Our LIVER is the most fascinating and the most underrated organ – serving us with over 500 important bodily functions, it was dubbed as our very own silent superhero.
LIVER is the largest and most important internal organ in the body, weighing about 1.5 kilos and located at the upper right side of the abdomen safe behind the lower rib cage.
This magnificent organ can be divided into 4 lobes (left, right, caudate, and quadrate lobes) and it is worth noting that it is the only organ in the human body that has the power of regeneration. When damaged, our liver has the amazing ability to grow new cells and regenerate itself. According to clinical studies as little as 25% of the original liver mass can regenerate back to almost its full size.
Aside from regeneration, you’d be surprised to know that our liver also has other super powers that can dwarf those possessed by our favorite fictional superhero characters in the comics, TV and films.
Our liver acts as our body’s storage building. It stores important vitamins, energy and minerals and releases them in the blood as needed. Around 100g of glycogen is stored in the liver as well as lipid-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K and B12. Iron and Copper minerals are also stored in the liver.
It produces a substance called bile that helps the body digest food and absorb important nutrients. You’ll find this thick, yellow-green substance in the gallbladder, where it’s stored until the body needs some to digest fats.
It detoxifies by metabolizing and expelling drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins from our body. Ensuring toxins are safely removed from your blood is one of the liver’s most critical jobs. It uses enzymes and oxygen to burn toxins and then it combines toxins with amino acids so they can be removed from the body through bile or urine.
Among its basic functions is that it converts food to energy, and produces chemicals that our brain and spinal cord needs. Insulin which is produced in the pancreas helps our cells convert glucose into energy, and it helps our bodies store extra glucose for use later. Insulin does this by turning the extra food into larger packages of glucose called glycogen. Glycogen is then stored in the liver and muscles. Because the brain is rich in nerve cells, it is therefore the most energy-demanding organ in the body, using one-half of all the sugar energy (glucose) in the body.
It helps in resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the blood. Our liver contains over half of the body’s supply of macrophages, known as Kuppfer cells, which literally destroy any bacteria that they come into contact with.
However, this superhero organ is not invulnerable. In fact, it is one of the most susceptible to diseases because of the many things that we put inside our body.
Liver disease is a major cause of illness and death worldwide.
- More than 844 million people worldwide have chronic liver diseases with a mortality rate of 2 million deaths per year.
- In 2017, WHO reported that documented liver disease deaths reached a total of 8,401 here in the Philippines.
Here are the most common types of liver diseases:
- Hepatitis or the inflammation of the liver caused mainly by a virus
- Liver Cancer or Hepatocellular Carcinoma
- Cirrhosis or Hepatic Fibrosis is the scarring of the liver tissues
- Alcoholic Liver Disease
- Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Who are at Risk?
- Those with viral infections
- Those who take a lot of medicines
- Those who drink a lot of alcoholic drinks
- Those who smoke
- Those who are obese
- Those who eat a lot of fatty food
- Those who have a family history of liver diseases
What are the Common Signs and Symptoms?
- Chronic Fatigue
- Nausea and Vomiting
- Abdominal Pain and Tenderness
- Loss of Appetite
- Itchy Skin
In a very informative dialogue with a panel of SANOFI experts yesterday at the Happy Garden Cafe in Makati – Dr. Allan J. Domingo, Ms. Grace Mendoza (Head of Marketing) and Ms. Geline Clemente (Essentiale Brand Lead Philippines) shared some of the many ways we can take care of our silent superhero Liver.
Our liver and its cell membrane is made up of a substance called ESSENTIAL PHOSPHOLIPIDS or EPLs which are the building blocks of the liver cell membrane. Needless to say, healthy phospholipids means healthy liver.
And like in all diseases, prevention is better than cure. In the case of liver diseases, prevention and treatment can be one by way of strengthening the liver cell membrane and supplying the body with a much needed supplementation of Phospholipids.
Essentiale Forte P
Sanofi recommends ESSENTIALE FORTE P which is made up of Essential Phospholipds or EPLs natuarally derived from soya beans and helps the liver through its Triple LiveRevolution Formula:
- REGENERATE damaged liver cells
- RESTORE lots Phospholipids
- REPAIR normal functions of the liver
According to Sanofi’s Ms. Clemente, Essentiale as a liver remedy product was introduced in the Philippines way back in the 50’s as a prescription medicine. The new Essentiale Forte P is an over-the-counter (OTC) medication that they have developed and introduced in the market in 2011.
From its introduction, Essentiale Forte P remains to be the most prescribed by many doctors here in the country and in other parts of the world mainly because it has already gain its reputation as one of the most studied liver remedy product in the world with over 200 documented clinical trials.
The recommended dosage is 2 capsules for every meal for patients 12 years old and above. Results may vary depending on the conditions of the liver but has shown positive effects in most patients in as early as 2 months of intake.
While Essentiale Forte P is available as an OTC medication, Sanofi experts say it is best to consult your doctors and have a liver function test done first since their main advocacy aside from informing the public of the wonderful benefits of their Phospholipids product is to promote a healthy lifestyle and encourage people to build a trust-based relationship with their doctors who would most likely recommend lifestyle modification first before any other medications or supplements.
Liver Function Tests
The Sanofi experts also recommends that we include liver function tests in our annual physical exams like:
- ALT (Alanine Transaminase) or SGPT (Serum Glutamic Pyruvic Transaminase)
- AST (Aspartate Aminotransferase) or SGOT (Serum Glutamic Oxaloacetic Transaminase)
- ALP (Alkaline Phosphatase)
These tests will help doctors determine if your liver is healthy or not.
According to Dr. Domingo, those who are on Keto Diet need to watch for symptoms of Fatty Liver Disease since they have less or don’t have carbohydrate intake and a large intake of fats and the liver needs to work harder to metabolize the fats in their diet.
Natural Liver Supplements
Essentiale Forte P is backed by hundreds of clinical trials and studies which prove its efficacy or usefulness and safety as a medication that has supportive functions in the management of different types of liver diseases – even liver cancer. Studies that most of the liver supplements found in the market today lacks.
Lastly, the panel suggests the following activities help take care of our liver and prevent its deterioration:
- EAT RIGHT – stick to a well-balanced diet, lots of fruits and vegetables
- CONTROL YOUR ALCOHOL – drink to a minimum
- BE RESPONSIBLE IN TAKING MEDICATION – don’t exceed recommended doses
- AVOID ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS – inhaling toxic fumes can damage the liver
- KNOW YOUR SUPPLEMENTS – be careful in taking so-called natural supplements
- BE HEALTH CONSCIOUS – wash hands properly and consider vaccination for viral hepatitis
- EXERCISE REGULARLY – make physical activity a part of your daily routine
- CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR – get an exhaustive family medical history, annual physical examination complete with blood works and imaging
Our Liver works really hard to keep our body healthy and free from diseases, it is only right and logical that we should do whatever it takes to keep this silent superhero organ healthy as well!
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