Regenerative Power Of The Liver Can Be A Blessing: But There Is A Downside To This
Your liver is one of the most important organs of the body with great regenerative powers. Ironically, this can also cause severe damage to the organ.
Written by Jahnavi Sarma|Updated : February 22, 2022 10:52 AM IST
The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body. If this organ does not function properly, it can lead to various ailments and significantly reduce the quality of life of a person. We often tend to ignore this organ at our own peril. Besides, many of us are also not fully aware about liver disease, how to manage it and how to live with it. Recently, as part of the Illness to Wellness campaign, ASSOCHAM conducted a webinar on "Managing Liver Care". The objective was to increase awareness about managing liver care, reducing liver infections, eventually enhancing liver health to lead a healthier, happier, and prosperous life.
Regenerative power of the liver
According to Dr Bhavin Bhupendra Vasavada, Surgical Gastroenterologist, Hepato Biliary and Liver Transplant Surgeon, Shalby Multi-Specialty Hospitals, "Liver has great regenerative power and can fight with the diseases process until it is damaged beyond repair." This is a blessing, no doubt, but there is a downside too. According to Dr Vasavada, because of the regeneration capacity of the liver, symptoms are not seen unless damage is severe and generally when alarming symptoms are seen, and liver transplant remains the option for patients. Hence, he says that liver disease treatment should include screening, early identification, and prevention. If hepatitis is identified early, there are numerous effective oral therapies available, and a transplant can be avoided.
Fat in the liver ups your risk of chronic diseases
If the liver does not function optimally, it can trigger some easily preventable chronic diseases. According to Prof. (Dr.) Shiv Kumar Sarin, Head, Department of Hepatology and Director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences, New Delhi, "35 per cent of the population in India suffers from the fatty liver." When lipids accumulate in the liver, it limits its insulin capability, and to compensate, the pancreas organ produces insulin, which is insufficient to cope with regular biological processes. Dr Sarin says that, as a result, the body undergoes insulin resistance, and a person develops pre-diabetic symptoms. According to him, fat from the liver go into the bloodstream and get deposited in the arteries increasing the risks of heart stroke or heart attack. "Ample evidence suggests that elevated Gamma-GT enzyme activity is associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease," he says.
The role of the liver in maintaining health has been known for ages. As Dr Sakshi Karkra, Head Pediatric, Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Artemis Hospitals, Gurugram, says "Human liver is one of the most important organs in our body performing more than 500 vital functions." Dr Rajesh Kesari, Founder and Director, Total Care Control, Delhi NCR, said, "Liver is termed as the chemical factory of our body and hence our liver must bear the brunt of our modern-day lifestyle. But it is not able to handle the excess fat which is there in our diet and this is becoming the reason for many diseases like diabetes, hypertension, atherosclerosis, etc."
Functions performed by your liver
Dr Karkra says that the liver performs many functions like detoxification of drugs, resisting infections by making immune factors, converting poisonous ammonia to urea, processing haemoglobin, protein, cholesterol, and glycogen synthesis, regulating blood clotting, production of biochemicals necessary for digestion and excretion of bile, which helps carry away waste products from the liver.
Symptoms of liver disease
Any damage or disorder can limit the function of the liver. It can be genetic (inherited) or acquired. The symptoms range from fatigue, irritability, headaches, difficulty concentrating, vomiting, anxiety, and in advanced stages yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itchy skin, swelling of the lower abdomen, and dark urine. "The liver can repair itself up to a certain point so damage can be reduced if liver disease is discovered at an early stage," says Dr Karkra.