Your liver is a vital organ that performs
many essential functions. It’s the largest
solid organ in the body and is located under
your rib cage on the upper right side. It
weighs about three pounds and is shaped
like a football that is flat on one side.
Your liver processes everything you eat,
drink, breathe, and absorb through your
skin. It manufactures hormones, proteins,
and enzymes your body uses to function
and fight off disease. It turns nutrients into
energy your body can use and removes
harmful substances from your blood.
How can I maintain a healthy liver?
There are a number of things you can do
to maintain the health of your liver. They
• eating a healthy diet
• limiting the amount of alcohol you
• correctly managing your medications
• avoiding inhaling or touching toxic
Liver Wellness 2
How does a healthy diet help my
Eating a healthy diet helps the liver perform
efficiently and effectively. Conversely,
eating an unhealthy diet can lead to
liver disease. For example, a person with
unhealthy eating habits is at higher risk of
being overweight and having fatty liver
disease. Fatty liver, characterized by an
excessive accumulation of fat inside liver
cells, makes it more difficult for the liver to
function and can eventually lead to scarring
of the liver.
What constitutes a healthy diet?
To eat a healthy diet, keep in mind the
following recommendations when planning
your meals:
• Eat a diet that contains healthy
amounts of protein, carbohydrates,
and fats found in fish, meat, dairy,
vegetables, grains, fruits and oils. For
detailed information about how to
build healthy meals, visit the website
• Eat foods that have a lot of fiber, such
as fresh fruits, vegetables, beans, and
whole grain breads, rice and cereals.
• Limit foods that are high in
saturated fats, which are solid at
room temperature, like butter, stick
margarine and shortening.
• Choose monounsaturated and
polyunsaturated fats such as olive oil,
canola oil, corn oil, and sunflower oil
are healthier.
• Limit processed foods and foods that
have a lot of sugar or salt.
3 Liver Wellness
How does alcohol affect my liver?
The liver breaks down alcohol so it can
be eliminated from your body. Some of
the by-products of this process are toxic
chemicals that, in high concentration,
trigger inflammation and injure liver cells.
Drinking too much alcohol, either on a
single occasion – known as binge drinking
– or drinking a lot over time, can take a
serious toll on your liver.
Liver damage can lead to the build up
of fat in your liver (fatty liver), swelling
or inflammation of your liver (alcoholic
hepatitis), and/or severe scarring of your
liver (cirrhosis).
Is there a safe level of drinking?
According to the Dietary Guidelines for
Americans, moderate drinking is one drink
a day for women and two drinks a day for
men. Each of these alcoholic beverages in
the following amounts is considered one
drink and contains the same amount of
However, for people who have liver disease
even a small amount of alcohol can make
their disease worse.
Liver Wellness 4
Why is managing my medications
important to my liver health?
Remember that your liver processes
everything you eat, drink, breathe, and
absorb through your skin. This includes all
the medicines you take:
• over-the-counter medicine
• prescription medicine
• vitamins
• dietary supplements
• alternative medicine (for example,
When medications are taken incorrectly
— by taking too much, taking the wrong
type, or by mixing them — your liver can
be harmed. People who have liver disease
need to be especially careful, as some
medications may cause more damage to
their liver or may not be processed normally.
For example, acetaminophen (common
brand name Tylenol) is found in hundreds of
different prescription and over-the-counter
medications. Taking acetaminophen as
directed is safe and effective. But taking
more than recommended can lead to liver
damage. In fact, overdose of acetaminophen
is the leading cause of acute liver failure
in the U.S. That’s why it’s so important to
carefully read the label before taking any
medication. In this case, you wouldn’t
want to take two or more medications that
contain acetaminophen at the same time.

How can I best manage my
When you take medications, it’s important
to do the following:
• Learn as much as you can about the
medicines you take.
• Read the label carefully.
• Follow the dosing instructions; take
the right dose at the right time. And
remember - more is not better!
• Know if the medication should be
taken with food or after a meal and if
there are any foods or drinks you need
to avoid.
• Find out how your medications mix
with each other and if there are things
you should not take together.
• Mixing alcohol and medicines can be
harmful, even if they’re not taken at the
same time; check with your pharmacist.
• Tell your doctor about all the medicines
you take (prescription, over-thecounter,
etc.) and check with him or
her before making a change to your
medication routine.
Liver Wellness 6
How can things I inhale or touch
affect my liver?
Because your liver processes what you
breathe and absorb through your skin,
toxins contained in cleaning products,
aerosol sprays, insecticides and other
chemicals can affect the health of your liver.
Follow directions carefully when using
these products to limit your exposure to
toxins. Many of these products should be
used in a well-ventilated room to limit how
much you inhale. In addition, gloves should
be worn where indicated so the products
do not come into contact with your skin.
Keep your liver healthy!
Your liver is a vital organ that performs
functions essential to your health and
well-being. Do your part to keep you
liver healthy by following the suggestions
outlined above. If you have questions
about liver wellness, call the American Liver
Foundation at 1-800-GO-LIVER or visit us on
the Web at

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