According to a report released by World Health Organization (WHO) in May 2014, deaths due to liver diseases in India has reached 2.44% of total deaths. NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis) being one of the most common reason behind liver diseases, has a prevalence of 5-28% in India. Since, the liver is involved in major metabolic processes in the human body, any disease related to liver can affect the overall body functions.
According to Dr. Sumana Kolar Ramachandra, Chief of Liver Transplant, Columbia Asia Referral Hospital, Yeshwanthpur, about 50% of people with liver complications suffer from alcohol induced liver diseases, about 25- 30 % suffer from NASH (Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis) and 10-15% suffer from viral hepatitis and other liver diseases in her practice.
Liver diseases are not only common among high alcohol consumers but many non-alcohol consumers also suffer from liver complications due to high Body Mass Index (BMI). “There is a linear relationship between BMI and non-alcoholic liver diseases like non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis (NASH). The risk of severe liver diseases increases 5-10-fold in obese patients and 10-20-fold in morbidly obese patients. Also, people with high Body Mass Index (BMI) are at an increased risk of developing diabetes which in turn can increase the risk of developing severe liver disease. As per WHO guidelines, the optimal BMI is between 18.5 to 24.9,” said Dr. Sumana Kolar.
“An abdomen ultrasound along with liver function test can diagnose Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis (NASH). The definitive test for the same would be a liver biopsy. Generally, corporate employees are more prone to developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) due to work stress and sedentary lifestyle,” she added.
Some of the factors that can lead to severe liver diseases include:
- High alcohol consumption
- Viruses like Hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis E and A
- Some drugs like paracetamol and medications used for treatment of tuberculosis
- Inherited metabolic diseases in children
“More than 40 gm of alcohol per day for about 10 -12 years can cause liver damage. As per American heart Association 2 drinks for men and one drink for women, where one drink is equivalent to 12 ounces of 4% alcohol is considered a standard drink,” said Dr. Sumana Kolar.
Most of the symptoms of liver diseases can be seen only when the disease has progressed. However, some of the common symptoms include weakness, pale complexion, weight loss, nausea and vomiting. If not taken care of at initial stage these problems may progress to jaundice, abdomen bloated with fluid, blood vomiting, cancer, coma and even death. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms along with important measures to prevent the disease from causing severe health concerns in the future.
Read on as Dr. Sumana Kolar points out some of the ways to strengthen the liver:
- Liver cleansing: The liver is extremely vulnerable to several metabolic, microbial, toxic, circulatory and cancerous substances which can harm it in the long run, if not taken care of at an early stage. Therefore, it is important to include foods like garlic, green leafy vegetables, apples and cruciferous vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower in diet to cleanse liver. People should prefer cooking food in olive oil, use turmeric while cooking and have lemon juice
- Exercise regularly: Exercising regularly not only keeps the body weight in check but also ensures proper blood flow to different body organs including liver. Physical exercise maximises circulatory capacity of liver, leading to resist liver tissue atrophy
- A balanced diet: Eat a balanced diet to ensure absorption of proper nutrients in the body. Include foods from all the food groups like grains, proteins, fruits, vegetables, fats and dairy products. Make sure that you have foods rich in fibre such as whole grain breads, rice, cereals and fresh fruits
- Avoid smoking, alcohol consumption and drugs: Regular consumption of alcohol, smoking or drugs can destroy liver cells. Therefore, abstain from these to protect liver cells from being damaged
- Don’t self-medicate: Consult a doctor before starting any medication. The wrong medicine combination can often lead to liver damage