While I personally recommend a regular cleansing regimen that includes a cleanse especially for the liver due to its unique status as the primary detoxifying organ of the body, I strongly support the idea of ensuring your supplement regimen and your diet remain liver-friendly for the same reasons. The liver, by its very function, takes a lot of abuse; and you can’t live without it. So, take special care to keep it healthy.
Some special diet considerations are due to common functions of the liver itself:
- The liver manufactures cholesterol. Cholesterol is essential for making cell membranes and cell structures in the body. It is also vital for the synthesis of hormones, vitamin D, and other substances. About two-thirds of the cholesterol in our bodies is manufactured by the liver; the other third comes from our diet. Cholesterol is necessary, and while we must have some cholesterol for our bodies to function, the liver will usually produce enough and we compound problems if we add too much by allowing ourselves a high-fat diet. Reducing dietary fat can ease demands on the liver.
- The liver also stores glucose fuel in the form of glycogen. The body has a feedback system that between meals tells the liver to release more sugar to maintain the body’s energy level. The liver then converts either fat or glycogen into the simple sugar glucose. Too much sugar can mean problems for other body systems. So, reducing simple sugars from your diet can also ease production demands on the liver.
- Cirrhosis of the liver is a disease with which we’re all familiar. We associate it with heavy drinkers (and this is one real cause). It is a degenerative inflammatory disease that results in hardening and scarring of liver cells. What many of us don’t consider is that malnutrition and chronic inflammation can also lead to liver malfunction.
- Keep the colon clean, regularly use an herbal detoxifying blend if you work in an environment that contains known toxins, and limit alcohol intake.
Our liver processes require vitamins, minerals, proteins (preferably from vegetable sources), amino acids, and enzymes. Ensuring these nutrients are in your diet (or a good broad-spectrum vitamin-mineral-amino acid-essential fatty acid supplement), will also help keep a healthy liver. Other supplements that you may consider specifically for the liver may include:
- Herbs that help to ensure a healthy liver. Alfalfa is an excellent source of vitamin K and a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to bleeding. The silymarin in milk thistle has been shown in scientific studies to repair and rejuvenate the liver. Fermented red yeast rice extract is beneficial for those with high cholesterol as it inhibits the liver’s production of cholesterol. Other herbs that can be beneficial include barberry, black radish, burdock, dandelion, fennel, horsetail, Irish moss, red clover, rose hips, suma, thyme, chickweed and wild Oregon grape.
- Drink lemon water to “wash” the liver.
- Choline and inositol are B-vitamins that prevent scarring and help prevent cirrhosis and high cholesterol.
- And liver-healthy foods include red beets (especially raw and shredded in a salad), almonds, bananas, blackstrap molasses, prunes, raisins, wheat and rice bran, kelp, beans, and seeds. Dandelion greens are a great Spring tonic if they contain no herbicides or pesticides. Poor food choices include excessive animal proteins, processed foods, junk food, refined white flour and white sugar foods.
In a previous blog I noted a fact that is worth repeating here: “Overeating is probably the most common cause of liver malfunction. It creates excess work for the liver, resulting in liver fatigue. Since the liver must detoxify all of the various chemicals present in our food supply today, it is easily overworked and may not be able to keep up, leaving harmful substances in the body.”
There are many ways to alleviate the stress of a degenerative liver. But it doesn’t “just happen”. Be aware of the load you’re putting on your liver by poor diet choices, working in toxic environments, and making poor lifestyle choices. Carefully care for your liver and it will care for you throughout your lifetime!
- Randy Lee, BSE, MS, ND, is Owner of The Health Patch, 1024 S. Douglas Blvd, MWC, 73130. Call us at (405) 736-1030, and visit our website at www.thehealthpatch.com.