From sunup to sundown, our body organs work continuously to keep our body working. All these intricate organs work tirelessly to keep our bodies working. As your kidney filters harmful substances from your blood cleaning it, your heart supplies blood to every cell and tissue of your body, and your stomach aids in the digestion of food providing energy to your body.
Why is liver health important?
Generally speaking, we can’t digest, walk, think or even sleep without properly functioning body organs. When it comes to organs, the health of an organ is as important as the organ itself. Your organ health is the key to your overall health. Be it your heart, kidney or brain, any disruption in its functioning can affect the overall functioning of your body.
Apart from heart and kidney, the liver is also one of the most important organs in our body. It is not only the largest solid organ in our body also serves as the largest gland in the human body. Known for its hundreds of functions, the liver is considered an important vital organ in the human body.
What important functions our liver plays?
A healthy liver is essential for the overall health of your body. Among hundreds of functions performed by the liver, some are;
- Liver is responsible for the bile production that helps the small intestine to metabolize cholesterol, fat and some of the vitamins in our body.
- Liver is responsible for making new blood cells in our body. The liver stores the byproduct of haemoglobin which is then used to produce a new generation of red blood cells.
- Our liver aids in the absorption of vitamin K that is responsible for the formation of a blood clot in case of any injury.
- Liver can metabolize dietary fats in our body aiding their absorption in our body.
- Bile released from the liver can help to metabolize the protein in our diet.
- Liver plays an important role in the metabolism of carbohydrates in our body converting them into glucose and storing them as glycogen which is released to maintain normal blood glucose levels in our body.
- Another important function performed by the liver is the removal of toxins from our body. The removal of toxins from our body can aid in improving our body functions.
- Moreover, the liver ensures healthy amino acids in the bloodstream that are important for protein formation in later stages.
What are some of the common liver problems?
You are less likely to pay attention to your liver as much as you care about your heart or kidney health. Such multifunction organ like liver can suffer from a range of problems including
Liver cirrhosis is one of the most commonly occurring liver problems in which liver cells are replaced by scar tissues. There are several factors responsible for this condition including hepatitis, toxins etc., that can eventually lead to liver failure.
This problem occurs when a parasitic worm known as liver fluke resides in the liver. The parasite tends to reproduce in the liver and can even stay there inactively for months or years. This is an infectious disease and can result in severe liver damage.
Hepatitis generally referred to the liver diseases that result in liver inflammation due to viral and toxins infection. There are many different types of hepatitis and can range from mild to severe symptoms. This liver infection can affect the overall functioning of the liver and can also be due to drugs, alcohol or sometimes due to medical conditions.
A few years ago, my uncle was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and was taken to a renowned hepatologist in Karachi, where he was treated for the disease. Later, it was found that his viral infection was nosocomial coming from the healthcare facility where he was previously treated.
Then, he was shifted to Ibn-e-Seena Hospital in Karachi where he got treated further. But he suffered a lot due to apparently small negligence from the side of previous healthcare facility’s staff.
4- Fatty liver problem
Another common liver health problem is fatty liver in which fat is deposited in the liver as vacuoles. Fatty liver can be due to excess alcohol consumption, medication, obesity and high-fructose diet. Apart from this, fatty liver is also associated with insulin resistance in the body.
Other than these diseases, Gilbert’s syndrome, alcoholic liver diseases, and liver cancer are other commonly occurring liver problems.
Ways to keep your liver healthy!
Prevention of these liver problems depends upon how you treat your liver. Here are a few tips that can help you to take care of your liver;
1- Avoid alcohol consumption
Alcohol consumption can deteriorate your liver by a greater magnitude. Overconsumption of alcohol can result in damaging liver cells and resulting in liver inflammation. The larger quantities of alcohol can’t be processed by your liver making your liver cells work hard. This can be damaging causing fatty liver and even resulting in liver scarring and liver cirrhosis.
2- Consider drug safety
We can’t deny the fact that among commonly liver damaging factors, medication is an important element. With the excessively available information on the internet regarding diseases, people are more likely to self-diagnose them and self-medicate. However, this self-medication can be pretty dangerous for your health, particularly, for your liver. Your liver that has to process this medication can get damaged by improper drug administration. Thus, you can damage your liver via self-medication.
3- Physical activity
Among many preventable factors to control liver disease, physical activity is the one. Inclusion of physical activity is linked with improved processing of fatty acids in the body preventing fatty liver disease. Apart from this, physical activity can improve our energy levels, reduces liver stress and reduces the risk of obesity.
4- Beware of toxins
Toxins present in our surroundings can be damaging to our liver. Avoiding the intake of these toxins and even direct contact with them can help with prevention of liver problems. Nowadays, toxins are present everywhere; whether it’s your cleaning agents or the insecticides you are using in your house can be damaging to your liver. Apart from this, these toxins can be present in aerosols sprays and you need to ensure proper ventilation before spraying these.
Food can play a key role!
The food you intake can directly affect your liver health. Here are some of the foods that are important to your liver health including;
Coffee is one of the most commonly consumed beverages in the world. The consumption of coffee is linked with improved health of our liver. Coffee can lower liver inflammation and also reduce oxidative stress in the body by promoting levels of glutathione (an antioxidant).
2- Green tea
Don’t worry if you don’t like coffee, green tea must be your thing. Just like coffee, the consumption of green tea is also important for improved liver health. Green tea is rich in antioxidants and can improve liver enzyme levels. Moreover, green tea can also lower the levels of fat storages in the liver as well as can reduce oxidative stress.
Health benefits if beetroot is not new to anyone. Beetroot is a good source of nitrates as well as betalains named antioxidants. The healthy ingredients present in beetroot can lower the liver inflammation and can also reduce the oxidative stress in the liver.
The fruit is quite rich in antioxidants and can prevent several liver problems. The antioxidants (naringin, naringenin) can protect against liver injury along with reducing the risk of liver scarring.
Anthocyanin present in both blueberries and can berries is known for its benefits for liver health. Apart from this, scientists also claim that blueberries are known to inhibit the growth of liver cancer as well as slow down the liver scarring.
6- Calciferous vegetables
These vegetables including broccoli, mustard, sprouts etc. are known for their high fire content along with other beneficial compounds. These compounds can help the liver enzyme production reducing liver damage.
Omega-3 fatty acids present in fatty fish can reduce liver inflammation, improve insulin resistance in the body. Apart from this, the consumption of fatty fish can regulate liver enzyme levels and reduce fat deposition in the body.
6- Maintain a healthy weight
Other than all other methods to prevent liver damage, maintenance of healthy weight is also important. An unhealthy or overweight person is more likely to develop liver diseases. Excessive weight can lead to fatty liver. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for many cancers including liver cancer.
7- Consider your hepatitis risk
To prevent hepatitis, you need to take additional care. Hepatitis A vaccination is an effective way to prevent the disease. However, in the case of hepatitis B and C you need to take care during blood transfusion and sharing your needles, razors etc.