Seven Ways to Keep Your Organs Healthy

Sun up to sun down, your body’s organs are working together to keep you healthy. Your liver breaks down harmful substances in your body, excreting that waste into your blood; your kidneys cleanse your blood of that waste, and your heart pumps the blood throughout the body.

This means that people with a liver, kidney or heart problem also have an increased risk of having problems with another organ—diabetes, high blood pressure, smoking or being overweight can all add to the risk.

On the other hand, this also means that by making efforts to improve the health of one organ, you are simultaneously improving your overall health. Here are seven ways to keep your organs healthy.

Stay hydrated

Water helps kidneys remove waste from blood, so it’s always a good idea to stay hydrated by drinking at least four to six glasses per day. If you become dehydrated, toxins can build up and affect your kidneys and your liver. While hydration keeps your blood vessels open to help blood travel freely, dehydration can make your blood thicker and more difficult for your organs to detoxify.

Eat a balanced diet

Natural sources of sugar such as fresh fruit are easier than refined sugars for your body to metabolize without overwhelming your organs. It also helps to eat a lot of fiber, such as fruits, vegetables and whole grains.

In addition to refined sugars, limiting high fructose corn syrup (soft drinks, baked goods, sweets) and foods with saturated fat and refined carbohydrates (white bread, white rice and pasta) will keep your body healthy and functioning properly. Additionally, too much salt can cause high blood pressure, which is a risk factor for heart and kidney problems.

Exercise consistently

Physical activity helps to decrease blood pressure and cholesterol levels, increase muscle strength, improve sleep, and control overall body weight. You don’t have to have an intense workout routine—just do something to get your heart rate up on a regular basis.

Be careful with supplements and over-the-counter medications

Mixing medications or taking more than the recommended amount can damage your liver, as it is where most drugs are broken down after being metabolized. Too much of certain vitamin supplements and even herbal remedies may be harmful to your kidneys, as they may build up and cause damage, or react poorly with prescribed medications.

If you’re unsure about which medicines may be more harmful than helpful, talk to your doctor.

Don’t smoke

Smoking causes hardening of the arteries, or even hardening of the kidneys, reducing blood flood in the kidneys and to the heart. It can also cause high blood pressure, which is a cause of both heart and kidney problems.

Additionally, limiting alcohol consumption can reduce damage to the liver.

Keep blood sugar controlled

High blood sugar can cause damage to heart, blood vessels and kidneys, among other essentials in the body. Monitor blood sugar levels frequently, and naturally lower them by following the steps listed above.

Get checked

If you have heart disease, get your kidneys checked; if you have kidney disease, get your heart checked—especially if you have diabetes or high blood pressure. Organs are precious – be sure to protect yours!

Key Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

Key Risk Factors for Liver Cancer

Over time, behaviors like smoking, heavy drinking and poor health take their toll on the internal organs. The liver is a highly resilient organ, but recurring abuse does take a toll. Below, we examine the progression and risk factors associated with liver cancer.

Cancer often develops prior to liver infection

One important thing to remember is that cancers that appear in the liver often originate in other parts of the body. Many times, the liver becomes infected long after other body tissue. According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, “Most cancers of the liver begin elsewhere in the body and are spread to the liver. These cancers are not curable through liver transplantation. Tumors that originate in the liver are usually detected in an advanced stage.”  

Risk factors associated with liver cancer

Certain risk factors are inherent, like your age, gender or your family’s background. Other risk factors like smoking, alcohol consumption, stress and/or exercise levels can be modified to reduce the risk of liver cancer. It should also be noted that just because an individual possesses these trails or factors, that does not mean they will experience the condition.

Here are a few known risk factors for liver cancer:

  • Cirrhosis: Repeated liver abuse, known as cirrhosis, is the second most common cause of liver cancer. Long-term cirrhosis may accompany other serious health problems like malignant tumors, fluid buildup, jaundice and high blood pressure.
  • Gender: Males are known to be more susceptible to the condition than women.
  • Hepatitis B or C: Viral infection of the liver is the most commonly occurring risk factor for liver cancer. These infections are frequently correlated and are responsible for a significant amount of worldwide liver cancer cases. People with hepatitis C are almost twice as likely to experience liver cancer than other types of hepatitis. There are multiple types of hepatitis, but both hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) can cause cirrhosis.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: Fatty liver disease affects about 25% of the U.S. population, according to the National Liver Foundation. Approximately one-fifth of individuals with fatty liver disease go on to experience liver cancer. According to Medscape, “from 2004 to 2009, the annual increase in hepatocellular carcinoma in fatty liver disease patients was approximately 5%.”
  • Race: Within the U.S., American Cancer Society’s data shows that “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have the highest rates of liver cancer, followed by American Indians/Alaska Natives and Hispanics/Latinos, African Americans, and whites.”

If you exhibit multiple liver cancer risk factors, be sure to speak with you doctor about liver disease. You may also consult with the doctor at OCRC if you meet our liver study criteria. If you are interested in participating in a clinical trial, please tell us a little more about yourself in the Contact section of the home page and we will respond to you to determine your eligibility for current and future studies.

 

How Does The Body Metabolize Medication?

When medications make their way through the human body, they encounter different organs before finally being released in the bloodstream. While the process may sound straightforward, different drugs dissolve at different rates, different formulas, and dosages breakdown differently – and, everybody’s body metabolizes medication uniquely. These are just a few of the many complexities behind the nature of drug absorption and metabolism.

How does medication enter the bloodstream?

The vast majority of medications are taken orally and are broken down within the gastrointestinal tract. Once the medication arrives, it is broken down by stomach acids before it passes through the liver and then enters the bloodstream. Certain medications may stay in the bloodstream longer – it all depends on the dosage and drug family consumed. 

What factors influence medication absorption?

There are several factors at play when determining the overall time required for medication to fully digest. The following factors all impact an individual’s sensitivity to and absorption of medication:

  • Age
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Time of day taken
  • Level of physical activity
  • Level of stress
  • Content of stomach and PH level
  • Presence of other medications

Gastric acids may prevent or slow the breakdown of certain medications. Additionally, when a medication is metabolized in the liver, its potency will decrease along with its effectiveness before the therapeutic reaches the bloodstream.

According to Merck, in order “to be absorbed, a drug given orally must survive encounters with low pH and numerous GI secretions, including potentially degrading enzymes.” This research exemplifies the reasoning behind doctor’s common orders to take a medication with a full stomach. There is science behind the reason why it’s advisable to follow his or her orders.

How long does it take for the body to absorb medication?

The method of drug consumption affects the rate at which the medicine travels throughout the bloodstream. The solubility of the medication also affects how long it will take for the medication to dissolve. In general, it typically takes approximately 30 minutes for most medications to dissolve.

When a medication is coated in a special coating – which may help protect the drug from stomach acids – often times it may take longer for the therapeutic to reach the bloodstream. For example, an aspirin may dissolve in a matter of minutes, while gel caps may take much longer, due to their gel coating. These pills may also be easier to swallow, so it is important to weigh the pros and cons of different medications.

How is medication administered?

  • A tablet, capsule or syrup taken orally
  • Tablets or pills dissolved sub-lingual
  • Medication Inhaled or droplets administered to eyes, ears, nose or throat
  • Injection via IV or intravenously in a vein
  • Rectal administration
  • As a patch or gel applied to the skin
  • Controlled-release

Certain medication forms are associated with more potent medications. For example, intravenous medications may be more potent than capsule. A sublingual tablet typically moves more quickly through the circulatory system, and is thus rapidly metabolized. The same is true of rectal medications, where a significant number of blood vessels are present.

What is Liver Disease?

The liver is the largest internal organ and the largest gland within the human body. It is approximately the size of a football and serves as important metabolic functions. The liver produces proteins that are necessary for coagulation and blood clotting. The liver also converts nutrients or fats into substances the body can utilize, and breaks down toxic substances into matter that the body can efficiently release.

Liver disease includes anything that damages or negatively impacts liver cells. Liver damage can range from minor to severe. Here are a few commonly occurring types of liver disease: 

Alcoholic Hepatitis

According to liverfoundation.org, “Alcoholic hepatitis is characterized by fat deposition in liver cells, inflammation and mild scarring of the liver. Symptoms may include loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever and jaundice.” Fortunately, this condition can be reversed with the right lifestyle changes, including abstinence from alcohol.

Hepatitis A, B or C

Hepatitis is a disease involving inflammation of the liver. While there are five different types of Hepatitis, they all cause liver disease. Chronic hepatitis may lead to damage to the liver or Cirrhosis.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “The condition can be self-limiting or can progress to fibrosis (scarring), cirrhosis or liver cancer. In particular, types B and C lead to chronic disease in hundreds of millions of people and, together, are the most common cause of liver cirrhosis and cancer.” Thankfully, today we have a vaccine available for hepatitis A and B and new treatments available to successfully treat hepatitis C.

Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis is often times asymptomatic until it has progressed to a more sever level. According to WebMD, “Cirrhosis is a slowly progressing disease in which healthy liver tissue is replaced with scar tissue, eventually preventing the liver from functioning properly. The scar tissue blocks the flow of blood through the liver and slows the processing of nutrients, hormones, drugs, and naturally produced toxins. It also slows the production of proteins and other substances made by the liver.”

Hemochromatosis

Hemochromatosis is a disease where too much iron builds up inside the body. This inherited disorder affects predominantly Caucasians. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases some of the side effects of Hemochromatosis include: joint pain, fatigue, unexplained weight loss, abnormal bronze or gray skin color and abdominal pain.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

The cause of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (sometimes referred to as NASH) is unknown, but doctors know it is often caused by obesity, high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes or certain medications. It affects people who do not drink or drink very little. When caught early, people who experience this disease may partially or fully recover.

Learn more about liver disease from your doctor

If you are experiencing liver disease symptoms, talk to your doctor about liver disease. You may also consult with the doctor at OCRC if you meet our liver study criteria. If you’re interested in signing up for a clinical trial, please tell us a little bit more about yourself in the Contact section of our home page and we will respond to you to determine your eligibility.