“Is life worth living? It all depends on the liver. –William James
After the brain, the most complex and vital organ in the body is the liver. It is the largest internal organ in the body and it performs more than five hundred functions. Life without a healthy liver is not sustainable. Liver disease is the tenth most common cause of death in India.
liver disease in india
In 2015, 18.3% of liver disease deaths worldwide occurred in India. Since then, the increase in sedentary habits, alcohol, and Western diets have led to a rapid increase in liver disease. Especially in alcoholic liver disease (ALD) and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In 2021, India launched a national NAFLD control program which has been integrated with other non-communicable disease control programs.
The liver controls digestion, metabolism, immunity, excretion, elimination of toxins, storage of nutrients, blood sugar level, cholesterol level, blood clotting, release of bile (a liquid that breaks down fat and aids digestion) and fights infection and disease. It also affects the functioning of the brain, heart, lungs and kidneys.
The main liver diseases are:
- Hepatitis, inflammation of the liver. It is generally caused by viruses such as hepatitis A, B and C. But also, by heavy consumption of alcohol, drugs, or allergic reactions, or obesity.
- Cirrhosispermanent scarring of the liver by long-term liver damage from any cause.
- Liver cancerhepatocellular carcinoma, the most common liver cancer, almost always occurs after cirrhosis.
- Hepatic insufficiencymany causes are infection, genetic diseases and excessive alcohol.
- Ascitesleakage of fluid from the liver into the belly which becomes distended and heavy.
- Gallstonessticking in the bile duct draining the liver can cause hepatitis and infection of the bile ducts (cholangitis).
- Hemochromatosis, allows iron to deposit in the liver, damaging it. Iron also deposits throughout the body, causing multiple other health problems.
- Primary sclerosing cholangitisa rare condition with unknown causes that causes inflammation and scarring in the bile ducts of the liver.
- Primary biliary cirrhosisa rare disease that slowly destroys the bile ducts of the liver, causing permanent scarring of the liver (cirrhosis).
Liver Disease Symptoms
- Loss of appetite
- Swelling of the legs and ankles
- Abdominal pain and swelling
- chronic fatigue
- Skin and eyes that appear yellowish (jaundice)
- Tendency to bruise easily
- Itchy skin
- Pale stool color
- Dark urine color
- Nausea or vomiting
For a healthy liver
For a healthy liver, adopt a healthy lifestyle, eat healthy and exercise.
Eat a balanced diet:
- Rich in fresh fruits like berries, apples, avocado, Grenade, and grapefruit
- Rich in vegetables like carrots, green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage.
- Prefer alternative cereals such as millet, jowar, bajra.
- Eat nuts like walnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, and Brazil nuts
- Use olive oil.
- Add garlic and turmeric in foods.
- Take lemon, lime juice and green tea.
- Reduce sodium and caffeine intake.
- Drink eight glasses of fluids, including water, each day. Fluids help the liver filter and remove toxins from the body.
- Alcohol. Or drink it sparingly
- Oily and greasy food
- Processed foods high in trans fat and sugar
- Red meat, trans fats, processed carbohydrates and foods containing high fructose corn syrup
- Colas, sodas, soft drinks, sweets, fruit juices, candies and energy drinks high in sugar.
- Medications such as painkillers, sleeping pills, cocaine, marijuana, and ecstasy, stimulants/ADHD medications like Ritalin, amphetamine, and intravenous drugs that can transmit infections like hepatitis B and C and lead to chronic liver disease and even liver cancer.
- Stress which can cause high levels of cortisol that can damage the liver.
- Unprotected sex
- Obesity. Reduce calories by 500 to 1,000 calories per day, if overweight.
- Tattoos or piercings
- Injection of drugs using shared needles
- Exposure to certain chemicals or toxins
- Wear a mask, gloves, hat and long sleeves when using aerosols such as paints, fungicides, insecticides and other toxic chemicals.
- Exercise four to six hours a week. Do moderate-intensity exercise for 30 to 60 minutes three to four times a week.
- Include cardio exercise i.e. swimming, biking, running, jogging, brisk walking (10,000 steps per day) for four hours, and strength training for two hours each week.
- Include yoga
Diagnosis of liver disease
Preliminary diagnosis is based on medical history and physical examination. Other tests that may be performed are:
- Blood tests. Liver function tests and other blood tests to look for specific liver problems or genetic conditions.
- Imaging tests. An ultrasound, CT scan, and MRI can show liver damage.
- Liver biopsy A tissue sample is taken from the liver and is tested in the laboratory to check for liver damage.
Some liver problems can be treated with lifestyle changes such as stopping alcohol consumption, eating healthy, exercising, and losing weight.
Other liver problems can be treated with medication or surgery.
Liver diseases that cause or lead to liver failure may require a liver transplant. About 75% of liver transplant patients live at least five years.
Some studies point to possible benefits of alternative medicine (AM), but there is no evidence yet that AM can treat liver problems.
Dietary and herbal supplements suggested by AM can damage the liver. More than a thousand drugs and herbal products, such as vitamin A, mistletoe, skullcap and kava, have been linked to liver damage.
Wash hands regularly. Let the soap lather and bubble and wash for twenty seconds.
Not share personal hygiene items such as razors, toothbrushes, and nail clippers, as they may be contaminated with microscopic levels of blood or other bodily fluids.
Take Hepatitis B vaccine. Hepatitis B is a liver disease that can cause mild illness, but also serious and permanent illness.
If you have a family history of liver disease or are over 50, get tested for liver damage.
Take care of your liver. To like. Because as Maya Angelou says, “Life loves the liver”.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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