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A Happy Liver Will Make Your Holidays Happier Too

Learn six tips that can help your liver and your holiday season abundant with joy and good health.

Whether dealing with chronic Hepatitis C, a fatty liver or cirrhosis, those with chronic liver disease are often subject to the effects of a disgruntled liver. Usually, it is only by trial and error or extensive liver health education that a person learns how to keep his or her liver happy. Especially noticeable during the holidays, the time of year when the liver is under a disproportionate amount of stress, failing to keep this organ content can put a major damper on your festivities. By consciously keeping your liver in a healthful place with the following six tips, those with liver disease will have a much easier time describing their holidays as happy.

Why Holidays Can Be “Not So Happy”
Officially encompassing the days spanning between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, the holiday season is typically a highly anticipated time. While celebrations, decorations, feasts, gift giving and get-togethers are usually full of joy, they can also present an abundance of challenges when managing chronic liver disease. Three of the more common holiday challenges, include:

1.    Stress – Wading through mobs of fellow shoppers, squeezing thoughtful gifts out of an already tight budget, pleasing parents, siblings and children and keeping your cool with combative relatives are nothing short of stressful. Unfortunately, high stress levels lead to greater amounts of liver inflammation and congestion – both of which can be particularly harmful to those with chronic liver disease.

2.    Fatty Food – Egg nog, cheesecake, creamy mashed potatoes, latkes, pecan pie, brisket, pork belly, buttery rolls and candied yams are just a sampling of typical holiday foods that are loaded with fat and cholesterol. Although such fare can be very enticing, large fatty meals are destined to aggravate liver inflammation – the precursor to liver damage.

3.    Alcohol – Unless attending a holiday celebration that is a designated no alcohol zone, chances are that the adult socializing will revolve around alcoholic beverages. Even though it is likely part of your holiday traditions, drinking alcohol is the single most liver-hazardous activity you can engage in. Alcohol kills liver cells, and those with chronic liver disease are more likely to sustain permanent damage from that loss.

A Disgruntled Liver
Everyone has good days and bad days. In that sense, living with chronic liver disease is no different than not having this condition. The key to having more days that fall into the ‘good’ category is to pay attention to the details that tip you one way or the other. In place of subjecting yourself to years of experimentation that could tally up to liver damage, below are some indications that your liver may not be happy:

·    Bloating, indigestion, nausea
·    Pain or discomfort in the liver region (just under the right rib cage)
·    Fatigue
·    Excessive thirst and frequent urination
·    Headaches, dizziness and spasms

Those who have not been taking care of their liver’s health are more likely to encounter these symptoms. While feeling bloated and having a headache is not an immediate cause for panic, it could easily prevent you from enjoying a holiday celebration.

Six Tips to Have a Happy Liver and Holiday
By consciously taking good care of your liver (which keeps inflammation, congestion and damage down), your odds of having a good day increase dramatically. Therefore, it is easier to enjoy the holidays when your liver is happy. Below are six tips to prevent your liver from turning you into a scrooge:

1.    Relaxation – For every holiday commitment you schedule, make sure to allocate time for stress relief. This could mean making homemade gifts and then splurging on a massage or escaping from the chaotic mall to go for a serene hike. Although this should be a standard part of everyone’s holiday preparation, too many people skimp on having time for themselves. Your liver, in particular, will thank you for your stress relief efforts.

2.    Get Plenty of Sleep – Whether related to anxiety, liver disease treatment or a variety of other issues, those with liver disease are prone to insomnia. As we all know, being short on sleep is guaranteed to cause fatigue – a bummer when trying to celebrate. By making sure to get a lot of sleep this holiday season, you will be better able to enjoy the festivities. Read Conquering Insomnia for ideas on how to improve your sleep.

3.    Eat Smart – Avoid the fatty, sinful offerings at each holiday celebration. Eating regular, healthful meals and snacks makes it easier to resist overdoing it at festive events. Make sure not to skip snacks or meals, even if you’re busy shopping, wrapping or cooking.  If you ignore your regular eating schedule before a gathering, you might be ravenous and overeat or indulge in unhealthy holiday treats.

4.    Remain Abstinent from Alcohol – Just because it’s a holiday with wine and spirits lurking around every corner, there is no good reason to consume alcohol. It may help you feel relaxed or silly in the moment, but any alcohol will seriously infuriate a liver already dealing with a chronic illness. Instead, choose beverages that will make your liver happy – like lemon water, herbal tea or an orange juice and seltzer spritzer – so that you can rightfully claim that you’ve had a happy holiday.

5.    Fortify Your Liver – During the holidays, consider a good milk thistle supplement (such as UltraThistle) to help strengthen the liver’s cell walls. This will help protect the liver from holiday missteps, so that a little slice of pumpkin pie or a tense family confrontation won’t create any major liver woes.

6.    Organize Support – Because you can’t foresee all of the obstacles that might present itself this season, organize your own personal support system. Have two or three people whom you trust to be available to lend support, should you need it. Talking with a relative or friend to help navigate through some of the holidays’ challenges can turn out to be one of your liver’s best allies.

Utilizing some of these tips to keep your liver free from excessive stress, fatty foods and alcohol can help you truly enjoy the holidays. By consciously keeping your liver in tip top shape, you will feel better, have more good days and have more reasons to celebrate this holiday season., How to Keep your Liver Healthy & Happy, Melissa Palmer, MD, Retrieved October 23, 2010, New Living Magazine, 2010., Spring Tips for a Happy Liver, Lesley Tierra, Retrieved October 23, 2010, East West School of Herbology, 2010., TCM Time – Keep That Liver Happy!, Angela Englund, CMT, Retrieved October 23, 2010, Seeking and Finding Wholeness, 2010., Naughty and Nice Holiday Foods, Elizabeth M. Ward, MS, RD, Retrieved October 23, 2010, WebMD, Inc., 2010.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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