Most people, when asked, will confess to having only a sketchy idea of what their liver actually does. Weighing roughly 1.5kg, it is the second largest organ in the human body after the skin; it is the only internal organ able to regenerate, and even largely re-grow itself. Admittedly, its ways do seem rather mystifying, especially when compared with the clear-cut duties of the other vital organs: the heart, brain and lungs. Various cultures in the past have regarded it as the seat of the emotions, the residence of the soul, and even the source of bravery. In fact the word isibindi means both liver and courage in Zulu.
3 MAIN LIVER FUNCTIONS
- To store vitamins and minerals
- To clean impurities and toxins from the body
- To help metabolise nutrients into living matter
TOXINS: The liver modifies or breaks down toxins (drugs, alcohol, pesticides, preservatives, and most medicinal products) in a process called drug metabolism.
IMMUNITY: plays a vital role in the body’s immunity by removing antigens and bacteria from the blood.
CHOLESTEROL: controls the production and removal of cholesterol and metabolises fats.
HORMONES: breaks down various hormones including insulin and oestrogen.
PROTEINS & AMINOS: synthesises, metabolises, and degrades (breaks down and disposes) proteins and amino acids.
CARBS & SUGARS: breaks down and metabolises carbohydrates and sugars.
BLOOD: produces coagulants that prevent excessive bleeding; it also produces thrombopoietin (a hormone that regulates the production of red blood platelets by the bone marrow); and helps to regulate blood pressure.
BILE: produces and excretes bile (a yellowish liquid) which homogenises fats and helps vitamin K absorption.
UREA: converts ammonia (toxic) to urea.
STORAGE: stores a multitude of substances: glucose; vitamin A (up to 2 years’ supply); vitamin D (up to 4 months’ supply); vitamin B12 (up to 3 years’ supply); vitamin K; iron and copper.
Lighten the toxic load by totally avoiding an unbelievably long list of chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones other drugs we otherwise blithely consume.
These are molecules that prevent oxidization and neutralise free radicals. (Oxidization damages healthy cells and triggers cancerous cell changes. Free radicals weaken the immune system and accelerate the aging process.) Have more: grapefruit, broccoli, blueberries, tea, walnuts, edamame, bananas, kiwi fruit, and cacao.
Noteworthy antioxidants are:
SELENIUM: garlic, onions, Brazil nuts
GLUTATHIONE: avocados, walnuts
CATECHIN: one of the most potent of all antioxidants abundant in green tea and Cacao beans (chocolate).
SULPHUR RICH FOOD
Onions and garlic activate the liver enzymes that flush out toxins.
Dark leafy greens, deeply coloured fruits and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower.
OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS
Flaxseed, walnuts, spinach, brazil nuts.
Stimulates liver cell growth and protects the liver from toxins.
Lemon juice stimulates bile production which emulsifies fats and pushes toxins out.
Lots of water is crucial to help the liver flush toxins out.
Is as harmful as alcohol to your liver. Watch out for added sugar in fruit juices and tinned food.
Usually loaded with bad fat, starch and sugar.
Sausage, bacon, corned beef, etc contain damaging preservatives, cholesterol, and flavourings.
Deep fried foods, fatty red meat, margarine, trans fats (common in processed foods), hydrogenated oils, and shortening.
Including food colourants, and flavourings.
ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE
Responsible for toxic deposits that cause inflammatory damage and cirrhosis.
Including cigarettes, and drugs
Use only natural room fresheners and avoid spraying insecticides in or around your home.
6 BENEFICIAL SUPPLEMENTS FOR YOUR LIVER
1. Milk thistle
This star of supplements has anti-inflammatory properties, enhances protein synthesis, and contains silymarins (powerful antioxidants).
Promotes bile production, which in turn cleans the liver. (Good old Epsom salt contains a high amount of magnesium. A tablespoon of Epsom salt dissolved in warm water taken once a month will increase your liver health.)
3. Vitamin C
Boosts levels of glutathione (antioxidant).
4. Vitamin E
A powerful antioxidant, it also stimulates the immune system.
5. Alpha Lipoic Acid
A potent antioxidant, it breaks down fats and alcohol, and helps to remove toxins and wastes from liver.
6. Grape-Seed Extract
An effective antioxidant.
did you know?
Your liver performs over 500 separate functions. Some of the more significant one’s are: regulating metabolism, controlling cholesterol, preventing infection, and most importantly, clearing your body of harmful toxins that you consume (and even those you inhale).
Detoxify your body regularly but remember to consult your doctor before you undertake any extended abstinence.
Exercise stimulates the liver directly, and also promotes weight loss.
Balance keep a healthy balanced weight.
Reduce high blood pressure and maintain good control of your blood sugar.
Use natural house cleaning products be as environmentally friendly as possible to reduce the toxic load on your liver.
Get vaccinated both hepatitis A and B are liver diseases — and both are preventable with a vaccine.
Use medications cautiously wrong doses or if taken with alcohol or other drugs can cause serious harm. Parecetamol, even when used correctly, has a negative impact on the liver.
NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE (NAFLD)
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD is the most prevalent chronic liver disease in Western countries. People susceptible to this condition include those with high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and those who are overweight.
Even though only little or no alcohol is consumed the disease presents the same features seen in cases of chronic alcoholic liver disease. Fat accumulates in the liver which becomes chronically inflamed, eventually leading to permanent liver damage, cirrhosis, carcinoma, and fatality.
NAFLD has also been identified as a triggering factor causing liver cancer and heart disease. Look after your liver and reduce the risk of developing this disease.