This is the time of year to eat, drink, and be merry. Frequent social get-togethers with family and friends mean that most of us end up eating and drinking far more than we intended. For the average person this may mean gaining a few pounds, feeling bloated and tired, and dealing with a few hangovers. However, those with a diagnosed liver condition such as fatty liver or hepatitis need to take extra precautions to avoid a deterioration in their condition.

Alcohol, sugar and fatty food all take their toll on the liver and gallbladder. Unfortunately these are just the substances we overindulge in at this time of year. The better your liver functions, the easier you will find it to lose weight and the more energetic you will be. Clearly it is worthwhile paying attention to your liver and treating it well.

Here are my top tips for maintaining good liver health over the festive season

  • If you intend to drink, please drink slowly. Have one or two glasses of water first, to quench your thirst before you have any alcohol. A healthy liver can only break down one standard drink per hour; an unhealthy liver is much slower. Alcohol can make you feel thirsty, so drink some water in-between alcoholic beverages. Drinking slowly reduces the impact of alcohol on your liver.
  • Don’t mix alcohol with sugary drinks. Alcohol contains 7 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrate contain 4 calories per gram. Some alcohol is also high in carbohydrate. This means that regularly drinking alcohol increases the risk of weight gain around the abdominal area. Don’t make it worse by mixing alcohol with sugary drinks. If you drink spirits it is best to have them with water, soda water, or add a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice. Avoid diet drinks containing artificial sweeteners.
  • Have a light meal or snack before drinking alcohol. Drinking on an empty stomach is highly irritating to the stomach lining and means you’ll absorb alcohol into your bloodstream much faster. Eat something containing protein before you drink, as protein spends longer in the stomach than carbohydrate or fat. Good sources of protein are eggs, fish, chicken, meat, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and legumes. People with a leaky gut, or inflammation of their stomach or intestines should take a heaped teaspoon of glutamine powder before drinking alcohol.
  • Exercise regularly. This will help you to lose weight from your abdominal area. Carrying excess fat in this area means that a lot of the fat has infiltrated into your liver, making it sluggish and disturbing its functions. People with a fatty liver often have an inflamed liver, and alcohol can worsen this.
  • The herb St Mary’s thistle helps to strengthen the outer membrane of liver cells, thereby helping to protect them against harm caused by alcohol and other toxins. St Mary’s thistle also helps to repair and regenerate liver cells that have been damaged. This herb is found in Livatone.
  • Once your liver detoxifies your body of wastes, they are excreted through bile into your small intestine. Insufficient bile production is common and can lead to reabsorption of toxins. Taking an ox bile supplement helps with waste removal via the intestines. It is also very helpful for anyone who suffers with bloating and indigestion when they eat rich party foods.
  • Selenium makes your liver more efficient at detoxification. Selenium increases your liver’s production of the powerful antioxidant called glutathione peroxidise. This helps your liver to detoxify all harmful substances that enter your body. It is very difficult to obtain sufficient selenium from your diet because very few foods are a rich source of this mineral. Brazil nuts are a good source. Selenomune is an excellent source of selenium.
  • Replace nutrients lost through alcohol. Alcohol consumption causes the loss of B vitamins, vitamin C and magnesium from your body. Magnesium and B vitamins both help your nervous system cope with stress; therefore deficiency of these nutrients can leave you feeling stressed and frazzled. Vitamin C helps your body fight infections.

It is fine to overindulge in food and drinks occasionally, but doing it regularly will show on your body. If you ensure that 90 percent of your diet is healthy then your body should be able to cope well with this year’s festivities.

The above statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.