When you look tired, feel sluggish, and find yourself getting sick more often than usual, it’s conventional wisdom that your diet or exercise regimen could be the culprit. Maybe you just need to work out a little harder and eat a salad every once in awhile. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple. So what could be causing this? One of the major causes of your feelings of fatigue and worn-out appearance is from a body part–an organ–you may have never considered: your liver. Statistics support the theory that a “sluggish” liver may be affecting the health of Americans as reports show that roughly 25% of the population have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. And it’s not just in America that the problem persists, a quarter of the adult population in the world suffers from it. Are you worried that you might be affected? There are signs of an unhealthy liver.
Signs of an Unhealthy Liver
Your liver serves as one of the main regulators of the body. It plays a large part in the critical function of such things including:
- Regulating hormones
- Producing energy
- Managing Inflammation
- Body Composition
That list touches on your sex drive, appearance, and even energy levels. This just goes to show that the liver is crucial to you looking and feeling your best. When those factors are being negatively affected due to poor liver health, the consequences to outward appearance are easily seen as bags under your eyes, swollen neck, and higher levels of body fat. While these are cosmetic problems, they also show how significantly the liver can affect your body systems. It plays a crucial role in the body’s overall health, inside and out.
Why do these things occur?
To strip it down to the bare essentials, the liver regulates the composition of your blood and acts as a filter for the body. It metabolizes nutrients and detoxifies harmful substances. When we are constantly consuming food with poor nutrient levels, taking in excess caffeine, and overwhelmed with toxins, the liver is the first to feel the impacts. This will result in the effects mentioned above, and if the toxins are significant enough, there could potentially be even more severe illnesses, like liver cirrhosis or alcohol-induced hepatitis.
Stress is another huge player in the liver’s health. When we run into too much stress, whether that’s coming from work, family, or any number of life’s problems, the liver will again be the first to feel the effects. This causes important signals to be suppressed and keeps the body in a catabolic (“breakdown”) state, rather than the desired anabolic (“muscle-building”) condition you want your body to be in. What happens here is when there is too much inflammation and too many toxins, you will have lower energy and impaired metabolism as well as increased body fat, muscle deficiency and overall poor body composition.
How Do I Test for Proper Liver Function?
Beyond your appearance, doctors have a full arsenal of tests that they can deploy to see exactly what is going on and if in fact your liver is the cause of a lot of your problems. Initial testing for liver enzymes, cholesterol and triglycerides will be standard. Now if these tests show numbers that are out of range your doctor may recommend a liver ultrasound. The liver ultrasound gives the doctor the ability to see fat or solid masses around your liver without doing a biopsy. If results show that the liver enzymes are above 40 and/or the triglyceride levels are above 100 you may find that you have a fatty liver, or at the least a “sluggish” liver. What this means for you is that the management of toxins, hormones, blood sugar, and ability to properly store fat have been hindered and therefore are not operating at the optimal level. The subsequent treatment will depend on where your levels are at but these tests will get the ball rolling to see where you’re at and how to treat it.
As you can see, the liver plays a huge role in maintaining functions essential for healthy and happy living. So whether you feel sluggish, look tired, or see some extra weight in the midsection, it might be a good idea to contact a doctor for proper testing to see if a compromised liver is the cause of those issues. In the meantime you can make small adjustments to your daily life and habits, like finding ways to reduce stress, improving your diet, and getting better sleep. Here’s to better living!