Most of us know that the liver is a very important organ that performs many daily functions. However, we probably don’t know what those functions are, or even why the liver is important!
Your liver is the largest organ in your body. It sits just under your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. Some of its many important roles include helping you to digest food and flushing your body of harmful toxins.
Every day, your liver works to get rid of the various toxins you encounter in your diet, lifestyle, and environment. Your entire body is dependent on the liver for ‘cleaning’ the blood of impurities.
Alcohol is one of the toxins that takes the most work. When you drink it, alcohol is sent to the liver, where it’s broken down into a neurotoxin named acetaldehyde. Higher levels of acetaldehyde in your blood can lead to nausea, headaches and generally feeling unwell. (1)
While these symptoms are bad enough, the real damage is in your liver cells. This damage causes inflammation, which in turn causes cells to be replaced by scar tissue. Scarred liver cells can’t function properly – which means your liver can’t either.
Drinking too much alcohol is just in which you can harm your liver. It also has to deal with a truckload of other toxins: processed food, drugs, (pharmaceutical or otherwise), pollution, and toxins produced inside your body by organisms like Candida albicans.
Liver disease can result from a number of factors that damage your liver cells. It can also be partly genetic. Obesity is also associated with liver damage.
Over time, damage to the liver results in scarring, which is known as cirrhosis. This increases your risk of liver failure, a life-threatening condition.
The more toxins you ingest, imbibe, or breathe in, the greater the burden on your liver. Signs of an overloaded liver include fatigue, headaches, digestive issues, skin problems, and weakened immune function. Not surprisingly, this can lead to irreversible liver damage.
If you regularly drink alcohol, or you are exposed to toxic substances in your daily life, it’s important to know the symptoms of poor liver health. Watching out for these symptoms could allow you to make the necessary changes to your diet and lifestyle before serious damage can occur.
Jaundice can cause your skin and eyes to take on a yellowish tinge. It develops when your blood contains too much bilirubin. Bilirubin is a yellow-orange substance found in your red blood cells. (2)
When those red blood cells die, the liver filters the bilirubin out of your bloodstream. However, if your liver is not functioning properly, it may struggle to keep up with this filtering process. This can result in the amount of bilirubin building up in the bloodstream. This causes your skin to look yellow.
Jaundice may also cause your urine to appear darker than normal, and your bowel motions to be lighter in color. Itchy skin is also a common symptom of jaundice, as well as nausea and a high temperature.
Although jaundice is rare in adults, it can develop when the liver is malfunctioning. The most common causes of jaundice in adults include hepatitis, alcohol-related liver disease, blocked bile ducts, pancreatic cancer, or certain medications.
A swollen abdomen is a common sign of liver cancer. This occurs when the liver is growing larger due to increasing pressure in the liver causing blood to accumulate in the vessels. This causes fluid to be forced out of the veins into the abdomen.
The veins may also swell due to the increased pressure. During an examination, it may be possible to see the veins below the surface of your abdomen.
If the liver isn’t making enough albumin (blood protein), ascites may also develop. Ascites are the buildup of fluid in the abdominal cavity.
Swollen legs or ankles can be a sign of many different disorders, including a poorly-functioning liver.
If the liver isn’t working properly, it may not be able to produce enough albumin. Albumin is a protein that keeps blood from leaking out of the blood vessels into the surrounding tissues.
If albumin production is inadequate, fluid may leak into the tissues and cause them to swell.
Intense itching of the skin is a common symptom of poor liver function.
This is caused by a buildup of bile products in the blood, which are then deposited in the skin.
When the liver cells are scarred or damaged, they can’t filter toxins properly. This leads to a buildup of harmful substances in the blood, such as ammonia. This in turn can have significant psychological effects. (3)
You may find it more difficult to concentrate, or that you are constantly forgetting things or feeling confused. If untreated, liver damage or cirrhosis may seriously affect the sufferer’s mood or personality.
Constant exhaustion is also a sign of poor liver health. Like the psychological effects of liver damage, fatigue occurs due to the accumulation of toxins in the blood. The body will be struggling to digest proper nutrients properly, so there will be fewer resources to supply energy.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a doctor or qualified health professional for a comprehensive checkup. Many of these symptoms can be associated with other health conditions, so you will need to see someone who can get to the root of the problem.
There are supplements that can help to support liver health too. Supplements like milk thistle, NAC, molybdenum, and artichoke root have been scientifically proven to support the liver.
You can also use a supplement like Liver Support, which contains several natural ingredients to support the liver. Liver Support contains 11 scientifically-proven, research-backed ingredients to improve liver health.
Because the liver plays such an important role in your daily wellbeing, any signs of its poor functioning should be examined immediately. The good news is that the liver renews itself regularly – if you give it the chance! This can be done through diet, lifestyle changes, and natural medicine.