As the largest organ in your body, your liver performs hundreds of functions. Your liver helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove toxins from the body. Your liver is also involved in making proteins and blood clotting factors. Because it performs so many critical functions, your liver is highly susceptible to disease and injury. If you have a disease or injury that affects your liver, it’s important to protect this vital organ by monitoring its health carefully.
A fatty liver can lead to steatosis or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
When a fatty liver is left unchecked, it can lead to steatosis, or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition has become the most common form of chronic liver disease in the United States and is expanding globally. NAFLD happens when fat builds up in the cells of your liver. It’s extremely common in people who are overweight or obese, but it can happen to anyone, even children. If you’re unsure whether you’re at risk for NAFLD, look out for these symptoms:
- An enlarged liver
- A tender discomfort under your ribs on the right side of your body
- Nausea, fever, and vomiting
If you think you have NAFLD and want to know how to treat it, here are some options that may help:
- A low-calorie diet that leads to weight loss tends to reduce NAFLD symptoms and may slow or stop its progress. Your doctor will likely recommend losing weight slowly by consuming 500 fewer calories than normal each day.
- You should also eat plenty of fruits and vegetables while avoiding sugary foods like cake or ice cream since they often contain high amounts of fructose (a type of sugar found in fruits), which contributes to a fatty liver. With this diet plan as well as regular exercise (like walking), long-term relief from symptoms should be expected within three months!
- Weight loss surgery may be an option if you’re not able to lose enough weight through exercise and diet alone. Talk with your doctor about whether surgery would benefit you – there are several types available such as gastric bypasses that limit how much food goes into the stomach by creating a smaller pouch. All surgeries come with risks though so make sure it’s worth doing before committing yourself!
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a serious form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a serious form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It is the most severe form of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. NASH can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cancer, and death.
There are no proven treatments for NASH at this time, but there are medications under research for NASH.
NASH can now be detected by a simple blood test along with an ultrasound or CT scan. A liver biopsy is the only way to confirm the diagnosis of NASH; however, it can be too risky for some people.
Most people don’t know they have NASH until one day they develop cirrhosis and then come down with jaundice or bleeding from their esophagus – all signs that their liver has failed! The best way to prevent this outcome is early recognition of your risk factors so you can prevent the development of NAFLD in the first place!
Hemochromatosis is the accumulation of a surplus of iron in the body’s organs.
Hemochromatosis is the accumulation of a surplus of iron in the body’s organs. Iron is essential for many bodily functions, but excess iron can be toxic to the liver and lead to liver failure. Hemochromatosis can be diagnosed with a simple blood test, and treatment options are available if caught early enough. The main cause behind this condition is a genetic mutation that causes your body to absorb extra iron from the food and supplements you consume. This mutation is relatively common in people of northern European descent but is also present among other ethnicities. Other possible causes include:
- Blood transfusions
- Conditions that cause too many red blood cells to die
- Hereditary hemochromatosis (a gene defect you inherit from one or both parents)
Over time, excess alcohol consumption can cause alcoholic hepatitis.
As a result of alcohol abuse, your liver can become inflamed. This condition is known as alcoholic hepatitis (AH). AH is not caused by a bacterial infection and can be reversed if you stop drinking right away. Unfortunately, if you don’t stop drinking, it’ll only get worse, and you could end up with serious liver damage or even death.
The best way to find out whether you are at risk of developing AH is to ask yourself the following questions:
• Do I drink too much?
• Am I tired all the time?
• Do I have no appetite?
If yes was your answer to any of these questions, then there’s a good chance that your liver is suffering from some damage due to alcohol consumption. You should visit your doctor for regular checkups and blood tests so that he or she can monitor how well your liver is doing overtime.
Over time, untreated alcohol hepatitis leads to cirrhosis of the liver.
Cirrhosis, the most serious form of liver damage, is the final stage of alcohol hepatitis. It’s a chronic, irreversible disease that leads to the loss and scarring of liver cells. Scar tissue blocks blood flow through the organ, which can prevent it from working properly. If this continues for an extended period of time (and it often does), cirrhosis can lead to life-threatening complications and be fatal.
Along with other treatments for cirrhosis (such as medications) and managing symptoms like fatigue or itchiness, doctors recommend that patients treat their condition by stopping drinking altogether and making dietary changes so they consume fewer calories each day.
Viral hepatitis is a serious condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is inflammation of the liver, which can be caused by any one of five different viruses (A-E). Of these, hepatitis A is the mildest form. Hepatitis A is typically contracted by eating or drinking something contaminated with feces from someone who has it. This virus does not cause chronic infection and it rarely results in death; however, it can cause severe liver damage.
Fortunately, this type of viral hepatitis is preventable through vaccination. In countries where sanitation practices are less rigid and proper hygiene is not always practiced or taught, this type of virus can be quite common and outbreaks occur frequently.
In the United States, it tends to be less widespread and instead occurs in small clusters that have been exposed to contaminated food or water. If you think you may have been exposed to hepatitis A, look out for the most common symptoms: jaundice (yellowing of your skin or eyes) and fatigue.
Hepatitis B is usually transmitted through blood transfusions or sexual contact with an infected person. It can also be transmitted from mother to child during birth. Hepatitis B is a serious disease that can lead to cirrhosis or liver cancer.
Hepatitis C is a virus that attacks the liver, leading to inflammation and cirrhosis over time. It is contracted by direct contact with infected blood, mostly through unsterile needles or syringes or needle-stick injuries in healthcare settings.
Hepatitis C can take decades to become active and even longer before symptoms develop, so people may be living with it for years without knowing it. Liver cancer can occur as a result of hepatitis C, but this is rare.
Treating hepatitis C has evolved significantly in recent years; new therapies are up to 95 percent effective at curing the disease in just a few months, compared with previous treatments which often had less than a 50 percent success rate.
A vaccine against hepatitis C does not currently exist, but one for hepatitis B does – it’s highly recommended for infants and other high-risk groups.
Fruit juices and teas to help support your liver health.
Juicing is a great way to work more fruits and vegetables into your diet, especially if you don’t enjoy eating them. However, not all juices are created equal. When it comes to liver damage, heavily processed fruit juices high in sugar and preservatives may be worse for your body than their whole food counterpart. Instead of reaching for the store-bought fruit juice, consider making your own with fresh produce from the farmers’ market or grocery store instead.
In addition to watching what you eat, keeping up with hydration is also important for optimal health, especially when it comes to treating liver disease. Drinking herbal teas such as green tea and dandelion can help support liver health and reduce inflammation in the body. Brewed at home from dried herbs or leaves, these teas are high in antioxidants that fight free radicals (harmful molecules) throughout the body that can cause cell damage and lead to disease over time.
Vitamin C and B12 can also help your liver health.
In addition to getting enough B vitamins and iron, it is important to get sufficient vitamin C in your diet. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps prevent liver damage. One way you can get more vitamin C in your diet is by eating at least one orange a day or drinking one glass of orange juice.
Another great source of vitamin C is strawberries—one cup contains about 85 milligrams of the nutrient. Other citrus fruits such as grapefruits, lemons, and limes may not have as much vitamin C as oranges, but they are still good sources of nutrients.
Vitamin B12 can also be helpful for people with the fatty liver disease since it works together with folic acid to break down amino acids. Folic acid also helps metabolize homocysteine, an amino acid that can cause heart problems if levels get too high.
While research into the connection between vitamin B12 and fatty liver disease is ongoing, some studies suggest that deficiencies in this nutrient may lead to excess fat storage in the liver, which could increase your risk of developing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Eating animal-based foods like meat, poultry and fish will help you meet your daily needs for this nutrient
Taking care of your liver is easy if you find that you are at risk or may have symptoms
If you’ve done any research into your risk for fatty liver disease, you know how important it is to maintain a healthy lifestyle. In our society, where many people have sedentary jobs and there is easy access to fatty foods, this can be a challenge. However, there are many ways to keep your liver in good shape:
- Exercise regularly. Find an activity that keeps you moving every day! It doesn’t have to be difficult—even something as simple as taking a walk around the block or going on a jog can really make a difference. You’ll find that exercise helps not only your liver but also other parts of your body!
- Eat healthy food. Choose foods that are low in fat and high in fiber and nutrients. This will give your body the fuel it needs without making too much work for your liver! Your local grocery store likely has its own section of “health food” items like vegetables and fruits that may be easier to find than searching for them at other stores like fast-food restaurants or convenience stores.