Imagine your water purifier without a regular cleansing process. All the impurities keep on getting dumped in it for years only to get saturated one fine day. The result would be quite obvious i.e. it stops working. Same goes for the liver, our own personal detoxifier. With the increasing amount of toxins in our environment, the workload on our liver has also increased manifold. Thus, timely maintenance of it has also become inevitable.
Why Liver Health?
I would say that liver diseases lie in the origin of most of our diseases. The long list of physiological functions that it performs is the evidence to that.
- Carbohydrate, Protein and Fat metabolism:
It maintains the blood glucose level in response to insulin by interconversion of glycogen and glucose i.e. glycogen to glucose when blood needs more glucose and vice versa. Amino acids from protein are further processed to generate ATP (energy).
Bile, which is required for fat metabolism is produced here. Lipoproteins which carry the cholesterol and other fatty acids to and from other body cells are produced here.
- The great Gate-keeper of our body. It swallows all the poison ingested into our body to give us a filtered drink for other body cells to drink. Any substance taken through the mouth and absorbed by our intestine first passes through the liver where it is detoxified into less potent substances. This process is called the First-pass effect.
- Storage site of certain vitamins like A, B12, D, E and K, minerals like copper and iron.
- Immune cells of the liver called Kupffer cells engulf some of the bacteria thus providing us protection against harmful bacteria.
- The active form of vitamin D is synthesized here.
It’s Astonishing Regeneration Capacity
Just like Skin repairs itself after an injury, the liver too can regenerate itself. Studies show that human liver (even 25% of it) can regrow into a full-sized liver within weeks after injury if its growth is not hampered by any of the factors.
So, these factors like drugs, diseases, improper diet or toxins must be controlled or eliminated from our system for the liver to get the required time to rejuvenate itself.
How do I pamper my Liver?
- Increase your Anti-oxidants load as the toxins have got overloaded in foods that we eat today.
One can get Anti-oxidants from foods like Green leafy vegetables, Garlic, Green tea, Turmeric, Pears, lemon, pineapple, all dark-colored fruits, and vegetables.
- Freshly cooked food must be preferred over left-over ones as toxin accumulation increases in foods as they are stored for a longer duration.
- Go Raw. Raw fruits and vegetables can nearly cure any disease in the body. You name it and it’s there in all the success stories you read on the internet. Here is an example of it. A must-read Success story of Liver disease. If Donna Woods can cure her Liver Cirrhosis without any medication, so can you or any close one.
- Intermittent Fasting provides Liver the required time to rejuvenate. A study shows that certain chemicals produced during intermittent fasting (fasting for a particular time interval of the day and eating only during a particular window period) help the liver to adjust itself to normal metabolism. As mentioned earlier, the liver can heal itself with time, this type of fasting restricts any kind of toxin to enter the body when the liver is in the process to heal itself.
- Panchakarma. Ayurveda describes it as a cleansing therapy or detoxification therapy for the body. It literally means ‘five treatments’ or ‘five actions’ to rid the body of all the toxins accumulated in the body. The liver is the home of most of the toxins that the body tries to get rid of is the site where Panchakarma works really well. In fact, it is actually a pleasurable treatment comprising of various types of herbal massage therapies, Nasal therapies, Steam therapies, etc. that leaves the body rejuvenated.
Foods best for a Liver Cleanse as per Ayurveda:
- Naturally bitter tasting, sweet tasting, astringent cooling herbs like Beetroot, leafy vegetables, asparagus, carrots, celery, coriander, radish, neem, etc. These are well-known in Ayurveda to improve digestion and stimulate secretion of digestive juices that forces the toxins out of the liver.
- Spices like Turmeric, Ginger, cinnamon, cumin. These are age-old chemical agents known for their anti-oxidant and digestion improving properties.
- Ghee (Clarified butter) As per Ayurveda, it removes the ‘Pitta Dosha’ from the body that is rendered as the main causes of liver diseases. It is soothing to the digestive system and thus the liver. No doubt ghee forms the base ingredient in most of the Ayurvedic formulations. It contains the simple lipids like short-chain fatty acid ‘butyric acid’ that is easily digested by the liver thus reducing the load on the liver to digest complex lipids.
- Triphala Formulations. Triphala is an herbal combination of three herbs named Amla (Gooseberry), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica) or Bahera (bastard myrobalan) and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula) or chebulic myrobalan. A study shows its hepatoprotective (protection to the liver) effects in mice.
- Chyawanprash. Though it lacks proper scientific evidence supporting its efficacy in removing toxins from the body, Ayurveda claims its enormous health benefits to the blood, liver, spleen and the respiratory system. The name was coined because it successfully restored youth in an elderly groom named ‘Chyawan’ and ‘Prash’ means prepared food.
- Lemon Water. According to Jethro Kloss in his book Back to Eden “The Liver loves Lemon.” The Finely Center states that it dissolves the acidic toxins from the liver and excretes them out in the form of bile out of the liver. It stimulates the production of the digestive juices, improves digestion and urination thus helping the liver in its detoxification duty. So squeeze half of a large sized lemon in a glass of water and take it empty stomach first thing in the morning for better results.
- As per Ayurveda, avoid foods that are sour, pungent and salty
- High-fat diet
- High salt diet (mostly in highly processed foods.)
- High sugar and starchy diet
- Alcohol consumption as even moderation may be harmful in the long run.
- Usage of drugs in any form (over-the-counter or prescription drugs, illicit drugs, some self-administration of herbal drugs, etc.
Warning signs of liver damage you must not ignore
- Yellowish skin and eyes (just like jaundice), dark-colored Urine and Stool. This occurs because a pigment called bilirubin that must be excreted in bile by a normal liver gets accumulated in surrounding tissues and excreted in urine and stool when the liver doesn’t accomplish its job properly.
- Chronic fatigue. Always feeling tired for no reason.
- Itchy Skin. A symptom of the accumulated bile under the skin.
- Bad breath, Nausea or Vomiting. Dimethyl Sulphide, a chemical found in the blood of people with Liver damage or Cirrhosis.
- Bleeding and minor injuries. The various clotting factors required for blood clots during injury are produced in the liver. A faulty liver doesn’t produce them properly.
- Spider veins under the skin. This is due to high levels of certain hormones that the liver fails to metabolize.
- Poor functioning of the brain like concentration deficit, mental confusion, etc. as the toxins accumulate in the brain.
Unfortunately, today we all are at a risk for liver damage due to faulty dietary patterns, toxins present in our environments, uncontrolled usage of drugs. So we must take care of the liver as much as possible as a happier liver is equivalent to a happier body.