The liver is the second-largest organ in the human body and is located on the right side of your body, under the rib cage. The liver is about three pounds in weight, and is also reddish-brown in color. It plays several roles in the body, including filtration of blood that comes from the digestive tract before distributing it to other parts of the body.
The liver is also responsible for the metabolism of drugs and detoxification of chemicals in the body and synthesizes proteins that take part in important biological functions, such as blood clotting. The liver is also responsible for the storage of glucose and its release when needed by the body.
Finally, the liver also secretes a liquid substance that is known as bile, which can be harmful if the liver directly releases the bile into the blood stream.
Common Liver Conditions
There are a variety of diseases that can cause damage to the liver. Some of the common liver conditions include:
Hepatitis refers to the inflammation of the liver. The inflammation may be caused by viral organisms such as Hepatitis A, B, and C. Besides the viruses, Hepatitis can also result from obesity, heavy drinking of alcohol, drug abuse, and allergic reactions.
The most common type of cancer that affects the liver is known as Hepatocellular Carcinoma. It generally occurs after Cirrhosis is present.
This form of liver damage results from long-term damage to the liver. The scar that is left behind is known as cirrhosis.
This can be caused by several factors such as genetic diseases, excessive intake of alcohol, and infections.
Ascites commonly occur with cirrhosis. The liver leaks fluids into the belly, making it distend.
This results from the deposition of iron in the liver, which leads to its damage.
The iron also gets deposited into other parts of the body, causing more damage.
Primary Biliary Cirrhosis
This refers to a condition that results in the destruction of the bile ducts.
It is a rare disease and the cause is unknown.
This is a condition where the gallstones build up in the bile duct that drains the liver. It may lead to Hepatitis and bile duct infection, also known as Cholangitis.
How Liver Damage Affects The Body
Fatty liver disease occurs when the fats in the liver make up 5-10 percent of the organ's weight. Fatty liver disease is categorized into alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic liver disease. Individuals who have fatty liver disease encounter problems with the handling of fats by the liver cells. Excessive intake of alcohol causes alcoholic liver disease. The excess alcohol present in the body is taken to the liver, and it ends up causing damage as a result.
The nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is the most common among the Western population. It affects individuals who are overweight as well as the middle-aged. Patients who are diagnosed with the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease usually also have high cholesterol levels in the body.
Typically, the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is associated with malnutrition, genetics, medications, and too many bacterial organisms in the small intestine. Damage to liver affects the body in several ways. The early symptoms of liver damage may include loss of appetite, nausea, fatigue, and diarrhea.
The patient may present with severe symptoms such as jaundice, skin discoloration, swollen abdomen, bleeding quickly, and confusion or mental disorientation.
Easy bruising is a result of a decline in the production of clotting proteins by the liver. The patient may also complain of pain that occurs in the center or right upper part of the abdomen. Dark patches of skin can also be seen under the arms or on the neck.
Fatty liver disease can also cause Cirrhosis. The scar tissue that develops may also prevent the normal functions of the liver and may even also block the flow of blood through the liver to other parts of the body.
Top Causes Of Liver Disease
Potential causes of liver diseases include:
1. Acetaminophen Overdose
Most cases of acute liver failure in the United States are s result of taking too much acetaminophen, which is an active ingredient in many medications, such as Tylenol.
The condition can occur after a single overdose of acetaminophen or a higher than recommended dose for several days.
2. Metabolic Diseases
Rare metabolic conditions, such as Wilson’s disease, infrequently result in acute liver failure.
Several toxins can cause acute liver failure. They include the wild mushroom Amanita phalloides, which are commonly mistaken for the edible species.
4. Herbal Supplements
The usage of certain herbal drugs and supplements have been linked to the development of acute liver failure. Examples of herbal medications that have been associated with acute liver failure include ephedra, kava, and skullcap.
5. Prescription Medications
Several prescription medications, including antibiotic agents, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, and anticonvulsants are risk factors for liver disease.
6. Hepatitis And Other Viruses
Examples of viruses that are linked to acute liver failure include hepatitis A, B, and C. Other infectious viruses include Epstein – Barr virus and the Herpes Simplex virus.
Foods That May Encourage The Progression Of Liver Disease
The sugar that is present in some beverages ends up in liver, which can result in fatty liver disease. A study that was conducted at Emory University School of Medicine revealed that the intake of excess sugars could contribute to the development and progression of the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The primary culprit are fructose and fructose syrups.
Alcohol is the leading cause of liver failure. Studies suggest that fatty liver disease is common among heavy alcohol drinkers due to its toxicity and the resulting inflammation.
Processed foods, such as refined sugar, lunch meats, convenience foods, and hydrogenated oils have been found to be toxic to the body. Processed foods contain chemical compounds such as nitrates, which have been linked to several health conditions. They also have a high concentration of high fructose corn syrup, which is also linked to the fatty liver disease.
Individuals with liver problems are advised to avoid foods such as rice, bread, corn, and grits. Consumption of highly refined carbohydrates can cause insulin levels to spike. Studies have shown that insulin sensitivity is one of the leading causes of liver disease.
It is important to read the labels on whole grain packages before making a purchase.
Natural Treatments For Liver Disease
Our next discussion is focused on the foods that can help repair the liver naturally. Eating the following foods also provides the best way to keep the liver healthy and functioning properly, but please note that these foods should not be consumed in lieu of receiving medical attention when appropriate.
1. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are potent when it comes to cleansing the liver. They can be eaten raw, prepared as juice, or cooked. Leafy green vegetables are high in chlorophyll absorb environmental toxins that are built up in the blood stream.
They also neutralize chemicals, heavy metals, and pesticides that are present in the body. Leafy green vegetables provide the liver with a powerful protective mechanism. You can incorporate greens such as mustard greens, spinach, and dandelion greens into your regular diet.
Other leafy green vegetables to try out include Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus. Vegetables are also easy to digest, and they are readily available for absorption into the blood stream.
The pungent, white bulb has been found to be capable of activating liver enzymes that help the body to remove toxins. Garlic is also a natural source of selenium and allicin. The two natural compounds provide natural cleansing of the liver. Selenium enhances the activity of the antioxidants found in the body.
The antioxidants help keep the toxic substances that are filtered by the liver from accessing other organs in the body. According to a 2002 study that was published in the Journal of Nutrition, the consumption of garlic helps reduce the levels of very low-density lipoproteins that are in the body, as high levels of very low-density lipoproteins can cause liver damage.
Grapefruits are high in antioxidants and vitamin C. They also boost the natural cleansing process of the liver.
It is advisable to take a small glass of freshly prepared grapefruit juice to enhance the synthesis of the liver detoxification enzymes. According to a study that was published in the European Journal of Nutrition, the consumption of grapefruit juice can help prevent the development of the fatty liver disease. Grapefruits activate the synthesis of chemicals that are responsible for the oxidation of fatty acids.
Another study that was published in the Journal of Medicinal Food suggested that grapefruit can even prevent the development of fatty liver disease by attenuating metabolic syndrome and lowering body fats.
4. Ginger Root
Ginger root is high in fiber. The high fiber content helps support a healthy gut by hastening the removal of toxins in the body. According to a study published in the September 2010 issue of the Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ginger root has liver-protective properties.
The study revealed that ginger could protect the liver against the development of liver fibrosis. Researchers have found out that ginger extract is capable of increasing the levels of antioxidant enzymes that are used by the liver, such as glutathione superoxide dismutase.
The study concluded that ginger root has the potential for use in the management of liver fibrosis, which is a form of a degenerative disease that causes a scar tissue.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are beneficial to the liver due to the potassium content. According to experts, one sweet potato contains about 700 milligrams of potassium, which helps cleanse the liver. Besides the electrolytes, sweet potatoes are also rich in other nutrients such as vitamins B6, C, and D. They are also rich in iron and magnesium.
Sweet potatoes have a sweet taste making them easy to eat, and the sugars are released gradually into the bloodstream. They do not cause a spike in the blood sugar level after consumption.
6. Green Tea
Green tea is high in natural compounds that are known as catechins. Catechins also protect the liver from the toxicity caused by substances such as alcohol, and the plant-based antioxidants are known to help liver function.
According to studies, a daily intake of green tea helps to reduce the number of fats that are stored in the body. The excess fats are linked to the development of the fatty liver disease. According to human clinical studies, the recommended daily dose of the green tea dose is 1.6 grams. The maximum tolerated dosage of green tea in people is 9.9 grams, which is equivalent to 24 cups of green tea daily.
7. Olive Oil
Olive oil promotes a healthy liver, but only if used in moderation. Olive oil has a lipid base that helps the body by absorbing toxins present in the body. Studies have revealed that olive oil has an antioxidant property against the fat-storing hepatocytes.
Liver damage can also result from inflammation and oxidative stress, and olive oil is known to help reduce stress levels in the body. It also has an anti-inflammatory property that helps reduce inflammation present throughout the body.
Olive oil is the only oil that can be obtained from its fruit and used instantly, as other oils we consume orally require being processed from one source to another.
8. Milk Thistle
Milk thistle is an excellent natural detoxifier. It helps restore damaged liver cells while removing unwanted substances from the liver. A study that was published in the Digestive Disease and Sciences found that milk thistle is capable of naturally reversing the harmful effects of alcohol in the liver.
It also gets rid of pesticides that may gain access to the body through the food supply. Milk thistle also reverses the harmful effects of heavy metals and even the pollution in the air that people breathe in on a daily basis.
A study conducted in 2014 found that milk thistle can have curative effects against alcoholic liver disease, toxin-induced liver disease, and acute and chronic viral hepatitis.
9. Black Seed Oil
People with the fatty liver disease can benefit from black seed oil. According to a study found in the European Review of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, black seed oil is capable of reducing the complications and progression of the fatty liver disease.
Turmeric is one of the liver's favorite spices. Turmeric can be consumed by adding it to a lentil stew or veggie dish. It promotes the natural detoxification process of the liver by activating enzymes that are involved in the removal of toxins from the body.
Liver Disease Repair Final Thoughts
Due to its several functions within the body, the liver is typically exposed to the effects of toxins, stress, and refined foods in the body daily. Antioxidant diets using the foods discussed above can significantly help promote liver function.
It is also important to perform exercises daily to reduce stress levels in the body and to avoid potential harmful substances to enable the liver function to maintain its optimal level.