Each year, about 21,000 Americans are diagnosed with primary liver cancer —American Liver Foundation

Located at the upper right part of the abdomen, the liver is one of the body’s largest internal organs. Its functions include processing food nutrients, storing fuel for the body, detoxing the blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it on to the rest of the body and making a juice called bile to break down the fats in food.

Here are 5 ways you can protect your liver:

Healthy diet

Eating a healthy diet can support good liver health. Be sure to eat foods from all the food groups, especially foods high in fiber, such as fresh fruits, vegetables, rice and bread. Check out our article “Foods to Nourish Your Liver” for more food ideas. Also reduce your intake of fatty foods to decrease the risk of fatty liver disease.

Alcohol consumption

Heavy and excessive drinking of alcohol over the years may lead to alcoholic liver cirrhosis (“What you need to know about Cirrhosis”) where the liver’s healthy tissues are eventually replaced with scar tissues. The liver will not be able to function properly and cannot filter toxins out from the blood. According to the American Liver Foundation, between 10 to 20% of heavy drinkers will develop cirrhosis.

Healthy lifestyle

Exercising regularly is a good way to keep your weight in check. Obesity increases the risk of developing fatty liver disease, a build-up of fats within liver cells. Maintaining a healthy weight will also help to reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular problems.

Manage your medications

Some medications contain higher levels of toxins than the rest and should be taken with caution, especially if you are taking over-the-counter medications. Ensure you consult a doctor or pharmacist before consuming any medicines as incorrect consumption of medicines can harm the liver.

Avoid toxins

Try to limit direct contact with aerosol products and insecticides as intentional or unintentional inhaling of these toxins can injure liver cells and result in liver damage. The liver processes drugs and chemicals that enter the blood stream and regular exposure to toxins can cause chronic liver disease and even cirrhosis. Smokers may also be damaging their liver and at a higher risk of developing liver cancer.