The liver is considered the most
important metabolic organ. It performs an incredible array of tasks
critical to our survival, and is the only human organ capable of
regenerating itself -- a whole lobe of the liver cut away in an
operation can renew itself in a few weeks!
The liver make new chemicals from
food nutrients for use throughout the body, and neutralizes body
waste byproducts. All your blood (carrying nutrients from your intestines)
passes through your liver. Your liver is key to maintaining your
energy level, and is a storehouse for all the vitamins, minerals
and enzymes in your body, releasing them into your bloodstream as
needed. It helps maintain blood glucose levels and regulates hormone
levels. It also detoxifies substances such as alcohol and drugs.
The liver also manufactures bile,
which is sent to your gall bladder (a sac-like organ attached to
the liver). When required, the gall bladder discharges bile into
your intestines to help break down fats into more easily used components.
Your body cannot metabolize fats well if your liver is not working
properly, and this can make weight loss especially difficult.
Your liver's health can be supported
with a nutritionally sound diet and/or nutritional supplements.
Many people have sluggish livers.
Common causes of this problem are excess toxins
of any kind (alcohol, drugs, environmental pollutants), general
poor nutrition over a long period, and/or a diet high in refined
foods and sugar. For example, eating a typical fast food meal once
a day plus a few cups of coffee and a drink or two daily will almost
surely take its toll on your liver, in time.
A high score
indicates that there may not be enough bile getting into the small
intestine. Bile is needed to break down fats into tiny particles
so that pancreatic digestive enzymes can work on them. Without enough
bile you will be likely to be constipated, have gas and get nauseous
or headachy after eating fatty foods. As well, eating onions, cabbage,
radishes or cucumbers will likely give you gas.
Correcting nutritional deficiencies
and maintaining a healthy diet is the best way to revitalize and
protect your liver. Try to eat 5-6 servings (half cup each) of fresh
vegetables daily (especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage,
winter squash and leafy greens like kale, collards, beet greens
and salad greens) -- steamed, raw, stir-fried and in soups, casseroles,
pastas, etc. Eat brown rice often, as well as whole grain pastas,
breads, cereals and legumes. These foods are, in a sense, fat-burning
foods since they burn almost a quarter of their calories before
storing them as fat, unlike fatty and sugary foods which burn only
about 2% of their calories.
Diets that are high in refined
carbohydrates (sweets, white breads, white baked goods, white pasta)
and low in fibre lead to a reduction in the manufacture of bile.
Excess sugar is especially bad. A
diet high in fresh fruits, vegetables and oatmeal will give you
the water soluble fibre you need. However, if you need a fibre supplement,
powdered psyllium husks (from your health food store) would be a
good choice. It is a gentle, lubricating, cleansing herbal fibre
which adds bulk to the stool. Drink plenty of water
when taking any fibre supplement.
Cut back on animal protein and
dairy products (except yogurt). Eat more fish and vegetable protein
(tofu and other soy foods, lentils, beans, nuts and seeds and brown
rice). Drink plenty of water and eliminate or cut way back on alcohol.
In addition to following the general
recommendations for strengthening the liver, you might like to try
a more thorough liver cleanse. Drinking a glass of water with two
tablespoons of fresh lemon juice (add a tsp. or so of unpasteurized
honey if you like), as soon as you get up in the morning is one
easy way to help cleanse the liver. Be sure to cut out all saturated
fat and margarine at least for a few weeks while your liver is getting
back into fighting shape. Also, there are a number of herbal liver
detoxifiers available which are very good.
A green food powdered supplement
that is dissolved in water or diluted juice would be an excellent
supplement for you and would complement the cleanse, above, very
well. It would give you a quick green boost (minerals) and, since
it is a food-source supplement, it is easily absorbed. Wheat grass,
barley grass, sometimes alfalfa, spirulina and chlorella are the
main ingredients. They supply an extra boost of vegetable protein,
minerals, a wide range of vitamins and chlorophyl (good for your
liver). Wakunaga Kyo-Green would be a good one to try (it's not
too expensive) but there are others available if you can't find
it. Green superfoods are really good fatigue fighters, too --
and can help prevent food cravings when taken between meals.
Foods rich in potassium,
chlorophyll (sea vegetables) and sulfur (onion and garlic) are also
Eat fruit first thing in the morning
and wait 20 to 30 minutes before eating the rest of your breakfast.
If you eat fruit (raw) during the day, eat it only between meals
or on an empty stomach -- never with or right after a meal, as it
interferes with digestion.
Try to take in most of your calories
earlier in the day, and keep your evening meal light. It's best
not to eat after about 8 in the evening.
Since your liver can't function
well without oxygen, exercise and spending time in the fresh air
are also very important.
You can sometimes relieve the symptoms
of indigestion by taking a digestive enzyme
supplement (one that contains both bile and pancreatin) with any
meal containing fat. For some meals you may need more than one capsule,
depending on the amount of fat in the meal. After following the
dietary recommendations for a month, try leaving out the digestive
enzyme supplement and see if the symptoms get worse. Continue with
the enzyme supplements if you need them, however if symptoms persist
please talk to your doctor.
is not designed to identify liver disease or a gallstone problem.
Note that it is possible to have gallstones without realizing it.
You should check with your physician if you think gallstones may
be a possibility. However, the dietary recommendations above are
excellent gallstone prevention measures.