Andrew Langford the CEO of the British Liver Trust, talks to WaterCoolersDirect.com about how important good hydration is and how it can play a vital role in protecting your liver.
1. How long has the British Liver Trust been raising awareness of liver disease and who founded the charity?
Founded over 25 years ago under the leadership of the esteemed and pioneering Hepatologist Dame Sheila Sherlock, the British Liver Trust has always sought to raise awareness of liver disease and provide support for anyone affected by a liver condition. In recent years the charity has worked to improve prevention and early detection of liver health issues to save lives and reduce the burden on the NHS.
It’s essential we all have a good understanding of just how important our liver is as a vital organ that keeps us alive. Most people don’t realise just how amazing it is and that it carries out over 500 functions crucial to life.
2. What are the key ways the Trust engages with the public to discuss liver disease (i.e the pop up clinics/corporate days)
As well as national media work the British Liver Trust raises the public profile of liver health issues through our innovative Love Your Liver campaign which tours the UK providing liver health clinics that offer screening and ultrasound scanning to members of the public. We also use these events to work with local media to increase awareness and encourage viewers, listeners and readers to find out more about liver disease and think about their own liver health.
Through our www.loveyourliver.org.uk website we also provide access to the liver health screener that can be completed at any time by anyone to find out their liver health risks and what to do if they are at risk.
Our main charity website at www.britishlivertrust.org.uk has a whole range of information on all adult liver health issues, along with patient stories which help others to see they are not alone.
Additionally we use social media, including Twitter, Facebook and Health Unlocked to communicate with as wide an audience as possible. Most recently we secured funding to develop an app that supports people to reduce their drinking. The app very importantly, for those who do drink, encourages good liver health by taking 2-3 consecutive days off drinking a week (www.spruceapp.co.uk). Users of the app are encouraged to let us know what they think so we can improve future versions.
3. How key is water to keeping our livers healthy?
Good hydration is essential to all health and supports the liver by assisting elimination of waste materials. Dehydration can lead to a loss of strength and stamina, and chronic dehydration can lead to kidney, liver and joint problems. Drinking 8-10 glasses of water a day (depending on your size and the amount of exercise you are doing) helps to keep all our organs healthy and working well. By installing a water dispenser in your home or office you can get fresh filtered water throughout the day while protecting your health.
4. Do you think that installing instant hot water taps and water coolers in workplaces makes it easier for businesses to help their staff stay hydrated?
Anything that encourages employees to be as healthy as possible, including good hydration, like an instant hot water tap should be encouraged; I would imagine more people would drink fresh water if it was available on tap.
5. Can you tell us the key reasons why liver disease is on the up in the UK?
The significant increase of over 400% in liver disease in the last 40 years (11,000 deaths in 2012) is due to a range of lifestyle related issues including:
- drinking too much alcohol
- increasing weight and obesity problems in the whole population (25% of the population are obese and most will have fatty liver disease, according to the Lancet Commission report Nov 2014)
- increasingly unhealthy diets and lack of exercise
Also unsafe sex and injecting drug use, along with a lack of understanding of how hepatitis is transmitted, has seen viral hepatitis increasing. Around 75% of those infected with Hepatitis C are estimated to be undiagnosed.
6. How can we look after our livers better?
Primarily we all need to understand and respect our liver and realise just how important it is to our good health. To stay as healthy as possible we need to:
- Keep our alcohol intake within safe limits and always take two to three consecutive days off every week
- Maintain a healthy weight – ensuring we eat as healthily as possible, take enough exercise and stay hydrated.
- Avoid the risks of viral hepatitis (see www.britishlivertrust.org.uk for more info)
All of us should complete the Love Your Liver health screener and take stock of just how healthy our liver might or might not be and take the recommended actions to keep our liver as healthy as possible (www.loveyourliver.org.uk).