YOUR LIVER: Many Relationships Come and Go but Always Love Your Liver
If you want glowing skin, good digestion, sustained vitality, and a long and healthy life, then remember to love your liver.
Every time you breathe, eat or drink, a variety of toxic substances enter your body. No one anywhere on the planet can completely avoid the presence of industrial and agrochemicals, exhaust fumes, out-gassing plastics, paints, dyes, building materials, and other health-challenging residues. These are evident globally in air, soil, waterways, and wildlife from Arctic polar bears to Amazonian fish. Intake can be minimised, but not prevented. The big question is how well can you detoxify and eliminate the inevitable tally?
If you want to not just live but thrive, your liver is your best ally. Defying stereotypes, this organ is big and thick, as well as complex, and with dark, glossy good looks. It is a major production as well as detoxification site, and manages the marvel of regenerating itself if a major chunk is surgically sliced off.
Looking roughly like a triangular wedge, the liver lies predominantly on your right hand side, tucked under the protection of the lower rib cage. Weighing about 1½ kilos it is your largest organ after the skin. Blood tests can show the level of liver enzymes, clotting factors and other indicators of Inflammation or damage (see website TIPS for related article). Tests can declare normal markers as relating to specific disease states, yet clinical signs of sub-optimal function can still persist.
Compromised liver health is evident when there are a cluster of symptoms, such as several of the following:
• Nausea, queasiness, bloating, burping, intestinal gas, or bowel problems (especially if stool is green, grey, or pale clay colour, or sticky and difficult to flush); dark urine.
• Yellow tinge to the whites of the eyes, palms or other skin areas.
• Itchy skin or Eyes, skin disorders (such as eczema, acne, or brown ‘liver spots’).
• Easy bruising or bleeding.
• Fatigue, muddled thinking, depression or irritability.
• Overheated body temperature or hot flushes.
• Recurrent viral infections (or a history of hepatitis or glandular fever).
• Chronic inflammation such as hormonal (menstrual, menopausal or prostate problems), arthritis, diabetes, auto-immune disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, conditions marked by pain and reddening (Sex Hormones; Aches and Pains).
Your busy liver has over 500 jobs to accomplish. As a chemical factory it takes the amino acids constituent to the proteins you eat, and like a master craftsperson forms these into new protein structures such as for hormone transport, blood and clotting factors. Saving some of the glucose from your carbohydrates, the liver stores this in its tissue – otherwise you would have to eat every moment of every day for fuel. Under stress your Adrenal hormones instruct the liver to release this sugar for any real or presumed emergency.
It labours to detoxify poor quality fats, and to convert valuable ones into protective tissue especially high in the Brain. It transforms the beta-carotene in foods into vitamin A and stores this along with D, E, K, B12 and iron. One of the liver’s main functions is to scrutinise every drop of blood delivered from your intestines. With its enzymes it tries to break down alcohol, Medications and all the harmful substances you’ve absorbed or manufactured.
The liver also manufactures most of your cholesterol needs. This maligned substance is vital for a firm, healthy membrane to every cell, and for making adrenal and sex hormones. Most cholesterol is used to produce a significant greenish, yellow fluid called bile. Your diet may be exceptional but how you feel in consequence depends on how well you break down and absorb the nutrients from that food. Every time your food enters the small intestine – the main area for digestion and absorption – the liver signals its storage sac the gall bladder to release bile into the area. This helps with the breakdown of fat, and with the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. It is also a key mechanism for the liver to discard any impurities for elimination through bowel function.
This rubbish disposal method can tidily get rid of excess LDL cholesterol, downgraded or deactivated hormones (or their poorly broken down metabolites can lead to menstrual, menopausal, prostate or abnormal growth problems: fibroids, endometriosis, PCOS, cancer), heavy metals (such as lead, aluminium, mercury) and all the toxic wastes from your trillions of factory-like cells. But if there was no soluble fibre in your meal or snack then those wastes get reabsorbed and sent back for storage in your already over-worked liver. Top soluble fibre sources are needed to form an inseparable bond with the contents and eliminate them. Breakfast is an ideal time due to the many hours since the liver had a chance to discharge. Enjoy my Linseed Cereal recipe as in The Shape Diet, and have top sources at least one other meal per day.
How to Improve Liver and Gall Bladder Function:
• Eat regular meals; do not skip meals, especially breakfast; and do not overeat at any one meal or snack.
• Have top soluble fibre sources (linseed, psyllium, rice bran, oat bran, prunes, figs, seaweed, legumes) at breakfast and one other meal daily to improve blood sugar/glucose levels, and liver detoxification; have insoluble fibre as roughage for thorough elimination (wholegrains, most fruits and vegetables).
• No high fat meals (eg fish and chips; individual high fat foods such as avocado and nuts are fine; it is the fat content of the entire meal or snack that is relevant).
• Minimise damaged fats (rancid, overheated, or non-cold-pressed; see: The Fats of Life).
• Regulate blood sugar levels with a varied mix of soluble fibre, protein, crunchy food, vinegar, and quality fat at each meal; and by minimising highly refined carbohydrates (white bread/baking, all soft drinks, foods high in added sugar). Otherwise the liver becomes insulin resistant leading to fatigue, weight gain, diabetes and dementia risks (see my report on You Are Just A Few Steps Away From Peak Vitality).
• Have no more than 1 unit alcohol for women/2 for men (eg 120 ml wine) once per 4 days (the liver can take 4 days to be free of the effect of any food, drink, medication), or this can lead to a fatty liver and insulin resistance.
• Minimise intake of artificial chemicals in water (use reverse osmosis filtration); in air (avoid exhaust fumes, perfumes, cleaning sprays; see: Chemicals); food (buy fresh, seasonal, local and organic as possible; avoid artificial additives). Such toxins are hormone disruptors that get stored in fat, encourage weight gain and hormonal problems.
• Question the use of medications from Panadol to the oral contraceptive and consider alternatives.
• Prevent pathogenic infections (viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic) which weaken the liver. Maintain good hygiene (wash hands after toileting, before touching food or face; ensure food is cooked and stored properly; clean kitchen surfaces and especially kitchen cloth; use left-overs within 2 days).
• Exercise regularly (30 minutes 5 x weekly) to prevent insulin resistance common to the inactive whether fat or thin; to help skin, and lymphatic system eliminate impurities and improve immunity.
• Drink good quality fluids to split the eliminatory load via skin, bowel and Kidneys. Enjoy 6-8 glasses water/herb tea daily. Keep caffeine (Coffee, black leaf tea, chocolate drinks, soft drinks, ‘energy’ drinks) to no more than once every 4 days as it requires a specific liver enzyme for breakdown (deficient in 60% of the population) and it stimulates stored blood sugar release and insulin resistance.
• Help digestion from start to finish. Sit and relax before eating to stimulate the first wave of digestive enzymes. Chew thoroughly and slowly (put food or fork down between each mouthful to prevent hurrying). For more suggestions on improving digestion see: The Crime Scene Investigation of Bowel Function.