Claire was invited to present at the weekly ConnectED networking group. In the age of fast-paced lifestyles and evolving dietary habits, maintaining optimal liver health has become paramount. Her talk on liver health delved into the essential aspects of liver function, the impact of modern lifestyles, and simple yet impactful habits for nurturing liver health. The aim of the company is to raise awareness of liver health and empower individuals to make informed choices. A summary of her talk can be read below.
Liver Function & NAFLD
The liver is a remarkable organ with over 500 functions and is the largest solid organ in the human body. It plays a crucial role in digestion, energy balance and toxin elimination. When it functions effectively, it ensures the body is in a state of equilibrium. To summarise some of the main functions:
- The liver digests proteins and fasts, converting them into usable forms for energy production and storage
- It aids in detoxification including processing alcohol and eliminates them from the body
- It stores essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals
- It also plays a crucial role in immune function, removing bacteria and viruses from the bloodstream
The liver is vital in managing fat, ensuring a delicate balance between synthesis, breakdown, and storage. Excessive fat accumulation in the liver can result in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is a condition where excess fat is deposited in the liver without any alcoholic history and is the most common form of liver disease. It is currently estimated that 35% of the adult population in the UK has NAFLD but over 75% of those people won’t be diagnosed until it is too late for simple lifestyle changes as it is generally symptomless. Progression of NAFLD can lead to inflammation, and non-alcoholic steato-hepatitis (NASH). Over time, this can cause fibrosis (scar tissue) and eventually cirrhosis.
Modern Lifestyles & NAFLD
Modern lifestyles can have an impact on health. One of the most significant challenges facing modern society in the UK (NAFLD). NAFLD is closely linked to poor diets, sedentary habits, and chronic stress. In the modern age of convenience, many people have poor diets, consuming processed foods high in sugars, unhealthy fats, and refined carbohydrates. These contribute to weight gain and metabolic disturbances. Excessive consumption elevates blood sugar levels which can result in insulin resistance, prompting the liver to produce more glucose which in turn increases fat storage. Additional fat accumulation in the liver can trigger inflammation which causes cell damage and can lead to fibrosis.
Sedentary lifestyles are another big factor in current society. If we use the example as after COVID, there is an increased number of people working from home and therefore spending more time sitting behind desks and not moving for long periods of time on a daily basis. Physical activity helps regulate insulin sensitivity and glucose utilization which are crucial for preventing excess fat from accumulating in the liver. Exercise also plays a role in promoting fat breakdown and reducing inflammation.
Our lives are often intertwined with stress factors from work, relationships, illness, or other factors. Stress activates the body’s fight or flight response, releasing stress hormones like cortisol which can lead to insulin resistance and the body can follow the same path as discussed with poor diets. Stress can also induce behaviours such as overeating which can add to the problem.
Simple and small lifestyle habits can have a big impact on your liver health in a short timeframe. Taking the points discussed in relation to the modern lifestyle, a balanced diet can improve your liver health. A Mediterranean-style diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins has been shown to be beneficial. Other diets such as intermittent fasting have also been shown to have positive effects on liver health. Hydration is also essential for liver health. Water intake supports toxin elimination. Being well hydrated can aid in blood flow through the liver and aids in filtration. Increasing physical exercise. Andy’s story which we shared previously highlights the potential for positive change when individuals take ownership of their health and demonstrates how small changes can make a big impact. You can read the full article here.
If you are intrigued by your liver health and would like to book in for a liver health check, with an examination using the FibroScan device, click here.
Diet and liver disease (2022) British Liver Trust. Available at: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/information-and-support/living-with-a-liver-condition/diet-and-liver-disease/ (Accessed: 12 September 2023).
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