events – but without the hangover.

“Introduce something new each month to give yourself challenges to focus on; this could be a cooking course of a fitness challenge. By drinking less, you will have sharper focus and more money to spend on doing the things you enjoy.”

Dr James said people should:

  • Aim to have a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle to maintain the overall health of your liver and to also avoid non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
  • Aim for a BMI of 18.5-24.9 and to eat a balanced diet high in fruits, vegetables, protein and carbohydrates, and low in fat, sugar and salt.
  • Aim to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity, such as walking or cycling, a week.

He added: “There’s unfortunately no hard and fast rule that works for everyone, but the trick is to try and keep your alcohol intake as low as possible for as long as possible to really make a significant impact on your health and wellbeing.”

Find out more about Bupa’s health assessments and arranging a liver function test at



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