Tag Archives: digestion

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.



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


The Health Benefits of Probiotics

ProbioticBy Jacquie Eubanks BSN, RN

The root of the word probiotic comes from the Greek word pro, meaning “promoting” and biotic, meaning “life.”  The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines probiotics as “live microorganisms, which, when administered in adequate amounts, provide a health benefit to the host,” by contributing to its intestinal microbial balance.  An estimated 100 trillion microorganisms representing more than 500 different species of microflora inhabit every healthy bowel.  The majority of these are found in the colon and in smaller amounts in the stomach and small intestine.  Most of these are helpful in keeping pathogens in check, aiding digestion and nutrient absorption, and contributing to immune function.  However, harmful bacteria such as e. Coli and H. pylori can wreak havoc with digestive and immune health, sowing the seeds for inflammation and disease.  Maintaining  the correct balance of both healthy and unhealthy bacteria in the digestive system is necessary for optimal health.  Illness, medications, emotional stress, poor food choices and environmental influences can all upset that balance.

Our gastrointestinal tracts are colonized by our mothers during birth and by the surrounding environment immediately after birth.  Bifidobacteria, which make up approximately 90% of the healthy bacteria in the colon, appear in the intestinal tract within days of birth especially in breastfed infants.  It takes up to one month for babies born vaginally to establish their intestinal microflora.  By contrast, babies born by caesarean section may take up to six months to populate their own unique strains.  As it turns out, babies attract microbes much as magnets attract metal.  Over the first two to three years of life, babies’ microbes grow in concert with immune system development, learning to recognize and tolerate friendly bacteria and to respond to pathogens in defense of disease.

Each adult carries two to five pounds of bacteria.  Scientists have discovered that each person’s collection of microbes is different from the next person’s.  This may help to explain why some individuals are susceptible to certain infectious diseases and while others are not.  Imbalances of intestinal flora are thought to contribute to chronic diseases and conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, allergies and asthma, autoimmune disorders and possibly obesity.

When the digestive tract is healthy and balanced, it filters and eliminates toxins, harmful pathogens, and chemicals.  It absorbs the nutrients from food and water and delivers them to our cells.  Intestinal bacteria require nourishment.  Evidence indicates that beneficial bugs prefer nutrients called prebiotics, found primarily in high-fiber foods including greens, onions, and garlic.   Harmful bacteria, on the other hand, prefer the sugars and fats found in processed foods.  There are strong indications that a low-fiber, high-fat diet results in more harmful gut microbes and that an unhealthy balance of microflora is increasingly associated with a range of health problems including cancer, colitis, and inflammatory bowel disease.

Broad-spectrum antibiotics that we take to destroy pathogens also kill good bacteria, disrupting the overall balance in our systems.  Antibiotics can cause associated diarrhea by directly irritating the bowel, changing the levels of gut microbes and allowing pathogenic bacteria to flourish.   In addition to digestive problems, a reduction of beneficial bacteria can lead to yeast and urinary tract infections.  The overuse of antibiotics can have a harmful effect by increasing the amount of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, which can make illnesses difficult to treat.   It’s not helpful to your digestive or immune systems to take antibiotics for viral infections.  It’s best to avoid antibiotics unless really necessary to combat bacterial infections.

By eating certain foods and taking supplements that contain live probiotic cultures, you can help tip the balance of good intestinal flora.  The many types of probiotics all have different functions.  If you have a specific health goal in mind, you’ll need to ingest the correct strain.  For example:

  • Bacillus coagulans may improve abdominal pain and bloating associated with irritable bowel syndrome.
  • Lactobaccillus acidophilus is thought to reduce the side effects of antibiotic therapy and may reduce symptoms of lactose intolerance.
  • Saccharomyces boulardi shows good evidence in treatment and prevention of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.
  • Lactobacillus reuteri is believed to be helpful in reducing abdominal pain in children and decreasing distress associated with infantile colic.
  • Lactobaccillus johnsonii may reduce incidence of H. pylori-caused gastritis and may reduce inflammation.
  • Bifidobacterium bifidum shows evidence for reduced C. difficile-associated disease, the most serious cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

Probiotics, such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria, can be found in dietary supplements, yogurt and other cultured daily products such as buttermilk and kefir, and fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi (fermented vegetables) and tempeh (fermented soybeans).  Prebiotics containing inulin, fructooligosaccarides, and arabinogalactan can be found in whole grain breads and cereals, bananas, honey, artichokes, fortified foods and beverages in addition to  dietary supplements.  Although benefits vary, depending on the type and amount of a pre- or probiotic consumed, experts agree that daily consumption of these functional components is beneficial to good health and well being.

Top selling Pre- and Probiotics: 

UltraFlora Balance by Metagenics  –  This nutraceutical product is formulated to promote gastrointestinal and immune health.  In addition to supporting intestinal integrity and healthy digestive function, this formula provides prebiotic food to support the growth of helpful bacteria.  Contains a 50:50 blend of 15 billion live organisms, lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium.  Heat sensitive product.  Gluten and dairy free.

Ortho Biotic by Ortho Molecular  –  Contains carefully assembled strains of probiotic organisms to maximize the environment for strains already in the intestinal tract including lactobacillus, bifidobacterium and saccaromyces boulardi.  Refrigeration not necessary.

Pre-Flora Concentrate Probiotic Pearls by Integrative Therapeutics  –  Active live cultures supply relief from occasional gas, bloating, constipation, sensitive stomach and lactose intolerance.  Provides strains of lactobaccillus and bifobacterium in a proprietary blend of 1 billion CFU.  No artificial coloring or flavoring, corn, preservatives, sugar, wheat or yeast.  Refrigeration not necessary.

Probiotic Extra Strength – 10 billion by Metabolic Maintenance  –  Probiotic ES combines five strains of active probiotic cultures (Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei rhamnosus, Lactobacillus bulgaricus, Bifidobacterium longum, and Bifobacterium bifidum).  This product is fortified with fructooligosaccharides, designed to further enhance its beneficial effects in the lower bowel.  This superior formula provides 10 billion live units per capsule, designed for more advanced probiotic requriements.  This product is a guaranteed active probiotic.  Heat sensitive product.  Refrigeration necessary.

Multi-Probiotic 15 Billion by Douglas Laboratories  –  Contains over 15 billion beneficial organisms from lactobacillus and bifidobacterium genera with additional benefits of prebiotic fructooligosaccharides.  Multi-Probiotic 15 Billion capsules may be a useful dietary supplement for those who wish to support their intestinal microflora with potent amounts of beneficial microorganisms.  No yeast, wheat gluten, soy protein, corn, sodium, starch, artificial coloring, preservatives or flavoring.  Refrigerate after opening.

Buddy Bear Probiotic by Advanced Naturals  –  Buddy Bear Probiotic is a natural probiotic supplement formulated for children aged 2 and older.  Each easy-to-chew bear tablet contains bifidobacteria and lactobacillus acidophilus cultures to help support digestive and immune health,  and fructooligosaccharide (FOS) to nourish the beneficial flora.  Natural orange flavor.  May contains traces of milk protein.