Liver is a large and complex organ located in the upper right abdomen of the human body. It performs more than 500 vital functions like converting food into fuel, making protein, processing cholesterol, and flushing away toxins from the blood and more.
Important functions of the liver include metabolizing carbohydrates, storing Vitamins A, D, E, K and B 12, converting fats to energy and synthesizing and regulating cholesterol. It stores excess glucose derived from carbohydrates to release as required ensuring a steady supply of energy to the body.
The liver is the only organ that can regenerate. Even if 75 % of the liver is damaged it can regenerate without any loss of function. Keeping the liver healthy is important for optimum health.
Amongst other liver diseases, alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver is a common condition affecting liver health. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease was unknown prior to 1980. Scientists then discovered that apart from excess drinking, other problems like obesity and excessive fat can also be responsible for fatty liver.
A normal liver contains some fat. If this fat increases to 5%-10% of the liver’s weight it then becomes a fatty liver. This disease causes liver inflammation that can result in similar scarring that happens in alcoholic fatty liver.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is increasing and found in population all over the world. It occurs in all age groups, but people in their 40s and 50s are found susceptible due to factors like obesity and type 2 diabetes. Excess liver fat in Indians affects about 70 million adults and is mainly caused by excess abdominal fat, sedentary lifestyle, and high consumption of carbohydrates and fats.
Causes and Concerns
Non-alcoholic fatty liver is normally without symptoms, however, sometimes an enlarged liver, extreme fatigue and pain in the upper right abdomen can be an indication. Probable causes cited by experts are overweight, obesity, high blood sugar, insulin resistance and high levels of fats, specially triglycerides in the blood. Risk factors include high cholesterol, obesity, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, hypopituitarism and hypothyroidism. Distinguishing between alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver requires medical testing.
Ayurveda considers yakrut (liver) to be an important organ for chayapachay (metabolism) playing a significant role in digesting, metabolizing, manufacturing essential compounds to keep the body healthy. Liver converts Rasa Dhatu (clear plasma) to Rakta Dhatu (blood), identifies toxins in Rasa Dhatu and stores them and not letting them enter the blood.
Liver and pancreas are Pitta Dosha organs. The stored toxins in the liver can cause digestive problems, fatigue, allergies, psoriasis, cold sores, constipation, and hypoglycemia. Ignoring these symptoms can result in serious problems like hepatitis, jaundice and cirrhosis.
Lifestyle is responsible for all health problems. Consult an Ayurvedic doctor and discuss your way of life. Create a practical and easy schedule that can be followed taking into account your personal responsibilities and challenges. Here are a few suggestions to start.
- Maintain ideal weight. Exercise for health and to reduce obesity
- Carry home cooked meals to office
- Avoid skipping meals and fasting as this aggravates the Pitta Dosha
- Try yoga and meditation
- Dine early in the evening and sleep before 10 pm
- Avoid sleep deprivation. If you work late hours consult an Ayurvedic doctor
Ayurveda never treats any health problem in isolation. It recommends leading a balanced life and places equal importance on nutrition, exercise and relaxation.
- Eat seasonal and freshly cooked foods
- Consume whole grains, green leafy vegetables, beetroots, carrots, apples, papaya, sweet juicy fruits, sweet lassi, milk, ghee, and fresh yogurt
- Avoid processed and chemical laden food and alcohol
- Drink lots of water to flush away the toxins
- Avoid fermented, pungent, sour and salty foods
- Avoid Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, hot spicy food, chemicals in pre-packaged foods or medicines
- Avoid pollutants
- Boil a glass of water. Let it become warm. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon. Mix well and drink first thing in the morning.
- Grate 3-4 amlas (Gooseberry) mix with salads or add to cooked vegetables and eat.
- Mix one tsp of amla powder in a cup of warm water and drink every morning.
- Turmeric tea- Boil a pinch of turmeric in a cup of water for few minutes. Cool it and squeeze 1 tsp fresh lemon juice and drink to detox.
- Soak 1 tsp of fenugreek seeds overnight in a glass of water and drink in the morning
Fatty liver is a condition that builds up over a period of years and takes time to heal. Patience and a positive attitude help in reducing the stress. If you get obsessed about your condition and feel angry or depressed it will take a long time to heal. Slow and steady changes can do wonders. Give it a try to make your liver healthy and happy.
Also Read: What Does Ayurveda Have to Say About Sex?
(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)
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