The relationship between liver function and cholesterol is far more complex than we realize. High blood cholesterol increases the risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, and liver disorders increase the risk of high cholesterol, a vicious cycle that we must prevent.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease may develop into cirrhosis with complications such as variceal bleeding, encephalopathy, and liver failure. In such cases, you should get proper treatment from an experienced liver specialist in Mumbai.
Although everyone's blood contains some cholesterol, high levels can cause a build-up of fat in the liver and damage it.
Let’s understand what cholesterol is?
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is necessary for the body's optimal functioning. The liver regulates cholesterol levels in the body in two ways:
- First, by producing cholesterol and delivering it to cells that require it throughout the body.
- Second, by eliminating cholesterol by converting it to bile salts, which the body can expel in bile and faeces.
Bile production may be reduced if your liver is injured or not functioning correctly, leading to higher cholesterol levels.
Types of cholesterol
Proteins carry two forms of cholesterol in your bloodstream.
Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) is a kind of cholesterol that is found in the bloodstream. As it contributes to fatty build-up in arteries, LDL cholesterol is referred to as "bad" cholesterol. It causes arterial narrowing, increasing the risk of heart attack, stroke, and peripheral artery disease (PAD).
High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) is also known as "good cholesterol" as a healthy amount of HDL cholesterol may protect against heart attack and stroke.
LDL (bad) cholesterol is carried away from the arteries by HDL and returned to the liver, broken down, and expelled from the body. However, HDL cholesterol does not entirely remove LDL cholesterol. HDL carries only one-third to one-fourth of blood cholesterol.
The most common form of fat in the body is triglycerides. They store surplus energy from what you eat. A high triglyceride level combined with high LDL (bad) cholesterol or low HDL (good) cholesterol is connected to fatty build-ups within the artery walls, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.
What is considered optimal cholesterol levels?
It is difficult to detect high cholesterol without a blood test because it usually has no symptoms. For healthy adults, total cholesterol levels should be less than 5mmol/L.
What effect does cholesterol have on the liver?
If your diet is rich in cholesterol, it might cause fat to form around your liver. This condition can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can cause long-term liver damage.
NAFLD can increase the chance of developing health problems such as diabetes or stroke. It is often feasible to prevent the problem from worsening if it is discovered and treated early on. There are ways to minimize the amount of fat in the liver.
How to lower cholesterol?
If you have high cholesterol and are concerned about your liver, there are several things you can do to lower your risks and safeguard your liver. These steps are as follows:
- Exercising regularly
- Consuming fewer saturated and trans fats, such as cheese, butter, meat, cakes, sausages, pies.
- Increasing your fiber intake
- Reducing your carbohydrate intake
- Keeping a healthy weight
According to research, the Mediterranean diet is beneficial to the liver. It is low in red meat and dairy and high in whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans, olive oil, fruits, and vegetables.
If diet and exercise aren't enough to lower your cholesterol and you have liver disease, your doctor may prescribe a cholesterol-lowering medication.
If you have high cholesterol and suspect your liver is at risk, consult a liver specialist in Mumbai to know about ways to reduce your risks.