The liver performs hundreds of roles to help keep our bodies healthy. People have always realized its importance; the word ‘liver’ is possibly linked with the verb ‘to live’.
The liver is so important that if it is not working right, other organs begin working harder in order to make up for what the liver is not doing. The other organs tire, resulting in many of the symptoms of illness we experience.
The liver is composed of about 100,000 liver lobules, (small round divisions which process blood). The lobules are made of hepatic plates. When blood flows between the hepatic plates, it is cleansed of harmful and unnecessary matter.
The liver is also the major blood storage unit of the body, containing about 10% of the total blood volume. This storage capability aides us when we lose blood, as in the case of a haemorrhage.
The liver also stores vitamins A, D, B12 and iron
As the blood circulates through our body, it picks up a lot of excess baggage. This baggage can be harmful, including bacteria, drugs, chemicals and hormones. As the liver removes this unnecessary baggage it can sometimes overloaded the liver. We might experience indigestion, gas and abdominal pain, and sensitivity to perfumes, chemicals and certain foods.
The liver has two phases of detoxification. During Phase 1 the liver breaks down the toxins by using the body’s enzymes. In Phase 2 the toxins are further broken down and then escorted out of the body through the kidneys and bowel. In a healthy body these two phases of detoxification are constantly in operation.
When the body is overloaded with toxins Phase 1 detoxification may occur too rapidly. The liver gets overloaded with toxins because Phase 2 (which takes the toxins out of the body) cannot keep up with Phase 1. In this case antioxidants can assist. In general, Phase 1 detoxification needs to be slowed down while Phase 2 detoxification needs to speed up.
Foods and supplements
The following foods and supplements can assist in liver detoxification.
Citrus fruits, particularly grapefruit)
Quercetin (many fruits and vegetables)
Capsaicin (chilli peppers)
Raspberries and berries and fruit
Cruciferous vegetables e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, kale etc
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), Cysteine, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM)
Omega 3 Fish Oils
Vitamins B2, B3, B5, B6, B12, folic acid, C, selenium, zinc, magnesium, copper
Note: Milk thistle (Silymarin) protects the liver and generally speeds up most phase 2 reactions