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The Liver

Posted on March 21, 2009 | Filed Under Articles  

The liver is our largest internal organ. Performing over 500 chemical functions, it’s a real workhorse. Without it we would die in 24 hours.

Yet for all the liver does and must do to keep us living and healthy, it remains overlooked and largely abused by our modern diet and lifestyle practices.

As science learns more about the liver it is becoming apparent that it is a high illustrate, here is a short list of liver functions:

  • Converts food into stored energy (glycogen) for fuel
  • Converts food into chemicals necessary for the functioning of the entire body
  • Detoxifies medications, environmental pollutants, toxins, poisons, xenoestrogens, and alcohol and then processes them for removal
  • Regulates blood sugar levels
  • Breaks down ammonia and creates urea for elimination by the kidneys
  • Creates bile to metabolize fats and allow the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients
  • Manufactures more than 1000 different enzymes, blood, clotting factors, and proteins
  • Hormone regulation and metabolism
  • Hormone conversions ( ie, thyroid hormone)
  • Manufacturing approximately 50 percent of the body’s cholesterol

As you can see by the list of functions, the liver is no slouch. However, all this activity makes it highly susceptible to damage. For this reason, liver tissue has the amazing ability to regenerate itself to keep functioning. But like anything, work it too hard and eventually it will wear out. And this is what we are seeing today: more and more, seemingly health people have the sings of poor liver health.

At the root of this is poor diet and sedentary lifestyle. Next, sheer abuse of the liver by alcohol, medications, processed food and environmental pollution. Eventually, the older we get the less the liver is able to rejuvenate itself, and we become more susceptible to liver disease.

A seriously damaged liver develops a condition called cirrhosis. Cirrhosis develops when normal liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. Scar tissue distorts the functioning of the liver and restricts the flow of blood. Aside distorts abuse, disease such as hepatitis B, C and D, autoimmune liver disease and genetic/inherited conditions can also result in cirrhosis.

Another liver condition is called fatty liver. Unlike its name, fatty liver has nothing to do with eating too much fat. The condition involves excess fat inside the liver cells. Leading cause include low protein diets, poor nutrition, starvation, hormone disorders, obesity and alcoholism. Fatty liver is associated with large amounts of free radical formation, inflammation of the liver disease.

Being kind to your liver means understanding how it works, avoiding those activities that harm it, and supplying it with the right nutrients for optimum function. Read on to find out how you can be your livers’ best friend.

The 4 Stages of Detoxification

Every moment you liver is busy working like a chemical factory and filtration/removal plant for the body. Removing both internal and external toxins and cleansing the blood involves a four step process. Each step is highly dependent on diet and lifestyle factors:

1. Filtration: Approximately two quarts of blood are passed through the liver for cleaning every minute. This important filtration process removes toxic substances and bacteria that enter the blood. Once all these substances are removed, the filtered blood returns to general circulation.

2. Phase 2 detoxification: The liver uses a two- step enzymatic process (Phase I and II) to neutralize undesirable substances (ie. Medications, pesticides, herbicides, fertilizer, hormones, artificial sweeteners, MSG, birth control pills, alcohol, etc.) First the Phase I enzymes (know as the cytochrome P450 system) either directly neutralize the toxins or prepares them for neutralization by Phase II. However. According to nutrition researcher Brad King, if the liver is not health this process can do more harm than good. “The drawback to this first system is that in order for Phase II enzymes to be able to render the original toxins harmless to the body, the Phase I enzymes must first convert them into highly reactive chemicals – including destructive free radicals-that are even more damaging to the body that the original toxins.”

3. Phase II detoxification: In order to neutralize the newly formed toxins from Phase I, the Phase II enzymes, with the help of the antioxidant/enzyme glutathione, bind to the toxins and render them harmless. Once neutralized they can be safely excreted from the body. “If the liver can’t use the Phase II pathways,” says Dr. Marianne Labklanc, M.D., of Optimal Health Solutions in Vancouver, “bioactivated intermediates can accumulate and be more harmful to the body that if no detoxification had taken place at all.” If the diet is high in phytonutirents, Phase II can efficiently neutralize toxins and eliminate them. It is the presence of whole natural foods and good protein in the combination with select antioxidant nutrients that facilitate efficient detoxification.

4. The bile system: The final phase of detoxification is the liver’s production and secretion of bile. Bile detoxifies the body by literally carrying excess toxins through the intestines for elimination. Bile is also responsible for emulsifying dietary fats and fat soluble vitamins for proper digestion and absorption in the small intestine.

Don’t neglect the health of your liver

With the overwhelming amount of toxins the liver has to process every day, it’s easy to see how it can become overwhelmed. When your liver becomes over- stressed, it affects every organ in the body. But there is a lot you can do to strengthen and protect the liver. Below are some supplements that will keep your liver functioning properly and your friend for a long time.

The link between liver health and weight loss

A healthy liver not overloaded with toxins can be the body’s most efficient fat burning organ because it is so highly metabolic. Many studies have demonstrated a direct link between obesity, liver health and weight loss. To determine liver health researchers measure the levels of certain enzymes within the liver. Elevated liver enzymes are usually taken to indicate poor liver function and in many cases are associated with excess body fat. Here’s a round up of some of the research:

– In an assessment of liver health in 534 moderately obese (30-50 percent over their ideal weight) non- drinkers 24 percent had abnormal liver enzyme levels and 47 percent had fatty livers (hepatic steatosis). This study clearly indicates that moderately obese people frequently suffer from liver dysfunction and don’t know it.

– At the Occupational and Environmental Health Research Group at Stirling University in Scotland researchers found evidence that the body’s metabolism does not function properly in obese people. They went on to conclude that human exposure to synthetic, organic and inorganic chemicals were damaging many of the body’s weight- control mechanisms, especially the liver.

– Research from the University of Occupational and Environmental Health in Kitakyshu, Japan studied liver function and obesity in 1,591 people over a 10-year period. Their conclusion was that “obesity is more closely related to lover dysfunction than to any other abnormalities.”

– Researchers from the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in New York discovered that elevated liver enzymes are frequently found in healthy obese people.

Healthy Liver Supplement Guide

Water: carries toxins and detoxification by- products through the system and out of the body. Drink at least eight glasses of filters or pure water a day. Avoid chlorinated and fluorinated water as these chemicals are a burden on the liver.

Cruciferous Vegetables: The Nature’s Sunshine SynerPro line contains a plant-based concentrate that includes cruciferous vegetables. They strengthen production of detoxifying enzymes.

Spice It Up: Include spices in your cooking or take in supplement from such as ginger, garlic, and turmeric. All these contain compounds that protect liver cells from damage and are potent antioxidants. For example, turmeric is an effective regenerative liver tonic. It boosts the synthesis of glutathione, a primary liver antioxidant/enzyme. Ginger has been found to be protective against alcohol-induced damage to liver tissue. And garlic has a powerful antioxidant effect that protects liver cells from free radical damage due to its high selenium content.

Heavy Metal Detox: This is a primary herbal/vitanutrient combination for liver health. All ingredients work synergistically to protect liver cells and help in regenerative processes. Of note is N-acetyl cysteine and l-methionine-both amino acids necessary for the production of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant/enzyme that is vital to detoxification and protection of the liver. Next is alpha lipoic acid which effectively strengthens the liver’s antioxidant defenses and stimulates the production of new liver cells. Only use for a limited period of time with rest periods.

Milk Thistle: In alternative health, milk thistle (silymarin) is used extensively to support, protect and regenerate the liver. The success of milk thistle is partly due to its antioxidant protective potency and partly because it stimulates the regeneration of liver tissue. In a review of clinical studies using milk thistle, Dr. Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D. writes: “Not only will milk thistle arrest the course of the disease, but it will stimulate individual liver cells to become site for local regeneration of liver tissue. Over time, complete restoration of the live is possible.”

Herbal Cleanse (Bod-E-Klenz): Bod-E-Klenz accelerates weight-loss by stimulating the body’s own digestion and elimination processes to begin ridding itself of unwanted buildup, and activates body systems for efficient metabolism of proteins and carbohydrates. It’s an ideal cleanse to rid the liver of fatty buildup. This 30-day cleansing program includes herbs, vitamins and minerals that are time-honoured in supporting liver health-which includes: dandelion, ginger, turmeric, blessed thistle, goldenrod, and the mineral selenium, to name only a few.

Chlorophyll: Chlorophyll is a green pigment in plants that is a result of the energy-producing process known as photosynthesis. Reported health benefits of this green substance include liver health, elimination of body odour, cleansing of the digestive tract and neutralizing of toxins. Because chlorophyll from green plants has the ability to directly neutralize toxins, it reduces the detoxification load on the liver and has a general mild strengthening effect.
Article Source: Sunshine Today

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