The liver is a vital organ and is responsible for:
- digesting/ breaking down fats and other nutrients
- processing and breaking down drugs and chemicals
- detoxification (neutralize and break down toxins)
- producing and regulating cholesterol (75 to 80% of cholesterol in the body is produced by the liver)
- producing certain amino acids (building blocks for protein)
- maintaining a proper level of glucose in the blood
- storing vitamins and minerals
The most common liver ailments include:
- fatty liver (non-alcoholic/ alcoholic-) which can lead to cirrhosis if left untreated
- hepatitis B (75% of chronic hepatitis B patients are Asian)
- hepatitis C
- cirrhosis (scarring and fibrosis of the liver, caused by chronic hepatitis, fatty liver, alcoholism, etc.)
- liver cancer
People with liver ailments may not experience symptoms at all and may not know they have a liver problem until they do routine blood tests or an abdominal ultrasound. Sometimes they find out only when the disease has progressed to a more serious stage. It’s important to get regular health checks done if you are over 25 years old.
Talk to your healthcare practitioner about liver health if you:
- drink alcohol excessively
- have family members with liver disease
- have been diagnosed with hepatitis in the past
- have taken Panadol/ Tylenol (acetaminophen) for a period of time. Acetaminophen causes liver damage and is a leading cause of liver failure in the United States according to the FDA
- have taken other pharmaceutical drugs for a period of time, e.g. cholesterol-lowering statins such as Lipitor (atorvastatin) and Zocor (simvastatin); anti-obesity drugs such as Xenical/ Alli (orlistat); anti-depressant drugs such as Serzone (Nefazodone).
What can you do to boost liver health?
- To boost liver function, consume fresh fruits and vegetables such as beets, leafy greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, broccoli, artichokes, onions, garlic and carrots.
- Avoid saturated fats, refined sugars and alcohol.
- If you are overweight/ obese, lose the extra weight through exercise and appropriate dietary changes. Please note that Xenical/ Alli (orlistat), the pharmaceutical “wonder” drug used to control obesity, has now been linked to liver damage. If you need medical help and guidance in shedding the extra pounds, click here.
- Consult a licensed naturopathic physician to learn which herbs and other natural medicines can help you support liver function and reverse liver disease.
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