The liver is the largest solid organ and gland found within the body and carries out hundreds of essential jobs to keep the body functioning properly.
The liver is located to the upper right of the abdomen and is protected by the rib-cage.
Main tasks of the liver include:
- Bile production – bile is produced in the liver and taken to the small intestine to help break down and absorb fats and cholesterol.
- Fat metabolism – the liver helps to break down fats to make them more easily digested.
- Carbohydrate metabolism – the liver stores carbohydrates, which can be used to energy and to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
- Filters and detoxes the blood – the liver filters hormones, drugs and alcohol from the blood stream.
Due to the complexity of the liver and the hundreds of jobs it carries out, there are many complicated conditions and diseases that can arise.
A very common liver condition is Fatty Liver Disease, particularly in Western cultures.
Fatty Liver Disease:
Fatty liver disease (steatosis) is the build up of fats within the liver cells that can lead to serious health consequences. It is generally caused by alcohol abuse or weight management issues. It’s normal to have some level of fat within the liver, however if fat accounts for more than 10% of its total weight, health issues may arise.
Some common risk factors for developing fatty liver disease include:
- Being overweight or obese
- Abusing alcohol consumption
- Diabetes Mellitus
- High triglycerides
- Genetic and hereditary influences
Prevention of fatty liver disease:
- Maintain a healthy weight and BMI
- Reduce alcohol consumption to a healthy range
- Manage and lower blood glucose levels, leading to a reduced risk of Diabetes
- Lead an active lifestyle and exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy diet, with moderate fat consumption.
Given the complexity of the liver and the essential tasks it completes, it is important to lead a healthy and active lifestyle. By doing so, it can help limit the common risk factors associated with developing fatty liver disease.
How much exercise should you be doing?
By aiming to accumulate 20-30 minutes of exercise per day, you are limiting your risk for developing health conditions such as fatty liver disease. Ideally, we want to aim for a mix of cardiovascular and resistance or weights training. By doing both, you are improving the health of your heart and arteries, while also increasing muscle mass and positively influencing metabolic rate.
If you are currently doing nothing and 30 minutes seems like a stretch, let’s start with 5 minutes! Something is ALWAYS better than nothing.
Start slowly and build your way up!
Talk to your GP about a referral to an Exercise Physiologist. Exercise Physiologists are experts at developing programs for those with chronic health problems and are there to help you improve your long term health.