Keeping your liver healthy can be the key to looking ‘and feeling good. Here's why…Few of us ever give any thought to our liver. But this resilient, hard-working organ is a critical factor in our health,andexperts say we need to give it the respect and care that it deserves. ‘Liver Disease A Silent Killer’ says Dr Jayshri Shah, a Liver Specialist at Ansh Liver Clinic (A Division of Ansh Medicare Solutions Pvt Ltd). ‘Pay more attention to it. You can’t live without it.’
Why your liver is so important?
The liver accomplishes an amazing 500 functions in the body, including the one that most of us know about: filtering and cleansing the blood. Its other functions include the ability to regulate blood sugar,store fat, break down hormones and drugs, regulate cholesterol and manufacture bile (which eliminates toxic substances from the body and helps with digestion).
The damaging effects of alcohol on liver:
But this mighty organ is also highly susceptible to abuse. Two elements of our lifestyle that are the most challenging to its proper functioning are obesity and the overuse of alcohol. When it comes to consuming alcohol, Dr Jayshri Shah, Liver Specialist at Ansh Liver Clinic, recommends limiting intake ‘Once you are drinking more than 21 units for males or > 14 units for females consistently, you run the risk of developing progressive liver damage resulting in cirrhosis (severe scarring/fibrosis/liver damage) Cirrhosis can result in complications such as vomiting blood, passing blood in stool, confusion, recurrent infections, easy fatiguablity , bruising , swelling of feet and abdomen( ascites ) . .These are life threatening complications. Also the risk of Liver cancer is much higher in patients with cirrhosis.
Risks for Liver Disease:
Liver disease can also be caused by illnesses, such as hepatitis A, B and C. And taking certain drugs, vitamins and herbal remedies can lead to liver damage. Acetaminophen is an example of a medication that can hurt the liver if taken in excess or with alcohol. Herbal medications such as ginseng, ginkgo biloba and garlic pills can also interfere with the liver’s normal functions.
Being overweight is also a threat to the liver. Excess fat in the body is stored in this organ, causing swelling and scarring, and possibly liver failure.Although and average of 20% Indians have fatty liver disease, few of these people even know that they have it. ‘The liver doesn’t whine,’ ‘The way it’s made, it can take the hit. It won’t give signs until the damage affects more than 75% of the organ.’
Liver tests can indicate other health problems:
Blood tests called liver function tests and the latest technology called Fibroscan can detect inflammation or degree of damage to the liver. The same problems that cause fat in the liver including a sedentary lifestyle, poor nutrition and being overweight can also cause heart disease and stroke. In this sense, the liver can serve as a red flag, so these tests can also act as an indicator of your risk for developing heart disease.
How to care for your liver:
The best advice for a healthy liver is to maintain a healthy weight and avoid heavy drinking, taking excess medications, mixing alcohol and pills, and acquiring hepatitis infections (there are vaccines against A and B). ‘If you take care of your general health, you’ll be taking care of your liver,’ concludes Dr Jayshri Shah. Regular health check-ups and tests like Fibroscan to be done at the regular intervals to avoid any severe medical condition.