Why Do You Need To Pay Special Attention To The Health Of Your Liver?
You probably don’t give your internal organs much thought. You rely on them to do their job and ignore them unless they create a problem for you. Pegasus caregivers in Hidden Hills and elsewhere believe you need to pay special attention to the health of your liver.
It would take a book to describe everything your liver does for you. So far, liver specialists (hepatologists) know of at least 500 separate functions. These include the following:
- Filtration – Nearly everything that enters your body eventually ends up in your digestive system. That includes food, drink, medication, and toxic substances. Your digestive system sends it to your bloodstream for transport to your liver. Your liver’s filtration system sends anything toxic or unusable to be disposed of through your urine or feces. It keeps the useful stuff to be released back into the bloodstream as needed.
- Regulation – The liver stores sugar as glycogen. When your body needs energy, your liver converts the glycogen to glucose. Your bloodstream conveys the glucose to your cells. The liver converts only as much glycogen as needed, thereby regulating your blood sugar. If your liver runs out of glycogen, it makes glucose from other nutrients. It also has a role in regulating your hormones.
- Fat metabolism – It breaks down, converts, and stores dietary fats. It also makes other types of fat that the body needs.
- Blood work – The liver removes old and damaged blood cells. It’s also an essential part of the blood clotting process.
- Storehouse – As well as storing glycogen and fats, the liver keeps an inventory of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that your body needs. It converts the nutrients into the form that cells can use when needed. It knows what to release and when to release it to meet the nutritional requirements of the cells.
These are routine daily tasks for your liver. It performs hundreds of other functions as needed. Your liver deserves all the special attention you can give it.
Lifestyle Habits Play A Major Role In Liver Health
The most common cause of liver disease is the overconsumption of alcohol. How much alcohol is too much varies among individuals. Factors that can make a difference include weight, sex, ethnicity, and genes.
Moderate consumption of alcohol can lead to liver damage in some individuals. Other escape damage even though they consume excessive amounts. In general, alcohol impairs the liver because:
- Toxic chemicals are produced when your body processes alcohol
- The chemicals cause inflammation that kills liver cells
- The scars from the cell damage impair liver function
As the cycle continues, enough permanent scarring replaces healthy tissue so that the liver can no longer function. Cirrhosis is the medical word for irreversible scarring. Cirrhosis of the liver is a potentially fatal condition.
Illegal And Some Legal Drugs Harm Your Liver
Illicit drugs are another source of toxins that can overwhelm your liver. Prescribed medications can impair your liver when they are not used according to directions. That includes taking more than one kind at a time unless approved by a healthcare practitioner.
Prescribed medications can also be toxic if combined with:
- Over-the-counter drugs
- Supplements and herbs
You can find a database of medications, herbs, and supplements that are potentially toxic to the liver here.
Consuming too much dietary fat can stress the liver. Like alcohol, the metabolism of excess fat leads to inflammation and cirrhosis. Some individuals develop fatty liver disease.
As with alcohol consumption, there isn’t much hard data to tell you how much fat is too much. Research has shown obesity to be the most common cause of fatty liver disease. Other risk factors include high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes.
Just so you know, there is no scientific evidence that liver cleanses will counteract overindulgence in food or drink. They will not help you lose weight. Ingredients in some of the products may be harmful.
Prevention Is Your Best Cure
Prevention is your best defense against any liver disease. In addition to avoiding excessive consumption of alcohol and fatty foods, try to make other good lifestyle choices. Those can include:
- Eating a balanced diet
- Protecting yourself against toxins, such as pesticides, household cleaners, and other chemicals
- Treating other medical conditions
Practicing healthy lifestyle habits can strengthen your immune system. That helps you maintain liver health.
Your liver has an amazing ability to regenerate. Your liver can lose up to 75 percent of itself and grow back to its normal size within weeks. Incredibly, you don’t lose any liver function during the regeneration process.
However, for that to happen, you must cease and desist what caused the problem in the first place. Your body must be healthy and able to devote resources to your liver. If your liver is unable to heal itself, you may need a liver transplant.
Pegasus is a licensed Home Care Organization and a Joint Commission Accredited Home Health Care organization. Our caregivers in Hidden Hills and our other locations tailor their assistance to meet individual requirements. We are available to help you or your senior loved one make lifestyle changes necessary for good liver health.