Chronic Liver Disease and Its Risk Factors: Alcohol and Nutrition
One of the most vital organs in the human body is the liver. The liver is the organ responsible for a variety of essential functions that is necessary for optimal health and well-being of a person. It is tasked with detoxifying your body from all the substances that circulates in the bloodstream coming from foods, medications and by-products of cellular processes. The liver is also responsible for other functions such as creation of bile and red blood cell composition. It can be said that a healthy individual needs to have a healthy functioning liver as well.
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Due to its numerous functions, the liver is also one of the organs of the body that is most commonly injured as well. Chronic liver disease is a condition wherein the liver is not able to carry out its functions for an extended period of time (i.e., 6 months or more). When your liver is subjected to a lot of stresses and harmful substances, problems with its functioning can occur and render it unable to carry out its vital functions. The most commonly mentioned factors related to the existence of chronic liver problems is poor diet and alcohol abuse.
Problems with the functioning of the liver can contribute to the existence of a lot of other conditions that is harmful to your health since the substances that it is supposed to clear from your body are not eliminated.
Nutrition and Chronic Liver Problems
The food that you take contributes to meet your body’s need for energy to help you with activities of daily living. However, it has been found through numerous researches that the type of diet you take also can contribute to the existence of problems with your liver, injuring it and impairing its functions. Fatty liver is one of the most common causes of chronic liver diseases and is brought about by intake of foods that is high in fat and cholesterol content. These foods are those that are usually found in fast foods and are rich in sodium and sugars as well. Included in this would be foods that are deep fried in animal fat such as French fries and chicken, dairy products that are non-fat and processed and canned meat products. Apart from causing fatty liver, these foods are also pointed out to be the source of obesity, heart conditions.
Alcohol Intake and Liver Injury
Alcohol is another factor that has been linked to the development of chronic liver disease. This is because alcohol in itself is seen as an oxidizing agent, meaning that alcohol can cause the cells within your liver to dry, and easily get injured. When this happens, inflammation can occur in your liver. Imagine this happening on a long-term basis, and you will see that the liver gets repeatedly injured, resulting in a condition known as cirrhosis. In this case, the liver gets scar tissues in areas repeatedly injured, rendering these areas non-functional. This can result in the liver’s inability to detoxify your body of the substances you take that can harm the cells of your body.
So, if you want to have a normal and healthy functioning liver, it is essential that you choose your diet very well and keep your alcohol intake to low or moderate levels if you really can’t avoid it totally.
Maintaining Optimal Cognitive Health Through Diet
The cognitive abilities of an individual is found to be on a continuous growth and development throughout the lifespan. This finding contrary to the previous notion that your cognitive abilities experience a decline as you age. This is because there are previous studies showing that decline in cognitive functioning occurring with age is mostly due to the existence of problems such as dementia, or other neurological condition like stroke. However, the growth of your cognitive capacities does not happen if conditions that are related to the overall functioning of your body are not conducive for it. It means that when you do not necessarily take care of your cognitive health, a decline may occur unless you take measures to delay or stop it from happening.
Over the years, there are a number of researches that have been made in this area and these studies have turned out with findings that one of the ways to maintain and promote optimal levels in cognitive functioning is through managing the foods that you take. Nutrition is essential to overall functioning of your body and even cognitive health. If your diet is high in foods that contains essential fatty acids, nutrients and other vitamins, this can contribute to cognitive health. This not only increase your cognitive health but it can also prevent other chronic health conditions from occurring such as hypertension and strokes.
Certain types of diet that are considered to be highly conducive in maintaining and promoting optimal health are the DASH and Mediterranean diets. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet is a plan that is usually given to people who have hypertension. This is primarily composed of lists of foods that the person with hypertension can take and how much they are allowed to have in order to stop the progression of hypertension if they already have it, or to stop hypertension from occurring if they are at high risk for its development. Since this diet decreases the intake of salt, fat, and refined carbohydrates in the overall intake, it is also used for adoption in other people with other health conditions such as heart diseases, obesity and stroke. In a study conducted in the US, it has been seen that individuals who adopted the DASH diet have been seen to have lower blood pressures. This can be useful in prevention of cognitive decline since an effective blood circulation to your brain is also related to your blood pressure. When you have a blood pressure that is within the normal limits, then your blood is able to flow more efficiently, increasing the delivery of essential nutrients and oxygen to your brain and contributing to overall cognitive health.
Another diet that has been found to be helpful in maintain and promoting optimal cognitive health is the Mediterranean diet. This diet has been followed by people from the Mediterranean such as the people from Spain, the Greeks and those who are living in the Mediterranean islands. It is rich in foods that are rich in essential fatty acids such as peas and lentils, fish and olive oil that is essential for cognitive health and functioning. Also, this diet is rich in fruits and bread using mostly whole grains and other unrefined sources of carbohydrates that are important in ensuring that the vessels and nerves in the brain remain healthy and disease free.
The maintenance and promotion of optimal cognitive health is not essentially hard, if you know the necessary steps to take in its promotion. And, with it, always remember that prevention of any cognitive problems is way so much better than finding a cure for it!
Gardener H, Wright CB, Gu Y, Demmer RT, Boden-Albala B, Elkind MS, et al. Mediterranean-style diet and risk of ischemic stroke, myocardial infarction, and vascular death: the Northern Manhattan Study. Am J Clin Nutr. 2011;94:1458–64.
Bach-Faig A, Berry EM, Lairon D, Reguant J, Trichopoulou A, Dernini S, et al. Mediterranean diet pyramid today. Science and cultural updates. Public Health Nutr. 2011;14:2274–84.
Vitamin D and Its Benefits
Vitamin D is probably one of those that are underappreciated for all its worth. Over the years, it was only usually related to or referred to its use in helping the absorption of calcium from your bloodstream to be deposited into your bones. This was probably the only function of this vitamin that you know, but it does more than that. Apart from helping calcium in your diet to be absorbed into your bones from your bloodstream, there are numerous other uses that Vitamin D can play in your body.
Vitamin D Helps Maintain Immune System
Researchers from the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Denver has found that maintaining high levels of Vitamin D in your bloodstream can help maintain immune function and help you prevent from contracting infections such as colds and other common infections.
Vitamin D Helps Reduce Your Risk of Developing Multiple Sclerosis
Vitamin D is usually found in your blood stream and is activated when you are exposed to sunlight. Therefore, the more you are exposed to healthy levels of sunlight, the more Vitamin D is activated and conversely, more of it is found on your blood stream. Studies have revealed that people who live in tropical areas where they are more exposed to sunlight have lower risks for the development of multiple sclerosis throughout their lifetimes.
Vitamin D Is Essential in Maintaining Cognitive Functions
A European study involving 3000 males between the ages of 40 and throughout the continent has shown that increasing vitamin D levels in the blood stream has helped the respondents maintain optimal level of functioning in their brains even later on in their lives. This means that having higher levels of this vitamin in your blood stream can help reduce your risk for developing dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other conditions resulting in the decline of your cognitive functioning.
Other Uses of Vitamin D
As mentioned in the previous sections, Vitamin D has a lot of uses. Apart from those that were mentioned above, it can also help you maintain a healthier body weight and decrease your risk for obesity. This is seen in a research conducted by the Medical College of Georgia in the United States. It can also help in managing asthma and its symptoms. In a study that was conducted among over 600 children in Costa Rica by the Harvard Medical School, it has been found that those who were found to have high blood levels of Vitamin D have decreased episodes and severity of their asthmatic attacks. Moreover, increased level of Vitamin D is also found to reduce the likelihood of development of rheumatoid arthritis in women who are over the age of 40.
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Vitamin D has also been found to have a protective function in those who are being treated for cancer via radiation therapy. This is supported by a study conducted by experts in the field of radiology in the New York City Health Department. Vitamin D is also seen to decrease the risk for cancer development when it is maintained on a high level in the blood stream. This is regardless of the individual’s age and nutritional status.
Vitamin D is also shown to help individuals with tuberculosis recover faster, decrease the risk of heart attacks and play a vital role in overall muscular health.
Holick MF. “Vitamin D: importance in the prevention of cancers, type 1 diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.” Am J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;79(3):362-71.
“Vitamins and minerals – Vitamin D ” UK National Health Service.
“Vitamin D and Cancer Prevention: Strengths and Limits of the Evidence” U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Institutes of Health. Accessed October 20th 2013.
Key to Cardiovascular Health: The Role of Tea and Flavonoids
For the longest time, a number of research papers has shown how coffee and other caffeine-containing products has been related to existence of a number of health problems. Caffeine containing products such as coffee, chocolates and tea have been linked to the incidences of heart problems, heart burn and ulcers, and other health conditions. You may probably be one of those who were told by their doctors that they need to lay low on their coffee because of this. It may have even been hard for you because you need coffee or other source of caffeine for your day to start properly. But this will soon come to an end, since there are studies done that can prove this notion otherwise.
One of the substances that has been found by research studies to contribute to your health is tea. Both black tea and green tea are found to contain high levels of flavonoids. These flavonoids are believed to improve your vascular health by improving the general health of blood vessels that are responsible for controlling the flow of blood into the other parts of your body. Also, these flavonoids are also suggested to contribute to dilation of blood vessels, further improving blood circulation and oxygen and nutrient supply and delivery to other parts of your body. In studies done, it has been seen that flavonoids are also responsible for decreasing the risk of the development of atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis is a condition wherein the fat and cholesterol often found in your diet gets deposited along the vessel walls and thickens and hardens in there, causing a disruption in blood flow. The presence of atherosclerosis has been linked to cardiovascular diseases, hypertension and even stroke since it causes blood to flow more slowly, increase chances of clot formation and deprives your cells of the essential oxygen and nutrients needed for its overall functioning.
There is also consistent number of data showing that one of the ways in which flavonoids contribute to general cardiovascular health is through certain mechanisms such as the enhancement of the status of the substance nitric oxide in your bloodstream. High levels of nitric oxide in your blood stream is responsible for the improvement of your endothelial functioning. This substance is consisted by both nitrogen and oxygen atoms and is seen to contribute to reducing the risk of inflammation of the blood vessels, improve functioning of the cells and acts to regulate cellular processes.
Apart from the known benefits that flavonoids can have in terms of your cardiovascular status, it also has been found to have other health benefits too. The intake of green tea has been seen and is used to control body weight, reduce body fat content and control the risk of obesity. Tea and flavonoids are also seen to reduce cellular damage due to oxidation process that increases your risk for cancer development. It can also help to reduce incidences of inflammation, formation of clots, and reduce the risk for development of diabetes mellitus type 2.
Yes, tea and flavonoids can have all these health benefits but it is also wise to keep its intake in moderation because anything taken in excess in never good for you and your body.
The Benefits of Food to the Brain
The human brain is a complex and dynamic organ of the body. Your brain is responsible for all other processes taking place inside your body, whether you are aware of it or not. Your brain is not just responsible for cognitive and psychological processes, it also has something to do with your body’s physiologic processes as well. The healthier your brain is, the healthier functioning it can have and the better general health and well-being you can achieve. Brain health can be achieved through proper diet, exercise and good lifestyle choices.
One of the most important aspects of brain health maintenance and development is feeding it with the right vitamins and minerals that it needs to be able to carry out its normal processes. When your brain is being fed with the right nutrients, its physiologic processes are better and more effectively carried out, improving its overall functioning. One of the benefits that you can have because of this is the positive influence it exerts in your brain’s metabolism of the energy coming from the food you take in. Proper metabolism of energy in your brain can help contribute to a more effective neuronal functioning, signal transmission between your neurons, and plasticity in synaptic activities (or the capacity of your brain to cause an increase or decrease in the strength of the synapses in response to time). This can affect how your brain maintains your mental health and your cognitive functioning. Food has a direct influence on the long and short term effects on your brain’s neuronal plasticity.
Food, being a source of both fuel and essential substance that your body needs to maintain and promote optimal cellular process is therefore important for your brain functioning. For the longest time, diet, has been studied in terms of how it affects the manner in which a person’s brain functions. It has been seen to exert an influence in the evolution of the brain and in improving its capacity as well. The manner in which you feed yourself and the choice of food you take is therefore important to consider if you want to maintain and promote optimal brain health and cognitive functioning.
Essential fatty acids, specifically DHA which usually found in sources of protein such as meat products, dairy, fish and poultry and its products is helpful in synaptic functioning and in maintenance of cognitive functioning, decreasing the risk for the development of conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, and also other mental health problems as well. The use of DHA on your body, however is reversed when you prepare your food in a manner that is high in trans fat such as cooking it in animal fat like deep-frying. Other food sources such as vegetables, lentils and fruits and whole grain are also linked to their positive effect in terms of maintenance of the health of nervous tissues. Staying away from alcohol can also have a positive impact on your brain health and cognitive functioning since alcohol has been found to exert an oxidative effect, accelerating the manner in which the cells and tissues in your brain degenerates and die, therefore affecting your cognitive health negatively.
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