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New Year’s Resolutions

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The holidays are over and it’s time for a fresh new year- a fresh new start! Have you made your New Year’s resolutions yet? Do you need some suggestions or help creating your list? Here are some ideas!

  • Be healthier.
    • One of the most popular New Year’s resolutions in the US is to be healthier, whether it is to eat healthier, get more exercise, and/or to head over to the gym more often. There are studies that continue to show the importance of exercise, which favorably impacts the health of your liver as well. Although there is no specific diet for chronic hepatitis B, studies show that eating cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower is good for the liver.  Green, leafy vegetables are also good for the liver. All of these veggies tend to naturally protect the liver against chemicals from the environment.  The American Cancer Society’s diet, which includes low fat, low cholesterol, and high fiber foods is a good, general diet to follow.  It is also good to avoid processed foods and foods from “fast food restaurants”. These foods along with too many foods high in saturated fats, and foods or sugary drinks with refined sugars and flours may result in fatty liver disease, which can also harm the liver. When possible, eat whole grains and brown rice. For more suggestions, check out the World Health Organization’s healthy diet and CDC’s tips for staying healthy.
  • See your doctor more often.
    • We encourage those chronically infected to be regularly monitored by a liver specialist, treated when necessary, and to make lifestyle changes that help keep the liver healthy. The most important thing is to find a doctor who is knowledgeable about hepatitis B, who can help manage your infection and check the health of your liver on a regular basis. The doctor will take blood tests, along with a physical examination of the abdominal area and perhaps an ultrasound, to determine the health of the liver. Talk to the doctor and see what he or she recommends. Don’t forget to get copies of test results for personal files to see how test results change over time
  • Stop drinking/limit alcohol.
    • Chronic hepatitis B and alcohol is a dangerous mixture.  Studies have shown that even small amounts of alcohol can cause damage to an already weakened liver.  Avoiding alcohol is one decision someone can make that will greatly reduce the risk of further liver disease. It is also important to avoid smoking and other environmental toxins.  For example, avoid inhaling fumes from paint, paint thinners, glue and household cleaning products, which may contain chemicals that could damage the liver.  Keep in mind that everything that you eat, drink, breathe in or absorb through the skin is eventually filtered by your liver and toxins are removed. If you can limit the toxins in your body, your liver will benefit.
  • Pursue your dreams.
    • Don’t let your hepatitis B status stop you!! Find friends, family members, colleagues, and/or doctors who can support and encourage you to learn about your hep B status. Become an advocate for yourself, just like our #justB storytellers!

Start off your resolutions with attainable goals! You don’t have to quit cold turkey and completely eliminate certain foods. Take it step by step! Keeping a journal and tracking your progress will help you keep an eye on those resolutions this year. Even if you break your New Year’s resolutions, don’t be discouraged! Everyone goes through pitfalls and experiences lows. The important thing is to start over again when you break your resolutions!

Check out our previous post on New Year’s resolutions for more ideas for your resolution this year!

Ringing in a Happy, Healthy 2012 For Those Living with HBV

Out with the old bad habits and in with the new, healthy habits. The New Year is upon us and for those of us living with HBV; it’s time to make a commitment to habits that support a healthy liver.  Let’s start with New Year’s Eve – A sip of champagne to ring in the New Year? Yes!  Half a magnum of champagne to ring in the New Year… dangerous!

Let’s face it. Drinking alcohol and HBV do NOT mix.  Years of HBV results in liver disease progression. Drinking alcohol to excess also causes liver disease progression. The rate and degree of liver disease progression is not necessarily predictable and may vary with the individual. However, mix hepatitis B and alcohol and you have a deadly combination leading to more advanced liver disease progression.  Make the commitment in 2012 to stop drinking alcohol.

Do you smoke?  Why?  The warnings regarding the risks of smoking never cease.  If you smoke and have HBV, you increase the rate of your liver disease progression and you significantly increase your risk of liver cancer. Once again it’s the combination of HBV and the bad habit that increases your risk of liver cancer even more.  Smoking is bad for you and HBV is bad for you.  Make a commitment in 2012 to stop smoking.

Fatty liver disease and diabetes are on the rise. ALT levels may be elevated by your HBV or by fatty liver disease.  You don’t want either, so do your best to avoid foods that increase your risk for diabetes or fatty liver disease. Take a hard look at your diet.  Do grab food on the go?  Do you shop on the inside of the grocery store or the outside?  Do the food items you buy contain a list of ingredients you cannot pronounce?  Go back to basics. Shop on the outside of the store where the fresh vegetables, fruits and other fresh foods reside.  Make your own meals rather than buying ready-made. There is no specific diet for those living with hepatitis B, but a healthy diet is important. Eat fresh, healthy vegetables, fruits and lean meats.  Avoid “white” pastas and breads, and eat whole grains.  Avoid high fructose corn syrup and refined sugar.  Read the labels on the backs of the packages to compare your intake of sugar and fat. You may be swapping one for the other, which might be important if you are watching your sugar intake. Eat health, monounsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, and nuts.  Avoid saturated fats such as butter, fatty meats, etc.  Spend a little time learning the healthy-diet basics and gradually implement changes into your diet and lifestyle.

Exercise really is good for you, but sometimes it’s tough to get in the groove. Just because you have HBV does not mean you should avoid exercise.  Exercise as you are able.  You will find that moderate exercise will actually make you feel better rather than worse.  HBF’s Senior Medical Adviser advises those recovering from an acute HBV infection should avoid bed rest unless specifically prescribed by their doctor. Getting up and about actually helps your liver and the recovery process. This does not mean you need to be training for a marathon, but exercise in moderation is good.  So find yourself an exercise partner, and go out for a walk, jog, or swim, or sign up for a Zumba class at your neighborhood gym.

So when you’re getting ready to make your list of New Years’ resolutions, be sure to set goals that are attainable.  You don’t have to quit smoking or drinking alcohol cold turkey.  This is a lifetime commitment. Make a realistic plan to taper off and stick to it.  Ask your doctor for advice, or find friends or family members that are also interested in making commitments to change.

Happy New Year to all!  Out with the old-bad habits, and in with the new, healthy habits for 2012!