By Marie Dufour, RD - Twenty Two gallons an hour! That’s how much blood goes through our liver every hour of every day. This blood-guzzling gland, the largest in the human body, gets a piece of just about every metabolic action.
- It stores energy to release glucose when our blood sugar gets too low;
- it cleans up the waste from the protein we eat by converting ammonia into urea and sends that to the kidneys for disposal;
- it generates the substances essential in blood clotting and the globulins for our immune system;
- it stores vitamins and minerals and launches them into action;
- it produces bile, triglycerides, cholesterol, and lipoproteins essentials for fat metabolism;
- it metabolizes steroid hormones (i.e.estrogen, progesterone, testoterone);
- it cleans up drugs and alcohol from our blood; and
- like a giant pac-man, it also eats up bacteria and other wastes.
And what thanks do we give the poor liver, eh? Any kudos?
Ah, the heart is another thing: we love the heart. And the kidneys? Well, they don’t let us forget them if we keep them too dry or too wet. But the liver is a pretty faithful worker who is able to take years of abuse before crying foul.
Taking good care of one’s liver is a 2-prong approach. On the medical side, talk to your doctor about Hepatitis A, B and C and how to get immunized. On the nutritional side, here are a few liver-loving tips:
1 – Drink alcohol as little as possible (max 2 drinks daily for men, 1 for women) – If you have high liver enzymes, cholesterol or triglycerides, avoid alcohol altogether.
2 – Do not smoke either cigarettes or marijuana – Their toxins go through the liver for clean-up and put a strain on the system, increasing risk for liver cancer.
3 – Avoid fried foods and foods rich in saturated fat (animal fat, coconut and palm oil) – Excessive fat metabolism makes the liver work harder.
4 – Avoid high doses of vitamins, herbal supplements and acetaminophen – They contain toxins that must go through the liver for clean-up, even “natural” herbal remedies.