Liver & Gallbladder Health
The liver is one of the body’s most important organs. It is responsible for cleaning the blood of impurities, aiding in digestion, and is essential in the process of waste elimination. Toxins build up in the liver and gallbladder and are eliminated into the colon. That is, if everything is functioning normally. You can imagine that a damaged liver can result in an excess accumulation of toxins and waste in your blood, intestines, and your entire system.
Gallstones are the result of years of blockages and calcification of bile that clog the liver and gallbladder, and even the bile ducts through which they release their wastes. Just about every adult has gallstones. They range in size from smaller than a pea to as big as a golf ball. They vary in number from a few to several thousand. Gallbladder operations are one of the most common surgical procedures in the United States.
What does that tell us? If nothing else, it tells us that liver and gallbladder health is essential to our overall health and wellbeing. In fact, liver detoxification can help our digestion, increase our ability to remove harmful toxins (which cause all sorts of maladies from premature aging to chronic fatigue), and give us more energy and vitality.
<strong>Symptoms of Poor Liver Health</strong>
Symptoms of poor liver health include chronic fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), fever, and dark colored urine. Other symptoms include rapid weight gain (poor bile production means poor fat elimination), obesity, and increased allergies. In a reaction to an overload of toxins and lack of nutritional support, the liver often expands and becomes “fat.” Fatty liver is often associated with obesity, starvation, and alcohol abuse. If the liver continues to decline, diseases such as Crohn’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), colitis, and even cancer may result.
<strong>What Causes Poor Liver Health</strong>
The most common enemy of the liver is excess alcohol consumption. The liver can only keep up with a certain amount of toxins entering the body, and alcohol has a tendency to go straight to the blood— therefore heavily taxing the liver in its effort to clean the blood. If the liver is overloaded with toxins from alcohol, then it can’t perform its duties very well in removing heavy metals from our blood.
Poor diet is also a cause of poor liver health. Too much fat in our diet interferes with the proper bilerelated functions of the liver and gallbladder. This causes the system to ineffectively eliminate the fats, which puts more pressure on the liver, and so on. The cycle continues until obesity and other problems occur.
Not only the type of food, but the quality of the foods you eat affects the liver. Foods that are laced with toxins from preservatives or artificial additives will force the liver to work harder. Toxicity from extended use of drugs (pharmaceutical or otherwise) takes a heavy toll on the liver.
<strong>Treatments to Support the Liver</strong>
While eating good foods and avoiding bad ones is certainly important in liver health, most people want more specific detail about how to clean their liver and get it back to normal working order.<ul> <li>To best support the liver, your diet should be high in antioxidants. Eat plenty of deepcolored berries, fruits, and vegetables. Foods with carotenoids, such as carrots, papaya, and peaches, are especially good for the liver, as are apples and apple juice.</li> <li>The antioxidant selenium is recommended for liver support. Sources include Brazil nuts, kelp, garlic, onions, and brewer’s yeast.</li> <li>Avoid saturated fats and be sure to get plenty of essential fatty acids from olive oil, flaxseed oil, and sesame oil. Other great sources include fish oils, such as cod liver oil.</li> <li>Studies show that B vitamins strengthen the liver, especially riboflavin and niacin.</li> <li>Take milk thistle extract, olive leaf extract, and dandelion root. Another excellent herb for blood cleansing is burdock root. Artichokes also help support the liver.</li> <li>Eat plenty of alfalfa, known for its positive effects on blood cholesterol levels and bile functions of the liver.</li> <li>Stop excessive drinking, smoking and drug use (including pharmaceutical drugs).</li></ul><strong>Other Considerations</strong>
Lipoic acid, known as LA or alphalipoic acid (ALA), is shown to have chelating qualities, blood and liver purification characteristics, and is high in antioxidants. It also can help stimulate other antioxidants in the system. It enhances insulin sensitivity and glucose response to insulin, and may be an aid to diabetes mellitus patients. You can get LA supplements without prescription and should take them on an empty stomach. Food sources of LA include spinach, broccoli, tomatoes and Brussels sprouts.
The synthetic chemical SAMe is said to have curative effects on the liver, including detoxification, which may help explain its antidepressant effects (clean your liver, clean your mood). SAMe is a synthetic form of a chemical produced naturally in our bodies (mostly in our intestines) and therefore not a natural cure. However, it is presently sold as a dietary supplement. Although promising, much more information is needed on this substance.
Finally, the chemical compound EDTA is a known chelating agent, binding to heavy metal ions in the blood and liver and removing them through the urine and feces. It binds to metals like lead, mercury, aluminum, silver, calcium, manganese, copper, iron, and zirconium. This is a powerful and effective chelating agent, known and used for more than 50 years, that your doctor will never tell you about!