Have you tried placing your right hand over the area under the ribs on the right side of your body? Do you know what lies beneath it? It is your liver. Your liver is your body’s largest internal organ that sits under your rib cage on the right side of your body. It is a vital organ, which supports every other organ in your body and has multiple functions beneficial to the overall health. This organ is so important that man’s survival depends on it. You only have one to two days if it shut down.
Our liver is so important because it plays a critical role internally creating ripples of processes and collaboration among other organs of our body. The liver has two sections: the right and left lobes. The liver’s main function is to filter the blood that comes from your digestive tract before passing it along to the rest of your body and is responsible for more than 500 important functions like helping your blood clot, breaking down alcohol, chemicals, and other drugs, making glucose, a sugar that your body can use for a quick burst of energy, and at any given time your liver contains about 10 percent of your body’s total blood volume, and it filters 1.4 liters of blood per minute (1).
So, what does the liver do? Your liver is your only organ that can regenerate, or regrow, itself. It is in fact said that the human liver has the greatest regenerative capacity of any of the organs within the body. This is why one can donate part of his liver to someone else, and have both his liver and the recipient’s liver grow to near full size again, regaining its function.
The liver fulfill the following functions (2):
Detoxification – Real filter, the liver recovers and eliminates many toxins from the body. These toxins can be naturally present in the waste generated by our organism, like ammonia, or in the ones we eat or drink, like alcohol.
Synthesis – Our liver assures the metabolism of the carbohydrates, the fat and the proteins while producing bile, essential element for our digestion. Our liver also avoids hemorrhages via the coagulation process.
Storage – The liver stores vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and glycogens (carbohydrates), meaning it stores energy like sugar and makes it available to our organism when needed.
Keeping the liver the best of health is essential. However, complications or certain unwanted situations may affect our liver and disrupt its functions that may result from food choices and lifestyles. One is fatty liver.
What is fatty liver?
Fatty liver is the accumulation of triglycerides and other fats in the liver cells (3). The amount of fatty acid in the liver depends on the balance between the processes of delivery and removal. In some patients, fatty liver may be accompanied by hepatic inflammation and liver cell death. It is the buildup of fats within the cells of the liver to the point that more than 5-10% of the liver is fat (4). As suggested in a prevailing theory, this fatty liver condition gets started because of insulin resistance, which is, in turn, frequently a consequence of obesity and excess fat tissue in the abdomen. This is so because when people are insulin resistant, their muscle, fat, and liver cells don’t respond normally to insulin, so levels of the hormone — and the blood sugar it ushers into cells — build up in the blood (5). Such activity will result to the risk of developing diabetes and heart disease increases. But insulin resistance is a complicated metabolic state that also includes an increase in the amount of free fatty acids circulating in the blood (6). Fatty liver is also known as hepatic steatosis. Having small amounts of fat in your liver is normal, but too much of these fats can lead to health problems like liver inflammation, which can damage your liver and create scarring, which can result to liver failure if the condition gets worse (7). People with diabetes and who are overweight may be prone to fatty liver condition.
Fatty liver can be caused by certain chemical compounds, nutritional or endocrine disorders, and by genetic factors. Also, drugs and chemical compounds can cause fatty liver that include alcohol, tetracycline, methotrexate, valproic acid, cortisone and cortisone-like medications, carbon tetrachloride, and other solvents (8). Among these mentioned, alcohol is by far the most common cause. Liver inflammation may accompany exposure to these toxins and is responsible for the associated symptoms of fever, fatigue and jaundice. Nutritional causes of fat in the liver include starvation, malnutrition, or obesity (9). Fat in the liver can also occur with rapid or extreme weight reduction (10). In some patients with fatty liver, the fat is accompanied by inflammation called steatohepatitis, and occasionally the fat and inflammation may lead to scarring of the liver or commonly called as fibrosis (11). Additionally, the endocrine causes of fatty liver include diabetes mellitus, elevated cholesterol or triglycerides, and fatty liver of pregnancy. Fatty liver during pregnancy occurs near the end of pregnancy and may result in premature delivery or termination of the pregnancy (12).
Hence, some of the risk factors for fatty liver disease are already identified. This include obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndromes that include diabetes, pre-diabetes or insulin resistance, being overweight or obese, having raised blood cholesterol and triglycerides and high blood pressure (13). When one’s liver gets more amount of fats than it should, one may feel some amount of abdominal pain that may be concentrated in the central or right upper part of the abdomen, fatigue and tiredness. If left unchecked, fatty liver condition can lead to a number of health problems.
Fortunately, it can be reversed if addressed at an early stage as long as you are committed to follow certain measures to help your liver regain its healthy state. Therefore, how to get rid of excess fats in liver is therefore everyone’s utmost concern. There are several things you can do to get rid of fatty liver. Losing weight, avoiding overeating, including certain foods in your diet and cutting back on sugar and carbs may help reduce liver fat. Following a healthy diet, increasing physical activity and perhaps taking supplements can reduce excess liver fat and decrease the risk of its progression to more serious liver disease. In addition, endurance exercise, strength training or high- or low-intensity interval training can help reduce liver fat. Working out consistently is key. It’s important also to see your doctor regularly for standard exams and blood tests that can diagnose fatty liver at the early, reversible stage.