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Keeping Your Liver Healthy

Keeping Your Liver Healthy

Presented by:  Health First Chiropractic

Introduction

Your liver consists of four lobes and is found in the upper right quadrant of your body, just under the diaphragm, protected by your rib cage. It weighs a little over 3 pounds or approximately 1.5 kilograms. It is the largest internal organ- our skin being the largest organ- and the largest gland in the body. It is vital to your existence.

It is believed that the liver has upwards of 500 functions which it continually works at to keep your body as healthy as possible, yet we continue to punish this organ with bad diet choices, over-indulgence in fatty foods, alcohol and in some cases over-the-counter medications that may do more harm than good. Even environmental toxins in the air we breathe can damage the liver.

Keeping you Healthy

The liver actually feeds your body, rather than the stomach. This organ collects the nutrients from your food and drink, then processes them to feed your body's cells. It is continually producing an emulsifier called “bile” which breaks down fat. Bile is stored in the gall bladder until it is needed to help digest the food you eat. The liver also gets rid of excess cholesterol to help keep your arteries from clogging up.

The liver stores glucose (sugar) in the form of glycogen (starch). In the event your sugar level becomes low the liver can convert the glycogen back into the sugar that your body requires for energy. It also manufactures blood clotting proteins in the event of bleeding injuries to help your body heal itself quicker. It breaks down old blood cells to be eliminated from the body and most importantly removes dangerous toxins from the blood.

Your liver performs hundreds of functions as it makes and manages chemicals, hormones and enzymes that your body requires for good health. Unlike the aches and pains we feel if something is not working properly, we may feel no pain or ache when the liver is being maltreated. What we can feel is a lack of energy, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea. You may also experience weight gain, which can lead to extra wear and tear on the joints and muscles. Cholesterol may begin to build in your arteries which can lead to stroke or heart attack or your sugar levels may send you into prediabetes or lead to Type 1 or 2 diabetes.

Other symptoms may include loss of sleep, kidney problems, slow wound healing, excessive bruising and possible fluid retention. Many of these symptoms cause people to believe this is a normal process of aging, but with a change in diet alone you could overcome these pitfalls and continue to be energized as you age.

Change Your Diet

Most of us already know how we should be eating, but for various reasons don't. A busy lifestyle is often one of the reasons we don't take the time to shop or cook for the healthy foods we need, so lifestyle as well as diet needs to be addressed. Avoid saturated fats and excess salt and sugar found in red meats, dairy products, fast foods, processed, packaged foods, refined sugar snacks and baked goods. Alcohol is a common cause of liver problems as a healthy liver will take approximately an hour to process just one drink.

Currently there is no device that is able to replace all the functions of the liver. Only a liver transplant can help someone with a complete liver failure. However, the liver is the only organ inside the body that can regenerate lost tissue naturally; as little as 25% of a liver can regenerate into a whole liver.1  

There are always those who suggest “fad detox” diets, but it is important to know that they can result in negative side effects as well as vitamin and mineral loss and dehydration. Consult your chiropractor before trying any “natural” diets or supplements.

The best way to keep your liver healthy is to eat a balanced diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, and lean protein.

Disclaimer:  Information contained in the The Wellness Express newsletter is for educational and general purposes only and is designed to assist you in making informed decisions about your health. Any information contained herein is not intended to substitute advice from your physician or other healthcare professional.  References and Sources:  1. Dieter Haussinger, ed. (2011). Liver Regeneration. Berlin:  De Grzuyter. p. 1. ISBN  9783110250794.  Writer:  Sandra Taylor

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