Major Health Epidemic Spells Double-Trouble for HIV-Infected Individuals
While we have been discussing the microbiome, we have a golden opportunity to show how it can influence the development of other types of diseases and in this article, the focus will be the liver. I want to discuss a major health problem in the US called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, usually abbreviated NAFLD.
To understand what NAFLD is and how it develops, we need to first understand what the liver actually does. There’s a reason it’s the largest internal organ. It has many important functions and I’ll just touch on a few major activities. It is a key organ that regulates how our bodies process and utilize the nutrients that result from digestion of food. It can store and release energy sources as needed and can make new energy units when necessary.
The energy required for all our body functions mainly comes from carbohydrates and fats. Carbohydrates are broken down into sugars, fats are broken down into fatty acids and triglycerides. These are the fuels our bodies run on that are produced as our food is digested. These nutrients are absorbed from the intestine and enter the bloodstream going directly to the liver. The liver can store carbohydrates and release them as sugars when needed.
It can also make new sugar for use as fuel. It can take fatty acids from the dietary fats and package it into triglyceride-rich particles, the form that fats are transported in the body as an energy source. It can remove cholesterol from the circulation and use it to produce bile, an important chemical we need to be able to