It usually comes as a shock to people that most liver disease in Canada and the US is caused by food abuse and obesity and not by alcohol abuse. The liver of a 10-year-old overweight child who is fed junk all his years can be just as damaged as that of a 60-year-old alcoholic. Both conditions lead to cirrhosis and potentially cancer.
In fact, liver cancer is one of the very few cancers still on the increase. Why? Because people don’t know about the problem. One in ten Canadian has liver disease. Many, if not most, don’t even know about it until the condition is very advanced—perhaps irreversibly.
Your liver performs over 500 jobs and does so silently and judiciously. Among those jobs are the master tasks of managing your cholesterol, hormones and filtering your blood. You can’t survive without any one of those processes. The liver is the largest organ in the body—and it is the only organ that can regenerate itself.
The Canadian Liver Foundation is sounding the alarm that we can no longer marginalize liver disease as one caused by alcohol abuse alone. Diet plays a much bigger role as does the very preventable, treatable Hepatitis A, B and C. Many carry and transmit this virus without knowing it and yet simple, cost effective screening is available.
So, here is what you can do:
- Have your liver tested for its functionality. It is a simple blood test that you can request from your doctor.
- Have your liver tested for Hep A, B and C and get the appropriate vaccines.
- Remove as much sugar from your diet as possible, as well as bad fats and excess calories. Any healthy lifestyle choices that you make for your heart will also benefit your liver.
- Remove toxic cleaning products and air fresheners from your home—your liver has to filter these things out.
- Watch all drugs and herbal medications. Acetaminophen in particular needs to be managed, high doses and/or in combination with alcohol it is very damaging. So, when that children’s medication says a maximum dose per day, adhere!
Image of cirrhosis from Shutterstock.
Theresa is a Food Communications Specialist and Nutritionist. Her French Canadian influences are a part of her 'no bologna' style as everything is on the table...not just the dinner. She has the unique ability to distill complex health concepts into simple, savvy steps to improve any lifestyle choice.
Theresa is a sought after media commentator and lifestyle pundit on many topics with a particular fascination with human relationships with food and culture. She has two books published in Canada and the US: Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day
and Ace Your Health, 52 Ways to Stack Your Deck
She can be found on Twitter as @theresaalbert
and at www.myfriendinfood.com
If you’ve already seen the new Disney film, you’ll be able to guess why we love it so much: all the characters are physically literate and active! They skate, slide, and rock climb. Even the adorable snowman, Olaf, gets moving.
Adapted from Hans Christian Anderson’s The Snow Queen, Frozen is a delightful tale of two sisters and the power of love over fear. It takes place in northern Europe (fjords are mentioned, so it’s not a stretch to figure it’s Norway). While the story takes place in summer, the land becomes gripped in an unnatural freeze, making it the perfect movie to celebrate winter.
You can use the actions of Anna and big sister Elsa to inspire your children to try some movement skills this winter, too. After you’ve watched the film with your family, why not plan your own outdoor winter activity fun?
Here are seven ways Frozen can inspire your kids to get moving:
- Jumping: At the beginning of the movie, Anna leaps gracefully from one snow drift to another as quickly as Elsa can create them with her winter magic. If there’s no snow where you are, take your pick from this list of activities that develop jumping skills.
- Running and dancing: Anna dashes and dances through the palace. While singing, no less. Challenge kids to choreograph and perform their favourite songs. But be warned, entrepreneurial types might charge admission.
- Horseback riding: When she sets out to find Elsa, who has run away from the kingdom, Anna rides her horse. Later, she and Kristoff ride Sven the reindeer. Though you might not have a horse or reindeer handy in the middle of winter (or ever, for that matter), your kids can certainly pretend to be one.
- Snow hiking: Anna tromps through some deep snow. Kristoff wears special shoes—like snowshoes—that help him walk on top of the snow. Recreate Anna and Kristoff’s adventures with a family hike (and, no hiking is not just for summer!)
- Rock climbing: Anna doesn’t get very high, but she’s certainly eager to get to the top of the mountain. Later, she and Kristoff have to rappel down a cliff face. Rock climbing takes balance. If there’s no rock face to scale where you live, work on improving this important skill.
- Sliding: Anna and Kristoff slide down snowy mountains as well as Olympic lugers. Suit up and head to the nearest snow covered hills or local park with slides.
- Skating: We don’t want to give any special endings away, but maybe, just maybe, your kids will also be inspired to learn how to skate. Make sure you have your skates sharpened too because even for grown ups who haven’t skated since they were kids, skating is a great winter sport.
Active for Life is a leading promoter of children’s physical literacy to help parents raise active and healthy kids. In response to increased rates of child obesity and sedentary behaviour, Active for Life was formed in 2011 to give parents the tools to help their children develop skills and habits for lifelong physical activity. At the core of the initiative is the idea that every child deserves to be physically literate. Active for Life is a social enterprise of B2ten, a Canadian organization formed to promote sport and athlete development in Canada. For more information, visit Active for Life