As you’re probably aware, the liver is your very own ‘chemical processing plant’. Receiving 30% of your total blood circulation every minute, this 3-pound weighing miracle is constantly getting rid of harmful toxins in your blood and distributing essential nutrients throughout the body.
Every time you happen to eat, it is the liver that actually feeds you! Once you finish a meal and the food is digested, the attained nutrients enter your blood and head straight to the liver for processing. It is the liver that decides, depending on your body’s requirements, whether to store all that goodness for later or release it now.
Now, some fat in your liver is absolutely normal. However, if it’s exceeding more than 5% to 10% of your liver’s actual weight, you’re in trouble. You may very likely be suffering from fatty liver disease, and if you’re a drinker, there’s no easy way to say this – stop.
Err, Fatty Liver Disease? Never Heard Of That.
A fatty liver occurs when your intake of fats and calories overwhelms your liver. Hence, it begins to store fats in the liver cells itself, making it more vulnerable to damage such as inflammation and scarring.
You could possibly be suffering from fatty liver disease and not even realize it. In most cases, initially, there aren’t really any symptoms. But, with time, which could often take years or even decades, you may start noticing symptoms such as fatigue, weakness, nausea or difficulty in concentrating.
Typically, there are 2 main kinds of fatty liver disease:
- Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD): This arises from excess alcohol consumption. However, it could even develop after a short instance of heavy drinking. The genes your parents pass down to you play a big role in determining your chances of suffering from ALD. Other risk factors include obesity, excess iron intake, and hepatitis C (1), (2).
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD): While it’s not entirely clear what causes this condition, it tends to run in families. Being overweight and having diabetes or high cholesterol can up your odds of developing NAFLD (3). Other risk factors include viral hepatitis, certain medications, malnutrition, and fast weight loss.
You can also develop fatty liver disease suddenly during pregnancy, which could lead to kidney or liver failure in either the baby or the mother (4).
Are There Any Warning Signs I Could Look Out For?
Yes! There are certain red flags your body gives out when your liver becomes overwhelmed and sluggish in eliminating toxins from your body. The following 6 signs could indicate the need for a liver detox:
1. Increased Belly Fat Or ‘Visceral Fat’
When your liver turns lethargic, and the build-up of toxins slows down its metabolic activity, one of the signs to look for is a build-up of fat. Since your liver is responsible for the processing of fat, you can expect the storage of fats it can’t metabolize. Studies indicate that even non-obese patients suffering from fatty liver disease have higher abdominal fat and visceral fat (read: the fat around your organs) (5).
2. Excess Sweating
When a liver is overworked and under too much pressure, it can cause it to generate excess heat within itself. Since the liver is such a large organ, this leads to the entire body overheating and producing what patients describe as ‘hot flashes’. The body will sweat more frequently in a bid to cool itself down and release excess toxins through the skin (6).
3. Chronic Fatigue
Whenever any organ starts displaying signs of dysfunction, the body compensates for this seeming ‘damage’ by pumping more blood to it, which often leads to unexplained energy loss, confusion, weakness, and trouble in concentrating (7). Researchers also hypothesize that fatty liver leads to changes in hormone production and brain chemistry, which contribute to the feeling of exhaustion.
4. Bad Breath
A sluggish liver isn’t able to fully metabolize nutrients and process toxins, which leads to a build-up of impurities in the blood. This can lead to an increase of bacterial colonization in your mouth, which can produce a foul odor or bad breath.
5. Acne And Itchy Skin
It is theorized that one of the main hormones in the disease mechanism that produces nonalcoholic fatty liver is none other than – insulin (8). Elevated levels of insulin have a lot of side effects, one of which is an increase in sebum production from your skin, which can lead to acne.
6. Chemical Insensitivity
Are you a lightweight when you drink alcohol? Does the smell of perfumes and fragrances make you anxious? These are all signs of a build-up of toxins in your liver that have overwhelmed its processing abilities.
It’s not all doom and gloom. The good news is that fatty liver disease is a condition that can be reversed with a good diet and reduction of triglycerides. Please consult your doctor if you believe you may be suffering from fatty liver disease.
Best of luck!