The liver is our largest internal organ and it has 500 different roles. One of the liver’s most important functions is to break down food and convert it into energy when you need it. Your liver also helps the body to get rid of waste products and plays a vital role in fighting infections, particularly in the bowel1.
And yet, when your liver is damaged, you generally won’t know about it – until things get serious. Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of developing liver disease and cause irreparable damage to this very important part of your body.
Drinking too much alcohol can damage the liver in two main ways
Liver disease is the term used to describe damage to the liver and there are two types. Acute is when liver problems develop over a few months and chronic is damage over a number of years.
There are lots of different causes of liver disease, including drinking alcohol to excess which causes ‘alcoholic liver disease’. Scientists are not sure exactly why drinking too much alcohol can damage your liver but the reasons include:
- Oxidative stress. When our liver tries to break down alcohol, the resulting chemical reaction can damage its cells. This damage can lead to inflammation and scarring as the liver tries to repair itself.
- Toxins in gut bacteria. Alcohol can damage our intestine which lets toxins from our gut bacteria get into the liver. These toxins can also lead to inflammation and scarring.
LEARN HOW TO REMOVE THE TRASH FROM YOUR LIVER
“If you’re going to partake, don’t mix your drinks, because of you mix, you’ll have a worse hangover. If you’re drinking beer, stick with beer, if you’re drinking light liquor — stay with light or dark, stay with dark. If you have liver problems, stay away from dark liquors all together” explains Dr. Noreen Khan-Mayberry.