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Liver Health

  The liver is a vital organ with a wide range of functions,  including detoxification, protein synthesis, and production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. There is currently no way to compensate for the absence of liver function in the long term, although new liver dialysis techniques can be used in the short term.

The liver supports almost every organ in the body and is vital for survival. Because of its strategic location and multidimensional functions, the liver is also prone to many diseases.

The most common include: Infections such as hepatitis A, B, C, D, E, alcohol damage, fatty liver, cirrhosis, cancer, drug damage (particularly by acetaminophen (paracetamol) and cancer drugs).

The liver has a great capacity to regenerate and has a large reserve capacity. In most cases, the liver only produces symptoms after extensive damage. Liver diseases may be diagnosed by liver function tests, for example, by production of acute phase proteins.

The classic symptoms of liver damage include the following:
Pale stools occur when stercobilin, a brown pigment, is absent from the stool. Stercobilin is derived from bilirubin metabolites produced in the liver.

Dark urine occurs when bilirubin mixes with urine.

Jaundice (yellow skin and/or whites of the eyes) This is where bilirubin deposits in skin, causing an intense itch. Itching is the most common complaint by people who have liver failure. Often this itch cannot be relieved by drugs.

Swelling of the abdomen, ankles and feet occurs because the liver fails to make albumin.

Excessive fatigue occurs from a generalized loss of nutrients, minerals and vitamins.

Bruising and easy bleeding are other features of liver disease. The liver makes substances which help prevent bleeding. When liver damage occurs, these substances are no longer present and severe bleeding can occur.

The diagnosis of liver function is made by blood tests. Liver function tests can readily pinpoint the extent of liver damage. If infection is suspected, then other serological tests are done. Sometimes, one may require an ultrasound or a CT scan to produce an image of the liver.

source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liver

Things to avoid for liver health

As stated above the liver is essential to life, but sometimes we don't take very good care of it. Taking too much acetaminophen found in pain relievers is one way to harm the liver. Of course, drinking too much alcohol is another way to damage the liver, but most people don't consider that excessive fructose consumption is believed to contribute to the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I know a friend who had to stop eating sugary snacks on the go because it was destroying his liver, and he has never touched a drop of alcohol probably in his life.

Fructose, basically sugar, is, in many ways, very similar to alcohol in the damage that it can do to your body and your liver.  Fructose leads to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol.

Fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence the same way alcohol does.

Aspartame, an artificial sweetener was found in one study to increase liver and lung cancer in mice.

According to the study in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine:

"The results of the present study confirm that aspartame is a carcinogenic agent in multiple sites in rodents, and that this effect is induced in two species, rats (males and females) and mice (males)."

Ways to improve liver health

Lots of research is going on right now on the health benefits of the spice, turmeric. Turmeric is grown in India and other tropical regions of Asia. It looks like an orange-yellow powder. Turmeric is thought to improve digestion, support a healthy liver, fight cancer, inflammation, and arthritis.

Exercise can improve liver health. One study showed that exercising just 150 minutes per week for three months was enough to create improvements in individuals with fatty liver disease.

Foods that promote healthy liver

It goes without saying that eating a healthy diet in general, that is eating lean meat, fruits, and vegetables is vital to liver health, just as it is to every part of our bodies. Eat foods like leafy green vegetables, broccoli, spinach, apples, celery, melons and cabbage. Remember to keep the amount of fruit consumption to a modest amount as fruit contains fructose which can actually damage the liver. You want to eat foods that contain the least amount of fructose sugar in general.

Individuals with liver disease should eat only what their doctor recommends.

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