How to Protect Your Liver: Ways to Stop Liver Damage

  • 2nd Revision: Darvina Magandran
  • 3rd Revision: Kaamya Mehta[Linkedin]

What is the cause of liver disease?

Do you know that you have an organ in your body that acts as a processing plant? It is your liver. Your liver is responsible for a number of functions that keep you healthy. It converts nutrients into the chemicals that your body requires. Poisons from the body are filtered through the liver to be removed.

Many factors can cause problems to the liver; some of them are:

  •  Infections, especially viral infections such as:
  1. Hepatitis A - is primarily caused by consuming food contaminated by faecal debris.
  2. Hepatitis B - is mainly caused by sharing instruments that are contaminated by the virus or through unprotected sex.
  3. Hepatitis C - is mainly transmitted through contaminated blood entering the body.
  • Auto-immune health problems: your immune system is designed to fight bacteria and viruses, but sometimes an error occurs in the immune system causing it to fight its own organs, such as the liver.
  • Tumours and cancers can appear initially in the liver or spread from other organs like the lung or breast.
  • Inherited conditions that run in the family.
  • Liver diseases are associated with alcohol consumption and drug abuse.

Is Your Liver in Trouble?

Some health problems associated with the liver are asymptomatic for months, so it is not always easy or clear to diagnose a sick liver. However, having some or many of the following symptoms indicate that something may be wrong with your liver: 

  • Feeling tired and unwell most of the time 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain around the area of the liver 
  • Yellow skin

Top foods and drinks for liver health

You consume food to power your body, providing it with energy and the nutrients it requires to grow and repair itself. The three main nutrients in your food are protein, carbohydrates and fat. A balanced diet includes all these nutritious components moderately and contains a large portion of protein, healthy fat, less sugar and a great mixture of vegetables and fruits. 

  • Fruits and vegetables for the liver:

The good news is that most liver diseases are preventable, and there are healthy foods we can rely on to strengthen the liver and prevent diseases. Some of them are:

  1. Grapefruit: this juicy fruit contains substances that reduce inflammation and stimulate cell production.
  2. Blueberries and cranberries: according to research, these fruits have preventive and protective effects in reducing cell injury. (1)
  3. Prickly pear: helps reduce infection and helps repair damage caused by alcohol.

Many more fruits and vegetables such as nuts, olives and beetroots are essential not only for liver health but for a healthy body and strong immune system as well. Vitamin E , in addition to being an antioxidant, has been shown to improve hepatic (relating to the liver) inflammation and steatosis, build-up of fat. Foods high in vitamin E include avocados, red bell peppers and sunflower seeds or oil. 

  • Drinks for the liver

There are many drinks that have tremendous benefits in maintaining liver health.

Let’s start with the most popular drink in the world: coffee. Yes! You hear it right. This famous drink does not only help you kick-start the day but it has great health benefits when consumed in moderation.

One study has revealed a strong relationship between reducing chronic liver health conditions and coffee consumption.(2) This means that drinking coffee can slow or even prevent damage to the liver cells.

Another important drink to consider for a healthy liver is green tea. According to one of many studies, green tea contains chemical substances that work as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory so it can play an important role in the prevention of fatty liver disease.(3)

Foods to avoid

Your liver performs a variety of functions that are critical to your health. From filtering your blood to breaking down your food and storing them as energy. But consuming too much of certain foods makes it so hard for your liver to continue its function. The liver can start to weaken over time and get sick. Foods that are high in saturated fat, including fried foods, butter, and cream, or contain a high amount of sugar, like added sugar drinks, pasta, white rice and bread, are the most damaging to the liver.

Liver-Damaging Habits

Maintaining your liver health is crucial to your overall health. In the same way that many foods are considered harmful to your liver, some habits such as drinking alcohol are also harmful. Excessive drinking could lead to liver damage because it contributes to fatty liver disease and other liver health conditions. This is because the liver breaks down alcohol into materials that damage its cells and reduce its ability to function well.

Obesity or being overweight is another health problem that has negative impacts on liver health as it can cause fatty liver disease and increases the risk of cancer. Therefore, being active for at least 30 minutes per day, reducing your alcohol intake and following a healthy and balanced diet could be key tools in the prevention of liver diseases.


Smoking has a negative effect on the liver’s health. Cigarette smoke contains toxins that eventually reach the liver, kill its cells and cause fibrosis. It makes the liver more susceptible to tumors, especially for people with hepatitis B and C infections. Tobacco smoke impairs lung function, causing physical limits and perhaps preventing liver transplantation when needed(4).

Hepatitis & Liver Damage

Getting infected with Hepatitis can damage the liver through a process that starts with inflammation within the liver’s cells. These inflamed cells will be replaced by fibrosis. Fibrosis is not a disease, it is the body’s reaction to liver injury. By continuing this process, scars are formed in the liver and cause liver function limitations

You Now Know How to Protect Your Liver and Keep it Healthy! 


How much can you drink before hurting your liver?

According to the NHS, men and women are advised not to drink more than 14 units a week on a regular basis, one unit equals 10ml or 8g of pure alcohol. There is no safe drinking limit, it is only a low-risk level. Always try to reduce your level of drinking or replace it with a non-alcoholic drink. It is not advised to drink alcohol before or during pregnancy at all for the best health outcomes for both the mother and baby. 

How much water should you drink per day to maintain your liver?

Water makes up a large part of your body, and it is very important to keep your body hydrated because water helps the stomach digest the food quicker and easier, moistures the skin, thins the blood and aids in the filtration of the blood by supporting the liver and kidneys in their functions. It is advised to drink about 8 glasses of water every day including other fluids and remember that it is always a good time to grab a glass of water. To maintain staying hydrated throughout the day, it may help to keep a bottle of water around you all the time.


  1. Wang YP, Cheng ML, Zhang BF, Mu M, Wu J. Effects of blueberry on hepatic fibrosis and transcription factor Nrf2 in rats. World J Gastroenterol. 2010 Jun 7;16(21):2657-63.
  2. Kennedy, O.J., Fallowfield, J.A., Poole, R. et al. All coffee types decrease the risk of adverse clinical outcomes in chronic liver disease: a UK Biobank study. BMC Public Health 21, 970 (2021).
  3. Jie Zhou, Chi-Tang Ho, Piaopiao Long, Qilu Meng, Liang Zhang, and Xiaochun Wan, Preventive Efficiency of Green Tea and Its Components on Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry 2019 67 (19), 5306-5317
  4. DOI: 10.1021/acs.jafc.8b05032
  5. Rutledge SM, Asgharpour A. Smoking and Liver Disease. Gastroenterol Hepatol (N Y). 2020 Dec;16(12):617-625. PMID
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

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Randa Fahoum

Master's degree - Public Health, University of York, England
Randa is an experienced Dentist and Health Writer.
She wants to improve health and wellbeing across the globe.

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