The liver is outstanding in its capacity for healing and rejuvenating itself when supported adequately. It can actually function without severe symptoms of distress at only half of its capacity. The organs and glands of the body undoubtedly share in the body’s responsibilities however the liver in many respects stands alone in its daunting responsibilities. The heart needs to pump and the kidneys with the help of the adrenals control fluid retention and eliminate, but the liver is highly complex in its ability to perform its biochemical functions such as transforming the nutrients absorbed from food into usable substances released back to the body. The liver performs a multitude of other tasks like producing amino acids, enzymes, platelets, vitamins, proteins and cholesterol in order for the glands to manufacture hormones.
Phase One and Phase Two Defense Systems
The liver is the great detoxifier of the body. Phase one detoxification are Cytochrome P-450 enzymes that happen to have a heme cofactor; which means they are heme dependent enzymes and being that the heme part of our blood is closely related to the chlorophyll in plants, all things green are highly beneficial to the liver in assisting its detoxification process. The next level of defense (phase two) is the level of glutathione within the liver which is involved in preventing an organic or inorganic substance from being toxic to the body. Harmful metabolic by-products, toxins and hormones are then eliminated via the gallbladder or kidneys.
More easily recognizable symptoms associated with liver problems are a yellow or greenish pallor to the skin (jaundice), discolored greasy stool, pressure or pain under the rib cage. Other common complaints are digestive problems which may be nausea, vomiting bitter bile, loss of appetite and bloating. The skin may also react once bile is in the bloodstream and become itchy.
A fatty and sluggish liver produces sticky bile which then forms stones or gravel in the gallbladder. Very often mild digestion complaints from fatty foods are disregarded as mild indigestion and frequently ignored. Other incidents that show a liver is not detoxifying quickly enough is during pregnancy and morning sickness, also PMS symptoms.
Unfortunately, the more life threatening liver diseases like cirrhosis or cancer of the liver do not show manifestation of early symptoms. Therefore a great deal of damage has taken place before treatment often starts.
As a daily occurrence the liver is bombarded with toxic byproducts from virtually all fast and junk foods, and pesticides, fungicides, hormones, artificial chemicals and medications. In addition to an over consumption of saturated fats, alcohol, phosphates and sugar; the lack of healthy fats (omega 3 fatty acids) and fiber, lead to inadequate liver function. The liver must have the right type of fat in order to maintain the proper cholesterol balance.
When the liver does not get the fat it wants and needs, (omega 3 fatty acids) it must attempt to work with whatever it can find and thereby an imbalance develops between the good cholesterol (HDL) and the bad fat (LDL). By supplementing with fish oil and seed oils like flax seed oil, you will provide the necessary components for the liver to make cholesterol which the glands must have in order to make hormones. We cannot sustain our life force without hormones.
Medications Shut Down the Liver
All drugs that are steroid or cortisone etc, based, cause liver damage and disease. Because these medications shut down all inflammation pathways in the body (including our anti-inflammation pathway) these are also our detoxification pathways, therefore the liver cannot appropriately clean itself. I go into great detail on this and all matters concerning inflammation in my book “Reverse Inflammation Naturally” (May 31, 2017)
When the liver is low in the antioxidant glutathione, it may fall prey to infection causing Hepatitis – inflammation of the liver brought on by toxic or poisonous substances. As previously mentioned the gallbladder problems stem from an inadequate bile flow brought on by a poor diet, deficiency of healthy fats and a stressful lifestyle. No individual is exempt from liver problems regardless of age or occupation.
Other dietary complications include white flour products, white rice and pasta, as well as excess calories and obesity. To assist the liver in releasing and increasing bile flow, eat and drink foods that have a bitter taste. For example, dandelion or other bitter greens, either in a veggie juice formula or raw in a mixed salad. Drinking fresh lemon juice and water will also stimulate bile flow.
Step-by- step guide to Increase and Change Bile
See my book “Reverse Heart Disease” (Jan. 31, 2017) that has a complete diet for changing the bile stores in your body and weight loss for those who need it. Plaque even complicated plaques will be removed from your arteries – within the arteries and its walls – reversing Atherosclerosis!
Depending on the liver ailment determines how radical the dietary change may need to occur. Natural whole food substances like liquid chlorophyll have an enormous benefit assisting the liver to work more optimally. Phase one detoxification (Cytochrome P450 enzymes) is dependent on the green juice found in plants. If the liver is fatty and sluggish, certain animal proteins and elimination of bad fats is advised. Remove all saturated fats found in beef and pork, cured meats, and trans-fatty acids in margarine, shortening, processed foods and junk foods. This will start to alleviate a bit of the stress put upon the liver. Replace bad fats with good fats found in fatty fish, fish oil supplements, seed oils like flax, pumpkin, walnut, chia oil and coconut oil. Fresh avocado is a good fat source but too much of a good thing could increase weight gain, and extra supplementation of fish oil benefits the whole body.
The key to a healthy body and liver is to eat whole natural foods that you purchase and cook for yourself. Avoid all white flour and sugar products. Increase vegetarian proteins and high fiber foods such as whole grains, nuts, seeds and the legume family. When choosing grains consider those other than wheat, like oats, teff, kasha, buckwheat, soy products, wild rice, brown rice and quinoa.
Vegetable juice with beet and greens in the formula, along with a base of carrot is highly beneficial to the liver and the body as a whole. Better choice greens include wheatgrass, dandelion, parsley and barely grass. Fresh sprouts are always a welcomed addition to any diet. Raw whole juices provide valuable antioxidants and enzymes in an easily digestible form. Vegetables are higher in minerals (the building blocks of the body) whereas fruit is higher in vitamins. Always think variety in food choices and color when putting weekly menus together. Try to not form the habit of eating the same foods week in and week out. This way of eating limits the variety of nutrients available to the body.
Some foods are natural liver tonics, like bitters for digestion, bitter vegetables, and lemon and apple cider vinegar. Artichokes contain cynarin, a bitter substance and rhubarb contains anthrachinones another bitter element that also stimulate bile flow. Other choices include black radish, Chinese white radish and red radish and curcumin a property of turmeric. As a digestive aid, take 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in water just before you eat a meal. It acts like digestive enzymes. Other whole food supplements that are valuable to liver health but do not necessarily fall under the title of tonic are the blue, green or brown algae’s.
Lecithin and Lipotropic Supplementation
Nutritional supplements that help prevent the formation of a fatty liver are called Lipotropic. In addition to dietary changes and recommendations, certain supplements do have a positive effect on fat metabolism and breakdown of fatty substances. Lecithin is one such whole food supplement – a soy product that emulsifies fat on contact, throughout the body as well as the liver. It is in every cell in our body and the brain is comprised of 30% lecithin. However, the brain cannot utilize a vegetable lecithin source such as soy but the lecithin found in the raw egg yolk is one of the finest nerve and brain fats consumed.
Cooking the egg destroys the lecithin. Blend the yolk in a drink for a high quality gland and brain food. Soy lecithin will lower cholesterol and keeps our arteries supple and does not get destroyed in the cooking process. For the purpose of information, the white of the egg builds the feathers in the bird – humans do not have feathers. And the egg white is too high in albumen, which is hard on our kidneys.
The amino acid Methionine along with B vitamins Choline and Inositol (a glucose related sugar) are required for lecithin metabolism. Other B vitamins are highly supportive to liver function such as B12 and folic acid. Both of these vitamins work in unison to hold iron in the blood and have shown to play an important role in liver repair. B12 injections may be required until the liver rebuilds itself.
Best Liver Supplements
The following suggestions include vitamins, amino acids, herbs and other natural substances that will greatly enhance the health and functioning of your liver as well as other health concerns.
Vitamin B1 or Thiamin is a water soluble vitamin that is not stored in the body and requires replenishing. Certain foods today are being fortified with thiamin such as breads, pasta and cereals. Thiamin is present in whole grains, fish, lean meats, peas, dried beans, and soybeans.
Like other B vitamins, Thiamin is involved in the health of the skin, eyes, hair, liver and the nervous and immune system. Thiamin is also related to the impaired function of the gastrointestinal tract and needed for the cardiovascular system and amino acid metabolism. Thiamin is responsible for chemical processes in the body such as breaking down proteins and fats, cellular reproduction and the conversion of carbohydrates into energy. Additionally, thiamin is utilized in the maintenance of muscle tone of the digestive tract and like some other B vitamins is referred to as an anti stress supplement.
Riboflavin, or Vitamin B-2, is another water soluble B vitamin which can also be found in fortified breads and cereals, and dairy products. Riboflavin is found in lean meats, nuts, eggs, green leafy vegetables and legumes. Riboflavin is not stored in the body; therefore, it needs to be consumed through the diet or supplementation. Riboflavin performs all the same functions as Thiamin B1with exception that riboflavin is necessary for the production of red blood cells, the growth of the body, visual acuity, collagen formation and oral and mucus membranes. Riboflavin also performs as an antioxidant throughout the body whereby assisting in the prevention and reduction of such conditions as cancer and heart disease.
Niacin or Vitamin B3 is a water soluble vitamin that causes a flushing action in the body while increasing circulation. Niacinamide is the non flushing version of Niacin. B3 is fortified in many breads and cereals and is naturally found legumes, eggs, lean meats, poultry, fish, nuts and dairy products. Comparable to other B vitamins, Niacin is not stored in the body and needs to be replenished. Niacin carries out the same functions in the body as thiamin and riboflavin such as the chemical reactions in the body like the conversion of carbohydrates into energy and the breakdown of fats and proteins.
B3 has also been associated in the muscle toning of the digestive tract and the health and maintenance of the skin, eyes, nervous system, hair and liver. Niacin also supports hormone production in the adrenal glands and is popular as a supplement for lowering cholesterol. Neurologically, Niacin helps tinnitus or ringing in the ears and depression.
Biotin (RDA mcg)
Biotin, or Vitamin H, is a water soluble vitamin which can be naturally found in liver, kidney and nutritional yeast products like tortula, flaked yeast or brewer’s yeast; also egg yolk, nuts and nut butters, legumes, soybeans and oat bran. Biotin is not retained in the body and needs to be taken in through the diet or as an additional supplement.
Biotin is fundamental to growth and the metabolism of our food. Biotin is well known as an aid to those individuals who suffer with hair loss (alopecia). There are several different reasons why this condition may manifest in the body such as low blood levels, nutrient deficiency, lack of zinc or silicon and a low thyroid. However, biotin has come to the rescue for reversing hair loss. Biotin may benefit sugar levels for it is linked to type 2 diabetes, being involved in the release and synthesis of insulin. Biotin is essential for energy metabolism for neurological symptoms and associated with the loss of sensation, anorexia, nausea, weight loss and depression.
Choline is an important B-Vitamin which can be naturally found in meat, dairy products and soy preparations. For exceptionally high sources of Choline look to the brain, liver and egg yolks. Choline plays an essential role in the body, being required for the production of neurotransmitters that support muscle control and memory. In addition choline assists in the absorption of fats, the structural integrity of cell membranes and pancreatic function.
A suggested dosage: (from 1,000 mg Choline Bitartrate) 470 mg
N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine is termed as a simple amino acid but is far from simple in its antioxidant capabilities. It is a powerful antioxidant and anti-toxin, neutralizing copious amounts of free radicals. Free radicals are mutated cells involved in the disease process, pain and aging.
Suggested dosage: 250 mg
Dietary Sulfur works with biotin, lipoic acid, proteins and has a major influence upon the bile secretions of the liver. This healing mineral regulates the heart and brain and is known as a joint lubricant. In addition is stimulates the reproductive system and sustains healthy skin, hair and nails.
Suggested dosage: 250 mg
Garlic (bulb, fresh)
Garlic contains a number of biological components other than the famed Allicin, a main medicinal property of garlic. Studies and testimonials have shown garlic to lower triglycerides, cholesterol and high blood pressure. Allicin in fresh garlic or purchased as a supplement has been used by millions of people to manage cholesterol, improve circulation and cardiovascular health, as well as prevent a stroke and fight infections.
Suggested supplement dosage: (Kyolic or Gar Par supplements) 125 mg and upward.
Inositol (phosphatidyl inositol) like Choline is considered a semi-essential member of B vitamins. Inositol is a type of sugar related to glucose and can be found naturally in nuts, beans, whole wheat grains, oranges, and cantaloupe. Inositol is an anchor in cell membranes for omega 6 fatty acids and an important signaling agent in the nervous system and brain. Other physiological tasks include maintaining healthy cholesterol levels, improving memory, regulating estrogen levels, eyesight and intestinal tract.
On a much different topic, Inositol has been shown to be in low amounts in the spinal fluid of chronically depressed people and in lower amounts within the brains of suicidal victims. Therefore supplemental Inositol could provide great benefit and effect if utilized in the treatment of the many different depression syndromes. A higher dosage taken three times a day may be needed. Consult a qualitative practitioner for dosage recommendations.
Suggested dosage: 100 mg and may be increased depending on usage
Parsley (leaf, fresh)
In recent times Parsley has been tooted a third most perfect food and today is hailed as number seven. Parsley is a nutritional powerhouse of vitamins and minerals. It contains very high amounts of vitamin A, B, C and K as well as rich sources of iron and potassium. Parsley is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus, manganese, inositol and sulphur. Parsley is favored by the kidneys for its high mineral content and acts as a mild diuretic. Beyond aiding water retention, parsley is abundant in chlorophyll which directly assists the liver in its detoxification process and supports the body as a whole.
Suggested supplement dosage: 50 mg
Betaine HCL is also known as betaine anhydrous or trimethylglycine (TMG). Betaine is manufactured by the body and utilized in liver function, cellular reproduction, digestion, and assists in making L-Carnitine. Food sources of betaine HCL include grains, broccoli, beets, spinach and shellfish. Studies have demonstrated that Betaine protects the liver against harmful fats being deposited in the liver. Betaine HCL is a popular supplement to boost low stomach acid levels.
Suggested dosage: (from 50 mg Betaine HCL) 50 – 100 mg
Dandelion (leaf and root) Taraxacum officinatis
Dandelion has been regarded as a liver tonic and blood cleanser for centuries. All parts of the plant contain medicinal curative properties. If you eat it raw or juiced, it has a slightly bitter taste which stimulates bile flow. It is an excellent source of the B vitamin Choline, an essential nutrient that’s required to transport fat out of the liver. Dandelion is a very nourishing plant supporting the liver, intestines, blood and kidneys.
Turmeric (rhizome) Curcoma longa
Turmeric belongs botanically to the ginger family. It is very useful in treating gastrointestinal problems and inflammation. Studies supported Turmeric’s ability to improve liver function. The study involved evaluating the effects of turmeric and the liver’s capacity to rid the body of toxic chemicals (xenobiotic toxic chemicals). Results showed a significant increase in the detoxifying enzymes (UDP glucuronly transferase and glutathione-S-transferase). The researchers stated, “The results suggest that turmeric may increase detoxification systems in addition to its anti-oxidant properties…Turmeric used widely as a spice would probably mitigate the effects of several dietary carcinogens.”
Turmeric contains antibacterial properties and other medicinal elements proven beneficial as a treatment for MRSA and other superbugs. By simply observing a country known for its unsanitary living conditions such as India and yet conversely, superbugs are not running rampant. The reason is regular ingestion of turmeric. In addition, a US study of 300 people whom were all infected with MRSA, showed very promising results – upon being surveyed, over 262 subjects said that they had completely recovered using a simple spice from the supermarket – Turmeric.
Milk Thistle (seed) Silybum marianum
Milk Thistle has long been hailed a go to herb for enhancing liver health or treating liver disease. Milk thistle has an ancient past being used as an herbal remedy for 2,000 years. Milk thistle is termed as an adaptogenic herb as is ginseng. These types of herbs are very nourishing and supportive to the glands and organs. The properties in milk thistle, in particular a flavonoid called silymarin, protect the liver from toxins and some medications such as acetaminophen (Tylenol).
Many medications have shown to cause liver damage when taken in excess. The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of Silymarin promotes the repair and regeneration of the liver. Milk thistle’s compounds additionally strengthens the liver cells outer membranes, increases protein synthesis, reduces fibrosis formation (type of scar tissue) and possesses levels of antioxidants that are ten times or more higher than the antioxidant capacity of vitamin E.
Globe Artichoke (leaf, fresh) Cynara scolymus
Globe Artichoke is one of the oldest cultivated vegetables dating back to the sixteenth century. Cynarin is the medicinal compound found in the leaves of the artichoke plant. The Globe Artichoke is included as a recommendation for liver health since it has demonstrated improving the function of the liver and gallbladder and for its success in lowering cholesterol. It has strong choleretic activity which enhances the excretion of cholesterol while decreasing the production of cholesterol in the liver. Another prominent benefit is in its sugar regulating and stabilizing capabilities. Very helpful for diabetes.
Suggested supplement dosage: 33 mg
Nutritionally, Globe Artichoke is an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, potassium and the trace mineral chromium. Chromium is required for fat metabolism and glucose utilization in the pancreas. It also has good amounts of vitamin A and C, folic acid, biotin, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and manganese.
L-Glutathione is a major player in the liver and functions as an antioxidant within the liver and in the cells of our body. When enough Glutathione is stored up in the liver it provides enormous protection against foreign substances being toxic and causing harm to the liver. L-Glutathione is an amino acid that binds itself to toxic substances for easy removal from the body.
Glutathione may be taken as a supplement and is found naturally in foods that boost glutathione levels in the body such as asparagus (a leading source of glutathione), broccoli, avocado, spinach, raw eggs, garlic and fresh unprocessed animal and fish protein. Glutathione requires Sulphur containing amino acids like Cysteine, Glycine and Glutamate, because Glutathione is manufactured inside the cell from these precursor amino acids.
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is another amino acid that also boosts Glutathione since NAC is derived from the amino acid L-Cysteine and acts as a precursor of L-Glutathione. Other foods and supplements that boost Glutathione include alpha lipoic acid, undenatured whey protein isolate, Curcumin in Turmeric and Selenium. Furthermore a Chinese herb called Balloon Flower Root or Jie Geng has been found to increase intracellular L-Glutathione and significantly reduce oxidative damage to liver cells.
L-Methionine – L-Cysteine
L-Methionine is another amino acid that works like Cysteine to help manufacture the antioxidant L-Glutathione. A suggestion would be to take note of foods that are high in the frequently paired amino acids – methionine and cysteine. L-Methionine is an essential amino acid that must be consumed through the diet or supplementation. Excellent sources of Methionine and Cysteine can be found in poultry, oats, broccoli and yogurt. Additional foods for a good source of Methionine and Cysteine include wheat germ, onions, garlic, red peppers, Brussels sprouts, ricotta cheese and cottage cheese.
Support your liver with proper fats, a better diet and supportive nutrients that help it perform optimally!
Copyright © 2016 – All Rights Reserved – Michelle Honda Ph.D.
Look for my new forthcoming books “Reverse Heart Disease Naturally” (Jan.31, 2017) and “Reverse Inflammation Naturally” (May 31, 2017) and “Reverse Thyroid Diseases Naturally” (Fall 2017)
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While close attention was given to the accuracy of information in this article, the author accepts neither responsibility nor liability to any person with respect to injury, damage, loss or any circumstances involving alleged causes directly or indirectly related to the information in this article. The sole purpose is to educate and broaden ones awareness. This information is not meant to replace medical advice or services provided by a health care professional.