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Nutritional imbalances – deficiencies or excesses – and fatty liver disease. Part 1

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The Holistic Parrot by Leslie Moran

Since the January edition this year (issue 240), this column has been exploring the many ways that food either fuels good health and wellbeing or, through malnutrition or undernutrition, leads to disease. Because avian fatty liver disease is a commonly diagnosed disease, we’ve been focusing on how nutrition affects the liver. This month we begin our probe into the nutritional imbalances, identified by scientific research, that causes fatty liver disease.

In this article series, we’ve given a lot of attention to the important role vitamin A has in avian physiology. It is a nutrient essential for good health because it regulates hundreds of vital bodily processes including the immune system. Vitamin A is primarily stored in the liver and when liver cells are injured they start loosing vitamin A and, by a process not yet identified, convert the vitamin A into collagen-producing cells that actually cause hepatic fibrosis.

Fibrosis is the first stage of ‘liver scarring’, and as this scar tissue builds up, it takes over most of the liver. This causes the individual to become ill because this damaged tissue cannot perform any of the jobs of normal functioning liver cells. As the disease progresses it becomes a more serious condition called cirrhosis or fatty liver disease.

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