My liver does not know the crisis

We take care of our heart, our intestines, our brain ... but the liver is the new organ that specialists recommend us to pamper. Still, how do you know?

It is impossible to survive without a liver as it is involved in crucial metabolic processes. One of its main roles: to transform nutrients in our diet (carbohydrates, proteins, fats, etc.) into energy sources and to promote the absorption of vitamins and minerals. It works together with the pancreas and gallbladder to allow us to digest well. He also metabolizes the drugs swallowed: without him, the latter would have no effect. The balance of sugar and lipids in the blood? Him again! Because it stores the sugar that it releases according to our needs and produces the essential bile to degrade and absorb the fats. Finally, it is a real purification plant of the body that filters and removes hazardous waste (toxins, food additives, bacteria ...) present in the blood.

Alcohol, sugars and fats, the losing combination!

Rather resistant, the liver has the particularity to regenerate ... but not to infinity. If you weaken it too much, it can have serious consequences. But he is harmed by all the excesses. We think of alcohol taken in a chronic way and at high dose, which causes cirrhosis. But it also does not support the accumulation of pollutants (which force it to work hard to eliminate everything) and especially an unbalanced diet. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the third leading cause of dysfunction behind alcoholism and hepatitis C, affects 20% of French people. Also known as "fatty liver" disease, it results from an accumulation of fats (especially triglycerides) in liver cells. Very often associated with obesity and / or diabetes, it results in particular from an excess of saturated fats. But also pay attention to the effects of sugar, especially fructose added in processed products (not fruit): all the amount swallowed reaches the liver and the surplus ends up transformed into fatty acids and stored in the form of triglycerides.

Assessment (of skills) recommended

"The problem is that the liver suffers for a long time in silence, without a warning signal, and that we often discover cirrhosis at an already advanced stage," notes Professor Didier Samuel, a hepatologist. Some signs must still push to inspect his liver a little closer: persistent fatigue, lack of tone, nausea and abdominal pain, digestive disorders, many bruises, yellow complexion, memory problems ... The doctor also advises to do a liver test if you have certain risk factors: daily consumption of alcohol, metabolic syndrome with overweight, diabetes or high cholesterol and triglycerides, or risk of hepatitis B or C. A simple blood test that measures the transaminases (liver enzymes) may already indicate a dysfunction. An ultrasound can then identify a fatty liver or the presence of fibrosis. A liver in poor health has a bumpy and grainy surface. If the fibrosis spreads, it becomes hard, it is the stage of cirrhosis.

Close protection objective

The good news is that early liver disease is often reversible with the right treatment. It can indeed regenerate if at least a third of its mass is healthy: the cells will then multiply to replace the damaged tissue. To allow it to be requinquer (or even better, avoid damaging it), we avoid consuming more than 2 glasses of wine (or 1 glass of strong alcohol) per day in women. It is also better to limit processed products (cold cuts, pastries and biscuits, sweet drinks, etc.), which are often too rich in hidden sugars and saturated fats. And practice regular physical activity because it burns fat to prevent their accumulation in the liver. In addition, losing excess weight is always good: in 2016, in a study in obese people, a 5% decrease in weight resulted in a net reduction of fat in the liver.

Mollo with some treatments

Almost all drugs have a degree of toxicity to the liver. This is particularly true when taking statins against cholesterol (some increase the level of transaminases, liver enzymes), an antihypertensive, antidepressants or some drugs for heart type amiodarone. Paracetamol is especially toxic if you swallow more than 3 to 4 g per day for several days, with a risk of hepatitis and actual liver failure. We do not stuff painkillers for more than five days, and we do a liver test every six months if we take a long-term treatment.

Thanks to Professor Didier Samuel, hepatologist and gastroenterologist, author of "The liver crisis does not exist!" (Marabout ed.).

Video: Fatty Liver Disease. Q&A (November 2019).

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