The human body is built to use multiple organs to keep us healthy and functional, with everything performing its proper task. Some organs provide more critical functions, whereas others are less important but crucial to a healthy body. You likely know about some of the more important organs, like the heart and lungs, but one organ that does not get much recognition is the liver.
The liver is one of the more critical organs in human anatomy because we would die without it, but it is also sensitive to overuse. As a species, we have become accustomed to engaging in habits that tax our bodies beyond what they were designed to accomplish. This can cause them to suffer and begin the slow process of failure.
Insofar as the liver is concerned, a failing liver will exhibit several symptoms to alert the body of the issue. Unfortunately, our body's defense mechanisms are often ignored due to our desire to pretend nothing is wrong. This desire stems from a lack of resources or ill-conceived notions that seeking treatment is a sign of weakness.
Regardless of the rationale, early detection of a sluggish liver could prevent complete liver failure. The problem is that not everyone can identify the symptoms of a sluggish liver or how to promote liver health. Therefore, it is worth investigating the signs and symptoms of a failing liver to prevent the worst-case scenario.
What is the Liver's Purpose?
The liver is likely an organ you have heard of, even if you have not learned much about its functions or location in your body. It is a crucial organ that keeps our bodies clear of toxins. The liver is a 3-pound, cone-shaped organ with a dark reddish-brown color found in the upper right side of the abdominal cavity.
Despite being close to the stomach and intestines, the liver's primary role relates to the bloodstream since it contains around 13% of the body's total blood supply at any given moment. The liver stores blood because it purifies it before letting it circulate further. This ensures our veins pump blood that is as clean as possible to the rest of our bodies.
The liver is responsible for over 500 vital bodily functions that are too numerous to name in a single article. While the liver's functions are vast, there are a few functions that are more well-known that everyone should be made aware of if they want to maintain their health.
These functions include:
- Bile Production: The bile produced by our liver transfers waste and breaks down fats in the small intestine during digestion.
- Protein Production: The liver produces certain proteins our bodies use to create plasma, essential to blood production.
- Cholesterol Production: There is such a thing as good cholesterol, and our livers help produce it so the fats we consume can be carried through the body.
- Toxin Removal: The liver's most well-known function is that it purges certain toxins from our bloodstream. These toxins are not necessarily poisons but include substances like alcohol, narcotics, and bacteria.
- Clotting Factor: Our livers produce the clotting factor that prevents us from bleeding out when we suffer an injury.
As previously mentioned, the liver has over 500 functions we need to survive, and those listed above are only a handful. Despite this, these functions are essential to our survival and health. Unfortunately, we tend to subject our livers to extreme punishment due to increased recreational alcohol consumption, drug use, and unhealthy foods.
Eventually, these activities catch up to our bodies, and our livers can no longer manage the toxin intake. This is when certain signs of a sluggish liver begin to manifest.
What is a Sluggish Liver?
The term "sluggish liver" might not be overly familiar to you since it is not often discussed due to other, more important liver problems. A sluggish liver is a way of saying the liver is struggling to fulfill its role in our biology. This is because the liver can only handle so much at a time, and overtaxing it forces it to process more toxins and blood than it can manage.
When the liver is under constant stress, it transforms into something called a "fatty liver" The fatty liver is so-named because excess amounts of fat build up within the liver and slow its function. Fatty liver, also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is an extremely common issue in the United States due to the high volumes of fatty foods we consume. Between 10% and 20% of Americans suffer from NAFLD.
NAFLD is known by another, more menacing name: silent liver disease. This name is attributed to NAFLD because it can manifest without distinguishing symptoms while damaging your liver. Most people with NAFLD do not develop liver damage, but between 2% and 5% of people develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NASH is a subsequent condition when people with NAFLD develop inflammation and liver cell damage.
This additional damage usually occurs when NAFLD goes unaddressed, and the unhealthy eating habits and biological factors are unchanged. Unlike NAFLD, NASH manifests with several symptoms because it leads to the hardening and scarring of our livers (cirrhosis).
These symptoms include:
- Severe fatigue.
- Acute weight loss.
- Jaundice (the yellowing of the sclera in the eyes and the skin).
- Spider-like blood vessels on the skin.
- Chronic itch.
NASH, which leads to cirrhosis, also suffers from a lack of fluid retention, internal bleeding, muscle wasting, and confusion. The problem with NAFLD is that it often goes unnoticed until NASH develops; by then, it can be too late to fix the problem.
In worst-case scenarios, the subsequent cirrhosis can cause complete liver failure and force you to seek a transplant. While the idea of a liver transplant might not seem daunting to you, especially since only a portion of a healthy liver needs to be transplanted, transplants are extremely difficult to perform. Additionally, finding a donor can be even more difficult if you do not have living family members who are a match and whose livers are healthy.
Currently, 104,056 people in America need an organ transplant of any kind. Of those 104,056 people, only 58,811 are on the active waiting list, while the rest are on the reserve list. Over 14,000 Americans are waiting for a liver in particular, meaning you might not get a transplant in time.
Furthermore, liver transplants are not always successful, and your body might reject the new organ. The risk of rejection is a major issue for any organ transplant, and since the liver needs time to regenerate to full size, the rejection could kill you since your original liver is absent.
The worst of this is that patients with NASH have no medicinal recourse to reverse the condition, and it is a matter of luck and lifestyle change to reverse the damage. Treating NAFLD and NASH is not easy, but there are methods you can employ to give your liver the best chance of recovering before cirrhosis sets in, and you find yourself on the transplant list.
How to Treat NAFLD and NASH
Treating NAFLD and NASH requires serious lifestyle changes and, most likely, a consultation with a doctor to determine the level of damage. If your liver has not developed inflammation or tissue damage, your diagnosis is NAFLD, meaning you have a much greater chance of recovery. While NAFLD does not require special treatment, you must make changes to promote a healthier liver. This generally means reducing the liver's fat content so it can return to a healthy state. The best way to do this is to:
- Lose weight.
- Lower your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Control your diabetes (if applicable).
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
These steps are relatively simple in the grand scheme of things, but they can be more difficult for people with more advanced health issues. While not everyone with NAFLD has diabetes, the 2 conditions are pretty closely linked. Nevertheless, treating NASH is a far more intense process because the condition of your liver will have become much worse to be diagnosed with it.
As we mentioned, inflammation and tissue damage indicate that NAFLD has progressed to NASH. The steps required to improve your liver's health when dealing with NASH have some overlap with treating NAFLD, but there are some key differences:
- Lose weight.
- Take medication to reduce your cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
- Take medication to reduce your blood pressure.
- Take medication to control your diabetes (if applicable).
- Limit your use of over-the-counter medications.
- Avoid alcohol consumption.
- Make an appointment with a liver specialist.
Treating NASH requires more intense methods because the damage is severe enough to warrant extra care. Some cases of NASH are worse than others, and once cirrhosis enters the picture, the odds of recovery are significantly reduced. A few medications are known to help treat NASH, but there are ongoing studies to try and improve the treatment process.
While medicine is still being developed, there are ways to bolster your overall liver health, so your body is in the best possible state to promote healing. The question is what tools exist to generate this improved bodily state that provides the necessary benefits.
What to Use to Promote Liver Health
The main tools for liver health are pharmaceutical-grade, but there are things you can add to your diet that enhance your liver's health. Among the most effective substances for liver health are antioxidants, which minimize and prevent oxidative damage to the body. Antioxidants are commonly employed in holistic medicine because of their protective qualities. Several antioxidant substances can help improve liver function, but antioxidants are not foolproof tools and are limited in their scope.
One of the best antioxidants in modern society is Aloe vera, which has a longstanding history of helping treat several conditions. Aloe vera is best known for treating sunburn, but it has been linked to other health benefits that improve overall health and promote a healing response.
One of the key factors of liver function is proper hydration, and liver function improvements help stave off issues like NAFLD and NASH. Aloe vera was studied to determine its effect on kidney and liver health via animal study. The study concluded that Aloe vera gel effectively improved the lipid profile of the kidneys and liver. This improved profile means fewer fatty lipids are saturating the liver, allowing blood to flow properly and the liver to purify it. While Aloe vera does have benefits for liver health, among other parts of the anatomy, it is important to remember that it is not a substitute for medical care when dealing with NASH.
Aloe vera is a way to improve liver function naturally without conflicting with prescription medications. However, you must adhere to your doctor's instructions if you want to stand a chance of recovering from the condition.
Keep it All Natural!
Liver health is an extremely complicated concept because the liver is designed to purge toxins from the body and generate healthy blood. Without our livers, we would die from hepatotoxic shock or blood toxicity. With the number of substances we willingly consume that can damage the liver, NAFLD and NASH are becoming more common in America. Therefore, protecting and improving liver health is crucial before these problems arise.
The best thing you can do to improve your liver health is to visit a doctor to ascertain the exact state of your liver and determine the best treatment. Taking advantage of Aloe vera is an excellent way to promote a healthier body, but only a doctor can effectively treat these liver problems.
We at Bella All Natural are dedicated to promoting healthier bodies and lifestyles, so we have dedicated ourselves to providing natural supplements. Our Aloe vera juice and Aloe vera Gelly can provide the dose you need to introduce its benefits and improve liver function. That said, we want to emphasize that our products are not a substitute for medical care when NAFLD and NASH are diagnosed. When you need additional tools to promote a healthier body while seeking professional treatment, remember to keep it All Natural!