"The liver is the most overworked organ in the human body. It can continue functioning when as much as 70% of its capacity is lost."
Dr. R. Leavitt, Brigham Young University
Is Your Liver Overworked?
There are two specific types of toxins, and your liver plays a vital role in helping to eliminate both from the body.
Exotoxins come from outside the body. We inhale, absorb through the skin and ingest every day by way of polluted air, water, and soil. We also increase our exposure to harmful toxins by smoking, overindulging in alcohol, taking certain medications, making poor dietary decisions, not drinking enough water, and using household products that contain harmful chemicals.
Endotoxins are generated inside our bodies. As a result, of poor digestion, bacteria in the gut will act upon undigested food particles and create toxins. These toxins, in turn, can damage the mucosal lining of the intestine, which increases its permeability and allows toxins to enter the bloodstream and gain systemic access to all areas of the body.
Both exotoxins and endotoxins are passed from the intestines to the liver (via the portal vein), where they can be detoxified.
Increased Risk Conditions
People often consider themselves to be in good health, despite the fact they may exhibit symptoms often not recognized as liver-related. Some of the symptoms include:
- Chemical Sensitivities
- Dark Circles Under Your Eyes
- Difficulty Losing Weight
- Digestive Complaints
- Drowsiness After Eating
- Poor Tolerance to Fatty Foods
- Emotional Excess
- Fatty Liver Diagnosis
- Loss of Appetite
- Loss of Energy
- Metallic Taste in Mouth
- Muscle Cramps
- Pain in the Right Side
- Pain Under the Right Should Blade
- Skin Problems
- Weak Tendons
- Weak Muscles
- Weak Ligaments
How is Your Liver Involved in Detoxification?
Tee liver performs more than 500 unique functions, with one of its primary functions being the management of the body’s natural detoxification process. In addition to the colon, kidneys, skin, and lungs, the liver is one of the body’s major organs of elimination. Essentially, its role is to change or detoxify harmful toxins into substances that can be safely eliminated from the body.
Bile secretion, is one of the liver’s most important functions. A healthy liver will manufacture approximately one quart of bile per day. Bile serves as a carrier medium for the elimination of toxins from the body.
If the liver does not work properly and is sluggish due to toxic overload, toxins can accumulate and cause inflammation and oxidative stress. The body is subjected to cell damage from free radicals (highly reactive chemical compounds that can damage healthy cells). Toxins are recirculated and eventually stored in fatty tissues, including the cells of the brain and central nervous system.
The slow release of these toxins into the bloodstream is a major contributing factor to the development of chronic disease.
How Does the Liver Detoxify Substances?
The liver transforms fat-soluble toxins into a water-soluble form so they can be released through the kidneys (for elimination through the urine) and into the bile (for elimination through the colon). This transformation involves a two-phase process.
Liver Detox – Phase I – Metabolize
During the first phase between 50 and 100 enzymes not only metabolize (chemically break down) toxins absorbed from the intestinal tract, but they also metabolize hormones, alcohol, nicotine, drugs and a wide variety of chemicals from food and water. This metabolism occurs in one of three ways:
- Toxins and other substances are neutralized and released into bile;
- Toxins and other substances are made water-soluble so the kidneys can excrete them in urine; or
- Toxins and other substances are converted into a more chemically active form called active intermediaries (pharmaceutical drugs are examples of toxins that require conversion to become active intermediaries). These molecular intermediaries are often even more toxic than the original substances and can therefore do significant damage if they’re not promptly eliminated.
Liver Detox – Phase II – Excrete
During the second phase of detoxification, the active intermediaries must be converted a second time. At this time, they are combined with mineral compounds, amino acids or other biochemical that are water-soluble. It is only after the second phase that toxins can be safely excreted in the urine and the bile.
Toxins may build up in the body if either phase of detoxification is inefficient or if the body becomes too overloaded with toxins.
People most likely to experience liver-related health problems are those who have an excessive overload of toxins coming into Phase I, resulting in a depressed Phase II function. Here active intermediaries accumulate, often causing more damage than the original toxins due to their increased toxicity level.
People with this particular pattern of dysfunction tend to develop environmental sensitivities and drug intolerances.
Both Phase I and Phase II detoxification processes are dependent upon the availability of specific nutrients. In the absence of any of these nutrients, the liver’s detoxification ability is impaired
How will Your Liver Recover?
Because chronic disease often begins with a toxic overload of the liver, every individual needs to cleanse his or her liver periodically, either for prevention or recovery. An annual or bi-annual liver cleanse can do much to help maintain or restore good health. There are three basic approaches to liver cleansing: dietary changes, liver / gall bladder flushes, and herbal / antioxidant formulas.
Eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables is crucial during a liver cleanse, as such foods are high in fiber, water, vitamins and minerals. Water (one-half ounce for every pound of body weight) will help to dilute toxins, and fiber will help escort them out of the body.
Avoid fried, greasy foods but get plenty of good oils, especially those such as flaxseed oil that are rich in essential fatty acids. Use it in a salad dressing or take it in a capsule, but remember that flax oil is heat-sensitive and should not be used in cooking. Unrefined varieties of sesame and olive oil may be used for cooking.
A liver / gallbladder flush can help stimulate the flow of bile (a carrier medium for the elimination of many toxic substances from the body) and help soften and eliminate stones from the gallbladder and liver. Such a flush should, however, be performed only under the supervision of a healthcare professional.