Your liver might just be the most under-appreciated organ in your body. It is your body’s largest internal organ and one of its important functions is to help remove toxins and harmful substances. Unlike your gall bladder or appendix, you can’t live without your liver - at least not for very long.
And unlike some other organs in your body, such as your heart and lungs, it can be difficult to measure how well your liver is working. That is, until it falls to about 10 percent of its healthy working capacity. Your liver can’t skip beats or produce a cough to warn you when it needs help …
Just because it sits quietly in your body most of the time doesn’t mean it can thrive without special care. Maybe 20 or 30 years ago, a healthy person’s liver did just fine without extra support, but today we live in a different world.
Today your liver confronts – and must overcome – challenges it’s never faced before.
Live Without Your Liver? Don’t Bet Your Life on It
Your liver serves many life-supporting functions. It is made up of two main lobes which are located beneath your diaphragm and on top of your stomach, your right kidney, and your intestines.
Besides its primary role of protecting your body from harmful substances, your liver plays other key roles, too. A healthy liver:
• Produces bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats
• Helps regulate the levels of sugar, protein, and fat entering your bloodstream
• Clears your blood of drugs, alcohol, and other potentially harmful substances
• Processes nutrients absorbed by your intestines during digestion
• Produces cholesterol, proteins, and clotting factors to help your blood clot
• Regulates many of your hormones
• Neutralises highly reactive oxygen molecules, or free radicalss
After your liver breaks down harmful substances, they enter your blood or bile and leave your body either through your kidneys and urine, or your faeces after traveling through your intestines.
Normally, all these functions go on like clockwork, without much support on your part. But today many potential threats to your liver’s well-being prevail.
Is Your Expanding Waistline Putting Your Liver at Risk?
A renewed reminder of why it’s important to maintain your ideal body weight
Stunning new research suggests that your liver may be ageing faster than the rest of your body if you hold excess weight in your waist.
Researchers have found that for each 10-unit increase in body mass index, or BMI, the physiological age of the liver grew by 3.3 years. To put that into real numbers: suppose a 5-foot, 8-inch man weighs 130 pounds and has a BMI of 20. A second man of the same height and age weighs 230 pounds, and has a BMI of 35. The liver of the second man is likely to be five years older than the liver of the normal weight man.
And here’s another interesting finding. If the second man decided to have surgery to rapidly lose the excess weight, the age of his liver wouldn’t change!
So what’s behind this vicious threat to your liver? It may be linked to one of its worst enemies.
One Of Your Liver’s Worst Enemies Isn’t What You Might Expect
I’m guessing many people would say their liver’s worst enemy is alcohol. Yes, alcohol is harmful to your liver, but there’s another substance that is equally harmful – and far more pervasive.
Unlike alcohol, this other substance can be found in some form in nearly every processed food in your grocery store.
It is fructose, which is the most damaging type of sugar to your body, and is particularly hard on your liver - much like alcohol:
• Fructose must be 100 percent broken down by your liver. In comparison, glucose only needs to be partially broken down before it can be utilised
• Corn sugars can damage your liver, much like drinking alcohol
• Fructose is metabolised directly into fat that gets stored in your liver and other internal organs and tissues as body fat, which leads to mitochondrial malfunction
• Fructose produces toxic metabolites and superoxide free radicals when it is metabolised, that can lead to inflammation in your liver
Fructose is a cheap form of sugar that’s found in thousands of food products and drinks. It is often deliberately disguised by the use of many different names, so the only way to steer clear of it completely is to avoid eating processed foods.
I believe fructose and other non-fibre carbs are important factors behind the rising rates of liver issues and at least 30 other health concerns. Tragically, even children are now showing signs normally associated with alcohol abuse from their consumption of fructose!
Other Silent Slayers of Liver Function
Unfortunately, fructose isn’t the only challenge your liver has to deal with. Other containminants that may affect your liver can be found in your home, water, and the air you breathe. Chemicals in plastics like phthalates and BPA/BPS, flame-retardants, and formaldehyde may be found in your:
• Furniture, carpeting and vinyl floor coverings
• Building materials
• Vinyl shower curtains
• Children’s toys
• Plastic water bottles and containers
• Scented personal care products
These contaminants enter your body through your skin or your lungs, or from the food and beverages you consume. No matter how they enter your body, they end up in your bloodstream and your liver must process them.
Compared to 20 or 30 years ago, we are exposed to far more chemicals in our food, as well as in our living and working environments.
Yet your liver hasn’t changed – it hasn’t evolved to keep up with the increase in challenges. You still depend on it, day in and day out, to help minimise the effects of potential contaminants.
Simple Ways to Help Support Your Liver
Most likely by now you have more of a healthy appreciation of what your liver is doing for you – or at least trying to do. It is responsible for so many essential tasks, so it can use all the support it can get from you. And luckily, there’s much you can do. To help protect your liver, I recommend:
1. Restricting alcohol consumption, and avoid completely if taking acetaminophen or Tylenol
2. Minimising or avoiding the use of potentially harmful acetaminophen or Tylenol (be sure to check labels, it’s found in many over-the-counter products!)
3. Attaining and maintaining your ideal weight
4. Restricting your intake of fructose from all sources to about 15 to 25 grams per day (avoid sweeteners in foods, fruit juices, dried fruits, and limit sugary fruit like grapes, pears, plums, and red apples)
5. Avoiding or minimise contact with toxic chemicals like pesticides, cleansers, paints and solvents
6. Buying products packed in glass containers and limiting your use of plastics, including plastic wrap
7. Adding liver-protective foods to your diet, like fermented vegetables, dark leafy green and cruciferous vegetables, ‘clean’ sea vegetables, sprouts, artichokes, garlic and onions, avocadoes, berries, whey protein powder from grass-fed cows, and organic pastured eggs and grass-fed meat
*For the full article and references, please visit the below website. We also suggest you conduct your own further research.