HOW TO PREVENT CHILDREN FROM LIVER DISEASE?

Human body depends upon major internal body organs to survive and reproduce. These body parts are responsible for performing vital functions. The brain, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs are the main five organs essential for survival. Every organ has its own functions and they work together to make you feel fit and fine, so that you can perform your daily activities without any hassle. Liver is one of the most important body organ which performs hundreds of chemical actions that a body needs to survive. Liver’s main task is to process the nutrients broken down from food in the small intestine and pass them as necessary to the rest of the body where they are required. Liver is instrumental (the only organ) in breaking down fat into energy and sending remaining to the body fat reserves to be stored for later use. It also produces bile, a fluid essential for digestion of fats and nutrients that are part of the food. An unhealthy liver can directly impact digestion and absorption of nutrients in the body and restrict breakdown of fats.

 Factors responsible for liver problems in kids:

There are many childhood liver conditions and problems. The most common cause of liver disease in children between 2- 19 years is fatty liver. 40% of obese children have fatty liver. According to American Liver Foundation, the number of children affected by fatty liver disease is on rise, having more than doubled in the last 20 years. It is caused when too much fat builds up in kid’s liver and can develop in children of 10 years and even younger. There are two main factors responsible for fatty liver in kids. First is an unhealthy food choice. Drinks full of sugary content with processed and packaged foods which are high in saturated and trans fat, badly affects a child’s liver. The second factor is the lack of physical activities in kids. Regular exercise is key to have healthy liver. It decreases stress on the liver of storing excess food as fat in the fat reserves. 

A viral infection (causes hepatitis, an inflammatory condition of the liver), genetic disorders, cholestasis (a condition in which the flow of bile from the liver stops or slows) are some the other reasons that can affect your child’s liver. Jaundice is the most common liver disease among kids. It often affects new born babies and goes away on its own. It happens because, babies liver aren’t fully developed enough to break down and excrete bilirubin (yellowish substance in blood which forms after red blood cells breakdown). 

It is extremely important to keep the liver healthy and free of fatty layer for the body organs to function and be active. Liver performance can directly impact the growth and health of the child.

Sign or symptoms of liver disease:

  • Skin and eyes appear yellow
  • Abdominal pain and swelling
  • Itchy skin
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Lack of appetite
  • Dark urine colour and pale stool
  • Swelling in legs and ankle

Healthy liver food sources:

Grapefruit: It contains antioxidants (naringenin and naringin) that protect the liver from injuries by reducing inflammation and protecting the liver cells. The compound also reduces fat build up in liver by increasing enzymes that burn fat. (What are some good fats to eat for the body?)

Beetroot: Beetroot helps protect the liver from oxidative damage and inflammation. It Increases liver’s natural detoxification enzymes. It works effectively to prevent deposition of fat in the liver. Betaine in beetroot breaks down fatty acids in the liver and helps to treat fatty liver disease. (Easy beetroot recipe)

Avocados: Avocados help to protect liver as they are high in healthy fats. Research suggests that it contains chemical that helps to slow down liver damage. They are also rich in fiber which attaches to bile and helps in digestion and excretion of waste, leading to a healthy weight. (How does avocado help with dryness in skin?)

Sugarcane: Sugarcane juice is a perfect tonic for people with liver disease. It helps strengthen the liver functioning. As it is alkaline in nature, sugarcane juice helps in maintaining acid levels in the stomach. (What are some natural sugar to use during cooking?)

Radish: Radish is rich source of antioxidants and minerals like calcium and potassium. Radish act as real panacea for liver and stomach health. They are exceptionally useful for jaundice treatment because they remove the bilirubin and maintain its production. It is also good source of natural nitrates that improves blood flow. If the blood flow is not proper, toxins and waste in the blood can keep floating in the body, causing harm. Liver helps to remove these toxins and cleanse the blood before sending off the nutrients to the body cells where required. (What are some other foods rich in calcium and good for bones?)

Papaya: Papaya is rich in antioxidants, including carotenoids (Vitamin A).  It can balance free radicals (what are they?). Taking one teaspoon of papaya seeds regularly can protect your liver from disease. It can help to detox liver from unhealthy substances.

Yogurt: Yogurt is one of the best natural resources of probiotics (good bacterias) which helps in maintaining lower fat levels in the liver.  Micro organisms (good bacterias) in our intestinal track are crucial for liver cells functioning. Yogurt helps to maintain healthy gut and hence, contributes in liver health too. (How do probiotics help with sneezing and allergy?)

Recipe: Twix bars (no sugar)

Base:

½ cup Almond flour
½ cup Coconut flour Or oat flour
⅓ cup Coconut oil (melted)
4-5 dates (soaked in water and grinded to make soft paste)
Mix all together. Set the first layer on baking sheet in the baking tray. Bake on 175 Celsius for 10-12 min till light golden brown.

Second layer:

½ cup peanut butter (or any seed or nut butter)
Pinch of salt
1.5 tbsp coconut oil
1 tsp Vanilla essence (optional)
¼ cup honey or maple syrup (depending on your sweetness levels)
Mix all in a pan. It is optional to add some roasted peanut chunks to this mixture too. Spread on the crust evenly and freeze for 1-2 hours.

Top layer:

Melt dark chocolate in a microwave and add 1 spoon coconut oil. Mix well. Take out the baking pan from the refrigerator and spread chocolate sauce on the bar. Keep in refrigerator again for 10-20 minutes till it hardens.

Cut the bar. Eat. Keep refrigerated for future use.

The same bar can be made with any nut butter in place of peanut.

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