Fatty liver can weaken your immune system

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Are you aware of the risks of having a fatty liver? It’s an incredibly common condition but few people are fully aware of the repercussions. Did you know fatty liver adversely affects your immune system? Your liver actually contains immune cells. If your liver is not healthy and not functioning well, you are at higher risk of immune system problems like infections and autoimmune conditions. A healthy liver enables your entire immune system to work more efficiently.

Your liver carries out more functions in your body than any other organ. Your liver cells are called hepatocytes. They are responsible for the production of 80 to 90 percent of the circulating immune proteins in your body and the liver contains many immune cells inside it. A type of immune cell called Kupffer cells live inside the liver. They are a macrophage, meaning a white blood cell that engulfs and destroys foreign matter, toxins and worn out old cells. Another type of immune cell called Natural Killer cells also reside in the liver. A healthy liver is very good at detecting, capturing, and getting rid of bacteria, viruses and large molecules that do not belong in your bloodstream.

Your liver contains immune cells

Your liver must provide protection against infectious invaders and waste products of metabolism while at the same time tolerating harmless substances produced during metabolism that you need for optimal function. The innate immune system is the first line of defence and helps distinguish between cells that originate from yourself and those that are invaders.

The adaptive immune system in your liver helps your body deal with a harmful substance like a viral infection such as a cold or flu, which causes the body to make antibodies. The liver filter (comprised of the reticulo-endothelial system) contains many immunologically active cells, acting as a ‘sieve’ for antigens carried to it from the intestinal blood. The liver filter is altered by many factors such as oxidative stress, smoking, alcohol, ageing, diabetes and environmental chemicals. Anyone with an immune system disorder must improve their liver function to reduce the overload on the immune system.

Making sure you are not mineral deficient will aid the production and action of glutathione peroxidase in the liver. Glutathione peroxidase is an antioxidant enzyme necessary for detoxification and protection of the liver against free radical damage.  Ageing, illness, chronic inflammation and having a fatty liver all impair glutathione production. Selenium may help to relieve inflammation. Livatone Shots contain ingredients that have been traditionally used in European herbal medicine to promote healthy liver function.

Fatty liver can make viral infections more dangerous

Research has shown that having a fatty liver can worsen outcomes in those who contract a viral infection such as influenza or COVID 19. There is potentially greater disease severity, the need for hospitalisation, and a longer hospital stay compared to those who don’t have a fatty liver.

Researchers found that people who had more than 10 percent fat in their liver had double the risk of being hospitalized with coronavirus than those with healthier levels of fat within the liver. The large study looked at over 42,000 liver scans at the UK Bio Bank, as well as 397 patients who were hospitalized with coronavirus. Interestingly, the study found that obesity alone did not increase the risk of severe COVID-19 disease, but fatty liver did. As long as individuals who were overweight or obese had liver fat in the healthy range, they had no extra risk of developing complications due to the coronavirus.

Many people who have a fatty liver do not know they have this problem, as there may be no symptoms, but an ultrasound scan of the liver will pick it up. If you feel unwell and/or are overweight and cannot lose weight, I recommend you have a scan of your liver. You do not have to drink any alcohol to have a fatty liver, and it is usually caused by excess consumption of foods high in carbohydrates, as well as seed oils. For more information, see the book titled “Fatty Liver You Can Reverse It”

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