Is your liver healthy?
The liver is one of the major, most important organs of the body.
Functions of the liver:
- Detoxification: removes toxins
- Metabolism: breaks down food/nutrients (digestion)
- Immune system support
- Stores and releases glucose as needed
- Protein synthesis- makes protein for blood plasma
- Makes bile which is vital for break down of fats and carry away waste, digests fats and absorbs certain vitamins- A,D,E,K
- Makes cholesterol to aid in transporting fats in the body
The liver is such a powerful organ, one that can regenerate itself!
How can diet affect the liver?
Healthy eating benefits the liver. It does not put pressure on the liver to do its work as does foods that are highly processed (very saturated fatty foods, processed and refined foods).
Unhealthy foods produce excess fat which can lead to fatty liver (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD)
Unhealthy foods (very saturated fatty foods, processed and refined foods) eventually leads to the body becoming inflamed which then scars the liver
Excessive alcohol consumption can also negatively impact the liver
Unhealthy foods cause liver enzymes to elevate leading to an inflamed liver
- Fried foods
- Excessive sugar and salt consumption
- Red meats
- Gluten- white breads, pasta, rice
- Fast food
Did you know Carbs can affect your liver?
Carbs eventually convert to sugars. Excess sugars can then produce triglycerides (fat in the blood). When consumed in excess, carbs can get stored in fat cells then get transported to the liver. Excess storage in the liver can lead to insulin resistance causing triglycerides to be stored in the liver and this leads to fatty liver disease
Do you know liver function can affect the way you feel physically?
Common signs of an unhealthy liver:
- Yellow skin (jaundice)
- Pale stools
- Skin bruises easily
- Abdominal discomfort/swelling
- Dark urine
Did you know you can develop liver disease both with/without alcohol consumption?
Alcoholic vs. Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease
Alcohol Liver Disease
- Excessive consumption of alcohol (alcohol abuse)
- Results in liver hepatitis- swelling and inflammation of the liver
- Disease is preventable
- Liver is put under pressure to break down alcohol when consumed excessively
- Can be reversed if alcohol consumption ceases
Types of Alcohol Liver Disease
- Fatty liver. Fatty liver is the build-up of fat inside the liver cells. It leads to an enlarged liver. It’s the most common alcohol-induced liver problem.
- Alcoholic hepatitis. Alcoholic hepatitis is an acute inflammation of the liver. There is death of liver cells, often followed by permanent scarring.
- Alcoholic cirrhosis. Alcoholic cirrhosis is the destruction of normal liver tissue. It leaves scar tissue in place of the working liver tissue.
Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease
- Applicable to non-alcoholics
- Excess fat in liver cells
- Can progress to aggressive form of fatty liver disease
- Insulin resistance
- Elevated blood glucose levels
- High levels of fat
Common risk factors
- High cholesterol
- High triglycerides
- Type II diabetes
- Dysfunctional thyroid
If left untreated, can progress to cirrhosis and then to liver cancer
- Eat healthy-fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant-based
- Physical activity
- Weight management
Fatty Liver vs. Cirrohis
- Abdominal discomfort/swelling
- Jaundice-yellowing of skin