Your liver lies just under your ribcage and it’s the second biggest organ in your body. The liver performs many functions – from the production of blood proteins and blood clotting factors to the manufacture of bile which helps your body use fats and fat-soluble vitamins. Your liver also helps to regulate blood glucose levels to within very narrow limits.
The liver is also one of the major ways that your body cleanses itself of toxins – think of it as a bit like a large filtering system. So, the more toxins it comes across (for example from alcohol, fatty foods, medicines heavy metals and chemicals like pesticides), the harder it has to work to get rid of them. Putting too much stress on the liver by drinking too much alcohol, for example, can damage this vital organ.
Is your liver functioning at its best?
Often, people only realise that their liver function is not as efficient as it could be until after a routine blood test shows abnormally high levels of liver enzymes. High levels of liver enzymes could be a sign of fatty liver – where fat cells have infiltrated the liver but it can signal other liver-based problems – your GP will advise you.
According to the US organisation, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), conditions that can predispose you to fatty liver include insulin resistance (where the body produces insulin but can’t use it properly), release of toxic, inflammatory proteins by fat cells and oxidative stress (which is associated with cell metabolism) inside liver cells.
Other causes are diet and alcohol for example, by eating too many sugary foods. These foods and called high glycaemic foods (GI) because they are quickly digested and enter the bloodstream fast giving the body little time to keep blood glucose levels steady. They trigger the production of a type of fat called triglycerides. Triglycerides levels can also be raised by drinking too much alcohol. Fatty liver can also result in middle age in those who are overweight or obese. The good news is that liver cells can regenerate themselves to a certain extent. So, make healthy food and lifestyle choices. Enjoy a diet that’s rich in fruit and vegetables to obtain the vital antioxidants. Switch from butter and fatty meats that are rich in saturated fats (from full fat dairy and fatty meat products, pies, pastries and fried foods) to heart-and liver-healthier mono-and unsaturated fats (from olive oil and unsalted nuts plus oily fish like salmon and sardines) to help to reduce your risk of developing heart disease. If you are drinking too much alcohol, it is important to cut down or cut it out altogether.
So what about alcohol?
It’s a much enjoyed part of life for many, but there’s no doubt that drinking too much alcohol can harm your health. In the short-term drinking too much alcohol in one go can cause accidents and falls. In the long-term, excessive alcohol consumption has been linked with cancers of the mouth and throat, breast, bowel and liver. It is also linked with fatty liver and can eventually lead to liver cirrhosis which can be lifethreatening and even fatal.
Older people are more affected by the effects of regularly drinking too much alcohol which can also raise the risk of dementia.
And, if you’re watching your weight, alcohol could be your diet disaster because it’s also calorie-rich (as are some mixers) so you can easily consume more calories than you realise. Overdoing alcohol can also increase your desire for unhealthy foods and weakens your willpower for healthier choices.
Making changes to your diet
Thankfully, a healthy diet and lifestyle can help to support liver health. Here’s how:
Don’t overdo the alcohol. The NHMRC recommends that all adults should not drink more than two standard drinks a day, avoid binge drinking and have at least one or two alcohol-free days per week.
Don’t drink on an empty stomach – this unleashes a rush of alcohol into your system. Eat with a meal as food in your stomach slows down the rate that alcohol is released.
Opt for plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables especially brightlycoloured produce such as spinach, capsicum, sweet potatoes, carrots, mangoes and peaches – the orange-coloured pigments appear to have an especially positive effect on liver health helping to protect the liver against free radical damage .
Enjoy plenty of low glycaemic index (GI) foods. This refers to how quickly a food affects your blood sugar levels). Low GI foods provide slow release, longerlasting energy while high GI foods give you a sugar hit followed by a slump. So, go for low GI foods such as whole grains and wholemeal foods such as wholegrain breads, naan, noodles, rice, oats and pulses like red kidney beans, black beans and chickpeas. High GI carbohydrates include sugar, honey, biscuits, cakes, chocolate, lollies, fruit juices and ice creams.
Drink plenty of water to flush out waste products – generally speaking, your urine should be straw coloured if you are drinking enough water. Any darker and you need to drink more water.
Cut the total amount of fat you’re eating. Fat is difficult for the body to break down and this can stress the liver (signs include nausea, bloating and indigestion). Avoid fried foods and foods laden with cream or cheese. Choose monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats instead (from peanuts, olive oil and oily fish).
Lose any excess weight you’re carrying to help to take some strain off your liver.
What about supplements?
Conventional medical therapists don’t always agree about how the health of your liver can affect your general health. But ancient far eastern practitioners including Ayurvedic specialists are convinced that there is a direct link between a sluggish liver and feeling physically and emotionally low.
Studies have shown that liver cells can be supported and even protected from damage by herbal and nutritional supplements.
HepaPlus™: a unique formulation
The unique formulation of HepaPlus™ uses breakthrough nutritional hybrid technology to combine two formulations into one bilayer tablet while maintaining the distinctiveness of the formulations. HepaPlus™ is suitable for vegetarians.
HepaPlus™ contains a scientifically-selected range of liver-cleansing ingredients to help support healthy liver function and normal detoxification processes.
Made from the dried seeds of a wild flower, milk thistle has been widely used as a liver health booster for over 2,000 years – although it only burst onto the western herbal market relatively recently. The active ingredient, silymarin, is a group of anti-inflammatory flavonoids (antioxidants) that may help to protect liver cells against oxidative stress and even protect new liver cells from being destroyed by toxins. HepaPlus™ close to 200mg of milk thistle extract plus other antioxidants, including green tea extract, broccoli concentrate.
HepaPlus™ contains choline a substance which helps to emulsify (break down) fats. This helps them to be removed from the liver. Food sources of choline include eggs, beef, salmon, wheat germ and broccoli.
This yellow root is widely used in both Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine as an antiinflammatory, to treat digestive and liver problems and skin conditions. In animal studies, curcumin, the pigment that gives turmeric its distinctive yellow colour can slow the changes caused by excessive alcohol consumption that lead to liver damage.
ALPHA LIPOIC ACID
Alpha lipoic acid is a naturally occurring antioxidant that helps neutralise free radicals. Most antioxidants are either soluble in fat or water so they can’t access every part of every cell. Alpha lipoic acid is able to enter both the fatty and aqueous (water-based) sections of the cell, boosting its ability to trap free radicals wherever they are.
Are you ready to make better health changes?
If you’re ready to make positive changes to your diet, take things slowly. Drastic changes are too difficult to keep up in the long-run and can leave you feeling defeated and down. Small, day-to-day changes will have a much bigger and longerlasting effect.
If you’re having trouble making changes, or you’re worried that you’re not getting all the nutrients you need, talk to your GP. They may be able to give you some practical advice or refer you to an accredited practising dietitian who can give you detailed and personal advice.
Febfast – are you up for the challenge?
This month, you can make better choices for your health and help improve the health and the future of young people in Australia affected by alcohol and other addictions. Febfast challenges adults in Australia and New Zealand to go without alcohol for the month of February. You are encouraged to challenge yourself and get friends and family to sponsor you. In the process, you can raise vital funds to help young people with addiction problems whilst boosting your own health and wealth too!
Purchase USANA HepaPlus at USANA Approved Website: www.buyvitaminsonline.com.au