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The Importance of Healthy Liver Function

LiverHealthJacquie Eubanks RN BSN

Did you know that the liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself, making it possible for one person to donate a portion of their liver, which will then regenerate to full size, to another person? This large and metabolically complex organ is so resilient it can continue to function when two-thirds of it has been damaged by cirrhosis or injury. Because of this amazing ability to repair itself, those who have or are developing liver problems may be completely unaware and have no noticeable symptoms. Vitally important to life and health, the liver performs over 500 different functions relating to metabolism, digestion, immunity and nutrient storage.

Metabolism of macronutrients – The liver is central to all metabolic processes, and plays a critical role in synthesizing protein, fat and carbohydrate molecules that are utilized by the body to support homeostasis and regulate energy balance.

Digestion – The liver plays an active role in digestion though its production of bile, which is stored in the gallbladder until needed to emulsify fats, turning large clumps into smaller absorbable pieces. Bile contains bilirubin, formed by the breakdown of heme in aging red blood cells, which is then eliminated by the body.

Glycogen – Blood entering the liver is extremely rich in glucose. Glucose is stored in the liver as glycogen and is released as needed to maintain homeostasis and balanced blood sugar, releasing or removing sugar from the bloodstream when blood levels are too high or too low.

Detoxification – As blood from the digestive organs flows through the liver, it monitors the contents and prevents the release of toxins into the body. Liver enzymes metabolize numerous environmental toxins, foreign substances, alcohol, drugs, and circulation hormones and renders them into inactive metabolites, which can then be excreted by the body.

Micronutrient Storage – In addition to glycogen storage, the liver stores many essential nutrients, including fatty acids, vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, as well as iron and copper.

Immunity – The liver contains cells that capture and digest bacteria, fungi, parasites, old blood cells and other cellular debris, effectively and quickly cleansing large volumes of blood. The liver produces immune factors associated with the inflammation response, tissue repair and immune cell activities.

Blood clotting – Together with vitamin K, the liver produces plasma proteins, necessary for blood clotting.

Cholesterol – While high cholesterol has been demonized as a risk factor for cardiovascular disease, it’s an important component of cell membranes. The liver produces one to two grams of cholesterol daily, which is necessary for vitamin D, steroid hormone and bile acid production. Cholesterol is a precursor to anabolic hormones related to muscle growth and repair and is the basis for other reproductive hormones.

The liver is vulnerable to the effects of stress, toxin exposure and highly processed foods. A nourishing, fiber-filled, whole food, antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory diet and regular exercise supports the health of the liver and proper liver function. Be cautious about alcohol consumption, as alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells and can lead to fatty liver disease, inflammation and cirrhosis. Carefully manage all prescription medications and strictly follow dosing instructions. Some OTC cold and headache medications have been found to be harmful to the liver, so avoid taking anything unnecessarily. As much as possible reduce stress on the liver by avoiding exposure to chemicals and toxins found in home and beauty products. Certain herbs and botanicals believed to support liver health and function include milk thistle, schisandra, turmeric and dandelion root.

Professional Supplement Center carries these and other high quality products formulated to support healthy liver function:

Lipotropic Complex by Integrative Therapeutics

Lipotropic Complex by Integrative Therapeutics – This product provides vitamins, minerals, bile salts and standardized herbal extracts in support of healthy liver function and overall wellbeing. Gluten, soy and dairy free formulation.

 

Liver Defend by NuMedicaLiver Defend™ by NuMedica – Four key ingredients provide targeted nutritional support for enhanced liver protection and defense. This product is formulated for powerful antioxidant and detoxification support. Gluten, soy and dairy free, vegetarian formulation.

 

Turmeric Strength for Liver by MegaFoodTurmeric Strength for Liver by MegaFood – This product delivers a proprietary blend of whole food and concentrated herbal antioxidant compounds in support to healthy liver function and detoxifying pathways. Formulated with turmeric, milk thistle, schisandra fruit and black pepper extract. Gluten, soy and lactose free, Non-GMO vegan formulation.

 

Complete Liver Cleanse by Enzymatic TherapyComplete Liver Cleanse by Enzymatic Therapy – This 2-week liver cleansing system provides natural liver support, and features herbal ingredients to stimulate bile flow and help remove toxins. Dairy, wheat and sugar free, vegetarian formulation.

 

 

References:
Liver Health. http://www.liver.ca/liver-health/
Liver Health and Wellness. http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/liverhealth/
Metabolic Functions of the Liver. http://www.vivo.colostate.edu/hbooks/pathphys/digestion/liver/metabolic.html
Liver. http://www.innerbody.com/image_digeov/card10-new2.html
How does the liver work? http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072577/
Normal Liver Physiology. http://biomed.brown.edu/Courses/BI108/BI108_2002_Groups/liver/webpage/NormalLiver.htm