Believe it or not, next to your heart and brain, the liver is your body's most important organ and keeping your liver clean can help to reduce the risk of developing liver disease.
This is because everything we eat and drink that has passed from the small intestine and into the bloodstream through digestion, must first pass through our liver.
All of the blood flow coming from the small intestines that is carrying the nutrients, vitamins, minerals and even those things we don't want, must first pass through the portal vein and into the liver, either to be processed for use by the body or made harmless and excreted from the body.
The liver also stores glucose in the form of "glycogen" which is then converted back to glucose again when glucagon a hormone produced by the pancreas, signals the liver to release stored glycogen as needed for energy.
Your liver also plays important roles in metabolic functions in relation to the metabolism of protein and fats, and the storage of fat-soluble vitamins.
The liver acts as a filter and detoxifier by removing or metabolizing toxins that we may ingest such as, harmful chemicals that may be in our food, pollutants in the water we drink, or drug and alcohol abuse.
The liver can also remove dangerous bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, particulate debris and metabolic waste from the tremendous amount of blood that passes through it on a daily basis.
However, many of the functions of the liver are compromised because diabetes and its medications put such a strain on the liver (refer to the "How Diabetes Affects the Liver" section below).
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. The liver is one of the most vital organs of the body and is responsible for hundreds of chemical processes that the body needs to survive.
The liver regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile. This helps carry away waste products from the liver.
All the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through and is filtered by the liver. The liver processes this blood and breaks down, balances, and creates the nutrients and also metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic.
The liver makes many of the chemicals required by the body to function normally, it breaks down and detoxifies substances in the body, and it also acts as a storage unit for nutrients such as glucose and vitamins.
More than 500 vital functions have been identified with the liver. Some of the more well-known functions of the liver include the following:
- Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage (glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy) and to balance and make glucose as needed
- Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
- Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
- Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea (urea is an end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in the urine)
- Clearing the blood of drugs and other poisonous substances
- Regulating blood clotting
- Resisting infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
- Clearance of bilirubin, also from red blood cells. If there is an accumulation of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow.
The liver also stores vitamins and chemicals that the body requires as building blocks. These includes:
- Vitamin A, to help with vision
- Vitamin B12, to keep nerve and blood cells healthy
- Vitamin D, for calcium absorption
- Vitamin K, to help blood to clot properly
- Folic acid, to help produce new, healthy cells
- Iron, to help make red blood cells
When the liver has broken down harmful substances, its by-products are excreted into the bile or blood. Bile by-products enter the intestine and leave the body in the form of feces. Blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys, and leave the body in the form of urine.
Glycogenolysis, Gluconeogenesis & Ketogenesis
The liver both stores and produces glucose …
The liver acts as the body’s glucose (or fuel) reservoir, and helps to keep your circulating blood glucose levels and other body fuels steady and constant.
The liver both stores and manufactures glucose depending upon the body’s need. The need to store or release glucose is primarily signaled by the hormones insulin and glucagon.
During a meal, your liver will store glucose, as glycogen for a later time when your body needs it. The high levels of insulin and suppressed levels of glucagon during a meal promote the storage of glucose as glycogen.
The liver makes glucose when you need it ...
When you’re not eating – especially overnight or between meals, the body has to make its own glucose. The liver supplies glucose by turning glycogen into glucose in a process called glycogenolysis.
The liver can also manufacture necessary glucose by harvesting amino acids, waste products and fat byproducts. This process is called gluconeogenesis.
The liver makes another fuel called ketones, when glucose is in short supply ...
When your body’s glycogen storage is running low, the body starts to conserve the glucose supplies for the organs that always require sugar, e.g. the brain, red blood cells and parts of the kidney.
To supplement the limited glucose supply, the liver makes alternative fuels called ketones from fats. This process is called ketogenesis.
The hormone signal for ketogenesis to begin is a low level of insulin.
Ketones are burned as fuel by muscle and other body organs. And the glucose is saved for the organs that need it.
When you have diabetes, these biological processes gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis and ketogenesis can be thrown off balance, creating major biochemical and hormonal imbalances that fuel insulin resistance and Type 2 diabetes; and, liver dysfunction.
And, when you add diabetic medications, statins (for high cholesterol), and blood pressure medications, this puts a tremendous toll on the liver, leading to more health problems.
People with diabetes, especially those who are obese, are at particular risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which can progress to serious scarring of the liver.
In addition, if you take a lot of toxic medications (e.g. statins, steroids, beta blockers, etc.), make sure that you have your liver enzymes tested on a regular basis, because these medications can damage the liver.
More importantly, you should follow a plant-based nutrient-dense nutritional program of super foods, organic herbs and food-based supplements that supports the health of your liver and reverses your diabetes.
Diabetes affects the liver because the liver cells become insulin-resistance. As a result, the liver cannot perform proper glucose management and storage, affecting several key liver-related biological processes, namely glycogenolysis, gluconeogenesis and ketogenesis.
Having diabetes also increases the risk of developing liver diseases, including liver cancer. Diabetes is now the most common cause of liver disease in the U.S., especially among Type 2 diabetics.
People with Type 2 diabetes in combination with liver problems usually have multiple health issues, including insulin resistance, hyper-insulinemia, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and cardiovascular disease.
Diabetics who have had diabetes for ten years or more have the highest risk for developing liver disease and liver cancer, with Type 2 diabetes being associated with the development of many liver disorders including:
- Elevated liver enzymes
- Cirrhosis (nonalcoholic)
- Fatty liver disease (nonalcoholic)
- Hepatocellular carcinoma (Liver cancer)
- Acute liver failure
In addition, it should be noted that some medications that are used to lower cholesterol (such as statins) may cause liver damage.
Cirrhosis of the liver is a state where the liver fails functioning normally because of constant damage. A healthy liver can regenerate cells when it becomes damaged, however when this happens all the time, scar tissues form. These scar tissues start to take the place of healthy tissue in the liver and this prevents the blood flow to the liver.
In addition, cirrhosis can also prevent several key body functions, including: removal of bacteria and toxins, bile production, protein production and fighting off infections.
The common causes of cirrhosis include the following:
- Fatty liver
- Alcohol abuse
Other causes of cirrhosis include:
- Blockage of the bile duct
- Repeated bouts of heart failure with fluid backing up into the liver
- Certain inherited diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Alpha 1 antitrypsin deficiency (an absence of a specific enzyme in the liver), and hemochromatosis
Fatty liver disease (aka nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, NAFLD) is due too much fat stored in liver cells. Of course, some fat in your liver is normal, but if it makes up more than 5%-10% of the organ's weight, you may have fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease is also more likely to happen to those who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. People like that often have high cholesterol and diabetes as well.
Other causes of fatty liver disease include:
- Viral hepatitis
- Autoimmune or inherited liver disease
- Fast weight loss
Some studies show that too much bacteria in your small intestine and other changes in the intestine may be linked to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Fatty liver disease, is marked by liver inflammation, which may progress to scarring and irreversible damage. This damage is similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use. At its most severe, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common around the world, especially in Western nations. In the United States, it is the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs in every age group but especially in people in their 40s and 50s who are at high risk of heart disease because of such risk factors as obesity and type 2 diabetes. The condition is also closely linked to metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of abnormalities including increased abdominal fat, poor ability to use the hormone insulin, high blood pressure and high blood levels of triglycerides, a type of fat.
Diabetes does not cause fatty liver disease. Instead, the two diseases tend to occur in the same people because the same conditions cause both problems.
And, since Type 2 diabetes and obesity are so common in the United States, fatty liver disease is now a leading cause of end-stage (fatal) liver disease requiring a liver transplant, along with alcohol abuse and hepatitis.
The good news is that both cirrhosis and fatty liver disease can be treated naturally without depending on dangerous, toxic drugs.
However, especially in the case of cirrhosis, it is imperative to start a natural treatment strategy as soon as possible.
There are 7 key strategies for addressing cirrhosis and healing a fatty liver:
- Prevent further damage to the liver (duh!)
- Follow a plant-based diet to stabilize blood sugars, lower cholesterol, and lose weight, if required
- Perform a periodic liver cleanse and detox
- Target foods that nourish, heal and protect the liver
- Avoid bad fats and processed foods
- Use quality liver supplements
- Safely wean off the drugs
1. Prevent further damage. You can’t reverse what has been done but you can stop having any more damage done. It is important to stop consuming alcohol which is one of the biggest damage contributors to the liver. You will also need to make sure that your consumption of drugs or medications is monitored. Stay away from statins drugs and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs since this can make the condition worse.
2. Use a plant-based diet. A well-balanced diet (such as the Death to Diabetes diet) is also essential to preventing any more damage and helping to detox the liver. Eat a lot of fruits and vegetables and try to stay away from fats although small servings may be helpful for a balanced diet.
A well-balanced diet should consist of vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, wheat germ, and some organic grains, with emphasis on raw, organically-grown foods.
3. Perform a periodic cleanse and detox of the liver. A liver detox will help remove accumulated toxins and chemicals from processed foods, "dead" beverages, medications, and the diabetes.
4. Eat specific foods that nourish, heal and protect the liver. Vegetables such as avocado, spinach, broccoli, beets, squashes, bitter gourd, egg-plant, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, and papaya are especially useful in this condition.
- Avocados - Research has shown that eating one or two avocados a week can help to repair a damaged liver in as little as 30 days. Avocados help to increase levels of the antioxidant glutathione greatly.
- Broccoli - This vegetable contains key phtonutrients that help to detox the liver. Other key vegetables: artichoke, asparagus, celery.
- Organic apple cider vinegar - is rich in natural minerals, vitamins and enzymes that help to fight bacteria, fungus and Candida. The unique acids in apple cider vinegar can bind to toxins and help the liver eliminate them more effectively.
- Apple cider vinegar aids detoxification by breaking up mucus throughout the body and cleansing the lymph nodes to allow for better lymph circulation.
- Edamame - This vegetable contains isoflavones that lower LDL cholesterol, making them heart healthy. These young soybeans may also help to heal your liver.
- Raw juices - The juice of carrots, in combination with spinach juice, has been found beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver. Alternatively, carrot juice combined with cucumber and beet juices can be used effectively. Vegetable juices are extremely easy to digest and will provide the body with the nutrition required for the repair of damaged tissue.
- Yogurt - Homemade yogurt helps to stabilize your body' s blood sugar level, which helps it to stop fatty buildups.
- Herbal Tea - Some studies found that people who drink 4 cups of herbal tea daily realized maximum health benefits. Brewed tea, either hot or iced, offers the most potent disease-fighting activity. However, instant iced tea and bottled tea beverages offer little health benefit.
5. Avoid Fats, Oils Refined, Processed and Canned Foods.
Mostly all fats and oils should be excluded from the diet for several weeks.
You should avoid all refined, processed, and canned foods; spices and condiments; strong tea and coffee; fried foods; all preparations cooked in ghee, oil, or butter; all meats; and all chemical additives in food.
In addition, the use of table salt should be avoided, or, at least, restricted.
6. Use Quality Liver Supplements. There are certain vitamins and minerals which can help to make sure that the liver stays healthy and recuperates faster.
Lipoic acid, turmeric, and milk thistle are key to supporting the health of the liver. Iron supplements, Vitamins K, Vitamin B and minerals can all help restore the functions of the liver.
These supplements may be used alone for prevention or alongside other treatments to support the liver.
- Alpha-Lipoic Acid (antioxidant protection during phase I detox)
- Milk Thistle (silymarin tincture)
- Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols/tocotrienols)
- Selenium (protect against free radicals from phase I detox)
- Calcium-d-glucarate, n-acetyl-cysteine, and trimethylglycine all support phase II detoxification
- Livaplex (Standard Process)
- Herbs (see above)
- Other possible supplements include: beta-glucan, phosphatidylcholine (PC), and SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine).
7. Safely wean off the drugs. All drugs put a strain on the liver because the liver has to break down these dangerous drugs so that they don't cause any harm.
Consequently, it is key that you safely and methodically wean yourself off the medications that you're taking.
Note: If possible, avoid or limit the number of medications to prevent or, at least, reduce the need to have to wean off off the medications.
There are actually special liver supplements in the market which already combine all the needed vitamins and minerals. However, be careful, because some of these supplements are synthetic and may harm the liver. So, do your homework before you purchase any supplement.
Key nutritional supplements and herbs that support the liver include the following:
Turmeric. This herb is one of the most important herbs for liver detox. It helps cleanse the liver naturally and is known as an ayurvedic herb.
As an antioxidant, turmeric boots the production or creation of bile to double its regular production, thus making it very beneficial to our system.
Turmeric contains a compound known as curcumin, which enhances the production of bile and helps treat gall stones.
Milk Thistle. This herb helps to stimulate regular functions of the liver and is a strong antitoxin. Milk thistle helps to draw toxins out of the body that can cause a range of symptoms and diseases, including cancer, high cholesterol, diabetes, kidney stones, and gall bladder disorders.
As an antioxidant, milk thistle helps to fight free radical damage and slow the aging process that can lead to disease development.
Yellow dock. This is an excellent herb for liver detox. It purifies the liver superbly, thus regulating the good manufacture of bile. It helps dissolve the fat that is collected in our liver.
Dandelion. This is another significant herb for cleansing the liver. It efficiently clears the waste, toxins and poisons that are excreted by the liver. This herb also helps boost the production of bile.
Artichoke Extract. It has been known for centuries that this herb helps improve digestion and also heals the liver.
This herb improves liver detoxification by increasing bile flow. It rejuvenates the liver and also reduces LDL cholesterol from oxidation.
Barberry. It is a natural antibiotic that boost immune system by increasing the activity of the macrophages. It boosts bile flow and improves digestion. It is well-known for curing liver damages.
Papaya Seeds. The black seeds of papaya have been found beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver, caused by alcoholism and malnutrition.
A tablespoon of juice obtained by grinding the seeds, mixed with ten drops of fresh lime juice, should be given once or twice daily for about a month as a medicine for this disease.
If you are diabetic, start with the ex-diabetic engineer's top-selling book, Death to Diabetes in order to begin to reverse your diabetes and improve the health of your liver.
Note: For more information about liver health, refer to Chapters 8, 9 and 15 of the Death to Diabetes paperback book (or diabetes ebook).
If you have taken diabetic medications and eaten a lot of processed foods, get the DTD Cleanse-Detox book to help you remove the accumulated toxins in your liver and other organs.
Also, get the DTD Power of Juicing book for lots of vegetable-based recipes to help with the liver.
And, if necessary, get the DTD Drug Weaning ebook to help you wean off the various drugs that you are taking and reduce the strain on your liver.
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