Your liver performs over 500 vital functions in your body! In fact, if it shuts down, you will only survive for two days; so daily protection should be a priority.
The liver is the largest organ in the body and performs many important metabolic functions. It converts the nutrients in our diets into substances that the body can use, stores these substances and when needed, supplies them to our cells.
The liver also absorbs toxic substances and converts them into harmless substances which are in turn expelled from the body. The liver plays a central role in all metabolic processes in the body:
- In fat metabolism, the liver cells break down fats and produce energy.
- In the metabolism of carbohydrates, the liver helps to ensure that the level of sugar in the blood (blood glucose) stays constant.
- In addition to storing sugar, the liver stores vitamins and minerals (iron and copper), and releases them into the blood when needed.
- The liver plays an important role in the metabolism of proteins where liver cells change amino acids in foods so that they can be used to create energy and produce carbohydrates and fats.
Many people in South Africa are at risk for developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
1. How do I know if I am at risk of NAFLD?
There are many lifestyle factors, diseases and conditions which may increase your risk of NAFLD. You risk levels may be higher:
- The older you are
- If you are overweight or obese
- If you suffer from insulin resistance or diabetes
- If you use chronic medicines like corticosteroids
- If you have high cholesterol
- If you suffer from sleep apnea
2. What are the symptoms?
When symptoms do show themselves they may include:
- Fatigue and pain in the upper right abdomen. If you have persistent symptoms that cause concern, speak to your doctor.
- NAFLD causes inflammation and scarring of the liver. At its most severe, NAFLD can lead to liver failure.
3. What can be done to prevent it?
There are no standard treatments for NAFLD, but you can take steps to reduce the risk factors which may contribute to the problem. Annual screening is important. Healthy lifestyle modifications will also help to reduce the risk of NAFLD.
4. How to reduce your risk:
- Lose weight: Literature suggests that being overweight or obese is a major risk factor for NAFLD. Ask your doctor to assist you in establishing a healthy weight-loss regime which will reduce the number of calories you eat each day.
- Eat healthy: A healthy diet that is rich in fruit, vegetables and whole grains will go a long way in helping control NAFLD.
- Be active: Aim for a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise most days of the week. If you’re looking to lose a few kilos, this will also help you to reach any weight-loss goals.
5. Protect your liver
Avoid things that will put extra stress on your liver. Limit alcohol and fatty food intake and supplement with daily essential phospholipids (EPLs), which are some of the most important support nutrients for the liver. EPLs are the building blocks of all cell membranes, including liver cells.
For more information on your liver and how you can take better care of it, visit: www.essentiale.co.za.