Liver dis­ease - the silent epi­demic

The Borneo Post - Nature and health - - Fitness -

A SHOCK­ING num­ber of peo­ple to­day have liver prob­lems with­out know­ing it. This is be­cause liver prob­lems are of­ten asymp­to­matic, mean­ing that they show no symp­toms. The early symp­toms of liver dis­eases are quite vague, such as fa­tigue, loss of weight or ap­petite, nau­sea, ab­dom­i­nal pain and feel­ing gen­er­ally un­well. As the liver be­comes more se­verely dam­aged, more ob­vi­ous and se­ri­ous symp­toms such as jaun­dice (a yel­low­ing of the eyes and skin) may be­come ap­par­ent.

Fatty liver is now be­lieved to be the most com­mon form of liver dis­ease world­wide. Fatty liver dis­ease oc­curs when fat ex­ceeds five to ten per cent of the liver weight. It is nor­mal for the liver to con­tain small amounts of fat and it is usu­ally not con­sid­ered harm­ful. The ex­tra fat gives rise to free rad­i­cals and ox­i­dants which dam­age mol­e­cules and cells in the liver, pre­vent­ing cells from be­ing able to metabolise fat. When too much of fat builds up in the liver, its cells be­gin to die.

Non-al­co­holic fatty liver dis­ease (NAFLD) is one of the types of fatty liver for those who have never con­sumed al­co­hol or does not have ex­ces­sive al­co­hol use. There are two stages of NAFLD – the early stage is known as non-al­co­holic fatty liver (NAFL), while the more chronic form is known as non-al­co­holic steato­hep­ati­tis (NASH), in which there is an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of fat and scar tis­sue in the liver as a re­sult of cell in­flam­ma­tion and dam­age. Grad­u­ally, it may lead to cir­rho­sis, which is ir­re­versible dam­age to the liver and the most se­vere stage of NAFLD (Fig­ure 1). Liver can­cer or liver fail­ure may re­sult, with some peo­ple need­ing a trans­plant.

Fatty liver is of­ten re­lated to obe­sity, high choles­terol, high blood pres­sure and di­a­betes. Fatty liver is an emerg­ing threat in Malaysia, es­pe­cially among the over­weight and obese pop­u­la­tion. Ac­cord­ing to re­cent find­ings, Malaysia has the high­est obe­sity rate in Asia and more than 70 per cent peo­ple with NASH are obese. It is also re­ported that up to 75 per cent of peo­ple with NASH have type 2 di­a­betes, due to fat ac­cu­mu­la­tion in the liver that has been linked to in­sulin re­sis­tance.

Most peo­ple don’t even know they have fatty liver un­til they go for a med­i­cal checkup. Be­cause fatty liver is so preva­lent yet asymp­to­matic, it is wise to take pre­cau­tions to pro­tect the liver. In the early stages, fatty liver dis­ease can be im­proved and re­versed by re­duc­ing or elim­i­nat­ing fatty foods and foods high in sugar from your diet as these cause body fats to build up. To help pre­vent, slow down or re­verse the build-up of liver fat and liver dam­age, your diet should in­clude a nu­tri­ent called Phos­phatidyl­choline, which is es­sen­tial for op­ti­mal liver func­tion. It is com­monly found in food like eggs, soy­beans and health sup­ple­ments.

Phos­phatidyl­choline pro­tects the health of your liver in sev­eral ways. It is a ma­jor com­po­nent of cell mem­branes and plays an im­por­tant role in main­tain­ing the nor­mal struc­ture and op­ti­mal func­tion of cells. It is also es­sen­tial for cell growth and de­vel­op­ment. Phos­phatidyl­choline re­duces and slows dam­age to cell mem­branes caused by free rad­i­cals and ox­i­dants while sta­bil­is­ing the cell mem­branes. By do­ing so, it re­duces cell death, fi­bro­sis and fatty de­posits in liver tis­sue. In ad­di­tion, it has pro­tec­tive ef­fects in non­al­co­holic liver dis­or­der, in­clud­ing pro­tec­tion against var­i­ous other toxic sub­stances. Stud­ies have shown quicker re­cov­er­ies and nor­mal­iza­tion of liver func­tion tests with fewer re­lapses as com­pared to those un­sup­ple­mented with phos­phatidyl­choline.

In ad­di­tion to Phos­phatidyl­choline, the liver needs vi­ta­min Bs and vi­ta­min E to help pre­vent fatty liver. Vi­ta­min Bs help cells metabolise and turn car­bo­hy­drates, pro­teins and fats into en­ergy. They help break down fats, thus play­ing a role in pre­vent­ing the buildup of fat that leads to fatty liver dis­ease. By pro­mot­ing the de­con­ges­tion of the liver, vi­ta­min Bs help it func­tion bet­ter.

Vi­ta­min E is a fat-sol­u­ble an­tiox­i­dant that helps re­duce ox­ida­tive stress to the liver caused by free rad­i­cals and ox­i­dants. An­tiox­i­dants work syn­er­gis­ti­cally and vi­ta­min E sup­ports the body’s an­tiox­i­dant sys­tem to neu­tralise free rad­i­cals and ox­i­dants to pre­vent them from caus­ing dam­age. De­fi­ciency of vi­ta­min E in the blood oc­curs in peo­ple with fatty liver dis­ease due to in­creased ox­i­da­tion, so they need more vi­ta­min E.

Don’t be just an­other statis­tic in the silent epi­demic of liver dis­ease that is sweep­ing the globe. Pro­tect your liver by liv­ing a healthy life­style and tak­ing a health sup­ple­ment con­tain­ing Phos­phatidyl­choline, vi­ta­min Bs and vi­ta­min E.

This ar­ti­cle was brought to you by Seven Seas Lim­ited, a Merck com­pany in health sup­ple­ments world­wide. Merck is one of the world’s lead­ing chem­i­cal, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal and life sci­ence com­pa­nies. For more info, please email [email protected] mer­ck­group.com

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