“Liver is a power house organ which perform complex functions needed for normal functioning of the body. It is an essential organ of the body without which a person cannot survive and hence it is important to keep it healthy and happy by following a holistic approach,” states Dr. Ravi Kiran – Consultant Hepatology, Narayana Health City. According to the doctor, liver can be kept healthy by following three simple steps namely – avoiding liver toxic food, medicines and alcohol, looking at liver function at regular intervals and by treating the already established liver disease appropriately to prevent disease progression.
Liver is the largest solid organ in the body and its major functions are the production of bile juice, helping in blood clotting, filtering toxic substances from blood, regulating cholesterol and blood sugar. Any food or medicine that is absorbed through intestines is also filtered through the liver. Irrespective of the cause, whenever liver is affected, it tries to overcome the insult by trying to minimize the effect. Unless liver is fairly damaged, there may be no obvious signs or symptoms. At an advanced stage of liver disease, possible symptoms are loss of appetite, weight loss and jaundice.
Causes and prevention
Alcohol stands out as the leading cause impacting liver health. Liver disease due to alcohol consumption is by far the most common cause of liver transplantation in the world. Rather than debating on the quantity of alcohol that is safe to drink, considering the severity it can cause, it is better to avoid even if it is in a small amount.
Due to rapid urbanization and sedentary life style, urban and rural population alike are increasingly at the risk of getting fatty liver disease. Non Alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now affecting almost 25% of the world’s population. It’s an indolent disease which is slowly progressive and can show features of liver failure late in life. Healthy and balanced diet with regular exercise is essential to keep your liver healthy and prevent fatty liver disease. Diet should include food with good amount of fibres such as fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals.
Medications that may not be absolutely necessary must be stopped and medicines should be screened to look into their effect on liver health before consuming.
Regular liver health check-up especially in the individuals who are higher risk for developing liver disease is essential. This will help in identifying the liver disease at an early stage and also in taking measures to slowdown the progression of liver disease. People having high risk for liver disease include those who consume alcohol, who are overweight, those with diabetes, those with family history of liver disease and intravenous drug users to list a few. Basic and simple tests like liver function test, Liver ultrasound, viral markers go a long way in establishing liver health status. Fibroscan is a newer, simple yet a sure modality to know the state of liver health.
People who already are diagnosed with liver disease should not be stigmatised. They must be provided be adequate psychological and social support. There are excellent therapies available for liver disease caused by hepatitis viruses. People with very advanced liver disease irrespective of the cause can be salvaged by liver transplantation.
All in all, the mantra for healthy life is to have a healthy and happy liver. Simple daily steps like avoiding alcohol, maintaining healthy weight, eating right kind of food and proper screening for liver disease will certainly achieve the goal of good liver health.
About Narayana Health City, Bengaluru
Narayana Health City is located in Bommasandra, Bengaluru. It is comprised of Narayana Institute of Cardiac Sciences (NICS), a super specialty hospital for cardiology and cardiac surgery, and Mazumdar Shaw Medical Center (MSMC), a multispecialty hospital for cancer care, neurology, neurosurgery, nephrology, urology, and advanced multidisciplinary intensive care unit (MICU).