Here’s a sobering statistic: approximately thirty percent of adults in the U.S. carry a diagnosis of liver disease. That’s NAFL, or “non-alcoholic fatty liver” disease. It is estimated that this disease process will be the number one reason for liver transplant by the year 2030.
Often, there are no recognizable symptoms for most of the disease process.
Of those in need of liver transplantation at some point, eligible recipients will have to meet specific BMI requirements, so at a certain level of obesity you need not apply. This is because the likelihood of a positive outcome after the procedure is greatly diminished in very obese or otherwise unhealthy individuals.
This disease affects young and old alike and is on the rise due to our population’s increased rates of obesity, poor diet, sedentary lifestyle, and uncontrolled diseases like diabetes and hypertension.
There is currently no FDA-approved medication to treat this widespread disease. The recommendation:
Lifestyle Modification. Aka, maintain a healthy weight, lose weight if needed, exercise regularly, eat whole, healthy foods, avoid unhealthy foods and other toxins.
This sounds pretty simple and like common sense. But most of us understand just how hard it can be to create real, lasting lifestyle changes around diet and exercise.
The liver is responsible for processes including metabolism, fat storage, hormone production and regulation, weight control, drug metabolism and transportation, balding patterns, waste production, elimination of toxins, and blood clotting. This powerhouse organ can make carbs out of protein, turn sugar into fat, and detoxifies our bodies from dangerous drugs and chemicals that we have been exposed to through diet, pharmaceuticals, and the environment. Centuries-old traditional Chinese medicine refers to this amazing organ appropriately as “The Governor.”
Dysfunction of this vital organ can result in fatigue, skin sensitivity, bruising/bleeding easily, digestive problems, mood disorders, feminization, irreversible scarring (cirrhosis), hypoglycemia, cardiac issues, muscle loss, and many other preventable symptoms. This organ also produces and excretes an enzyme that allows our bodies to break down and utilize the drugs that we DO want, such as pain killers during a major event like a knee replacement or heart surgery.
Why do so few people actively work to create a healthy liver? Part of the reason is that we don’t always see lab values as warnings until the damage is advanced. Symptoms may be mild, or not discernible until years of damage show up as end-stage liver failure, liver cancer, or acute liver failure. Our resilient liver works hard to compensate for offenses incurred, until it just can’t.
Change can be very challenging; most people don’t know where to begin or how to improve liver health, much less how to maintain a new lifestyle change. Many supplements and prescription drugs can actually damage the liver. Acetaminophen is one of the harshest offenders, and even a normal dosage with a compromised liver can result in accidental overdose. How do we know what is safe?
It’s important to know what is appropriate and for you, as an individual. Specific recommendations can be made by a provider that will monitor your liver health and all that it affects downstream. To create our most vital body, liver health is absolutely essential.
Naples Vitality can assist with a customized program that will teach you how to optimize or improve liver function; providing support and education along the way. Don’t wait for the red flags to tell you that the damage is already done. Take action with a physician-guided program to safely support or create sustainable liver health for years to come.