The Liver – Your Very Own Chemical Factory & Refinery
Weighing in at just over 1.5 kilograms, the liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin and that’s just some of its over 500 different functions vital to life. It holds about 13% of the body’s blood supply at any given moment and filters over 1 liter of blood each minute! It is involved in the production of over 13,000 different chemicals and maintenance of over 2,000 internal enzyme systems. It regulates the supply of body fuel (producing, storing, and supplying glucose and producing, storing, and exporting fat), manufactures many essential body proteins, regulates the balance of many hormones, regulates body cholesterol, regulates the supply of essential vitamins and minerals such as iron and copper, produces bile which eliminates toxic substances from the body, aids digestion, just to name a few of its functions.
By far, the liver’s main job is inactivating and removing toxins (alcohol, drugs, chemical, and other poisonous substances) from the blood and transforming them into substances that can be safely excreted by the intestines or kidneys either by urine or bowel movements. It also provides a defense mechanism which filters and destroys foreign invaders such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and even cancerous cells.
Keep Your Liver Happy – 7 Practical Tips for Supporting Your Liver
You can’t live without it, so, you better take good care of your liver! Remember, everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin gets processed by your liver. So, rather than toxifying it, try to detoxify it on a daily basis. Here are seven habits that will keep your liver happy:
- Improve your hydration. Drink one-half of your body weight (pounds) in ounces of water daily. Minimize intake of other beverages.
- Drink lemon-infused water first thing in the morning and at bedtime. Squeeze fresh half (or whole) lemon into half glass of lukewarm water and drink.
- Eliminate toxic foods from your diet. This includes processed foods, fast foods, sugary foods and sweets, sodas, pastries, and breakfast cereals.
- Switch to organic, non-GMO foods. At the very least, follow the Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen Lists published annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG).
- Consume cruciferous vegetables on a daily basis (such as Kale, Collard Greens, Mustard Greens, Watercress, Bok Choy, Arugula, Brussels sprouts, Turnip, Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Broccoli, and Cauliflower).
- Incorporate proper eating habits. Serve yourself small portions. Regularly under-eat. Stop eating prior to feeling full. Eat slowly and chew thoroughly. Eat in silence. Eat mostly a plant-based diet. Stay as raw and low sugar as possible. Practice food rotation and follow the colors of the rainbow when selecting ingredients for your meal. Stop eating around 6:00-7:00PM.
- Supplement with liver-loving herbs such as turmeric, milk thistle, artichoke, and dandelion.
10 Foods to Keep Your Liver Happier
According to a recent meta analysis, published in Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal, “selecting the best food for the mouth is essential for good health, especially the health of the liver”. In their study, the authors propose that hepatoprotectives (liver friendly plants containing substances with antioxidant activities) have preventive and therapeutic effects on various liver diseases including alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, viral hepatitis, and liver cancer. They suggest that fumigated, grilled, pesticide-contaminated, or rotten plant foods should be avoided and that a well-balanced diet is critically important for liver health.
Following are 10 foods that have been cherished by complementary and alternative medicine as therapeutic to the liver:
- Lemons: help our bodies cleanse out toxic materials and aid the digestion process. Numerous studies show that lemon juice has beneficial liver protective effects.
- Avocados: help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials.
- Beets: high in plant-flavonoids, which can improve the overall functions of your liver.
- Cruciferous Vegetables: increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion.
- Garlic: helps your liver activate enzymes that can flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
- Grapefruit: helps your liver flush out carcinogens and toxins. This fruit is also high in both vitamin C and antioxidants.
- Green Tea: full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, which have been known to improve the functions of our liver.
- Leafy Greens: have the ability to neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides that may be in our foods, and act as a protective mechanism for the liver.
- Turmeric: has been known to help our bodies digest fats and stimulate the production of bile. It can also act as a natural form of detox for your liver.
- Walnuts: high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which help support our liver through its cleansing process.