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Your liver and alcohol

Your liver and alcohol

It's the largest organ in the body, and chances are you're going to punish it.

Your liver is a big old melon sized-organ, but it's easy to under-appreciate it. This metabolic powerhouse breaks down most of the toxins in the body, including alcohol, and stores several essential vitamins. It's one of the main things keeping you alive and healthy, so treat it with respect.

Preparations

Drinking small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis does much less damage to your liver than occasional binges, so avoid big blowouts if possible. Look after your overall health with a good diet, and lots of water. If you're planning on going out, make sure you eat something first, because drinking on an empty stomach is harsh on your body.

Some people take herbal remedies such as milk thistle or artichoke extract to protect their liver. If you're thinking about trying these, speak to a pharmacist or qualified herbalist first.

Big night out

Drink slowly: it's easier for your body to process the alcohol this way. Alcohol is very dehydrating (one of the worst causes of hangover symptoms), so have a few soft drinks or glasses of water while you're out if you can. Failing that drink lots of water when you get home.

Aftermath

If you've overdone it, get yourself rehydrated with water or diluted fruit juices, and lay off the processed food for a while to make it easier for your digestive system. If you're tempted to get drunk again to get rid of the symptoms, remember you're just delaying the inevitable. It will catch up with you again in the end, often bigger and better.

If possible, have at least two nights a week where you don't drink alcohol. This will give your liver a rest, and the chance to repair any damage that may have been done.

Updated: 16/04/2010


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