Brought to you by AIA, the largest life insurer in the world
Did you know that the liver is said to have approximately 500 vital functions? As the biggest internal organ in human anatomy, the liver is one of the ‘captains’ that ensure your overall bodily functions are smooth-sailing.
Due to this, the liver is one of the organs that are most susceptible to damages. Before we learn further on how to care for our liver, let us get reacquainted with the basics about this one-of-a-kind organ.
Located in the upper right-hand portion of the abdominal cavity, the liver is a dark reddish-brown organ that weighs about 1.4 kilograms. At any given moment, the liver reportedly holds roughly 13 per cent of the body’s blood supply. Generally, the liver has several primary functions:
Regulates chemical levels in the blood and excretes a by-product called bile which helps expel waste and breaks down fats in the small intestine during digestion
Converts excess glucose into glycogen, which can later be reverted back into glucose if the body needs energy
Clears the blood of poisonous substances and bacteria, thus improving the immune system
Breaks down the nutrients and chemicals in the bloodstream into forms that are easier for the rest of your body to use
Converts toxins to urea which will be expelled in the urine
Liver-related illnesses and their causes
There are several liver-related diseases that stemmed genetically. However, there are others that are heavily influenced by several factors such as lifestyle habits. Here are the most common health conditions related to the liver:
It is an inflammation of the liver caused by hepatitis viruses A, B, C, D or E. According to several studies, types A and E are commonly brought about due to ingestion of contaminated food or water, while types B, C and D typically are results of contact with infected bodily fluids. In the Kingdom, Hepatitis B was previously considered an endemic but the number of cases have been significantly lower over the years thanks to vaccination, said World Health Organisation (WHO).
2. Fatty liver disease
As the name suggests, the condition occurs when there excessive fat builds up in your liver. There are two kinds of fatty liver diseases: one that is caused by excessive alcohol use and one that affects those who consume little to no alcohol. The latter could be a concern if it develops into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), as it could trigger scarring of the liver (fibrosis) or a more severe version of inflammation dubbed cirrhosis. When NASH happens, permanent liver failure is a possibility.
3. Liver cancer
In short, cancer occurs when abnormal cell growth is present. Seeing as the liver is made up of different cells, damages due to birth defects, alcohol abuse or severe infections might cause a primary liver cancer. Additionally, due to the fact that all the blood in the body passes through the liver, it is even more exposed to different kinds of potential cancer cells that travel in the bloodstream.
How to take better care of your liver
1. Limit your alcohol consumption
It is a known fact that alcoholic beverages can trigger a handful of health issues but they particularly might cause irreparable damage to your liver in the long haul. It is reportedly so because the liver might produce a negative chemical reaction that could scar itself when trying to digest alcohol. Excessive drinking might also prompt a condition called fatty liver – a floodgate to more health problems.
2. Maintain a healthy weight
Those who are somewhat overweight or obese are in danger of having a fatty liver. As previously discussed, fatty liver can spark other illnesses that eventually might lead to cancer. Aside from reducing risks of liver-related diseases, maintaining an optimum weight would eliminate other health risks and guarantee a better quality of life.
3. Prioritise hygiene and medical care
If you somehow are exposed to someone else’s blood, consult medical professionals immediately. The same goes if you experience any type of skin penetration involving sharp instruments. Visit a hospital and get yourself tested. If you are a fan of body arts such as tattoos and piercings, ensure that the artist uses only sterile, single-use, and disposable needles.
4. Get vaccinated
Since Hepatitis A and B could cause liver inflammation, it can be chronic or even life-threatening. Today, safe and effective vaccines that can prevent both types of Hepatitis are available. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the Hepatitis A vaccine for all children between ages 12 months and 23 months, while Hepatitis B vaccine should be the first dose for newborns.
Diet does the trick
While the above-mentioned lifestyle tweaks will bode well for your health, you could up the ante by monitoring your diet and include these in your day-to-day meals as they are proven to promote excellent liver health:
According to Healthline, a study found that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) patients who drank green tea for 12 straight weeks had improved liver enzyme levels, due to the antioxidants level found in the tea. It is said to also be effective in eliminating oxidative stress and fat deposits in the liver.
Grapes, especially red and purple ones, contain a variety of beneficial compounds including resveratrol which possesses positive effects on blood fats, among others. Several studies claimed that the antioxidant content in grapes can help lower inflammation and prevent liver damages.
3. Fatty fish
Fatty fish such as salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids – healthy fats that can reduce inflammation and have been associated with a lower risk of heart disease. Healthline quoted a study which said that they help prevent fat from building up, maintain a normal enzyme level and improve insulin resistance.
There can never be too many safeguards in place. Inquire further about AIA’s life insurance solution which covers 26 conditions of critical illnesses and medical operations in Cambodia and overseas. Kindly contact AIA Cambodia at 086 999 242 for more information.
Sources: Healthline, World Health Organisation, Mayo Clinic, Liver Foundation, WebMD, United States National Library of Medicine, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.