Liver Health: Protecting Your Second Largest Organ
Your liver is one of the most amazing organs in your body. Next to your skin, it’s also the largest. It’s unique in many ways – one of which is that it’s incredibly resilient and can withstand an incredible amount of punishment. But, it’s not indestructible. Here’s how to nourish your liver and keep yourself healthy well into your old age.
What Does It Do?
The liver is quite the multitasking organ. It’s a chemical factory that produces more than a thousand enzymes (one of the more powerful being the p450 enzyme family), clotting factors, blood, proteins, and bile.
It makes use of cholesterol in the blood, it stores energy from the food you eat to provide fuel for your muscles. It also regulated the level of blood sugar and several hormones in the body while storing critical vitamins like B-complex vitamins and retinol (vitamin A) as well as many minerals.Finally, it filters and removes poisons like drugs and alcohol from the blood and it can even regenerate itself if it’s damaged.
But, its superpowers are limited. Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, is one of the most common liver problems and it’s caused by chronic liver disease like hepatitis or even something as simple as alcohol abuse. Overwhelming the liver’s ability to deal with environmental toxins will eventually result in liver failure.
Don’t Overdo Alcohol
Alcohol is one substance you can control. If you drink too much of it, it can inflame the liver, and cause damage to the cells in the organ. By limiting your intake, you prevent serious liver damage. If you’re having trouble controlling your intake, you might want to consider some 12 step alternatives that include cognitive therapy. It’s not as extreme as AA, but it works just the same.
Feed It With Rich Foods
The liver needs substances like retinol (vitamin A), b-vitamins, and other nutrients to functions. But, beyond that, you can consider supplementing with a high-quality curcumin product, or start eating a lot of fresh Indian cuisine with turmeric in it.
Curcumin is a substance in turmeric that offers anti-inflammatory benefits, helps the liver do its job better, and contributes to your overall health. As it relates to the liver, this substance is powerful – it has the ability to inhibit several factors like nuclear factor-kappaB, which modulates pro-inflammatory cytokines (making curcumin anti-inflammatory). It helps diseased livers heal.
Milk thistle is a seed extract that helps to protect and promote liver health, and studies show that it also protects and promotes the growth of liver cells and fights oxidation.
Alpha Lipolic Acid may also be beneficial. It’s a powerful antioxidant that normally helps you turn glucose into energy. However, it can also help regenerate a damaged liver. In a study on 79 patients with severe liver damage (patients who would need a transplant), intravenous ALA helped 75 of those patients survive. Of the four who didn’t survive, two of them never actually received the treatment from their doctor and two of them didn’t get the recommended dose.
Steve Tucker loves being an anatomy professor for upcoming medical professionals. When not naming bones or testing students, he greatly enjoys blogging about the simple, yet complex, functions and health of the parts of the human body.