When working well, your liver receives and filters 3 pints of blood a minute! A healthy liver removes these things from your bloodstream:
- Dead and unhealthy cells
- Micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi and parasites
- Toxic environmental chemicals
- Cancer cells
- Globules of fat known as chylomicrons
Filtered blood from your liver flows to the right side of your heart, ready to be pumped all over your body. Poorly filtered blood full of unhealthy fats and toxins can damage your heart and your immune system and cause you to age more rapidly.
When your liver malfunctions, the consequences can range from mild symptoms of sluggish liver, to life threatening conditions.
Symptoms Of Sluggish Liver Function
These are many and varied.
· Hormonal disturbances, menstrual problems, testicular problems, breast swelling.
· Food allergies and sensitivities
· Digestive problems such as burping, gas, bloating, pain.
· Skin problems such as itchiness, rashes, eczema, psoriasis.
· Chemical sensitivities (such as reactions to soaps, detergents, cosmetics etc)
· Sleep difficulties
· Eye problems ( sore, gritty eyes, vision difficulties, eye twitches)
· Problems with tendons and muscles (delayed healing, frequent injury)
· Headaches – especially pain at the top of your head and headaches that throb. Gall bladder related headaches are usually over your right eye, at your temples or on one side of your head.
· Irritability, anger, aggression, depression
Meet Your Gall Bladder!
When healthy, your liver produces 1 to 1.5 quarts of bile every day. The bile travels through ducts in your liver and collects in a muscular sac – your gall bladder – ready to be squirted into your small intestine after you have eaten fat or protein containing food. When stones, fats and cholesterol clog your liver and/or gall bladder you can produce less than a cup of bile daily. If the gall bladder becomes full of stones/gravel, you start to develop symptoms of gall bladder disease and even feel pain (gall bladder colic).
Bile Flow and Your Health
Bile is a viscous yellow, brown or green fluid and has three main functions in your body.
- It acts as a strong antioxidant that helps to remove toxins from the liver.
- It emulsifies fats that you eat so that they can be digested.
- It de-acidifies and cleanses your small intestine.
Insufficient bile output means that many foods you eat remain partially or completely un-digested. Poor fat absorption can lead to poor calcium and fat soluble vitamin absorption. Deficiencies in these nutrients can lead to nervous system disorders, dry skin, peeling skin on the soles of your feet and weak flaky nails.
A bile-deficient stool is tan, orange-yellow or pale clay instead of the normal greenish-brown colour. Un-digested fat causes your stool to float.
Healthy bile that flows easily is a sign of healthy liver and gall bladder activity. Good bile production and flow is critical to your body’s detoxification process.
Fatty Liver – An Emerging Epidemic
In the Medical Observer Journal, July 2004, is an article titled “Non alcoholic fatty liver disease is the new epidemic of liver disease facing the western world”. Before the 1990’s fatty liver disease was mainly seen in alcoholics and was rare in children.
Today fatty liver is recognized as the most common cause of abnormal liver function tests in the UK, US and Australia. It is easily diagnosed with an ultrasound scan and blood tests to check liver enzymes. The enzyme alanine amino transferase (ALT) is usually too high, which indicates liver inflammation.
A fatty liver is far from healthy – the liver cells and spaces that form the structure of the liver filter becomes swollen with fat so that they cannot function efficiently. These days it is not generally caused by alcohol but instead is the result of abnormal dietary and lifestyle factors such as
- Eating too much refined carbohydrate from sugar and refined grains
- Eating too much processed food containing hydrogenated vegetable oils or deep fried foods
- Lack of good quality protein
- Diets low in antioxidants especially vitamin C and selenium
- Diets low in unprocessed plant foods such as fruits, vegetables, legumes, peas, nuts, seeds, sprouts
- Lack of exercise, especially with a high carbohydrate diet
Fatty liver often leads to obesity, diabetes and heart disease. In the USA, 2.6% of children have fatty liver, and some children need liver transplants because their fatty liver is so severe. 52% of obese children have some degree of fatty liver.
A healthy liver helps you to lose weight
If your liver is clogged and fatty, weight loss is difficult and slow even on a good eating plan. Your body needs to remove fat from your liver before it can break down other fat deposits. Once your liver is rejuvenated and detoxified, weight loss is easier and better still – the weight stays off!
Proven strategies to protect and repair your liver.
It’s not hard to make slight changes to your diet and lifestyle – the liver responds well to nutritional medicine. Central to your liver regeneration program would be your diet.
- Reduce carbohydrate intake – eat only un-processed carbohydrates such as brown rice, millet, whole grain pasta especially amaranth and quinoa pasta, natural whole grain bread that is dense and heavy (not the fluffy multi grain breads found in most supermarkets.
- Avoid ALL sugar and refined grains and all processed foods containing sugar
- Increase your intake of fresh fruit and vegetables, legumes and raw nuts and seeds.
- Eat good quality protein regularly such as eggs, legumes, raw nuts and seeds – protein does not raise your blood sugar
- Learn to like and drink fresh vegetable juices – such as a tasty mix of carrot, beetroot, celery, spinach, parsley, apple, ginger and lemon.
- Take rice bran/psyllium husk daily to help reduce high cholesterol levels
- Take good quality liver tonic supplements such as St Mary’s Thistle, B vitamins, taurine, dandelion root, globe artichoke, lecithin, green barley and wheat grass powders, beetroot powder, vitamin C and selenium
Your liver can and will repair itself and grow new healthy liver cells and you can reverse fatty damage to your liver – and enjoy a longer, healthier life!
Recommended reading: The Liver Cleansing Diet by Dr Sandra Cabot