Weighing about four pounds, the liver is the largest gland of the body and the only intemal organ that will regenerate itself if part of it is damaged. Up to 25 percent of the liver can be removed, and within a short period of time, it will grow back to its original shape and size.
The liver has many functions, perhaps the most important of which is the secretion of bile. This fluid is stored in the gallbladder and released as needed for digestion. Bile is necessary for the digestion of fats; it breaks fat down into small globules. Bile also assists in the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamin (A, D, E, and K), and helps to assimilate calcium. In addition, bile converts beta-carotene into vitamin A. it promotes intestinal peristalsis as well, which helps prevent constipation.
After nutrients have been absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal wall, they are transported by way of the hepatic portal system to the liver. In the liver, nutrients such as iron and vitamins A, B12, and D are extracted from the bloodstream and stored for future use. These stored substances are utilized for everyday activities and in times of physical stress. The liver plays an important role in fat metabolism; in the synthesis of fatty acids from amino acids and sugars in the production of lipoproteins, cholesterol, and phospholipids and in the oxidation of fat to produce energy. The liver creates a substance called glucose tolerance factor ( GTF) from chromium and glutathione. GTF acts with insulin to regulate blood sugar levels. Sugars not required for immediate energy production are converted into glycogen in the liver the glycogen is stored in the liver and the muscles, and is converted back into sugar when needed for energy. Excess food is converted to fat in the liver, and the fat is then transported to the fatty tissues of the body for storage.
In addition to its important functions in digestion and energy production, the liver acts as a detoxifier. Protein digestion and bacterial fermentation of food in the intestines produce ammonia as a byproduct this ammonia is detoxified by the liver. The liver combines toxic substances (including metabolic waste products, insecticide residues, drugs, alcohol, and other harmful chemicals) with substances that are less toxic. These substances are then excreted via the kidneys. Thus, in order for the liver to function properly, you must also have proper kidney function.
Finally, the liver is responsible for regulating thyroid function by converting thyroxine (T4), a thyroid hormone, into its more active form, triiodothyronine (T3). Inadequate conversion of T4 into T3 by the liver may lead to hypothyroidism. The liver also breaks down hormones like adrenaline, aldosterone, estrogen, estrogen, and insulin after they have performed their needed functions.
The nutrients listed in the right column can help maintain proper liver function.
Increase your consumption of foods high in potassium, such as almonds, bananas, blackstrap molasses, brewer’s yeast, dulse, kelp, prunes, raisins, rice and wheat bran, and seeds.
Drink plenty of water, especially steam-distilled water. When taking supplements, always take them with a full glass of water.
Avoid constipating foods. The liver has to work twice as hard if you are constipated. Be sure yur diet contains sufficient amounts of choline, inositol, and lecithin, as well as bulk and fiber.
Do not smoke, and avoid alcohol, coffee, fish, fowl, meat, salt, soft drinks, sugar, tea, and spicy or fried foods.
Perform a three-day juice fast once every thirty days. To help cleanse the liver while fasting, drink beet juice, carrot juice, black radish extract, and dandelion extract. Chlorophyll and distilled water with lemon are excellent of the body, especially the liver, is vital to maintaining good health.
Do not take more than 10,000 international units of vitamin A daily on an ongoing basis, and avoid cod liver oil. Do not take more than, 1.500 milligrams of niacin daily.
The presence of cumulative poisons. Insecticides, preservatives, and other toxins can build up in and impair the liver. Even though a particular toxin may not accumulate in the liver, liver function may suffer if the functioning of other organs, especially the pancreas and/ or kidneys, is adversely affected by the toxin.
An improper diet. A diet that is low in protein and high in carbohydrates and fats. Especially saturated fats, fried foods, and hydrogenated fats, is hard on the liver and may not provide sufficient protein building blocks necessary for repair. Poor food choices include processed foods, junk foods, refined white flour products, white sugar products, and imitation foods that are designed to appear and taste like an original product but that have been robbed of natural vitamins, mineral, and enzymes.
Overeating. Overeating is probably the most common cause of liver malfunction. Overeating creates excess work for the liver, resulting in liver fatigue. In addition, the liver must detoxify all of the various chemicals present in your food supply today. When the liver is overworked, it may not detoxify harmful substances properly.
Drugs. Drugs put a great strain on the liver. Drugs are substances that are foreign and unnatural to the body. These foreign substances cause the liver to work overtime in excreting these toxins. The liver neutralizes the effects of drugs on the body. Alcohol is particularly toxic to the liver. When excessive amounts of alcohol enter the liver, the liver begins to lose its functioning capacity. Other substances that can contribute to liver malfunction include oral contraceptives and caffeine.