Liver Failure: Are You At Risk

This article is about liver disease, liver failure causes, liver failure symptoms, and liver failure treatment.

Healthy Liver: Critical to Survival

Liver is one of the most critical organs of human body. It won't be wrong to say that liver health determines how healthy you are. Just like your heart, your liver must function properly for a healthy body!! Of late, there have been numerous reports about people suffering liver failure. How does a liver fail? What are the symptoms?

Two years back, we experienced one of the most distressing times in our family, as the youngest member from my husband's family suffered liver problem. The day is still fresh in my memory - the boy was just a 12 year old then. It all started with a feast in a 5-star hotel, where the boy savored tandoori chicken. Probably the infection started from there. A couple of days later, he started experiencing abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and fever. He was admitted to one of the most prestigious hospitals in the state of Odisha. Blood & lab reports showed infection. The hospital kept him only on medications, without administering any dietary fluids.

His health started deteriorating to the extent that the doctor told parents of the boy that his liver was failing. His bilirubin level had reached 40 and was only going higher. The next diagnosis was that the boy was suffering from hepatitis B.

To the parents' surprise, they had brought their son to the hospital to see him recover. Unfortunately, the lackadaisical attitude of the hospital staff and their misdiagnosis of the boy's condition brought him to a serious condition. He had become too weak.

liver failure
After three days, the doctor told the boy's parents that their son needed a LIVER TRANSPLANT. The boy was airlifted to Hyderabad's Global Hospital for a transplant. Fortunately, the doctors at the Hyderabad hospital saved the life of this young boy.

They were surprised that the hospital where the boy was admitted earlier had done a misdiagnosis of his condition. They said the liver was doing well and there was no need for a transplant.

They administered nutritional and medication therapy and the boy was discharged within 3 days. Recovery did take him almost a year, with monthly follow-ups with the doctor and a strict dietary regimen.

This young boy is completely fit now and aspires to become a doctor - just like the one who had saved his life!

Why Liver Health Is Important

Liver is the largest organ that
  • ·         produces and releases bile juice to aid in digestion
  • ·         breaks down food
  • ·         stores energy & nutrition
  • ·         eliminates toxins
  • ·         produces proteins, such as those that help in blood clotting.

The very mention of “hepatitis and jaundice” reminds us of liver. These are two common kinds of liver diseases, which could be caused by drug addiction, alcohol intoxication, and consumption of unhealthy foods.

Common causes of liver disease include:

  • Being obese, overweight
  • Poor eating habits
  • Intoxication
  • Type 2 diabetes

The term fatty liver is widely heard these days. Ever wondered what it implies?

What is Fatty Liver?

Also known as steatosis, fatty liver is a condition characterized by improper fat metabolism in liver. Though some fat in the liver is normal, fatty liver occurs when the amount of fat increases by 5-10% of the organ's weight. Alcoholics are more likely to have a fatty liver.

However, there is nonalcoholic fatty liver disease as well. Some women may get a fatty liver during pregnancy.

The condition is more likely to affect middle-aged people, especially those who are overweight or obese. However, you may be surprised to find that steatosis may also affect those with malnutrition.

Some nonalcoholic causes include:
  • ·         Obesity/overweight
  • ·         Medications
  • ·         Sudden weight loss
  • ·         Autoimmune/inherited liver disease
  • ·         Malnutrition
  • ·         Viral hepatitis
  • ·         Excessive intake of saturated/bad fat

Alcoholic Fatty Liver
Too much alcohol consumption forces the liver to metabolize alcohol. As a result, the organ metabolizes less amount of fat, which then deposits on the liver.

For some alcohol addicts, fat forms large vacuoles within the liver cells, thus damaging cells and severely affecting liver health. Damaged liver cells are unable to function properly. The condition could cause formation of fatty cysts and irreversible lesions.

Can it be reversed?
A healthy diet plan, with a focus on balanced & healthy eating and frequent cardio exercise, can help reverse fatty liver disease. A diet low in saturated fats, trans fats, and cholesterol is generally recommended for people with steotosis. Olive oil is often suggested as a healthy substitute to other types of oil.

Do you have a steotosis? Here are fatty liver symptoms:
There may not be any visible signs of a fatty liver disease. With time, problems can start to show up in the form of:
  • ·         Fatigue
  • ·         Loss of appetite
  • ·         Sudden weight loss
  • ·         Weak body
  • ·         Nausea
  • ·         Concentration problems
  • ·         Poor judgment/confusion
  • ·         Pain in the center/right upper part of the belly
  • ·         Dark patches on neck or under arms

In severe cases, the liver may get larger. Some people with prolonged fatty liver may get cirrhosis – or scarring of the liver tissue. Cirrhosis can be a fatal condition and requires immediate medical attention.

Symptoms of Liver Cirrhosis
Your liver health is a cause for concern. Cirrhosis of the liver is a serious condition that could turn fatal, without treatment. Follow your doctor's advice to maintain liver health. Here are some signs of cirrhosis:
  • ·         Jaundice
  • ·         Fluid retention in the body
  • ·         Muscle degeneration
  • ·         Internal bleeding

Liver disease or poor liver health can affect food absorption and production of proteins in the organ.

Diagnosing Fatty Liver
  • Blood tests – Blood work will reveal if there are a high number of certain enzymes in the liver that could cause fat deposition on the organ.
  • Ultrasound – The doctor uses sound waves or sonography to see an internal picture of the liver.
  • MRI/Cat scan - The doctor requires MRI or cat-scan reports to get further images of the organ.
  • Biopsy – In some cases, the doctor may need to insert a needle to take out a tiny piece of liver to look for signs of damaged liver tissue and cells, fat, or inflammation.

How does malnutrition cause fatty liver disease?
When I read about malnutrition being one of the causes of fatty liver, I was really surprised. Let’s see how malnutrition affects liver health and triggers this condition.
Though fatty liver sounds more like related to too much fat, it will not help to eliminate all fats from your diet. How?
In a malnourished person, the body is not able to derive enough energy from food. As a result, it shifts its focus to fat and protein stored elsewhere. The fat and protein are then moved to the liver for storage, so that the organ can convert it into energy.

This surely is a word of caution for those on strict diets. Most dieting women develop fatty liver.

Generally, fat accounts for 3-4 percent of the total weight of liver. But when it increases to 5 percent or more, your liver health is compromised.

Early diagnosis and treatment can help reverse a fatty liver. On the other hand, without medical & dietary intervention, steatosis can turn into cirrhosis, fibrosis, or even cancer.

Your liver health is utmost important for a healthy body, because it is your liver that processes all foods and drinks and filters toxins from the blood.

The liver has a miraculous way to repair itself. It rebuilds and regenerates new cells when the old liver cells are damaged. Repeated damage or poor eating habits, a sedentary lifestyle can cause permanent scarring or cirrhosis. 

Eat a balanced diet and get yourself moving with a strict exercise regimen. If you are obese or overweight, your first target should be to lose weight.

Set small weight loss goals per week and do everything you can to realize them. It would help to limit intake of high carbohydrate foods, including rice, bread, potatoes, corn, and grit. You would want to curb your consumption of carbonated beverages, diet & soda drinks,sport drinks, and refined juices to promote liver health.

What is Acute Liver Failure

As the name suggests, it is a condition in which there is rapid loss of liver function, probably within days or weeks. In most cases, the condition affects a person who has no reported signs of pre-existing liver disease. Contrarily, chronic liver failure is a slow process and develops slowly.
Fulminant hepatic failure or acute liver failure can cause fatal complications. This includes sudden and increased pressure in the brain and excessive bleeding. See your doctor immediately in such situations.
A liver transplant seems to be the only cure for acute liver failure.

Signs and Symptoms Acute Liver Failure 
  • ·         Jaundice
  • ·         Vomiting, nausea, abdominal pain (upper right) & swelling
  • ·         Malaise or a feeling of being unwell
  • ·         Sleepiness
  • ·         Confusion

Acute liver failure causes
The condition may be due to severe damage to liver cells. As a result, cells are not able to function. This may be due to:
  • Drug overdose: Over-the-counter medications, such as acetaminophen, tyenol, paracetamol, antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and anticonvulsants, can cause acute liver failure. Drug overdose is the most common cause of liver disease in the United States. If you take a higher than recommended dosage of the medication for several days, you could be at the risk of acute liver failure. Seek medical attention immediately.
  • Herbal supplements: Certain natural drugs and supplements, such as kava, pennyroyal, can cause acute liver failure. This does not mean dietary supplements are safe. Certain dietary or health supplements are linked to severe liver injury. Recently, there have been reports of people developing liver damage after consumption of a weight loss supplement, known as Lipokinetix®. Some common symptoms of liver failure from herbal supplements include loss of appetite, acute hepatitis, tiredness, and abdominal pain.  In the case of herbal supplement kava, the higher the dose, the grave the risk to liver.
  • Autoimmune disease: can cause liver failure. The immune system starts to attack liver cells, resulting in injury and inflammation.
  • Metabolic disease: In some cases acute fatty liver during pregnancy can end up in liver failure. Rare metabolic diseases may also be linked to acute liver failure.
  • Liver Cancer can cause liver failure.
  • Blood tests, imaging tests of liver, and liver biopsy are some of the ways to diagnose acute liver failure.

Fatty liver treatment
To improve liver health, the following tips may help:
  • ·         Slow and steady weight loss
  • ·         Reduce triglycerides through food and exercise
  • ·         Quit alcohol and avoid sugary beverages
  • ·         Follow a healthy diet plan
  • ·         Avoid unnecessary medications
  • ·         Manage diabetes symptoms
  • ·         Follow an exercise regimen
  • ·         Follow up with a hepatologist (liver specialist)
Focus on your food intake and eat wisely and do regular workout to keep your liver healthy and boost overall health.  This will prevent you from advanced liver disease, fatty liver, liver cancer, or liver cirrhosis. 

IBS: Symptoms, Treatment

Experiencing digestive problems and altered bowel habits for more than 12 weeks? This could be IBS.

Though the actual cause of IBS is unknown, it is known to be triggered by abnormalities in your gastrointestinal system, which may cause either too strong or weak contractions, which may speed up or slow passage of food from the stomach to the rectum.

IBS Symptoms
Common signs & symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include:

  • gas
  • cramping
  • bloating
  • abdominal pain
  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • urinary frequency
  • rectal bleeding
  • weight loss
  • food sensitivities
  • heart burn
  • altered bowel habits

IBS Treatment
  • Be choosy about what you eat and drink, since the condition is primarily the result of food sensitivities and allergies. Identify the food triggers that contribute to the symptoms. Signs of IBS vary from one person to another, so your symptoms may be different from that of another person.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and sugary drinks, which affect metabolism.
  • Monitor food combinations - Are you combining white foods with saturated fats? This combination takes as long as 2-3 hours for digestion. Examples include white sugar and dairy products.
  • Chew food thoroughly and reduce intake of fluids with meals.
  • Avoid all sources of gluten 
  • Introduce healthy bacteria, such as probiotics, and fiber in your diet. For e.g. organic flax seeds.
  • Drink plenty of water at regular intervals to flush out toxins.

Heart Attack Symptoms

Heart attack is a dreaded word, which none of us want to hear, isn't it? With hundreds of thousands of valuable lives lost annually to cardiac arrest, it is but critical to understand the initial symptoms of heart attack.
heart attack symptoms

Immediate Remedy for acute symptoms of heart attack
Carry cayenne pepper in your bag or keep in your glove compartment at all times. If you think heart attack symptoms are present, take a small pile of cayenne in your hand, eat it all and drink water, then head to the hospital or call emergency. This simple household remedy has saved many lives.

Cayenne for Heart AttackPreliminary evidence claims that cayenne acts as aspirin to thin the blood and restore blood supply to the heart.

cayenne for heart attack
I believe the credit for this "possible remedy" goes to capsaicin content of cayenne pepper. However, medical research is still under way to establish this claim fully. Moreover, this remedy isn't recommended for those on blood thinners. Anecdotal evidence supports this claim, since it is believed to lower LDL cholesterol and triglycerides

Cayenne has the unique ability to regulate blood pressure. It is also used for various other heart conditions and to treat poor blood circulation, high cholesterol, and excessive blood clotting. It is also known to purify the blood and eliminate toxins.

Some Caution 

However, for those taking ACE inhibitors, cayenne is not recommended. It has been reported that  cayenne interacts with ACE inhibitors and several other over-the-counter drugs. It raises stomach acid, lowers blood sugar level. Your use of this remedy depends on too many other factors and physical conditions.

Flax Seeds Benefits: How To Make Flax Meal at home

There is a lot of buzz about flax seeds these days? Ever wondered what flax is all about? Wondering how flax benefits health and how do you put it to regular use? Well, there are reasons galore to make flax seeds a part of your regular diet. There are innumerable ways to include flax seeds in your everyday meal plans - from cakes to cookies, from savories to crispies, from curries to rotis, from ladoos to sweets, flax seeds can be put to many uses.

Let's go straight to flax seed benefits first and see why you need to include this superfood in your diet.

Flax seeds supply your body with alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and linoleic (omega-6), which are the most essential fatty acids that are essential to our health. Upon ingestion, your body converts these highly reactive fatty acids into phospholipids, required by the membranes surrounding the cells and the organelles within. 

flax seeds benefits:how to make flax meal at home

According to the American Nutrition Association, flax seeds are a neglected food for the body and skin. 
"....its content of mucilage makes . . . flaxseed the best natural laxative available. It sooths and protects the delicate stomach and intestinal lining, prevents irritation, and keeps the contents moving smoothly along. Because it absorbs water and swells (it reaches about three times its dry volume so this much liquid should accompany its consumption), the stools don’t become hard and dry."

flax seeds benefits
Research reveals that the protein- & fiber-rich flaxseed may help fight all kinds of ailments, from heart disease to high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes, liver disease, depression, and skin, prostate and breast cancer.  These are rich sources of alpha-linolenic acid and omega-3 fatty acid, which are known for their heart benefits. Moderate consumption of flax seeds can help you keep your heart healthy and prevent cardiac arrest & stroke.

Flax seeds are growing in importance as a weight loss wonder.

flax seeds recipe: savory crackers recipe

flax meal cookies with chickpea flour recipe

flax recipe: flax ladoo by Chitra B.

flax recipe: flax seeds panjiri recipe by Anna Singh

flax benefits for health
flax seeds uses

How to make Flax Meal at Home

Did you know the omega fatty acid-rich flax seeds make a great egg substitute for vegan recipes? Well, whether you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can choose flax meal to prepare vegan flax egg. The key to deriving the maximum benefits from flax seeds is to dry roast these seeds and then powder them.The powder is known as flax meal.

Step 1: Dry roast flax seeds. I usually keep them on hot tawa/skillet after making rotis. Flip them once or twice and your flax seeds are roasted beautifully without fire.

dry roast flax seeds

Allow the hot flax seeds to cool.
Step 2: Run them in a processor. 

Your instant flax meal is ready.

Step 3: How to make Flax Egg with Flax Meal for a vegan recipe:

You need 1 tbsp of flax meal as a substitute for 1 egg.
All you need to do is add 3 tbsp warm water to 1 tbsp flax meal - mix and cover. Keep aside for 15 minutes. Within 15 mts, the mixture will turn gooey and gel like, giving you an egg-like consistency.

Use flax egg for cookies or cakes and enjoy a fatty acid boost.

Eggless Whole Wheat Cookies With Coconut

If you are fond of coconut, you cannot ignore these coconut cookies with whole wheat flour.
The eggless atta coconut cookies are melt in the mouth and make great accompaniments with tea.Crunchy, crispy and so coconutty without baking powder or any raising agents! What makes these coconut cookies crunchy then? Well, the autolyzed dough holds the key to making atta cookies crunchy and crispy without baking agents.

Kids love them coconut biscuits like anything. My sweet little niece is here and she simply fell in love with these beauties.

I have been in love with coconut cookies since ages. My first attempt at making these eggless whole wheat cookies with coconut was a success.

Here's the simple recipe of atta coconut cookies for you.

How to make eggless coconut cookies with whole wheat:
1 cup- oats flour/oatmeal
1/4 cup- whole wheat flour or barley flour (+2bsp)
 1 cup desiccated coconut
2 tbsp- butter/ghee ( clarified butter)
3 tbsp- olive oil or any seed oil or even ghee
4 tbsp or more- jagger powder or raw cane sugar (I added raw cane sugar)
1 tbsp- milk

Process for making eggless atta  cookies with coconut:

1. Preheat the oven or mw convection to 180 degrees C. I have made these airfryer cookies.
2. Take a bowl and mix ghee, olive oil, and raw cane sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in milk and whisk it again.
3. Take a sifter and sift whole wheat flour and oats powder. Add dry coconut powder and mix all the wet and dry ingredients until just combined. Leave the dough aside for half an hour. After 30 mts, the flour should have absorbed all the wet ingredients.
5. Do not knead the dough. It should be smooth to touch and not break apart.
6. Make small balls and press them with hand.
7. Line the balls in the baking tray. Or place them on your airfryer tray.
8. Bake atta coconut cookies at 180 degrees for 12 minutes.(You may cook longer if the cookies are not slightly browned). Or airfry cookies at 170 degrees for 12-14 mts.

Your eggless coconut cookies are ready. Enjoy these with a cup of tea and serve them to your guests :)

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