Befriend Your Liver

Cleansing, excreting and burning fat, synthesizing protein, producing bile to aid in digestion, and emulsifying fats for general circulation. Your liver performs hundreds of functions. It is an integral organ for metabolism and hormone regulation, including thyroid and cortisol breakdown, and filters all blood.

Located snuggly under the liver is a pear-shaped organ that is your gallbladder. This organ aids fat digestion by producing and storing bile. It functions to process cholesterol, digest fats, clean up tissues, and enhance brain function. The gallbladder’s job of storing and emptying bile is dependent on the liver in a process called phase 2 detoxification.

Bile salts are a compound of cholesterol which is very influenced by what you eat. That is why a detox diet focuses on specific foods and omits the foods that will over burden the gallbladder with excess poor quality cholesterol which can form solid crystals and accumulate into stones. Gallbladder issues are generally driven by a sluggish and congested liver. Gallbladders can be removed but this sets you up for ongoing digestive issues such as nausea, pain below your ribs, gas, bloating, IBS, food intolerances and weight gain. Without a gallbladder, you continue to make bile salts but it is not stored and concentrated but flows into the small intestine.

Articles appearing in some of the major gastrointestinal and digestive journals have found an alarming link with food allergies, and whether this is a cause or a symptom of dysfunction, it certainly would have to be considered in a treatment program. Attention to looking after your liver in the interim would be the best idea but often we are drawn to symptoms further down the line which are already causing notable compromise to health and well-being.

Factors to consider with gallbladder dysfunction include cleaning up the liver and making a big change away from processed carbs, hydrogenated (margarine) & trans fats, fried foods, fructose from concentrated corn sugar, dairy, soy and artificial sweeteners. Other pre-cursors can be insufficient water intake, food sensitivities, hormonal imbalances (thyroid, ovarian), obesity, acidity and reflux, genetics and constant runny nose, which may be a need for bile salts.

Symptoms of gall bladder dysfunction and impaired bile flow may report as gas, bloating, a bitter taste in the mouth, pain below the ribs, pain above the eyes, headaches, nervousness, dizziness, inability to tolerate fats, acidity, stools that float and won’t flush easily and a sticky coating on the tongue. Other unexplained and reoccurring problems can be cramping particularly at the 4th toe, pain between the web of your thumb and forefinger and blurred vision when eye sight is normally good.

The liver has to deal with all medications, chemicals, toxins, fats, over feeding and viral infections.

Fatty liver is a condition where fat stores in the liver cells and was once mostly seen in alcoholics. Now it is seen more often in people whom are over-weight and even in children as young as eight years old. It can tend to go undetected for years until eventually liver inflammation symptoms start to present. Its main cause is poor dietary choices and especially excess fructose from sodas, juices, syrups, sweetened canned foods, sauces and sweets.

There is every reason to love your liver as it is involved with digestion, all hormone pathways, blood sugar control, protein and fat metabolism. If you have unexplained symptoms which have come about due to poor diet, weight gain and inactivity, the following are worth considering as indicators that the liver is in trouble.

Chemical and food sensitivities, abdominal distention especially with thin limbs and a stomach like a football, gas and bloating, chronic constipation, digestive dysfunction, dark tints and bags under the eyes, gallbladder issues, tinnitus and Candida Albicans

Increased cholesterol, cellulite, skin problems and brown spots appearing, resistance to losing weight, depression and low energy/fatigue, nightmares and insomnia, hypertension, hypothyroid and diabetes

Hormones being diverted to cause Gynectomastia (man boobs), Estrogen dominance, PMS, Poly cystic ovaries and Endometriosis.

How to start nourishing your liver.

The first thought that springs to mind is a juice diet and this is not a bad idea. But a detox regime would also be good to adopt as an every day occurrence to support your liver, the major detox organ. The liver doesn’t tend to falter to bag up toxins in Phase one but eliminating what it doesn’t need by way of the kidneys, back into the bowel and through sweat can meet road blocks.

Starting every day with a blend of beets, apples, lemon, carrots, greens, ginger and turmeric can make a huge difference to rebalancing your electrolytes and improve the pH of your extra-cellular fluids.

Other potent liver cleansing foods which can be incorporated into salads, meals and soups are corriander, turmeric, garlic, leafy greens & cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, broccoli, kale, collards, cabbage, cauliflower, watercress), artichoke, asparagus, apples, beets, walnuts, olive oil, green tea, avocados, apples, lemons and limes, cherries and green, chlorophyll-rich foods

Eating more sulfur-rich foods such as garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables.

Some of the foods above are not always favourite choices of children but they are very important especially as many meals are taken outside of the home and are decisions made by them. Being creative may have to become a skill as most children don’t start taking nutrition seriously until they have to. It doesn’t mean forcing huge portions of broccoli on your child but a small contribution of three different vegetables every day is a good foundation. Nut butters instead of jam, real fruit instead of juice or syrup, salsa instead of tomato sauce, guacamole instead of cream dips and mayonnaise instead of sweet dressings. These all reduce a reliance on fructose and sugar, increase nutrient density and get in the liver loving compounds.

Start your day with a glass of warm or room temperature water and ½ freshly squeezed lemon and take before every main meal if you are lacking stomach acid. Most people think they have high stomach acid, but they are invariably low and the stomach retaliates when acid foods are introduced into an alkaline system. Antacids and proton pump inhibitors do not fix the problem of low stomach acid and they disrupt digestion in the lower bowel to cause increased distention caused by incomplete food breakdown and gas production. Food sensitivities will start to occur and IBS as the gut lining become inflamed and loses its defenses.

Identify food sensitivities (very common with gallbladder problems) by a diet of elimination or an Ig G Food Intolerance test. This doesn’t give you the underlying cause of your issues but it will be included in the treatment program to reduce gastro-intestinal burden.

Avoid common industrialised foods that have bombarded the market to become normal and everyday foods. High Fructose Corn Syrup, trans-fats, vegetable or seed oils, alcohol, soda and sugary fruit juices, excess dairy, gluten, processed wheat & grains, processed foods often full of soy protein and artificial sweeteners

If you are struggling to accept taking more vegetables or have not got time to make it, there are some good alkalizing powders on the market and available in healthfood stores and supermarkets. A new vegetable juice will soon be entering the market made here in Dubai and a home delivery vegetable juice company is operating already. It is important to give your liver daily support rather than a life of processed cereal followed by convenience foods, processed snacks and a fast food evening meal cooked in seed oil and laced with fructose and salt.

Coconut oil is easily digestible and does not require the liver or gallbladder to digest or emulsify it. Make a shift at home to only using good fats. Olive, nut and avocado oil, oily fish, cook in rice bran oil or rapeseed and include some dairy fat and butter.

A small handful of raw nuts or even better soak them over night to help release all nutrients that can be tightly bound up. Nuts have endless health benefits and are a great snack.

Exercise is always a great accompliment to any health and well-being plan even walking increases blood flow, muscle action against bone and a sense of freedom and pleasure. Yoga stimulates, regulates and enhances liver/gallbladder function through its combination of movements, postures, breathing techniques and meditation.

If you think you might need a trial gallbladder flush, mix 1/2 cup of cold pressed olive oil with 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, grapefruit or blend, and take just before bedtime.

To rule out heavy metal burdens and viral infections, have them tested with a functional nutrient and toxic elements blood or urine test. Annual blood tests to detect elevated values (AST, ALT, GGT, triglycerides, iron, ferritin) are also fairly standard procedures of preventative health.

Extra nutritional support can be taken to balance insufficiencies where you have a greater need, higher turnover, or issues where digestion are causing some malabsorption. Supplementing relieves the burden to allow the body to heal and reach homeostasis rather than create a life dependency on medication or supplements.

To promote increased bile salts, take beets juiced as well as the amino acid taurine with vitamin C and a pancreatic enzyme such as lipase. if you have had your gallbladder removed, use Beta-Plus instead.

A herbal combination of silymarin (milk thistle) increases antioxidant status, protects the liver and supports detoxification.

Supplements to support your liver by reducing inflammation and improving its oxidative capability include vitamins C, D and E, N-acetyl cysteine (NAC), alpha lipoic acid, folate and B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, selenium, curcumin. Try taking dried seaweed or Nori daily dry or in soups as a natural source of calcium, zinc, selenium and iodine.

If you have cirrhosis of the liver, zinc and phosphidylcholine are important supplements for breaking down fat.

Digestive enzymes taken during the meal help reduce the burden on an already struggling gut and cycling a different combination of probiotics every three weeks can restore good gut bacteria where it gets knocked back constantly by a lack of good prebiotic foods as well as medications and antibiotics. Take before bedtime with water.

Omega 3 fish Oil is enriching for almost all pathways of your biochemistry but also helps heal the gut. Taken with probiotics, enzymes, lemon and a good antioxidant such as Quercetin, you should be back on a pathway to healing and cleansing your body naturally.

Medicine has made great advances in the past fifty years but it also needs a new direction towards allowing the body to rebalance. The emphasis of treating all conditions with drugs will not stand the test of time and particularly molecular biology is providing clinicians with a new road map for the development of effective dietary and drug free therapies that do not produce serious side effects.

The power of nutrient rich diets and science based nutrient therapy can address the chemical factors that are associated with changing health and organ dysfunction. It is never a sprint but a marathon, but it can achieve life long changes as the body rebalances to be able to look after itself despite some fairly extreme challenges at times.