How To Protect Your Liver From Damage

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How To Protect Your Liver From Damage
Stages of Liver Damage
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How To Protect Your Liver From Damage Naturally; Liver damage is an obstruction of the function of the liver which can lead to liver failure which is severe deterioration in liver function.

What Is Liver Failure?

  • Liver failure is caused by a disorder or substance that damages the liver.

    . Most people have jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), feel tired and weak, and lose their appetite.

 

. Other symptoms include accumulation of fluid within the abdomen (ascites) and a tendency to bruise and bleed easily.

  • Doctors can usually diagnose liver failure based on symptoms and results of a physical examination and blood tests.

    Treatment usually involves controlling protein consumption, limiting sodium in the diet, completely avoiding alcohol, and treating the cause, but sometimes liver transplantation is required.

Liver failure can result from any type of liver disorder, including viral hepatitis (most commonly hepatitis B), cirrhosis, and liver damage from alcohol or drugs such as acetaminophen.

A large portion of the liver must be damaged before liver failure occurs. Liver failure may develop rapidly over days or weeks (acute) or gradually over months or years (chronic).

Many effects occur because the liver malfunctions:

  • The liver can no longer adequately process bilirubin (a waste product formed when old red blood cells are broken down) so that it can be eliminated from the body. Bilirubin then builds up in the blood and is deposited in the skin. The result is jaundice.

    The liver can no longer synthesize enough of the proteins that help blood clot. The result is a tendency to bruise and bleed (coagulopathy).

    Blood pressure in the veins that bring blood from the intestine to the liver is often abnormally high (called portal hypertension).

    Fluid may accumulate within the abdomen (ascites).

    Brain function may deteriorate because the liver cannot remove toxic substances as it normally does and these substances build up in the blood. This disorder is called hepatic encephalopathy.

    New veins (called collateral vessels) that bypass the liver may form. They often form in the esophagus and the stomach. There, the veins enlarge and become twisted. These veins—called varicose veins of the esophagus (esophageal varices) or stomach (gastric varices)—are fragile and prone to bleeding.

    For unknown reasons, the kidneys malfunction in up to half of people with liver failure. Liver failure that leads to kidney failure is called hepatorenal syndrome.

    The immune system malfunctions, increasing the risk of infections

    People may have metabolic abnormalities, such as a low potassium level in the blood (hypokalemia) or a low blood sugar level (hypoglycemia).

    How To Protect Your Liver From Damage

     

Symptoms Of Liver Failure

People with liver failure usually have jaundice, ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, and generally failing health. Jaundice makes the skin and whites of the eyes look yellow. Ascites may cause the abdomen to swell. Hepatic encephalopathy may cause confusion or drowsiness. Most people also have general symptoms, such as fatigue, weakness, nausea, and loss of appetite.

The breath may have a musty sweet odor.

People may bruise and bleed easily. For example, bleeding that would be slight in other people (for example, bleeding from a small cut or a nosebleed) may not stop on its own and may even be difficult for doctors to control. Loss of blood can result in low blood pressure (hypotension) and shock.

In acute liver failure, people may go from being healthy to near death within a few days. In chronic liver failure, the deterioration in health may be very gradual until a dramatic event, such as vomiting blood or having bloody stools, occurs. Blood in vomit or stool is usually caused by bleeding from varicose veins in the esophagus and stomach.

If kidney failure develops, less urine is produced and excreted from the body, resulting in the buildup of toxic substances in the blood.

Eventually, breathing becomes difficult.

Ultimately, liver failure is fatal if it is not treated or if the liver disorder is progressive. Even after treatment, liver failure may be irreversible. Some people die of kidney failure. Some people develop liver cancer.

Treatment Of Liver Failure

  • Treatment of the cause

    A diet low in animal protein

    For acute liver failure, immediate treatment

    Sometimes liver transplantation

Treatment depends on the cause and the specific symptoms. The urgency of treatment depends on whether liver failure is acute or chronic, but the principles of treatment are the same.

Dietary restriction

People are usually placed on a restricted diet, limiting the amount of animal protein, particularly in red meat but also in fish, cheese, and eggs. Eating too much animal protein can contribute to brain dysfunction. To make sure people get enough protein, doctors advise them to eat more foods that contain vegetable protein (such as soy). People should also limit their consumption of sodium (in salt and many foods). Doing so can help prevent fluid from accumulating within the abdomen. Alcohol is completely avoided because it can worsen liver damage.

 

How To Protect Your Liver From Damage

1. Don’t drink a lot of alcohol. Alcohol is toxic to the liver, and drinking alcohol is associated with a faster progression of liver disease, says Marc Ghany, MD, MHSc, a staff physician in the liver diseases branch at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Ghany tells his patients that no amount of alcohol is safe. “We don’t actually know how much alcohol is harmful, and because of that, the best recommendation for folks is not to drink any,” Ghany says.

How much alcohol is too much? U.S. government guidelines say men should drink no more than two drinks a day and women only one.

 

2. Eat a healthy diet and get regular exercise. Your liver will thank you. You’ll keep your weight under control, which helps prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that leads to cirrhosis.

 

3. Watch out for certain medicines. Dr. Jensen recommends limiting the use of pain medications containing acetaminophen to less than 2,000 milligrams a day. “Acetaminophen can cause liver damage on its own, so if your liver is already harmed from other causes, the threshold for damage is lower,” he explains.

 

4. Learn how to prevent viral hepatitis. It’s a serious disease that harms your liver. There are several types. You catch hepatitis A from eating or drinking water that’s got the virus that causes the disease. You can get a vaccine if you’re traveling to a part of the world where there are outbreaks.

Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids. To cut your risk, don’t share items like toothbrushes, razors, or needles. Limit the number of sex partners you have, and always use latex condoms.

There’s no vaccine yet for hepatitis C, but there is one for hepatitis B.

 

5. Get tested for viral hepatitis. Because it often doesn’t cause symptoms, you can have it for years and not know it. If you think you’ve had contact with the virus, talk to your doctor to see if you need a blood test.

The CDC recommends you get tested for hepatitis C if you were born between 1945 – 1965. The baby boomer generation is more likely to have the disease.

 

6. Don’t touch or breathe in toxins. Some cleaning products, aerosol products, and insecticides have chemicals that can damage your liver. Avoid direct contact with them.  Additives in cigarettes can also damage your liver, so don’t smoke.

 

7. Be careful with herbs and dietary supplements. Some can harm your liver. A few that have caused problems are cascara, chaparral, comfrey, kava, and ephedra.

In recent years, some herbs and supplements have hit the market that say they restore the liver, including milk thistle seed, borotutu bark, and chanca piedra. Be wary of those claims. “There’s never been any high-quality evidence that any of these promotes liver health,” Chung says. Some may even cause harm.

 

8. Drink coffee. Research shows that it can lower your risk of getting liver disease. Could drinking coffee actually slow the progression of liver disease? Potentially, according to preliminary research in a study of 766 participants conducted by Ghany and his colleagues. “Patients who drank three or more cups of coffee per day had a 50 percent lower risk of disease progression,” he says of the study findings. Although it’s too soon to recommend that non-coffee drinkers start drinking coffee for their liver’s sake, he says it won’t hurt to keep drinking it if it’s already a habit. This and the above will aid you in kowing how to protect your liver from damage.

 

How To Protect Your Liver From Damage Naturally

On how to protect your liver from damage naturally, it has been shown that supplements aid in improving and protecting the liver. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a supplement is something that is added to something else in order to make it complete. A dietary supplement is a product taken orally that contains one or more ingredients (vitamins, amino acids etc.) that are intended to supplement ones diet. These ingredients are active components of a plant or animal products that have been isolated, extracted and concentrated into a tablet or capsule that can easily be swallowed. They are able to deliver concentrated amounts of the active ingredient, which may prevent diseases and damage to cells or organs of the body.

The liver being such an important organ in the area of cleansing and detoxification will require certain supplements to support its functions. Moreover, the liver in carrying out those functions is usually exposed to various microorganisms and toxins that can cause damage to it. It would, therefore, require supplements that can prevent such damage. I have already presented water and foods that assist the liver in carrying out its functions and also helping to prevent damage to the liver. However, these may not be enough, hence the need to add supplements to the diet to ensure the wellbeing of the liver. Indeed, individuals above 50 years should be on supplements daily.

Here now are supplements if taken on a regular basis will support the good health and optimal functioning of the liver:
Milk Thistle

How To Protect Your Liver From Damage
This is a natural herb that is highly recommended for the health of the liver. It contains phytochemicals of the flavonoid/lignan group known as silymarin. Silymarin is an antioxidant with liver-protective and regenerative properties. As an antioxidant, silymarin neutralizes free radicals in the liver and prevents the lipid cell membrane of the hepatocytes (liver cells) from damage. It can also counteract toxins and prevent the liver from damage. Silymarin has the ability to cause regeneration of the liver cells, which may have been damaged.
Other conditions of the liver where milk thistle has been found to be active are acute and chronic liver hepatitis, alcoholic cirrhosis, fatty liver, drug-‘induced liver damage etc.

Milk thistle also has several health benefits in various non-liver related conditions. It is a powerful antioxidant any where in the body and is effective against Alzheimer’s disease, lowers blood sugar, lowers cholesterol level and prevents heart disease. Milk thistle also reduces cancer cell growth and has been found to prevent breast, lung, prostate, colon and cervical cancers.

 

Artichoke leaf

This is an herbal medicine for healthy liver function; it helps to stimulate the production of bile so as to have a large store of bile. Bile acids are involved in fat metabolism and a continuous flow of bile salts from such a large store is usually a confirmation of the wellbeing of the liver.

 

Alpha Lipoic Acid

How To Protect Your Liver From Damage
Photo Credit: Dr. Axe

Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant that is produced by every cell in the body. Unlike most antioxidants, alpha lipoic acid is both water and fat-soluble. This makes it an effective free radical scavenger any where in the body. Alpha lipoic acid also helps in the regeneration of other antioxidants that have released their electrons to balance the free radicals. In other words, alpha lipoic acid prolongs the function of other antioxidants in neutralizing free radicals.

Furthermore, this supplement helps to increase levels of glutathione and the liver enzymes. It also protects the liver against inflammation and prevents the hepatocytes and their membranes from free radical damage.

 

Turmeric

How To Protect Your Liver From Damage
This is a powerful liver tonic, which helps to stimulate flow of bile and helps the liver to digest fats. It also protects the liver from toxins and inflammation. It balances cholesterol and it is particularly useful in supporting the health of the heart.
Other supplements that are useful in supporting the health and function of the liver are: soy lecithin (phosphatidylcholine), N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), Olive leaf extract, Burdock root and Dandelion root.

 

 

 

Sources:

www.webmd.com

http://guardian.ng/features/

http://www.oceanmist.com/artichokes/

http://www.wjgnet.com/esps/

Dr. Axe

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