Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Most of us are addicted of one thing or another, me its sugar as in chocolate, candy, cakes and biscuits. See I openly admit I AM AN ADDICT!!! I knew that they were not good for you so I tried, believe me I tried, to take them in moderation and not always successfully. But I’ve always argued, with myself that is, because I don’t drink or smoke, I thought my sugar intake had to be a lot safer than alcohol, in fact I’ve read that a small amount of dark chocolate is good for you, mind you on the other hand I’ve read a glass of red wine is good for you, both of course in moderation.
So I was shocked when I read in today’s UK press this headline: ‘Does alcohol or chocolate pose the biggest threat to the nation's livers? The answer may alarm you.’ So I immediately started to read the report hoping of course that the answer was alcohol and that my daily intake of chocolate, biscuits and cakes was safe etc. My hopes were short lived when I got into the article which started with a report on a Sheila Connolly who had got to the point where she felt so ill that she sat up one night writing letters for her family to read when she died. Wheelchair-bound, partially sighted and with dementia-like confusion, she didn't think she had much time left. Her liver was failing, and her only hope was a transplant. But drinking hadn't caused it, as Sheila was practically teetotal - her liver had been scarred by years of over-eating, a condition known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Sheila said as I would have: 'It wouldn't have entered my head that I had liver disease because I wasn't a drinker - and I never have been.' Like me she went on to say: 'I'd grab naughty things like chocolate when I was out and about.’ Mind you unlike me she admitted that she was always at least 3st overweight!
The report shows even though people think of liver disease as a drinker's complaint, at least one in five people in the UK has some form of liver disease simply because of eating too much. This can damage liver cells, but at this stage it's often symptomless.
But if this process continues over years, the repeated damage to cells can lead to scar tissue - severe scarring is known as liver cirrhosis. The scar tissue makes the liver hard and lumpy and as a result it becomes unable to function properly.
A 2006 study published in the journal Hepatology found that nearly half of people who had fatty liver developed moderate to severe scarring within 14 years.

The problem is that liver disease is difficult to spot before it is very advanced. As Andrew Langford, chief executive of the British Liver Trust, explains: 'There are very few symptoms. The liver doesn't have any nerve endings - so when it's damaged, you don't always feel it.'

Here are some of the symptoms to look out for: Extreme fatigue, dark urine and pale stools are the first signs, as well as jaundice. This is caused by a build-up of the waste product bilirubin, which the malfunctioning liver can no longer remove
Other complications of the advanced stages of the disease are episodes of confusion, memory loss, and even hallucinations. This is known as hepatic encephalopathy and is due to toxins building up in the body and affecting the brain.

Although thankfully I don’t suffer from any of the above the warning is enough to get me to cut down on ALL my sugar intake as I hope it will for you.

Take the liver health check at loveyourliver.org.uk

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