The liver is the largest solid organ in the body and the largest gland in the body. It carries out more than 500 important tasks, and is classified as part of the digestive system. Being an integral part of the human body, evolution ensures that it can regrow rapidly If kept in healthy conditions. This makes the liver the only visceral organ that can regenerate. It can regrow back to Its original size without any loss of ability. One of the most affected people are seniors, here are some tips for maintaining liver health in seniors.
The Liver, the Unsung Hero, and Its Functions
The liver carries out the maximum amount of metabolism of our body. The liver is one of the body’s true Power Houses. A part of the body that performs a staggering quantity of functions simultaneously. Some of these functions are:
The liver converts nutrients into bile, a substance that helps in the digestion process. It is in the form of bile juice, released from the bile duct. Bile helps the small intestine break down and absorb fats, some vitamins, and cholesterol into smaller units.
Liver filters and removes harmful compounds from the body such as hormones like aldosterone and estrogen. It also removes compounds from outside the body such as excessive drugs.
Metabolism of Fats
Bile breaks fats down for easier digestion.
Metabolism of Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates that are initially stored in the liver are broken down to form glucose units. These are then added to the bloodstream to maintain the body’s blood glucose levels.
Metabolism of Proteins
Bile in the liver also helps to break down proteins to make digestion easy.
The liver contains a huge number of Kupffer cells that carry out immune activities. These cells destroy major disease-causing agents that may enter the liver through the gut area.
Bile is essential for vitamin K absorption. Vitamin K is extremely important for the creation of certain coagulants that help clot the blood.
Why Liver Disorders Are More Prevalent in Seniors
The liver is in its prime state when the body is young; regeneration is fast, and functionality is at its peak. As the body ages, a number of structural and also microscopic changes occur as the liver grows old. Studies show that people between the age of 40-50 years are more prone to serious liver diseases.
The volume and blood flow of the liver gradually reduces with aging. Studies using ultrasound state that the liver volume decreases by 20-40% as age increases. People aged 65 or above show approximately a 35% decrease in blood volume of the liver. Aging causes a declining number and dysfunction of mitochondria in the liver.
The metabolism of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol decreases by 35% as well. The color of the liver changes from lighter to darker brown. Its blood flow decreases. Its size decreases. The ability of the liver to metabolize many substances decreases with age. Whenever possible, the patient or their close ones should immediately search for a medical office near me on their phones and take the patient there immediately for immediate medical treatment.
This is the reason that when some drugs are administered to the elderly cannot be inactivated as quickly as in younger people. So a drug dosage has no effects on younger people will have dose-related side effects in the elderly. Consequently, the drug dose should be decreased for the seniors.
The liver is a great stress holder, but as a person ages their ability to withstand stress decreases. The materials that are toxic to the liver might in turn cause more damage.
Repairing of damaged liver cells is slower in senior people. Gallstones can also form because the production and flow of bile in old age are also reduced.
Diseases Regarding Liver
There are many liver-related diseases some more serious than the others, but all of them affect the health of the liver one way or the other
- Fatty liver disease: The disease that is related to obesity, or in western countries, alcohol abuse. According to research 25-51% of people with elevated liver enzymes go through this disease. In fatty liver disease vacuoles of fat build up in the liver. If It is only caused by obesity then It is called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD).
- Cirrhosis: In this scar tissues are seen replacing liver cells naming the process fibrosis. Toxins, alcohol, and hepatitis can trigger this type of event. Fibrosis is a serious matter If not taken into treatment It can lead to more serious consequences leading to liver failure.
- Hepatitis: This is basically the condition of liver inflammation. Hepatitis is in basic terms the name given to infection of the liver caused by toxins, any viruses, or even from an autoimmune response. In severe or untreated cases, liver failure can happen.
- Alcoholic liver disease: This is caused by drinking too much alcohol over long periods of time resulting in cirrhosis.
- Liver Cancer: In serious cases, the most common liver cancer types are Cholangiocarcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma. The leading causes are alcohol abuse and hepatitis.
Healthy Habits to Maintain Liver Health in Seniors
To make sure your liver stays in pristine condition some healthy habits and tips should be adopted.
Avoidance of High-Calorie Meal
The liver starts declining in its overall functioning with age. People above the age of 40 are advised to avoid carbohydrates which are refined, high-calorie meals, and sugars. Raw or undercooked fish should be avoided at all costs. A fibrous diet is advised, for example, vegetables, salads, and fruits. Beans and proteins should also be taken in moderate quantities.
Exercise is Therapeutic Activity
Keeping your body active impacts your health in a positive way. A considerable quantity preferably 2 and half hours of light physical activity daily can increase fatty acid oxidation, lower blood pressure and boost your heart health. These things play a pivotal role in preventing damage-inducing molecules. Running & cycling can help your body to stay in good condition.
Drinking an approximation of 8 glasses of water a day can help to empty the bladder faster in elders. It aids in flushing out toxin-related substances out of the body keeping liver harm at bay.
Avoid Herbal Medication
Elder people in our society tend to trust herbal medication for small bodily disorders which are considered malpractice. They can lead to hepatotoxicity and in more severe conditions liver failure. Herbal medication-induced liver injury has increased proportionally worldwide reaching around 20%.
Regular LFTs (Liver Functioning Tests)
These are a series of tests that help doctors to check for the proper working of the liver. Or in other cases check for liver damage, any sorts of infections, or diseases. These tests in routine have significant importance because through these you can sometimes catch disease-causing agents in earlier stages and get the treated. Senior people should get these tests done regularly which might save them from severe liver conditions which might prove to be fatal.
Liver disorders are increasing the risk of serious health conditions in elderly people because of intake of poor diet, fatty food, and negligence. There should be more awareness regarding the consequences of liver diseases and also preventive measures should be taken to avoid getting sick.
Senior citizens because of their age are more prone to liver conditions so they should adopt a well-balanced diet and opt for regular medical checkups. Good health is the only thing that can assure a good life.
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