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With the days starting to noticeably lengthen – hurrah (!) – this is the time of year when we start looking forward to the warmer months ahead. True, the temperatures are still a little on the nippy side to start stripping off some of the layers, but it’s the perfect time of year do a little bit of spring cleaning. Or, put another way, a detox. 
 
While it can sound a little daunting, detoxing is really very simple. Cleaning up your diet. Drinking more water. Taking regular exercise. If you’d like a few more details and a quick reminder, click here
 
The simplest way to think of detoxing is as a spring clean for your body and, if you’re feeling inspired, you can also give your house a little extra tlc too. Throw open the windows, give it more of a clean than normal (!) and “rehome” any junk you’ve been meaning to get rid of for ages. However you do it, the end result is the same. Clearing old and stuck energy, making room for the new in your life. Not only will you feel much better for it – and your halo will shine (!) – but it brings new energy and momentum into your life. Hurrah! 
 
 
And, if you need another good reason for a little detoxing, here’s another one. It’s a rather worrying trend that’s been gaining pace over recent years. The rise of Liver damage and Liver Cancer, particularly in young adults, both of which should sound very loud warning bells on their own… 
 
Mention Liver damage and people tend to think about Cirrhosis of the Liver. However, this is the end stage, a chronic disease as a result of long term Liver damage. Without going into much gruesome detail, it causes the inflammation, degeneration and thickening of Liver cells. As a result, the Liver can’t carry out its multitude of different functions with all too predictable results. We’ve written before about the huge range of jobs the Liver carries out, which can be found here
 
Like Gout, Cirrhosis of the Liver was traditionally linked to over indulgence and enjoying too many of the good things in life with alcohol AND rich, sweet and fatty foods being top of the list. While this is undoubtedly the case, there are many other causes including long term Liver infections, Hepatitis, Obesity and Non Alcoholic fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). And it’s NAFLD we’re going to focus on today for several different reasons. 
 
To start with, it’s driven by poor lifestyle choices and one in particular, more about this in a minute. Added to this, there don’t tend to be any symptoms until much further down the road, with damage occurring well before people become aware there may be a problem. Finally, to make matters worse, Liver damage generally – and NAFLD in particular – is linked to many other Lifestyle Diseases. Not only are these becoming much more common, but are now occurring in much younger people than used to be the case. Again, this on its own, should be a major cause of concern. 
 
As the name suggests, NAFLD is the result of the build up of fat in the Liver. However, don’t be tricked into thinking that excess fat in the diet is the main driver of this, it isn’t. The initial stage tends to happen slowly, over a period of time, and is symptom free. Sooner or later, a tipping point is reached where the Liver becomes overloaded and inflammation sets in. This is where symptoms first start to appear, typically with a feeling of tenderness in the Liver area accompanied by low energy levels. As the inflammatory process continues, scar tissue builds up affecting both the Liver itself as well as the blood vessels supplying it and surrounding tissue. The Liver is still able to function but does so less efficiently. And, so, the process continues with the Liver slowly becoming more damaged and its function being reduced, with the end stage being severe damage and Cirrhosis. 
 
So where do poor lifestyle choices come into all of this? 
 
Well, it’s all down to the common link between the traditional cause of Liver damage and the number one poor lifestyle choice. In other words, alcohol AND excess sugar consumption. Or, more accurately, excess fructose as this is what sugar is broken down into by the body before it’s sent to the Liver for processing. Now here’s the important bit. Any fructose not immediately required by the body to provide energy is temporarily stored as fat in the Liver, where it can quickly and easily be broken down to produce energy as needed. While this works well where there is only a short term excess of fructose – feast and famine – it cannot deal with excess levels of fructose on an ongoing basis. Fat starts to build up in both the Liver and other body tissues, particularly round the Abdomen, as the body tries to deal with the excess fructose. Hence NAFLD’s link to Obesity, as well as to Diabetes as the Pancreas become exhausted from producing Insulin to help the body process the excess sugar. 
 
Now, if this all sounds like very bad news and completely inevitable, it isn’t. Lifestyle choices are just that. The lifestyle choices we each make every day, usually without thinking. However, as they are the choices we make, we can easily make others that will help us rather than hurting us. The trick is to start small and let the cumulative effect of lots of small changes build up into something much bigger. And the best news is that each small change will help improve many different aspects of our health, so increasing their effects exponentially. If you need a quick reminder why small changes are so powerful, click here
 
Our bodies are incredibly intelligent, not to mention resilient. They can repair themselves in an amazingly short time IF we give them the resources they need to do it. And, however much we may like to convince ourselves otherwise, we know exactly what that means. It’s all the things we talk about regularly in this blog and what our bodies are really designed to function on. 
 
As always, the choice is yours. 
 
 
 
Photograph by unknown author 
 
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