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Protect Your Liver

ProtectYourLiver2JacquieIconBy Jacquie Eubanks

As we go about our daily lives, many of us are somewhat aware that our bodily systems are functioning 24 hours a day.  Our brains are like our own personal COO’s, directing and overseeing all of our bodily processes.  Our immune systems are battling to maintain our health, as our digestive systems are busily processing nutrients.  Our lungs are expanding and our hearts are beating as blood and oxygen are pumped throughout our bodies, delivering vital nutrients to our cells and organs.  When our bodies are healthy, they operate without us having to give it much thought beyond eating well and exercising.  How many of us realize that a healthy liver is also of major importance to everyday wellness?  

As our largest glandular organ, the liver performs over 500 essential functions relating to digestion, metabolism, immunity, detoxification and nutrient storage.  Among other tasks, the liver must process virtually everything we eat or drink, breathe in or put on our bodies.  We ask a lot of this approximately 3 pound gland, especially when we smoke, eat unhealthy foods, consume too much alcohol, expose ourselves to toxins, or misuse prescription and non-prescription medications.  What exactly are some of the liver’s crucial functions? 

  • Digestion –  The liver forms and secretes bile which aids in the digestion and absorption of fats and fat soluble vitamins such as A, D, E and K. 
  • Metabolism – The liver metabolizes carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into their biologically available forms.  Fatty acids and amino acids are metabolized to produce energy in the form of ATP.  Glucose from digested food is stored in the liver as glycogen, which is used as fuel and released to maintain homeostasis and regulate blood sugar levels. 
  • Detoxification – The liver cleanses the blood by metabolizing alcohol, drugs, pesticides, food additives and chemicals, and neutralizing  or destroying toxins. 
  • Hormone regulation – The liver is responsible for maintaining balanced thyroid, reproductive and adrenal hormones among others.  
  • Nutrient storage – In addition to glycogen, the liver stores essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
  • Production – The liver produces vital protein components involved in the formation of blood clots.  The liver also regulates and produces cholesterol, which it excretes and converts into other essential substances. 
  • Immunity – Liver cells capture and digest bacteria, fungi, parasites, worn out red blood cells and cellular debris.  As blood passes through the liver, large volumes of blood are quickly cleansed. 

You can help to keep your liver strong and healthy by maintaining a healthy weight,  providing high quality nutrients and reducing your toxic load.  Dietary intake places the largest potential burden on the liver.  Avoid high calorie fried foods, fast foods and processed foods, which are high in fructose and trans-fats and are known to contribute to obesity and the increased risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

  • Support your liver by eating sulfur-rich veggies such as onions, garlic and cruciferous vegetables, which are high in fiber and naturally detoxifying. 
  • Eating organically raised and grown foods free of pesticides, antibiotics, growth hormones or chemical additives reduces the toxic burden on the liver. 
  • Spice up your meals with turmeric and cinnamon, which are known to support healthy liver function. 
  • Use alcohol responsibly or not at all.  Excessive consumption of alcohol on a regular basis or binge drinking forces the liver to continuously work overtime.  This type of abuse can damage or destroy liver cells and lead to alcoholic fatty liver disease, inflammation, or cirrhosis, a scarring of the liver tissue. 
  • As the liver is the clearinghouse for drugs and medications, carefully follow directions on both prescription and OTC medications, some of which can affect or harm the liver.  Mixing medications with alcohol can have dire consequences, such as liver failure. 
  • By wearing a mask and gloves, you can limit contact with aerosol sprays, chemicals, insecticides and toxins, such as those found in cleaning products.  As exposure to chemicals, additives, and synthetics can negatively affect the liver, consider switching to natural body and personal care products when possible.
  • Do not smoke.  Smoking negatively affects the liver’s ability to process and remove toxins.  According to the American Lung Association, cigarette smoke contains thousands of harmful chemicals including lead, formaldehyde, toluene and arsenic, all of which must be processed by the liver.  Plus, smoking is a known high risk factor for liver cancer.
  • Exercise is particularly important for healthy liver function.  A strong liver is better able to defend against viruses, disease and pollutants.  Frequent exercise helps to maintain a proper weight, reducing the risk of non- alcoholic fatty liver disease.  
  • Participation in an occasional detoxification program, which enhances the body’s natural elimination system, supports liver, kidney, bowel and lymphatic system health. 
  • Consider high quality supplements that protect and support liver health.  Antioxidants such as silymarin, curcumin and alpha lipoic acid (ALA) support the liver’s detoxification pathways and promote liver health and function.

Supplements for support of liver health include:

Lipotrepein (SF700)
Lipotrepein (SF700) by Thorne Research – This time-tested lipotropic formula contains nutrients and botanicals for liver support.  Lipotropic substances can improve and maintain lipid metabolism in the liver and prevent accumulation of fat. 
Metabolic Rejuvenation (65901)Metabolic Rejuvenation (65901) by Douglas Laboratories –  This comprehensive 28 day, 3 phase detoxification support program contains nutrients specifically chosen to support phase 1 and phase 2 liver detoxification.  This complete program is designed to prepare, detoxify and repair the body and the intestinal tract. 
Detoxication Factors (Tyler)
Detoxification Factors (Tyler) by Integrative TherapeuticsThis product provides comprehensive nutritional support for healthy detoxification processes in the liver.  Naturally sourced antioxidants, such as quercetin and milk thistle (silymarin), stimulate healthy liver cell development. 
Liver Terrain™ (T-8) by Apex EnergeticsThis unique liquid formula contains multivitamins, minerals and co-factors, which support liver health and address liver meridian imbalances. 

The Multitasking Liver

LiverBy Susan Brown

The liver is a vital organ with a wide range of functions.  As the second largest organ in your body, the liver plays a major role in metabolism and produces biochemicals necessary for digestion.  Liver functions include glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells, plasma protein synthesis, hormone production and detoxification.  The liver is thought to be responsible for over 500 separate functions.  Some of the important tasks the liver performs include:

  • Nutrient breakdown.  Everything consumed, whether nutritious or not, must be broken down before the nutrients can be utilized by the body.  The liver produces bile which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during the digestion process. 
  • Storage and creation.  The liver processes all foods including carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and converts them into glucose.  While glucose is circulating throughout your body nourishing your organs and cells, the liver is converting excess glucose to glycogen which is stored for later use.  The liver produces cholesterol and special proteins which help carry fats throughout the body. 
  • The liver removes toxic substances from the bloodstream.  The liver helps to fight infections by producing immune factors and cleansing the blood of bacteria. 

The liver is an amazingly tenacious organ.  It can lose three-quarters of its cells before it stops functioning and is the only organ that can regenerate itself.  Because of its strategic location and its multidimensional functions, the liver is prone to infections and disease.  Common liver problems include hepatitis, alcohol damage, fatty liver, cirrhosis, cancer and drug damage.

Viral hepatitis is a liver inflammation caused by a viral infection.  Hepatitis infections can be acute or chronic.

  • Hepatitis A is often a result of eating contaminated food or water.  Most people recover from a hepatitis A infection although some residual effects can remain for up to one year.  Thorough hand washing, especially when preparing food, is the best way to prevent the spread of hepatitis A.  A vaccine is available that can prevent infection for up to 10 years.
  • Hepatitis B can cause both an acute or a chronic condition.  Hepatitis B is generally transferred through contact with blood or bodily fluids.  Chronic hepatitis B can evolve into life threatening cirrhosis and liver cancer.  Approximately 65% of patients in treatment for hepatitis B receive a sustained response.  A lifetime vaccine is available that will prevent infection from hepatitis B.
  • Hepatitis C is also transmitted though contact with blood or bodily fluids.  Hepatitis C usually leads to chronic hepatitis and cirrhosis.  Hepatitis C is the most common chronic blood-borne infection in the United States.  All persons with hepatitis C should avoid alcohol and should be immunized against both hepatitis A and B.  Presently there is no vaccine that will prevent this virus.
  • Fatty liver disease (FLD) is a preventable illness in which large vacuoles of triglyceride fat accumulate in the liver cells.  Fatty liver has multiple causes including excessive alcohol intake and obesity with or without insulin resistance.  The accumulation of these fats may also be accompanied by progressive inflammation of the liver.  If treated at an early stage, this condition is often reversible.  Gradual weight loss, dietary changes, and/or medications that decrease insulin resistance are often the recommendations for improved liver function.  FLD, commonly associated with metabolic syndrome, is found in 75% of obese people largely from a prolonged diet containing foods with a high proportion of calories coming from lipids (fats).
  • Cirrhosis is a disease that causes permanent scarring of the liver.  In cirrhosis, normal liver cells are replaced by scar tissue that is unable to perform any liver function eventually resulting in liver failure.
  • Alcohol related liver disease is due to excessive consumption and is the most common preventable cause of liver disease.

Your internal organs are working round the clock to keep you healthy and functioning.  Most of us give little thought to what we eat and drink each day.  Prevention is always the best route to take when addressing your general health.  As with any illness that comes with lifestyle choices, the best time to think about your health is now.  To prevent liver disease and other chronic diseases, talk with your healthcare provider regarding vaccinations, maintain a healthy weight, eat a healthy, nutritious diet, exercise regularly, limit alcohol intake, follow dosing instructions on all medications and avoid risky behaviors. 

Supplements to support the liver: 

Liver Cleanse (SF769) by Thorne Research is a potent combination of herbs that work synergistically to enhance the function of the liver and is specifically helpful during a comprehensive detoxification program.  The herbs in this formula enhance the production and flow of bile, which helps to optimize metabolism and the elimination of substances detoxified by the liver.

Liver Support by Vital Nutrients  is a unique combination of herbal extracts that works synergistically to support liver function, and nutritionally support and protect liver cells from free radical damage.  Silybin, one of the primary constituents of milk thistle, supports the liver’s efforts to remove chemicals, drugs, alcohol, and other exogenous toxins. 

Liver Support, Q. by Quantum Nutrition Labs  is a key nutraceutical liver formula.  It is an effective, broad-spectrum phytonutrient complex that promotes optimal detoxification, rejuvenation and healthy liver support.

Silymarin by Pure Encapsulations  is a milk thistle extract that nutritionally supports liver function. This highly active botanical protects the liver from free radical damage, supports glutathione concentrations and promotes superoxide dismutase activity.  Milk thistle extract also stimulates protein synthesis in hepatic cells.

Hepato Synergy (K-69) by Apex Energetics  integrates four synergistic formulas that work together to support normal hepatic detoxification.  These products support detoxification, hepatic cell growth, methylation reactions, hormone excretion, glutathione synthesis and recycling, and RNA synthesis.

Glutathione 250 mg by Now Foods  is a tripeptide, consisting of the three amino acids, cysteine, glutamic acid, and glycine.  Glutathione is found and manufactured in every cell in the body, but is found in highest concentrations in the heart, muscle tissue and the liver.  Glutathione is critical for healthy immune system function and necessary for various liver detoxification processes.  Glutathione also acts as an antioxidant that works to prevent oxidative stress in most cells and helps to trap free radicals that can damage DNA and RNA.  Milk thistle extract and alpha lipoic acid are included to enhance glutathione’s liver supporting properties.