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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

How to help keep your liver healthy

Help to keep your liver healthy (part 1)
Russell Setright

The liver is the second largest organ in the body, the skin being the largest. The liver, however, performs more functions than any other organ. Most products of digestion are transported to the liver from the intestines via the portal vein. The liver also produces and stores glycogen, which it synthesises from glucose, the muscles for energy need this. The liver also manufactures bile, which is used in the digestion of fats. It is one of the body's major detoxifiers, transforming substances that are taken into the blood by way of our intestines. The liver also synthesises prothrombin and fibrinogen, which are clotting agents, and is a valuable storing house for vitamins A, D, E and K.
There are many diseases which can severely affect the liver. Abuse with certain drugs such as alcohol and paracetamol can cause cirrhosis of the liver, which will lead to death if not treated in the early stages.
Hepatitis is a disease which inflames the liver. There are varieties of the virus: hepatitis A, (infectious hepatitis), hepatitis B (serum hepatitis) and hepatitis C and now some strains identified as H. In some developed countries hepatitis infects up to 40 per cent of the population and in Australia 25% of the Australian indigenous population are infected. The virus can be caught through exchange of blood, saliva, or eating infected food. Clean toilet habits and washing of hands afterwards are necessary for prevention.
A sluggish liver can also result in accumulation of some of the toxins that we are exposed to each day, not only in the liver but in elsewhere in the body. These toxins include, industrial wastes, artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners, photochemical smog, chlorine, PCBs and heavy metals, to name but a few. Their accumulation can contribute to poor health and disease. Quite often skin disorders, such as dermatitis and acne, can be directly related to poor liver function. Other symptoms can include, headache, lethargy, elevated cholesterol, indigestion and nausea.
Losing weight is one reason many people start a liver DeTox program. Some people find loosing weight can be very difficult for many people, while for others, the problem is how to put weight on, even when lifestyle and eating habits are balanced. The difference between these types of people is that their individual metabolic rate (the rate at which you burn up kilojoules) varies.
However, don't despair, there are foods that can actually increase your metabolism and help improve weight loss, while other foods can slow down the rate of weight loss and the metabolism by acting on the thyroid gland's production of hormones which are involved in our body's metabolic process.

As a direct result of our lifestyle and our polluted environment, detoxifying the liver, kidneys and bowels in many cases can help improve our health and quality of life. Any detoxification program requires in most cases a change in lifestyle and diet. Foods that contribute to liver or bowel toxication should be avoided while at the same time foods that promote a healthy digestive system should be increased.
As Hippocrates said, "Let food be your Medicine!" In Australia the intake of "junk foods" is on the increase. These foods are generally high in fat and refined sugar and low in fibre. This combination not only increases the load on the liver but also the risk of developing gallstones, diabetes and heart disease. The first step in a healthy diet is reduce the total fat and refined sugar intake, read the labels of processed foods and avoid those that are high in fat. Some of the best foods to incorporate in your diet are garlic, onions, leeks, lemons, apples, pears, berries, raw nuts, potatoes, soya beans, beats, rice, fish, olive and canola oils in moderation. To keep your liver in good shape it is best to avoid foods high in sugar and fat, such as candy, sweet biscuits, cakes, soft drinks, chocolate fatty meats and oils. You should also avoid foods high in caffeine, such as coffee and cola drinks also avoid fatty dairy products, bacon, roasted nuts, and fried foods. These foods cause the liver to slow down and become congested. It is best to abstain from alcohol while undertaking a liver DeTox program, and never take paracetamol and alcohol in combination as this can cause severe liver damage. Regular alcohol consumption in combination with a high fat diet can also increase the risk of fatty liver disease. A diet that is high in water-soluble fibres such as Psyllium and oat bran can increase enterohepatic cholesterol bile acid circulation. The fibre binds up the bile salts and bile acids and passes them through the digestive tract. This action reduces their reabsorption and therefore the liver needs to manufacture more of these salts from cholesterol in the body. This reduces total cholesterol levels and improves liver function.
Detoxication of the liver can help improve the quality of life, many conditions such as headaches, indigestion, poor concentration, constipation and lack of energy can all be escalated by a sluggish liver.

If you have a liver infection or condition always see your medical practitioner

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