The liver is a critical organ with many complex functions necessary to maintain overall health.
In addition to detoxifying the blood, the liver plays a role in metabolism. The accumulation of fat in the liver can cause internal damage.
The accumulation of fat in the liver leads to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can cause organ scarring and reduced function.
In the early stages, known as steatosis, fat is considered “harmless” according to the NHS.
However, in inflammation of the liver, the condition is described as “more serious”. If inflammation persists, scar tissue can form around the liver and nearby blood vessels.
After years of inflammation, the scarring lumpy liver shrinks, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can lead to liver failure and liver cancer.
Although the condition is largely asymptomatic in the early stages, when scarring and inflammation occur, sufferers may experience:
Dull or aching pain in the upper right side of the abdomen (lower right side of the ribs)
Unexplained weight loss
How to protect the liver
In the journal Clinical And Experimental Hepatology, researchers at the Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in India highlight the health benefits of coffee.
In 2016, the authors noted that “drinking coffee is good for health in general and for liver health in particular.”
They said, “Coffee consumption is associated with improvements in liver enzymes (ALT, AST, and GGTP), especially in people at risk of developing liver disease.”
Participants with previous liver disease appeared to benefit from drinking coffee.
Participants who drank more than two cups of coffee a day were less likely to develop cirrhosis and liver cirrhosis.
“The incidence of severe fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver is lower among coffee drinkers,” the researchers explained.
The British Liver Trust warns: “While drinking coffee may protect you from liver disease, there are other underlying factors.”
And while drinking coffee may be beneficial for those “who already have some degree of liver damage, it’s only one preventative measure.”
Good liver health still depends on “reducing the amount of alcohol consumed, proper nutrition, drinking plenty of water, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight.”
A 2017 report jointly prepared by the Institute for Scientific Information on Coffee and the British Liver Trust looked at research in the region.
The researchers concluded that regular moderate coffee consumption is associated with a lower risk of liver disease.
Moderate coffee consumption is generally defined as three to five cups per day, according to a caffeine safety review by the European Food Safety Authority.
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