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Fatty liver is a condition where fat builds up in your liver and slowly erodes the organ’s vital functions. A poor diet can contribute, especially one high in fat, but something more sinister is at play as well.
Chemicals and toxins we’re exposed to daily — through personal care products, pesticides in foods, furniture, household items and plastic — disrupt the endocrine system and affect the liver’s normal functions, including its ability to detoxify the bloodstream.
Overwhelmed by chemicals, it becomes less able to break down fats and waste and these poisons get stored in the liver and other parts of the body.
According to doctors at Harvard, it’s an issue that affects 20 percent to 40 percent of the US population.
The reason for the wide variance in estimates is what makes fatty liver so dangerous.
You see, like heart disease, the condition can be a “silent killer” since many people never notice they have an issue until serious — or even irreversible — damage has occurred.
That’s because signs that your liver is struggling can be subtle. However, they can be spotted if you know what to look for.
And even better, catching the symptoms of liver issues early can give you the ability to stop the damage and let your liver heal.
Here are the early symptoms of liver problems to watch out for:
#1 – Swollen ankles
Puffy or bloated ankles could be a sign that your liver is shutting down.
You see, your liver is responsible for making a protein known as albumin. That albumin is what your blood vessels use to prevent fluid from leaking into the surrounding tissue.
However, if your liver is packed with fat and inflamed, it simply can’t function.
Levels of albumin go down and fluid starts seeping from those blood vessels and pooling in your legs, ankles, and abdomen.
#2 – Fatigue
According to a 2019 study, published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, “The liver is central in the pathogenesis of fatigue because it uniquely regulates much of the storage, release and production of substrate for energy generation.”
In other words, if you’re liver isn’t up to par, your body can’t make the energy it needs to get through the day. And you start feeling drug out, drained, and just plain exhausted.
#3 – Irregular sleep
Liver damage can alter your sleep-wake cycle causing you to fall asleep and stay asleep. And even if you can turn off your mind and slip into dreamland, you might not feel refreshed when you wake up.
Additionally, people with liver issues often have health problems such as diabetes that raise their chances of suffering from insomnia even more.
#4 – More pronounced impact of caffeine
Your liver is the primary organ responsible for metabolizing caffeine.
And studies have found that liver disease can slow caffeine clearance from your body, allowing the effects of that coffee you just drank to linger.
So if you’re a regular coffee drinker and suddenly notice it’s ramping you up much more than usual, pay attention.
#5 – Flushing rising from trunk to head
If your liver is dysfunctional, it can cause your body to overheat.
This happens when your liver is overworked or under pressure, it heats up. This may cause a feeling similar to the hot flashes associated with menopause. And it can even lead to excessive sweating.
#6 – Severe side effects/reactions from medications
Just like with caffeine, your liver has to break down any medications you take.
And according to the Merck Manual (the handbook doctors everywhere turn to when they have a question), “Sometimes alterations (damage to the liver) increase levels of bioavailable drug, causing normal drug doses to have toxic effects.”
In other words, small changes in your liver health can cause normal doses of everyday medications to become toxic.
Lifestyle changes to care for your liver
If you notice these early signs talk to a trusted health professional. If, knock on wood, everything’s fine, is there anything you can do to avoid it and support your liver?
The answer is yes!
Doctors recommend a combination of lifestyle changes that can do wonders for a fatty liver, including:
- Losing weight – According to Wynne Armand, MD, writing for Harvard, losing just five percent of your body weight could reduce the level of fat in your liver.
- Getting your exercise – Aerobic exercise is acknowledged to be one of the best ways to decrease the fat level in your liver. And if you add in a high-intensity workout, it could also reduce inflammation in the organ.
- Adding in resistance training – Studies have found that resistance training helps reduce both liver fat and unhealthy liver enzymes levels.
- Eating more protein – Adding more protein to your diet could help you boost both your weight loss and your fat loss in your liver.
Finally, be sure to give your liver the nutrients it needs to get back on track. Some of the best nutrients to keep your liver health in line can be found in Peak Liver Support™ like:
- N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC) – To help support gentle detoxification and guard against future damage.
- Milk Thistle – A liver booster that promotes the elimination of heavy metal build-up, medication residue, environmental pollutants and alcohol.
- Turmeric – A powerful antioxidant to promote healthy liver function and the health of liver cells.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) – A potent antioxidant to help keep fats from accumulating in the liver.
- Selenium – To help promote detoxification and rid the body of toxic mercury buildup.
- Schisandra – Helps activate enzymes in the liver cells that produce glutathione – the master antioxidant that detoxifies the body and recycles vitamins C and E, so they can protect cells from free radicals.
Fatty liver is on the rise. Be aware of the sneaky signs that your liver could be in trouble and start taking steps now to keep it trim and healthy.
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12 causes of swollen ankles — Medical News Today
Fatty liver disease: What it is and what to do about it — Harvard Health Publishing
Recognizing The Early Symptoms Of Liver Disease – Alcoholic And Non-Alcoholic — Family First Intervention
Insomnia and Liver Disease — Liver Directory
Caffeine and metabolism — Coffee & Health
Effects of Liver Disease on Drug Metabolism — Merck Manual