The liver is the second largest organ in the body and the only internal organ that can regenerate. The largest gland in our body plays a key role in metabolizing the food we eat and the detoxification process that protects us from the harmful effects of many toxins we are exposed to.
Liver diseases are divided into:
inflammatory: acute and chronic hepatitis,
and non-inflammatory: fatty liver (steatosis), toxic damage, cirrhosis, vascular diseases and tumors of the liver.
Fatty liver or steatosis, is the result of excess fat in the liver cells. It indicates excessive accumulation of neutral fat inside liver cells causing the liver looks brighter and usually increased in size. Fat tissue gradually builds up when food intake exceeds the individual fat intake that the body can actually handle.
A person has fatty liver when fat make up at least 5% of the liver. The early stage, ie. a simple fatty liver can be quite benign condition and typically does not lead to damage. Often there are no symptoms and it does not cause any permanent damage.
However, the liver can become vulnerable over time, which can lead to inflammation and scarring.
Fatty liver is the most common form of alcoholic liver disease that can cross over to alcoholic hepatitis and finally to alcoholic liver cirrhosis.
The most common cause is alcoholism. Almost all heavy drinkers have fatty liver disease. Other causes include toxins, certain medications, and inherited metabolic disorders. In other cases, the formation of fatty liver in people who are not alcoholics associated with cholesterol levels, obesity and diabetes type 2 diabetes.
Types of fatty liver
There are four types of fatty liver:
1. What is the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Nat'l)?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a progressive disease of the liver that begins with accumulation of fat in the liver without excessive alcohol consumption. It is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome (obesity + insulin resistance dyslipidemia).
Diagnosed when more than 10 percent of liver is fatty.
What can be regarded as excessive alcohol consumption?
More than 2 drinks per day for women and 3 drinks per day for men.
2. Alcoholic fatty liver
Alcoholic fatty liver is the earliest stage of liver disease associated with alcohol. The liver is damaged due to heavy drinking, and if the patient does not take alcohol, fat should disappear within six weeks. However, if the excessive consumption of alcohol is still present, will develop cirrhosis of the liver.
3. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis means fatty liver with inflammation, in other words, damage similar to alcoholic liver disease, but in this case it happens to people who do not drink alcohol or drink a bare minimum of it. NASH differs from the simple accumulation of fat in the liver, which is a completely benign condition. Up to 20% of the adults with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis develops cirrhosis, and in many individuals leads to chronic liver failure requiring a transplantation.
This disease may compromise the function of the liver. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and yellowing of the skin. If left untreated, NASH can progress to permanent scarring and liver damage.
4. Fatty liver during pregnancy
This is a rare complication during pregnancy, which can be life-threatening. Symptoms begin in the third quarter and include persistent nausea and vomiting, pain in the upper right abdomen, jaundice and general weakness. Most women get better after birth and have no lasting effects.
What causes fatty liver disease?
The most common cause of fatty liver, in Canada, for example, is obesity. Until a few decades ago obesity was not as common, according to current statistics, more than 50% of Canadians have overweight. It is estimated that 75% of obese people at risk of developing early-stage, and the development of simple fatty liver. Up to 23% of obese individuals are at risk of developing fatty liver with inflammation.
Besides obesity, nutritional causes of fatty liver disease are:
• hunger and food deficient in protein
• Long-term use of total parenteral nutrition (feeding procedure that involves infusion of nutrients directly into the bloodstream)
• intestinal bypass surgery for obesity,
• rapid weight gain or weight loss
Certain conditions often accompany and may contribute to fatty liver disease:
• diabetes - diabetes mellitus,
• hyperlipidemia (elevated lipids in the blood)
• insulin resistance and high blood pressure
Other causes include:
• genetic factors,
• drugs and chemicals, such as alcohol, corticosteroids, tetracycline and carbon tetrachloride.
The calculation of body mass index (BMI) based on the relative weight and the square of the height of a person.
The values of the recommended BMI are the same for both sexes, it is 18.5 to 24.9 kg / m2 according to the World Health Organization for the European population.
18.5-24.9 normal weight
30.0 to 34.9 Obesity I
35.0 to 39.0 Obesity II
BMI ? 40 Obesity III
Excess abdominal fat is associated with liver diseases and other health risks such as diabetes. Measuring the waist for the identification of the health risks associated with an excess of abdominal fat: For men, the health risks are increased if the waist circumference is greater than 102 cm. For women, the risks are increased, if the waist circumference greater than 88 cm.
How does fat come into the liver?
Fat from the diet is usually metabolized by the liver and other tissues. If the fat content exceeds that which is needed by the body, the excess fat is stored in adipose tissue. Other reasons for the accumulation of fat in the liver may be the transfer of fat from other parts of the body or inability of the liver to change into a form that can be eliminated.
Such liver disorders are usually chronic, or progressive. The simple presence of fat is what happens in the majority of patients with fatty liver disease, and most of them have a benign clinical course. However, if left untreated, non-alcoholic fatty liver can progress to more diseases, such as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which can develop into fibrosis, cirrhosis and liver cancer (HCC) in several cases.
Progression of the disease usually lasts for decades, and it depends on a combination of genetic and environmental factors. The relative importance of these factors is variable in different groups, depending on the lifestyle and other factors.
Is it possible to develop in children?
Fatty liver is the most common cause of liver disease in children. Almost 10% of children may have fatty liver, thanks to the alarming rise in childhood obesity. It is estimated that one in ten children in Canada are overweight, and that number almost tripled in the last decade.
Fatty liver disease affects almost 3% of children and 22-53% of obese children, and can be found in children aged four years. The chances of developing fatty liver disease increases with age and is more common in adolescents. Furthermore, it is more common in boys than in girls.
Generally, people with fatty liver disease have no symptoms. However, some feel discomfort in the abdomen (under the right rib cage), fatigue, restlessness, suffer from insomnia, depression, headaches, bloating, constipation, mucin, loss of appetite, are plagued with the deposition of fat around the waist and skin problems ... If the liver inflames, it leads to symptoms such as poor appetite, weight loss and fatigue.
A fatty liver is usually suspected in patients with abnormal liver tests (ALT, AST, GGT), or who have an enlarged liver. Ultrasound can indicate the presence of a fatty liver. Other diagnostic methods that can be used are computed tomography (CT), proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (H-MRS) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). In some cases, the doctor may recommend a liver biopsy, a procedure in which the physician inserts a needle into the liver and then examined a sample under a microscope.
Biopsy will also help the doctor find out the exact cause.
Blood tests - increased liver enzymes can be detected on a routine blood test, but it does not confirm a diagnosis of fatty liver. Further analysis will look for the cause of inflammation.
Currently, there is no medcation that has been proven effective in the treatment of fatty liver disease, even f the main causes are associated with obesity, diabetes and dyslipidemia (impaired concentration of lipoproteins in the blood).
The treatment is based on lifestyle changes, weight loss and physical activity to reduce the amount of fat in the liver.
Obese patients are advised to gradually and permanently lose weight through a proper diet and exercise.
Patients with diabetes and high lipids in the blood must improve sugar control and reduce lipid levels. Usually, low-fat, low-calorie diets are recommended with insulin or medication to lower blood sugar levels in people with diabetes.
Some studies have shown the positive effects of coffee. Caffeine intake reduces the incidence of abnormal liver enzymes. It is also associated with the protection of the liver. There is an inverse relationship between coffee consumption and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Other studies suggest the use of vitamin E can improve steatosis and reduce inflammation.
The treatment focuses on the factors that can cause the disease.
blood sugar control
To reduce the risk of fatty liver:
Limit or avoid alcohol consumption.
Choose a healthy diet
Maintain a healthy weight
In patients with NASH who are not obese and do not have diabetes, it is often recommended diet low in fat and avoiding alcohol.
Can the disease be prevented?
Choosing a healthy lifestyle, can prevent obesity - the number one reason for the formation of fatty liver disease. Keep in mind that a healthy diet and exercise is an important component of any weight loss regime.
• Choose a healthy lifestyle.
• If you are overweight, opt for a gradual and sustained weight loss
• Eat a well-balanced diet that is low in saturated fat and high in fiber.
• Reduce the consumption of sugar, reduce your intake of fried foods, soda and sweetened drinks
• Bring exercise to your routine, at least four times a week. You can enjoy walking, swimming, gardening, stretching.
• Avoid alcohol.
• Drink orange juice - it promotes better liver function and accelerates the degradation of fat in fatty liver
For the prevention of diseases of the liver and its detoxification, thistle, dandelion, licorice, turmeric and grapefruit are recommended.
Plants for a fatty liver
Thistle (milk thistle)
Its main ingredient is silymarin - a complex of different compounds, which combined are involved in liver regeneration and its protection.
Silymarin is a potent antioxidant, up to 10 times stronger than vitamin E, increases the level of glutathione, which cleanses the liver from a range of toxins, to 35%. Sikavica has protective and regenerating effect on the liver inflammation, cirrhosis, fatty liver, enlarged or swollen liver, jaundice, gallbladder disease, biliary colic (stones in the gallbladder) and diseases of the spleen. The tincture is used to treat liver cancer, and the chemotherapy due to its anticancer activity. Preliminary medical studies indicate that silymarin could be active in preventing the growth of prostate cancer cells.
Thistle protects the liver from the devastating effects of many medicaments, chemicals, alcohol and heavy metals.
It protects liver cells by making them 'coated' phytochemicals, which heal damaged liver cells and protect healthy cells from possible damage.
Thystle is the best researched herb for the treatment of liver disease. Its seeds and fruit contain most of silymarin, and in animal experiments reduce liver damage caused by acetaminophen, radiation, carbon tetrachloride, environmental pollution and other toxic substances.
It is used to treat a number of diseases of the liver - hepatitis, inflammation, liver stones, liver failure, jaundice and so on. It acts as a tonic for the liver and helps her function. Dandelion root cleanses the liver from toxins, and it is credited with antioxidant tannins. It stimulates digestion and stimulates the liver to produce more bile. In this way, cleanses the liver and gallbladder.
A study from 2010 on the impact of root and leaf dandelion on cholesterol showed that dandelion can reduce cholesterol, rheumatism, oxidative stress that contributes to the development of atherosclerosis. Dandelion tincture can be used to prevent liver disease.
Dandelion root cleanses the liver, gallbladder, kidneys and lymph and stimulates the kidneys so that the toxins are sent out of the body through the urine. It is also used to treat many diseases, such as constipation, cleans the skin of acne, edema, etc., cures arthritis, rheumatism, hepatitis, gallstones ...
The root of the dandelion is extremely good for women's diseases, especially in the prevention and treatment of various diseases of the breasts, such as cysts, cancer, various tumors, swollen breast and breastfeeding problems. It contains very important vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, thiamin, riboflavin, vitamin C, iron, calcium, potassium, folic acid and magnesium. It contains up to 535% of the required daily intake of vitamin K and approximately 110% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Scientists have discovered that the root of this plant kills cells affected by cancer.