Growing up, I could always tell when my dad was going to be out of town because my mom would make us beef liver and onions for dinner. My dad hated liver likely because his mother made him eat it on a regular basis because her mother made her eat it — Why? because its good for you, that’s why! For whatever reason, it was actually one of my favorite meals. I know, I was an odd child. While liver may not be on your menu tonight, perhaps learning more about your liver can lead to other foods you can love that will love your liver back!
Large and In Charge
The liver is the largest solid organ in your body weighing a whopping 3 pounds. Protected by the ribcage, it sits just above and to the right of your stomach. A vital partner, it works with the gallbladder, pancreas and intestines to “digest, absorb and process food.” (Source: WebMD.com) It is a workhorse as well filtering your blood, detoxifying chemicals and metabolizing drugs. It also makes proteins and cholesterol, and secretes bile, critical for digestion. It also stores energy in the form of glycogen. Because of all of this filtering and functioning, the liver is also susceptible to disease which is why we need to do everything we can do keep this organ in harmony.
While most of us think of liver disease associated with severe alcoholism, every day bad habits may limit our liver’s livelihood.
Hepatitis — inflammation caused by viruses like Hep A, B and C as well as drinking, drugs, and obesity
Cirrhosis — permanent scarring caused by long-term damage which reduces the liver’s function
Gallstones — hardened deposits of digestive fluid that originate in the gallbladder that get stuck in bile duct that drains into the liver
Hemochromatosis — called “high iron,” it allows too much iron to deposit in the liver and can cause a number of health issues.
Fatty Liver — designated as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease sometimes referred as NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), it is most commonly found in people with type 2 Diabetes.
Don’t Lose It
Your liver is a remarkable organ. For all of the punishment and abuse it suffers, it has an amazing ability to heal itself.
- Lose Weight & Exercise — surprised? Not really right? Maintaining a healthy weight and regular exercise is critical for overall wellness. Additionally, a study in the journal Hepatology found that a 5% weight loss resulted in less insulin resistance and less fat accumulating in the liver.
- Eat Liver Loving Foods - there is a long list of foods that support healthy liver function. Here are a few to start incorporating today:
- Garlic — activates liver enzymes that help flush out toxins
- Green Tea — full of catechins, antioxidants that help the liver function optimally
- Leafy Green Veggies — cleanse the liver by neutralizing heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides. Opt for spinach, arugula, chicory and mustard greens. An easy way to incorporate them is in a nice saute with olive oil and garlic or give your smoothie a green kick by adding them into your blender or juicer. Other great veggies include artichokes, asparagus, kale and brussel sprouts (which I hate but if it’s for my liver, I’ll learn to love them!)
- Apples — the pectin in apples helps the body cleanse and release toxins so the liver doesn’t have to work so hard.
- Walnuts — contain a high amount of arginine, an amino acid that aids in detoxifying ammonia.
- Tumeric — a wonderful spice that helps enzymes in the liver flush out carcinogens
- Wine about It — although this may be counter-intuitive, research at UC-San Diego School of Medicine found that a single glass of wine (only 1, mind you) may help decrease the risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. This does not ring true for beer or other alcohol — those who regularly drank 12 ounces of beer or 1 ounce of liquor were four times more likely to have fatty liver disease. (Source: Hepatology June 2008)
By now, we’ve all heard about cholesterol and how we need to watch our dietary intake of it. Did you know that over 80% of cholesterol actually comes from the liver itself? In order to function optimally, our body does need a minimum amount of cholesterol for proper cellular function. In order to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol, we need to do it at the liver level. Statin drugs tend to be the most common way to do that, by blocking the reductase gene (known as HMG-CoA) that produces cholesterol. However, they may block too much and result in serious and many unwanted side effects. Lunasin, a key plant peptide found in the bio-available form called LunaRich®(see below for more info) does the following:
- selectively disrupts a step in the process of an enzyme key to cholesterol synthesis in the liver
- increases the number of receptors available in the liver cells to clear LDL cholesterol from the bloodstream
Our organs don’t come along for the ride, they drive us into healthy vitality or disease-ridden decline depending upon what how we feed and care for them. Your liver is your life, treat it well!
Liquid Love: Here’s a link for great discounts on 24KTM (antioxidant rich & healthy energy/focus shot) and access an entire line of LunaRich®nutrition. Go to: www.My24kVIP.com and enter vip code: gold
“You are wonderfully made.”
Copyright © 2012 by Christine A.Toriello, all rights reserved.