By Dr. Natasha Turner ND
Your liver and your bowels are essential to good health. The largest organ in the body, the liver is roughly the size of a football. It is located on the right side of your abdomen, behind the lower ribs, and provides the body with critical functions like filtering blood, eliminating toxins and producing factors that help blood clot. It processes many drugs into forms that are easier for the body to use forms that can be excreted through the bile or forms that can be filtered and eliminated by the kidneys. It also converts sugar into fat (triglycerides) and glycogen (a form of sugar stored by the liver), which can later be released to produce energy to meet the body’s need. The work of the liver is critical to the brain and central nervous system. These tissues receive their energy supply only from sugar, so they are vulnerable when the liver is damaged and unable to regulate and supply chemicals in the body. It also plays a crucial role in blood sugar balance and fat metabolism.
Nutritional Tips for Improving Liver Function
There are many things you can do to help your liver health, thereby aiding weight loss. The first step is to reduce the workload of the liver. Simple changes in your diet can be very helpful since the liver converts and detoxifies everything we eat and drink, so a well-balanced, nutritious diet is always a good start.
Try these suggestions:
- Flush your system by drinking eight glasses of water a day. Add lemon – it is great for a gentle cleansing of the liver.
- Consider a diet that is low in unhealthy fat and high in fiber. Ensure adequate intake of healthy types of fats such as fish oils, flaxseed oil, hemp seed or olive oil. Avoid over eating unhealthy, high-fat foods like fried foods, French fries and most fast food items. Poor quality processed foods like canned or frozen foods and processed meats and cheeses sometimes contain little fiber or few nutrients. They are often high in salt and should be avoided. Frozen goods can be very high in nutritional value if proper care is taken.
- Foods that are particularly beneficial for liver function include carrots, celery, lemons, beets, turmeric, rosemary, cumin and curries.
- Maintaining adequate protein intake and body weight is essential. Try to eat vegetables that are high in protein such as beans or legumes. Animal source proteins include meat, fish, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Lean meat is best. Trim fat off red meat and remove the skin from poultry. Protein is essential in maintaining healthy blood sugar balance. Since the liver maintains glucose levels by the breakdown of glycogen – the storage form of sugar, essential to brain and nervous system function – small frequent meals containing protein are recommended. This helps the liver work less.
- People with liver problems should be especially cautious about eating shellfish of any kind, as they can be a source of hepatitis A. Someone with an already damaged or stressed liver does not need to fight an additional battle.
Supplements for Improving Liver Function
Supplements that are useful in improving liver function include vitamin C with bioflavonoids, glutathione, selenium, vitamin E, coenzyme Q-10 and N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC). NAC is commonly used to counteract the liver-damaging effects of acetaminophen (Tylenol) overdose. Sulfur-containing amino acids such as cysteine and methionine are also of benefit in improving liver function and detoxification. Choline and inositol are lipotrophic factors useful in the breakdown of fats that have accumulated in a fatty liver. Chronic liver conditions with liver damage may benefit from the use of these two compounds with milk thistle. Clear Liver Support contains ingredients above and it is best to take two to three capsules daily.
Herbal Medicines for Improving Liver Function
Many supplements are thought to help the liver. Perhaps the most researched of these is an herb called milk thistle. Its active ingredient is known as silymarin. It is effective in increasing the production of bile and assists in lowering cholesterol. In hepatitis patients, it can lower elevated liver enzymes and is beneficial in reducing many of the symptoms associated with compromised liver. Milk thistle is best taken twice per day on an empty stomach and is provided in Clear Liver Support, suggested at two to three capsules per day.