Managing a chronic condition like diabetes requires daily diligence. Uncontrolled blood sugar levels can adversely impact various parts of the body. Recent research findings indicate a hidden risk between diabetes and liver disease. It’s called hidden because most don’t know they have liver disease until the more advanced stages. Understanding the connection between these two conditions allows you to be proactive in your liver health.
The Ties that Bind
Diabetes is a condition where the body cannot produce the hormone insulin or resists its effects. Therefore, the various functions insulin performs are kind of short-circuited. In the role of liver disease, there are two major players involved. First, insulin triggers a process that manages healthy blood sugar levels. It begins by unlocking the cells, so glucose (sugar) can enter the cell and be used as energy. Any sugars leftover get sent back to the liver to store for later use.
Next, it also regulates the storage and use of carbohydrates, various proteins, and fats. When the body is insulin resistant, sugar levels build up in the blood, and more is stored than used. In addition, more fat gets stored in the liver than used. Unhealthy accumulations of fat in the liver begin as harmless fatty liver disease. Too much fat in the liver over time sends signals to the immune system that cause chronic inflammation. Long-term inflammation will eventually damage the liver and cause scarring.
If not treated, fatty liver disease can progress into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), late-stage cirrhosis, and liver failure. The great news is the liver can heal itself, even in the later stages, if action is taken through lifestyle changes and disease management.
Be Proactive in Your Liver Health
If you have diabetes, managing your blood sugars to keep them in your target range is vital. Talk to your doctor about checking the health of your liver regularly so changes can be addressed immediately. Make lifestyle changes not only for your liver but overall body health. Getting started includes addressing the following areas:
- Maintaining a healthy weight
- Exercise at least 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week
- Adopting a well-balanced, more nutritious diet
- Keeping chronic conditions under control.
Making the Connections that Improve Options for Liver Disease
As we continue gaining valuable information from ongoing research efforts, new ways to detect, treat, and prevent liver disease become a reality. Clinical research studies help determine the safety and effectiveness of new therapies through the partnership of patient volunteers.
Research volunteers are essential in improving the care of those with liver disease and other conditions. South Texas Research Institute is looking for participants to join enrolling studies looking into new options for those with liver disease. To learn more, call (956) 284-6353 today!