A Healthy Liver and Managing Cholesterol
The liver is an amazing organ, did you know that if damaged the liver is the only organ in the body which can regenerate relatively quickly and easily? It sits on the right side of your body, behind the ribcage and it filters about 1.5L of blood per minute.The liver has so many functions it would be impossible to cover them all, sowe will focusing on four main functions, which are 1) cleaning and detoxifying the blood 2)production and functions ofbile 3) production and functions of cholesterol 4) storing glucose for energy. We will also discuss how to improve your liver functions through nutrition and lifestyle.
Cleaning and detoxifying the blood
When we eat a meal, the food enters our digestive system where nutrients are absorbed through our intestinal wall into our blood. Now, before this blood can be circulated around the body, it must first be cleaned and filtered of any toxins that we may have ingested or medication that could cause us harm. So, the blood is immediately sentoff to the liver, which through an amazing system of filters, removes any toxins andbreaks down medication to be more easily absorbed. Once this is done, the blood then goes straight to the heart where it is pumped around the body, providing us with clean, healthy blood full of valuable nutrientsand medication we might need.
Production and functions of bile.
When fats enter the stomach, the liver produces bile, which breaks down these fats into smaller components, so that they can be absorbed and used as energy or stored as fat deposits which help to protect our organs and keeps us warm. Bile also plays a vital role in keeping the stomach free from bacteria by destroying any that may have found their waythere. In the small intestine bile also helps with the absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins K, D, E and A.
Production and functions of cholesterol
Another function that many people are not aware of is, that the liver produces most of the body’s cholesterol, which is a fat and vital for the construction of our cell’s membranes. Cholesterol also supports the production of hormones and certain vitamins, such as vitamin D.In order to reach the body’s cells, cholesterol must combine with a lipoprotein to form either an HDL (high density lipoprotein) or LDL (low density lipoprotein). You are probably more familiar with the term ‘good’ cholesterol (HDL) and ‘bad’ cholesterol (LDL). Both play important roles, with the bad cholesterol being delivered to the body’s cells to be used in various ways and the good cholesterol is taken back to the liver, to be broken down and disposed of. Therefore, cholesterol is important for health and well-being, however it is the ratio of ‘good’ to ‘bad’ which is important to know.
Storing glucose for energy
When we eat a meal,insulin is produced so that the body can use the sugar eaten as energy. The sugar that can’t be used immediately will be stored in the liver to be used when there is no more sugar readily available (for periods in between meals). However, if a person has a diet of mostly processed and refined foods (high in sugar) combined with snacks high in sugar and soft drinks, the liver does not have any time to use up its reserves. So, instead of there being a balance between the sugar eaten and the sugar used from storage, the liver just keeps adding to its storage facility until it reaches saturation. This is known as a fatty liver disease and is often associated with type two diabetes and obesity.
In order to support the liver functions there are some very simple changes that we can make to our diets. Including more whole grains such as whole wheat pasta and brown rice. This provide our bodies with longer lasting sugars than those found in refined and processed foods, it will also help to reduce sugar cravings. Increasing our intake of fresh green vegetables will not only support the liver in detoxifying our blood but it also provides us with important vitamins and nutrients which are also vital for a healthy immune system.
Reducing our toxic load by using more natural body/beauty products, as any cream, lotion or makeup that we use is absorbed by the skin. Those chemicals are then taken straight to the liver for detoxification, as previously mentioned. Adding Epsom salts to your bath and drinking plenty of water helps to support the liver in this role. If you enjoy herbal teas, dandelion tea is an excellent addition as this promotes liver detoxification.