How to keep your liver healthy over the holiday season

Christmas is a time when people get together. Perhaps they are a bit less careful about what they eat and drink. There’s a lot of parties to go to and it’s quite hard to say no sometimes. We don’t want to put a message out there that we shouldn’t have fun but people should be a bit conscious of what could potentially harm them.

A common experience is that people find they put on a bit of weight over Christmas. That’s all extra fat on your liver. Just as you are doing that, alcohol can also mean extra stress for your liver. The risk of course nowadays is not that people seem to just do it over Christmas, it’s that Christmas now seems to start the middle of November and go on until the middle of February. You have this three month festival of over indulgence and then that sets you up for the rest of the year. You’re carrying that extra weight and if you’re someone who drinks that bit too much as well, all of these things combine against you.

It’s really about being conscious about what you’re doing. The treatment for fatty liver is just getting your weight down, doing more exercise, the things people recognise as being healthy things.

As far as alcohol goes, try and stick to your units, try take a few days off alcohol each week. A sensible approach and one I often tell my patients to follow is to try not drink during the week. I tell them to try and have a drink at the weekend if they want to have a drink and then that way, unless you’re really binging hard, you can usually stay within your units.

Dr Mark Wright, Consultant Hepatologist

Published December 2012