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Dark chocolate benefits for the liver

Thursday, January 16th, 2014
Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are great for liver health.

Dark chocolate contains antioxidants that are great for liver health. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Chocolate has been known uplift the spirit – but what great news that it’s good for our liver too! Dark chocolate, in particular, contains rich antioxidants that help cleanse the liver and control blood pressure, which is important for people suffering liver cirrhosis.

Researchers have used different types of chocolate and studied its effect on patients with liver disease. Their findings showed that those given white chocolate did not exhibit significant improvements. They believe that this is because white chocolate does not have antioxidants. On the other hand, patients who were given dark chocolate with their daily meals reacted favorably – showing minimal increase in their ost-meal blood pressure.

Heart diseases and liver cirrhosis usually cause high blood pressure or hypertension. Our bodies have veins that span from the intestines to the liver. Livers with cirrhosis, however, amass scarred tissues, making it difficult for blood to flow properly, and causing blood to build up in the veins. This puts cirrhosis patients at great health risk should the blood vessel burst.  Build ups also cause damage to the inner lining of the blood vessels, which can possibly lead to stroke and heart attack.

So how can dark chocolate play an important role in liver health?

Cocoa beans, from which dark chocolate is made, contain flavonoids that have antioxidant qualities. These antioxidants help keep the blood vessels healthy.  It aids the arterial flow to prevent blood buildup and high blood pressure. Flavanoids have also been found to improve the body’s overall blood flow, especially through the heart and the brain. It promotes vascular health, enabling the blood to clot in cases of open wounds.

Dark chocolate contains higher amounts of cocoa. Other chocolate variants like milk chocolate typically has less cocoa content, and are thus not as beneficial as dark chocolate. Many dark chocolate brands have over seventy percent of cocoa, while milk chocolate contains around twenty to thirty percent cocoa solids. So choose dark chocolates to treat your sweet tooth and your liver!

Protect Your Children from Hepatitis B – Vaccinate!

Friday, January 3rd, 2014
Vaccination is important to protect children from hepatitis and other liver diseases. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons).

Vaccination is important to protect children from hepatitis and other liver diseases. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons).

Children can be very vulnerable to the hepatitis B virus (HBV), especially those infants and small children who do not show any symptoms of infection.  Children and infants who are infected with HBV have a 90 percent chance of developing serious liver infections. Since signs are often subtle, recognizing the signs can be difficult.  ADRLF has an HBV overview to help better protect your children from this silent but deadly disease:

Infection with hepatitis B can range from acute to chronic.  During the first six months of infection, children experience an acute stage of illness; symptoms may be mild to severe requiring medical attention. While some children may fight off the infection during the acute stage, many succumb and the infection becomes chronic. When this happens, the hepatitis B virus begins to cause serious health problems.

What to look for

Older children may manifest symptoms of hepatitis that are similar to adults. These include frequent tiredness, appetite loss, pains in the muscles and joins, stomach aches and nausea. More serious signs are fever, discoloring of urine, and jaundiced (yellow color) skin and eyes.

 

What ways the infection can spread

 

Hepatitis B is spread through contact of infected blood and other body fluids. People who are infected but do not show any symptom are still carriers of the virus. Infants may get these from their infected mother, contaminated vaccine needles and contaminated food. Children can also acquire the virus by touching open wounds of a person with hepatitis, from using contaminated personal belongings such as toothbrush, utensils and glasses.

What ways to prevent infection

Parents can protect their newborns by giving them a hepatitis B vaccine even before they leave the hospital. In fact, the vaccine containing hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) is most effective when given within 12 hours of birth, especially if the mother has hepatitis. The second dose is usually given after 1 to 3 months, and the third when the child is 6 to 18 months old.

Older children who were not vaccinated as infants should be given the shots as soon as possible. HBV vaccines usually don’t have serious side effects other than arm sores and slight fever.

Ensure your child’s happy, healthy and hepatitis-free childhood. Vaccinate. Don’t hesitate.

Two Breakthrough Hepatitis C Drugs Approved

Saturday, December 21st, 2013
Simprevir and sofosbuvier promise hepatitis treatments without weakening side effects.

Simprevir and sofosbuvier promise hepatitis treatments without weakening side effects.

Christmas came early this year for people with Hepatitis C, as two much-anticipated treatments were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the last two weeks. Simprevir and sofosbuvier promise hepatitis treatments without the weakening side effects of interferon injections that most Hepatitis C patients have been painstakingly dealing with.

Simeprevir, brand name Olysio, is a protease inhibitor that has been approved for use in combination antiviral hepatitis treatment. Its full effect is achieved when used with peginterferon-alfa and ribavirin, two drugs that have been available to Hepatitis C patients.

Sold under the brand name Sovaldi, sofosbuvir contains a nucleotide analog inhibitor that prevents the Hepatitis C virus from replicating. It comes as a pill to be taken once a day without the need to inject any interferon drug. Sovaldi can also be used in a combined antiviral treatment with ribavirin, or with the combination of ribavirin and interferon.

Gilead Sciences has taken the lead in developing this drug, which can also treat four other strains of hepatitis C. Sovaldi is especially helpful to patients who cannot tolerate the side effects of interferon injections and combined antiviral treatments that range from insomnia, flu and anemia.

The main difference between the two new drugs is that sofosbuvir can be taken alone, while simeprevir must be paired with another drug.

To date, over 3 million people are suffering from chronic Hepatitis C in the United States. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) believes that the real number may actually be greater, especially among those from the baby boomer generation. Since last year, CDC has been pushing adults between 48 to 68 years old to get hepatitis screening and get appropriate treatment. Thus, these two drugs mark major advancements not only in treating hepatitis C, but also in preventing the spread of the virus.

For more information, check out the press releases from the FDA site:

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm376449.htm

http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm377888.htm

Share the holiday cheer – Donate to ADRLF!

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013
Make a tax-deductible donation to the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation and help us raise awareness about the link between Hepatitis and Liver Cancer. Funds will be used to support community health organizations that provide Hepatitis screening, vaccination and treatment.The Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. All contributions are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

To make a donation, click on the DONATE button below. This will take you directly to Paypal. If you do not have a Paypal account, you may send us a check. Please make your check payable to the Al D. Rodriguez Liver Foundation.

Mail your tax-deductible contribution to:

Carlos R. Ortiz
ADRLF
166 East 35th St. (# 11G)
New York, NY 10016

Thank you for supporting the ADRLF.

Keeping it Clean: How to Prevent Hepatitis C Injection Transmissions

Thursday, December 5th, 2013
The virus is transmitted when people share used and unsterilized needs, as well as infusive paraphernalia such as filters and cookers. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

The virus is transmitted when people share used and unsterilized needs, as well as infusive paraphernalia such as filters and cookers. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

It can often be scary to read information in the news about hepatitis C outbreaks affecting hundreds of people, even in what we think of as a safe place such as a hospital. Unlike other liver diseases, hepatitis C is transmitted through blood contact with a person infected by the hepatitis C virus (HCV).  Most new cases of hepatitis C transmission are injection-related. While it’s easy to feel nervous about the possibility of transmission in hospitals as these outbreaks ensue, it will absolutely help to know what YOU can do to protect yourself and your family from hepatitis C infection.

Hepatitis C can be passed between people who are in regular contact with injection needles, such as medical syringes and illegal narcotic injectables.  It is well known that those who have a history of intravenous drug and sharing needles, are at high risk of acquiring HCV. The virus is transmitted when people share used and unsterilized needs, as well as infusive paraphernalia such as filters and cookers.

Compared to HIV, hepatitis C is more easily spread through injections. This virus is persistent – it remains active and infectious even if the blood source has been outside of the human body for days. A small amount of blood with hepatitis C is enough to infect another person upon contact.

The dangers of HCV transmission can be avoided by making sure to use new and sterile needle or syringe for each injection. For those who need to inject medication regularly, it is advisable to have your own cookers and filters to sterilize your needle. When somebody else is administering the injection and you’re not sure of the quality of the equipment, don’t hesitate to request new syringes and needles still enclosed in their packaging.  It is OK to ask to see the needle coming out of its sealed package.

Sharp objects such as razors, manicure equipment, tattoo and body piercing needles could also be carriers of HCV. Whenever you use any sharp object, make sure there are no traces of blood and that the sharp objects are always sterilized before use.

To date, no vaccine has been developed against HCV. There are circumstances when injections are inevitable so keep a sharp eye on cleanliness and proper sanitation to let only the healthy stuff in, and keep HCV out.

Watch what you eat! Food toxins can be linked to liver cancer

Wednesday, November 27th, 2013
Aflatoxin-rich food such as rice and corn has been linked to cervical and liver cancer. Vigilance in choosing a healthy diet is a must! (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Aflatoxin-rich food such as rice and corn has been linked to cervical and liver cancer. Vigilance in choosing a healthy diet is a must! (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

We are what we eat. Listening to the truth of this timeless adage is more crucial than ever with experts finding significant connections between food toxins and liver cancer.

A new research by Mexican scientists shows carcinogenic effects on human beings with a diet high in aflatoxins.  Aflatoxins are present in food such as rice, corn tortilla, chicken, eggs, and processed sauces. These scientists found that consuming such aflatoxins leads to liver and cervical cancer.

This notable research was given the National Award in Food Science and Technology given by the Mexican Coca-Cola Industry and the National Council of Science and Technology.

While some types of cancer are caused by hereditary genes, others are caused by external factors called carcinogens. Aflatoxins are common carcinogens that are typically found in chemicals used in the processing of many foods.  Looking into the presence and behavior of aflatoxins is therefore important in studying cancer and related diseases.

For this research, experts from the National Autonomous University of Mexico looked into massive food samples including over ten types of chili pepper, over a hundred pounds of tortilla, rice and corn.  They studied the how aflatoxins from these types of food are retained in animal tissues.

Aflatoxins are produced by the fungi called Aspergilus flavus and A. parasiticus. These high temperature-resistant fungi appear as green molds in refrigerators.

Considering that the foods involved in this study are staple and common, researchers believe that each person takes in amounts of aflatoxins that accumulate in the body over the years. And while these toxins do not pose immediate danger, it’s important to avoid them by properly storing food, and avoiding the intake of processed goods after indicated shelf-life.

Moral of the study? Eat healthy and eat safely.

Herbal Treatment Might Possibly Fix Liver Damage Caused by Chemical Medicine — says new study!

Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Herbal medicine can cleanse your liver and keep it healthy. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Herbal medicine can cleanse your liver and keep it healthy. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Scientific advances have made it easier for some people to ignore natural and traditional treatments. Put in another perspective – why trade in the smart phone for an old, analogue phone? But recently, Western science has begun to recognize the power of traditional Eastern medicine in combating the toxicity of a modern medicine called acetaminophen.

Acetaminophen – rings a bell? Acetaminophen is widely found in over-the-counter (OTC)pain relievers, as well as in many OTC flu and cough medicine. When broken down in the body, and notably by the liver, it leaves byproducts that can be very toxic. Under normal circumstances, the toxicity of this byproduct can be controlled with a natural molecule called glutathione. However, the body only has a limited amount of glutathione, thus there may not be enough of this substance to counter higher acetaminophen levels.

Taking in more than the recommended dose of acetaminophen has been closely linked to liver damage. With the prevalence of this over-the-counter treatment, a lot of people often easily ingest amounts above the recommended maximum daily dosage, which is four grams for adults. Experts say that people taking in seven to ten grams a day are in danger of liver damage.

So how else can the effects of acetaminophen be controlled? Researchers who braved this question found their answer in the Eastern herbal medicine called Vitamin U. This product contains S-methylmethionine (or SMM), which is be found in wheat and other leafy vegetables such as cabbage. It’s been known to help in digestive problems and peptic ulcers.

When mixed with an enzyme called Bhmt2, SMM is converted into methionine, and eventually into glutathione.  This process creates a pathway to transform diet-induced SMM into glutathione, and thus build a chemical protection from acetaminophen toxicity.

Another encouraging aspect of this research is that SMM can be found in many flowering and leafy vegetables. Other than being able to prevent the toxic effect of common drugs, SMM is believed to have more therapeutic benefits which science has yet to find. Whoever said that modern and traditional medical sciences are two separate worlds should think again.

 

Living with Hepatitis? Dealing with Symptoms and Treatment Side Effects

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Here at ADRLF we often talk about eating right and living healthfully in order to minimize risk contracting hepatitis and developing other liver diseases. With recent panics over hepatitis outbreaks arising from contaminated food found in grocery stores, delicatessens, and contaminated tools used in dental clinics, it has become even more imperative that we talk not only of preventing, but also talk of dealing with hepatitis and some of its side effects.

Managing the challenges of living with hepatitis is important to keep a healthy and happy life. (Photo credit: Creative Commons/pudgeefeet)

Managing the challenges of living with hepatitis is important to keep a healthy and happy life. (Photo credit: Creative Commons/pudgeefeet)

Living with hepatitis can be very challenging, not only to infected individuals but also to their loved ones. How to live a quality life while dealing with the symptoms of hepatitis and treatment side effects? ADRLF has some suggestions.

Hepatitis comes with excruciating symptoms, and available treatments may not always relieve patients of pain and discomfort. There are simple alternative options that patients can opt for to complement their chemical treatments: diet and exercise!

Since hepatitis is a disease of the liver, the nature of the illness leaves patients with limited food options – food that are natural and unprocessed, thus not giving the liver the added pressure of breaking down hard-to-process food.

Fruits and vegetables should be your best friends! These easy to digest choices make it easier for your body to deal with prescribed medications.

Some patients have reported a decrease in appetite when undergoing hepatitis treatment. Unless your doctor gives specific diet instructions, it has been found very helpful for hepatitis patients to eat frequent but small meals every day.

Some chemical hepatitis treatments make patients depressed, aggravating the emotional stress over living with a chronic and potentially fatal disease. To deal with this, experts suggest doing regular and light exercise to keep endorphins pumped up. Endorphins are our body’s feel-good chemicals.

Another challenge hepatitis patients’ may experience is fatigue; fatigue due to both emotional and or chemical reasons.  A helpful remedy to such fatigue is herbal therapy. Some patients have found it useful to add herbal remedies to their diet such as ginseng, milk thistle and tea to ease physical and emotional pressures. These have been found to also aid the immune system as well as the digestive system – thus helping hepatitis patients manage disease symptoms and treatment side effects.

Diet Adjustment for Hepatitis Patients: A Friendly List of Food to Avoid

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013
Slow and steady adjustments are necessary to cope with hepatitis B. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Slow and steady adjustments are necessary to cope with hepatitis B. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Being diagnosed with hepatitis – or other diseases – may require significant and sometimes painful adjustments to one’s diet. Dealing with these adjustments doesn’t have to be too burdensome and frustrating; if you know what food to AVOID, it should be easy to identify food that you CAN eat and make the diet change perfectly manageable.

Here’s our simple guidelines for WHAT TO AVOID when diagnosed with hepatitis or any liver disease.

Hepatitis virus attacks the liver, which is an important organ that’s responsible for breaking down chemicals and fats that we take ingest. It’s important therefore for hepatitis patients to ease the function of their liver by staying away from processed food and chemically-treated produce.

Meat, for example, is difficult to digest by the body’s digestive system, requiring much more not only of the liver but the gall bladder and pancreas as well.  Many animal products also contain chemicals from the growth hormones injected to the animals, and chemical spayed on animal food.  So it is best for hepatitis patients to avoid meat products and stick with organic protein-rich alternatives. Consequently, avoid dairy foods, which essentially come from animals and are quite difficult to digest. When choosing dairy alternatives such as yogurt, make sure to check the sugar content.

Today’s grocery stores are sprawling with ready-to-eat preserved and processed food. But convenience too has its cost that’s hidden behind the good taste or price. Processed food contains chemically-treated fillers and preservatives that pose great danger to the liver and people’s health in general. Like meat, these foods add unnecessary stress to liver function that could be unsafe for people with liver conditions.

Sugar is another culprit to avoid – may it be artificial sweetener or concentrated natural sugar. While fruits are recognized to have health benefits, some have high sugar concentrations that feed hepatitis virus and strain the pancreas and the liver. Avoid fruit juices and food made with artificial sweeteners such as junk food and candies.

Eliminating these foods from your diet doesn’t have to come as a big blow. Take it one day at a time, and you’ll be surprised at how well you adjust to eating healthy foods that make you feel good in mind and body.

 

Beef Alternatives to Help Maintain a Healthy Liver- EASY AND YUMMY!

Monday, September 16th, 2013
Healthy protein alternatives are better options for liver health.

Healthy protein alternatives are better options for liver health. (Photo Credit: Creative Commons)

Beef is a sumptuous and delectable protein, but for numerous health reasons, health care experts suggest that we find healthier alternatives to enjoy in addition to occasional beef.  These protein options don’t have to compromise our taste for a delicious and satisfying meal.

Protein provides building blocks for new cells, and assists with tissue repair.  For people living with liver diseases, it is particularly necessary to enjoy about 70 grams of protein per day  to support a self-sufficient and well-functioning immune system.

There are various sources of healthy protein such as nuts, organic white meats such as chicken, turkey and some cuts of pork that are free of harmful saturated fats and rich with other valuable nutrients such as antioxidants.

Organic chicken, especially the breast, is lean meat minus the preservatives and fat of standard beef. Organic chicken in contrast to a deli sandwich with meats like cured ham, bologna or salami which seems to be a lunchtime staple for those of in a rush is a much healthier option.  An organic chicken sandwich has less than 10 percent of fat than a regular deli sandwich.

Turkey has a rich flavor that could easily be a substitute for beef. Think of burgers, meatloaf, sloppy joe’s and meatballs – typical favorites that contain no less than 20 percent of fat. Swap the beef content with turkey which has about 8 percent of its calories coming from of fat, and you’re sure to feel good about what you eat!

Finally, nuts are a GREAT option.  They are called ‘super foods’ for a reason. With healthy unsaturated fats and high antioxidant content, nuts are loaded with nutrients that strengthen the cell membranes found in the liver and in other vital organs. Adding roasted or raw nuts to salads, for example, adds lots of flavor and provides adequate protein content.

So the next time you meal plan for your daily protein needs, think of these simple and delectable choices that will definitely satisfy your taste buds and your liver.