Liver is located behind the lower right area of your ribs. Weighing in at about three pounds, it’s the size of a football, but soft and smooth. It is part of the digestive system and is connected to the small intestine by the bile duct. Liver is our internal cleaner. It works to detox the body, helps in regulating fat and balancing our hormones, digestion and circulation. Nearly all the blood that leaves the stomach and intestines passes through the liver for processing. Anything that enters the bloodstream is filtered. But if your liver is overburdened by its more than 400 other essential activities, it can become sluggish and may even diseased or damaged. However liver can function even when up to 70 per cent of it is diseased, and it has the amazing ability to create new liver tissue.
The liver is a chemical “factory,” involved in these myriad body functions:
- It produces clotting factors, blood, proteins, bile, cholesterol and more than a thousand enzymes.
- It stores the energy from the food you eat to provide fuel for your muscles.
- It regulates the levels of blood sugar and several hormones in the body.
- It removes poisons such as drugs and alcohol from the blood.
Common liver problems
Unfortunately, the liver can become damaged without your knowledge. By the time severe complications develop, it may be too late to do anything about them. At that point, your only option may be a liver transplant.
These are early symptoms of liver disease:
- Pain on the right abdomen, Bitter taste in the mouth
- Fatigue, Muscle aches, head ache, Forgetfulness, depression, poor concentration
- Allergies, Bruises that appear easily
These are more advanced complications:
- Fluid build-up in the abdomen
- Mental confusion
- Spontaneous bleeding, bleeding in the stomach or oesophagus
- Prolonged itching of the skin
- Yellow discoloration of the skin or eyes, urine, stool, bloody or tar like stool
Cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, is one of the most common liver problems. According to the National Institutes of Health, cirrhosis is the 12th leading cause of death by disease. Cirrhosis is a consequence of chronic liver disease, such as hepatitis or alcohol abuse. Liver disease damages normal liver cells, gradually decreasing the amount of normal liver tissue and limiting its function. Many conditions can lead to cirrhosis, but the most common is drinking alcohol to excess.
Hepatitis is a common liver problem that can lead to cirrhosis, or scarring, of the liver. Hepatitis is caused by one of five viruses: A, B, C, D and E:
Indulging in alcohol or junk food may be fun at the time, but it will make your liver work extra hard. All the alcohol, processed foods and toxic chemical residue we’re exposed to get caught in the liver. When the liver becomes congested it will not filter blood optimally. It can become blocked, fatty or bloated. It will then contribute to high cholesterol and lowered synthesis of nutrients and new cells, compromising your health. This is why many alcoholics have liver failure: the organ is never given time to regenerate.
Keep your weight under control. If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Avoid high doses of medications or prolonged use of medications that can cause liver problems, unless you’re under direct supervision by your doctor. To protect yourself from hepatitis B and C, limit the number of sexual partners you have, and always use latex condoms. Don’t share razors or toothbrushes.
While the key to a healthy liver is maintaining harmony and balance, there are some foods and supplements that will help the liver do its work better.
“Ginger, most dark green leafy vegetables, beetroot and mint will all help your liver to function well.
Carrots: High in beta-carotene, they help regulate blood-sugar levels, while reducing inflammation in the body and are a good energy food.
Milk thistle: Contains an antioxidant that acts as a toxin blocker. Capsules can be taken daily for an extended period to repair the liver.
Black walnuts: Help to eliminate toxins. Finney says it can be taken in powder or capsule form, for 30 days, after which you should give it a rest.
Lemons: Cleanse not only the liver, but also the gallbladder, kidneys, digestive tract and lungs.
Garlic: Helps strengthen and cleanse the blood, while giving the liver and kidneys a spring clean.
Dandelion tea: Dandelion has been used for centuries. It is a blood purifier and antioxidant and is recommended for those with liver complaints.
Beetroot juice: Contains a chemical called betaine that stimulates the liver cells and protects the liver and bile ducts.
Get plenty of sleep: Also have infrared saunas, indulge in lymphatic massages and drink lots of filtered water.
Here are ways to boost your liver function:
1. Drink between eight to ten glasses of pure, filtered water every day. This is the only way your liver can flush toxins out of your body. Better add half lemon in one glass of water in morning.
2. Since the liver requires high amounts of vitamins and minerals to perform its many functions, your diet should be high in fruits and vegetables and nutrient-rich foods.
3. Your diet should be free of processed foods, artificial food additives, colours, and preservatives to take the load off your liver. Additionally, choose to eat a diet low in refined sugar and synthetic sweeteners. Avoid margarine, shortening, commercial oils, animal fat and fried foods
4. Eat plenty of liver-rebuilding foods, including: garlics, onions, broccoli, carrots, beets, leafy greens, and other green vegetables.
5. While lying flat on your back, you can gently massage the liver/gallbladder area, which is located along the lower rib area on the right side of your body. This helps improve circulation to the area.
Always consult your physician prior to making dietary changes or taking nutritional supplements.