By Pankajbala R Patel
THE liver these days is under attack by many things and not least of all the kind of modern day industrial junk food we put into our mouth from morning to night and late at night all the high-spirited aperitifs and cocktails! Gen next when engaged with seeking the good urban life may not know or care but they will care when a fatty or an injured liver catches up with them – we better care, young or not-so-young. The world over people are seeking health first!
It’s not just modern foods in secondary and tertiary stages of processing which take a toll on the liver and in fact, fatty livers manifest themselves in the rat race of the fast life we lead chasing fame and fortune! It’s like who doesn’t have a bit of a fatty liver? Most of us have it! Is it okay to have a fatty liver as long as it doesn’t bother you …ditto for stones in kidneys, pancreas, gall bladder, we ignore them as longs as they don’t bother us.
Until the years catch up with you and it’s bingo! One morning you find yourself in a gastroenterologist’s clinic for sonography, ultra-sonography and a slew of tests and before you know it you’re seriously advised to take care of those stones in your vital organs, the kidneys or gall bladder or pancreas and there’s the master organ, the liver which we need to understand and respect more. Of late several videos are making the rounds of injured livers because of the strong drugs of our healthcare systems – allopathy, and even the seemingly “safer, no side effects” medicines of ayurveda and homeopathy.
AYURVEDA and Homeopathy alternative systems of medicine are boosted and funded by our well-meaning state governments and the AYUSH ministries, promoters and sarkari primary health centers – but why isn’t anyone coming up with research to tell patients that any medicine system has its drawbacks, when practiced indifferently by practitioners in a hurry to earn a more profitable livelihood?
Jaundice is the end result of many a liver failure and one of Goa’s best known gastroenterologists, Dr Jose Filipe Alvares of the Victor Apollo Memorial Hospital down south Goa in commercial capital Margao recently showed me the jaundice-ridden insides of a patient. According to him many things are suspect in Goa where the incidence of liver-kidney-pancreas-gall bladder problems are on the rise. In Goa it’s not only indulging in alcohol which results in fatty liver, the amount of junk food eating also affects the liver and once jaundice makes an appearance through an infection, it is often a horror story to treat. Reportedly, 25 to 30% of the adult population in Goa suffer from fatty liver which is the most common cause of cirrhosis. (You have a fatty liver if more than 5% of your liver cells are fat loaded and yes, to repeat, alcohol is the most common cause; there is something called non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases too.)
Oftentimes doctors find that patients have been on alternate medicines and sometimes if you follow it up you will see that alternate medicines do not adhere to the original preparation systems which are laid down in the classical texts of say Ayurveda or Homeopathy. All kinds of short cuts exist now and even out dated herbal powders and concoctions may have fungal infections enshrined in them…all medicines are after all chemical formulae after processing.
The liver as an organ for the digestion of food is an important organ. Dr Alvares even notes, “We must be careful when we open a Bisleri bottle and drink water, I’ve seen a man so thirsty, he quickly opened bottle and put it in his mouth and felt a sharp pain in his throat….” They had to do an emergency endoscopy and these days sonography reveals stones in kidneys, pancreas and when these stones block the gall bladder that’s when you are in trouble with inflammation and infection…don’t wait to be in trouble before you seek treatment. Do an annual whole body check and remove stones while you are healthy, these days it’s easily done with minimal laparoscopic surgery.
According to him there is no gender discrimination when it comes to kidney, pancreatic or gall bladder stones, men and women are vulnerable to them equally. Nowadays they are getting younger and younger patients and even children. You trace it back to bad eating habits, bad water, bad food and yes, no exercise! At one time children used to go out to play in the wonderful vitamin-D filled natural sunshine, now they sit playing games on their mobile phones indoors most of the time. That’s definitely bad lifestyle for them, eating and sitting around in comfort zones – it takes a toll on their fighting fit health parameters which once upon children enjoyed.
DR ALVARES’ take is that the typical Goan diet of fish, chicken, tisreao and the rest of a spiced up meal is not ideal food, “The Goan population is more prone or disposed to gall bladder stones…take family history, lack of exercise, we go by car everywhere, we don’t walk, we forget to drink water, what kind of water and food do we eat? How much water do we drink? My advice is eat more leafy greens, drink sufficient water, quit fatty food eating like red meats and alcohol binging…it is in the family and we have also seen links with women on contraceptive pills leading to gall bladder stones.”
DO annual check-up once a year, “And if there are stones get them removed. Having a gall bladder stone and not removing it is like keeping your home door open thinking robbers will not come in! Something like that! Today’s surgeons are good, 20 minutes and the surgery is done. My advice is that if an ultrasound test reveals stones in any of the organs, remove them while you still hale and hearty.”
After that make sweeping changes in your lifestyle if you want to live long and healthy!
Note: Journalist Barkha Dutt recently did a video interview with two doctors who presented an interesting paper on “Homeopathy: Effective Placebo or Dangerous?” The paper asks for de-funding of homeopathy through public funds! Reportedly, a younger generation of homeopathy practitioners have no scruples using alcohol-based mother tinctures to treat patients. Over time this impacted patients’ liver and they had to come to an allopathy gastroenterologist to resolve infections leading to liver failure. According to Dr Abby Philips and Dr Ariff Husain’s research paper as many as 40% patients died before they could go in for liver transplant. Homeopathy medicines today may have heavy metal industrial solvents and even steroids which are dangerous for the liver. So homeopathy is not such a wonder genre of medicine as so many homeopathy patients think!
Know your liver…
THE liver is an organ about the size of a football, weighs about 3 pounds in average sized person and is located just under your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. It is part of the digestive system and plays an essential role in removing toxins from blood, metabolizing nutrients and immune function. Liver disease can be inherited (genetic). The five major functions of the liver are filtration, digestion, metabolism and detoxification, protein synthesis, storage of vitamins and minerals.