Drinking Habits Causing Chaos on Your Liver, Say Dietitians
Your liver is a powerhouse of an organ, and it does more for your body than most people realize. In fact, the most talked-about functions associated with your liver are filtering, detoxifying, and absorbing, but there are actually over 500 other known functions. Your liver truly is a vital organ that deserves a lot of care and attention, and one of the ways you can care for your liver health is through your diet.
Things like eating healthy fats, limiting your consumption of added sugar, and limiting your exposure to environmental toxins can all help improve and maintain your liver health.
When it comes to drinking, the beverages you choose also have a significant impact on your liver. In order to learn more about this, we talked with a couple of expert dietitians to get their take. Here's what they have to say about the drinking habits potentially wreaking havoc on your liver health. And for more healthy eating tips, check out Diet Habits That are Terrible for Your Liver.
People often only think of alcohol when they think of drinks that can cause liver damage, but soda can be harmful to your liver health in sneaky ways.
"Soda can wreak havoc on your liver by causing fat buildup, which ultimately leads to liver disease if allowed to persist," says Trista Best, MPH, RD, LD at Balance One Supplements. "This is primarily due to the refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup they are filled with. Some studies indicate that refined sugar may have a more damaging effect on the liver than alcohol, especially when consumed in large amounts."
Drinking too much alcohol
The liver is one of the organs that alcohol affects the most, especially if you're drinking heavily on a consistent basis.
"It is no secret that alcohol can damage the liver, especially when consumed in amounts larger than the daily recommended limits," says Best. "This is because the liver is the body's natural detoxifying organ. It filters all that enters the body, including alcohol. Alcohol causes the liver's cells to become damaged and destroyed over time, which results in scarring as the liver becomes unable to regenerate [itself]."
Not drinking enough water
Drinking enough water every day is crucial for all of your body's functions, including the healthy functioning of your liver.
"Not drinking enough water can also cause chaos to your liver," says Vandana Sheth, RDN, CDCES, FAND, author of My Indian Table: Quick & Tasty Vegetarian Recipes. "According to a population study published in April 2021, people with a higher water intake had a lower risk for newly diagnosed nonalcoholic fatty liver disease."
Here are the 7 Side Effects of Not Drinking Enough Water.
Drinking other sugar-sweetened beverages
Yes, sodas are one of the most harmful beverages you can consume on a regular basis. However, there are plenty of other sugar-sweetened drinks that might also wreak havoc on your liver over time. These would include things like store-bought juices with a lot of added sugar, specialty coffee drinks with tons of syrup added, and many types of energy or sports drinks.
"There is also something called non-alcoholic liver disease (NALD), or non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can happen when we consume too many refined or ultra-processed foods and beverages," says Dana Ellis Hunnes PhD, MPH, RD, author of Recipe for Survival. "If we do this for too long and have too much visceral fat (fat in and around organs), this can also lead to cirrhosis and potentially a need for a liver transplant."