What is Liver Health?
Liver is the second-largest organ in the body (skin is the largest), and is the largest gland. All together, the liver performs over five hundred separate jobs. Here are just some of its crucial functions:
• It is critically involved in the conversion of fats, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals are converted into more usable forms.
• It makes important cellular structural components including cell membrane compounds (phospholipids) and cholesterol. It is also the liver’s job to manufacture the carrier proteins (lipoproteins) that transport these components throughout the body.
• It produces many important blood proteins including immune factors, proteins involved in blood clotting and the crucial component of hemoglobin for our red blood cells.
• It breaks down excess amino acids to form a waste product called urea, which is then carried in the bloodstream to the kidneys and excreted in the urine.
• It stores many vitamins and minerals including iron and B12.
• It breaks down old red blood cells and recycles their components.
The liver is also responsible for filtering the blood to remove toxins and excess hormones. The liver then changes the chemical structure of those toxins to make them water-soluble so that they can be excreted in the urine. The liver also secretes bile, which collects the waste products and carries them away from the liver.
Why is Liver Health important?
Liver health is critical to our wellbeing. If our liver is overloaded, we may be suffering from low energy levels, since even more of our body’s energy is being devoted to detoxification. That leaves very little energy for other body processes. Supporting liver will help energy levels soar to new heights.
What dietary factors are important to Liver Health?
To promote liver health, avoid putting undue stress on the liver. Don’t smoke; drink little or no alcohol; and do your best to avoid harmful chemicals especially cleaning solvents and pesticides. The most important dietary guidelines for supporting good liver function are also those that support good general health: avoid saturated fats, refined sugar, and alcohol; drink at least 48 ounces of water each day; and consume plenty of vegetables and legumes for their high fiber and nutrient content.
Certain foods are particularly helpful because they contain the nutrients your body needs to produce and activate the dozens of enzymes involved in the various phases of detoxification. Such foods include:
• Garlic, legumes, onions, eggs, and other foods with a high sulfur content.
• Good sources of water-soluble fibers, such as pears, oat bran, apples, and legumes
• Cabbage-family vegetables, especially broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cabbage.
• Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion greens, and many herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice.
• Green foods like wheat grass juice, dehydrated barley grass juice, chlorella, and spirulina.