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Wednesday, April 05, 2017

How to Save your Liver from Damage

Written by: Ifeoma Chukwuma (PhD)

The Liver is a large, meaty organ that sits on the right side of the stomach. Weighing about 1.3kg, the liver is reddish-brown in colour and feels rubbery to touch. Normally, you can’t feel the liver, because it is protected by the rib cage.

The liver has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes. The gall bladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb and process food.

The liver's main job is to filter the blood coming from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body. It also detoxifies chemicals and metabolises drugs. As it does so, the liver secretes bile that ends up back in the intestines.

Several detoxification processes can, unfortunately, render the liver vulnerable to many diseases. This is because some of the toxins rather than being eliminated are stored by the liver.

Besides taking toxins out of the blood, your liver has more than 500 jobs, including making bile, a liquid that helps you digest food. Your liver takes what you eat and drink and turns it into energy and nutrients; it helps your body use carbohydrates, for example. It also plays a role in helping your blood clot.

Healthy Liver
Things that can damage your liver:

1.  Toxic overload:
Daily life toxins may overload the body’s natural detoxifying systems and accumulate in the liver and other eliminatory organs – kidneys, lungs, intestines and skin. When these natural elimination organs are overwhelmed, the toxic burden spreads in the entire body sapping its energy as well as sabotaging the wellness and ultimately leading to diseases.

2. Alcohol:
Your liver breaks down the alcohol you drink to help get it out of your body. But drinking more alcohol than your liver can process may be overwhelming and consequently, lead to swelling or scarring that becomes cirrhosis. Which can be deadly.
Other types of alcohol-related liver disease are fatty liver disease and alcoholic hepatitis. Cirrhosis is said to be the most serious type of alcohol-related liver disease.

Up to 1 in 5 heavy drinkers get it. You can’t reverse liver damage from cirrhosis. But if you stop drinking, it can stop the disease from getting worse. So what are you waiting for?

3. Your Medication:
Please watch out for certain medicines. For instance, cholesterol and the painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol or paracetamol) can hurt your liver. If taken too much. And you may even be taking more acetaminophen than you realise. It can be found in hundreds of medications like cold, cough and pain medicines.

Medications - Drug Abuse
4. Supplements:
Over supplementation can also be a problem, for instance – too much vitamin A from supplements.

5. Overweight:
Failure to keep your weight under control may encourage nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that leads to cirrhosis.

6. Unhealthy diet/food:
Sugar and candies, cola drinks, fried snacks, red meat, pizzas, biscuits, bread containing refined flour, muffins and doughnuts, are bad options for those with a fatty liver.

Signs of Liver problem
Would you know right away if something is wrong with your liver? No!

Liver disease can be silent for a very long time. As many as half of people who have it don’t have any symptoms at all. If you do have any symptoms at all. They are often vague, like being really tired and having achy muscles.

You may also have itchy skin, swelling in your belly, dark urine, excess bilirubin, or yellowing of the eyes or skin.

You will need to see a doctor for tests to find out for sure if your liver is the problem. Usually, series of blood tests are done – liver function tests (hepatic function panel or liver profile) are used to check the liver for injury, disease or infection.

The liver is the only organ that can grow back when part of its damaged or removed. That’s why people are able to donate parts of their livers.

I often hear people says they detox their liver twice a year. They go on “cleanses”, limiting their diets to certain juices or foods, hoping to wash away toxins from their liver. I don’t have to wait that long, I would rather prefer a daily healthy eating and lifestyle that will give my liver the nutrients it needs to do its many jobs.

Start today to save your liver and prevent its damage.

1. Consume Garlic:
Just a small amount of this pungent white bulb has the ability to activate enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.

2. Turmeric:
It’s my favourite spice. Try adding some of this detoxifying goodness into your next vegetable dish, plantain porridge, jollof rice or beans for an instant liver pick-me-up.

Turmeric helps boost liver detox, by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens. And the good thing is that you can actually cook with turmeric without your meal missing your regular palm oil.

3. Cabbage:
Eating Cabbage helps stimulate the activation of certain liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush toxins out of our body which may significantly lower risks associated with cancer. Try eating more coleslaw and cabbage soup.

4. Lemons:
Lemon contains very high amount of vitamin C, which aids the body in synthesising toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. Drink freshly squeezed lemon juice first thing in the morning to help stimulate your liver.

5. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinale):
Dandelion supports liver and gall bladder function. It is able to stimulate digestion and the flow of bile. 1 tablespoon should be infused in a teacup of boiling water for 15 – 30 minutes. Sieve and take 2x daily.

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