Most diabetics have no idea what their liver does. Most are not aware that diabetes, and other factors related to diabetes, cause damage to the liver. The only liver damage that most people are aware of is cirrhosis, which is usually associated with alcoholism. Diabetic damage can progress to the point of cirrhosis (severe cases). Another little known fact is that liver cancer development is common in severely damaged livers. Diabetics are more than two times more likely to suffer from liver disease than normal. Like kidney disease, liver disease will go unnoticed (no symptoms) until it is too late. Fortunately, if the damage is stopped early, many of the damaging effects of diabetes can be reversed. The liver is the only major organ in the body that will regenerate. But, it must be stopped before oxidation occurs resulting in scarring (cirrhosis).
There is a lot of debate as to whether liver function is a contributing factor as a cause of diabetes, or if diabetes is the cause of liver function malfunction. It is well established that insulin resistance is a precursor to diabetes. Many of the factors that contribute to the cause of insulin resistance are the same factors that cause liver damage. Regardless of the cause, if diabetes has been diagnosed, the liver is at risk and should be a major consideration in the maintenance of diabetes.
The liver performs many vital functions (over 500) that the body would not survive without. The liver is the first place that nutrients goes to after digestion. Virtually everything that is eaten or is absorbed through the skin goes through the liver. Nearly 2 quarts of blood pass through the liver every minute. Blood rich in nutrients flows from the intestines directly to the liver. That blood is also loaded with toxins and bacteria from the colon as well. The liver filters the blood and destroys the toxins and bacteria, allowing clean blood to circulate to the rest of the body. The liver also destroys poisons that are absorbed from pollution, smoking and drinking alcohol.
The liver manufactures bile, which is stored in the gallbladder, and discharges it through the bile ducts into the small intestine where it aids in the digestion of food. The liver manufactures HDL (good) cholesterol and deposits it into the bloodstream. HDL cholesterol seeks out LDL (bad) cholesterol and carries it back to the liver where it is processed and discharged with the bile fluids into the small intestine to be discharged. The liver also manufactures liver enzymes (GGT -gamma-glutamyltransferase) and processes numerous hormones. The liver stores fat soluble vitamins, and glucose (stored energy) and distributes them as required. The liver manufactures blood, proteins, and blood clotting substances.
Diabetes weakens the body's systems. Bad diet, which played a major role in the development of diabetes, severely disrupts proper colon function. An impaired colon results in massive amounts of fats, bacteria and toxins in the digestive tract. Beneficial flora (bacteria) is lost due to overuse of antibiotics, and medications. Beneficial bacteria is the foundation for the body's immune system. They normally destroy bacteria and toxins before they reach the liver. Substantial imbalances and reduced numbers have a serious negative impact on health. Blood from the digestive tract is overloaded with undesirables that the liver is charged with removing. Overloading the liver results further impairing its function. The bile ducts become restricted by the accumulation of small gallstones (thousands of them), which restricts the flow of bile to the small intestine. The liver starts to reduce the amount of bile produced, reducing the efficiency of digestion further.
Diabetics consume less than half the amount of fiber each day that their body requires. Fiber is responsible for removing the LDL (bad) cholesterol and other toxic residue from the body. The LDL cholesterol and toxic residue ends up being re-circulated because it is not removed from the body by fiber. The result, a seriously overloaded liver. When the liver's filters lose efficiency, toxins and LDL cholesterol begin to build up in the bloodstream. The toxins begin to damage the walls of blood vessels. LDL cholesterol is oxidized and forms plaque in the arteries. Normally, the liver and spleen would destroy cancer cells, but , due to overload, fail to destroy them all. Medications are basically chemicals that the liver identifies as undesirable. The liver's filters seek to remove them and attempts to break them down. Many medications cause a filter overload in the liver. They contribute heavily towards the overloading of the liver. That is why so many drugs have warnings about possible liver damage.
When the digestive system breaks food down into glucose, it is managed primarily by the liver. Glucose is broken down into storable forms of fat. As the body's muscle tissues and organs use glucose for energy, the liver replaces it. Most diabetics do not get adequate exercise, resulting in an overabundance of glucose (in the form of fat) to be stored. Normally, the liver would store some of it in its cells, and put the rest in the adipose tissue (belly area). When the body needs more, the liver will convert the stored fat and place it in the bloodstream. If the diabetic has belly fat, they likely have a fatty liver. That means that their liver's cells are full of sacs of triglycerides that that have accumulated. A fatty liver substantially reduces the efficiency of the liver. Fat build-up in the belly area increases insulin resistance, which is the body's inability to manage glucose and insulin. Insulin resistance reduces the body's ability to utilize glucose and insulin. As the glucose level increases in the bloodstream, the pancreas produces more insulin in an attempt to deal with it. Increased amounts of insulin encourages more fat to be stored, and blocks the livers attempts to convert the fat and distribute it.
Fatty liver is not a dangerous condition if it is removed early. If allowed to progress, the second phase of liver damage occurs (NASH). In this phase, oxidation begins to take place inside the liver, which destroys cells and causes scarring to take place. When the scarring increases, cirrhosis of the liver develops, which is irreversible. Cirrhosis, normally associated with alcoholism and hepatitis, can be fatal.
Liver damage is clearly preventable. The liver is merely one of the vital organs that are impacted by diabetes. Serious lifestyle changes need to be made. Major diet changes need to be made. The digestive tract must be cleaned, restored and maintained. The beneficial flora that is so important to a diabetic's health and digestion must be restored and maintained. The liver's filters need to be cleaned and maintained. Gallstones need to be softened and flushed out of the system. Other vital organs need to be cleaned, restored to good health, and maintained. All of which are easily done if incorporated into a good management routine. Clearly, there is considerably more that diabetics need to know and incorporate to take charge of their diabetes. Simply taking medications and seeing the doctor every few months is not enough.
Damage to the body's vital organs, heart disease and stroke, eye damage, neuropathy, and all the other damage that otherwise would occur, are preventable. Some damage is reversible. Doctors are unprepared and unwilling to dedicate massive amounts of time to training diabetics on all of these topics. Diabetes trainers are limited by insurance companies to teaching only basic elements of diabetes care. It is very important for diabetics to learn as much as they can about their disease. The burden falls solely on the shoulders of the diabetic to self educate. Knowledge is power.
The internet is full of information. All that is needed it to spend a little time searching for it. Extensive coverage of all of these topics are found in easy to follow instructions. Go to www.diabeticshandbook.com for a free preview.