At any given point in time, liver contains 10% of the total blood in the body. It filters around 1.4 liters of blood every single minute.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR LIVER FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH
Treat your liver well and it will treat you well in return. One of our body's largest organs, it's a workhorse, designed to keep the the blood cleansed of toxins and chemicals. The liver breaks down everything – good or bad – that enters your body through air, water, food, medications or supplements. It also breaks down your hormones, that may be in excess, helping to keep body chemistry in balance. Once the liver metabolizes these substances, it prepares them to be more easily utilized or excreted.
The fats, carbohydrates, and proteins you consume are metabolized by the liver for different functions in the body. After you eat carbohydrates, the liver helps maintain blood sugar balance. Fats are broken-down for the production of energy. Amino acids in protein foods are also broken down for energy, or to make more carbohydrates or fats, as the body needs. The liver also facilitates the storage of vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, as well as iron and copper.
Additionally, over half of the body's lymph fluid is produced in the liver. The lymphatic system is responsible for healthy immune function and acts as your body's internal janitor, collecting cellular waste products for elimination. These vital functions make the liver a major organ in metabolism and detoxification.
WHEN THE LIVER FAILS
Dysfunction of the liver can first manifest as symptoms in various body systems, including digestive, metabolic, and immune systems before the root cause is identified. A natural medicine practitioner will work with you to assess symptoms, run appropriate tests, and evaluate the overall functioning of your vital systems to determine the root cause. Here are three diseases and dysfunctions of the liver that can affect your health.
NON-ALCOHOLIC FATTY LIVER DISEASE (NAFLD) is a group of conditions affecting people who drink little to no alcohol but their liver cells store too much fat. This causes liver inflammation, which may progress to scarring and irreversible damage similar to the damage caused by heavy alcohol use. In the United States, it's the most common form of chronic liver disease, affecting an estimated 80 to 100 million people, typically 40 - 50 years old.
CIRRHOSIS occurs when fibrous (scar) tissue replaces healthy liver tissue, often leading to cancer, destruction of liver cells and acute liver failure. It can be caused by toxins, alcohol abuse, and hepatitis.
HEPATITIS is commonly caused by viruses, but also by toxins or an autoimmune problem. Hepatitis causes inflammation in the liver, which can often be healed; if not addressed, it will result in liver failure.
TIPS FOR A HEALTHY LIVER
EAT WHOLE FOODS. The liver has a role in metabolizing the major nutrients you take in through diet. A whole foods diet is your best prevention against stressing your liver with too much fat, sugar, or excessive protein. Choose healthy fats, whole grains, and organic sources of fish and meat while avoiding processed and packaged foods.
REDUCE ALCOHOL INTAKE. Over time, excess consumption of alcohol causes cirrhosis of the liver. The breakdown of alcohol produces chemicals, such as free radicals, that are toxic to the liver. General health guidelines suggest moderate use of alcohol -- one drink/day for women and two drinks/day for men, but even that is too much alcohol if you ask us! Limit your alcohol consumption to two drinks per week is more like it and skip some weeks.
DON'T MIX DRUGS. Drug interactions can have serious health consequences. This includes mixing prescription medicine, street drugs, alcohol, herbal or other natural remedies.
AIRBORNE CHEMICAL EXPOSURE. When using strong or industrial cleaning, painting or gardening chemicals, ventilate the area or wear a mask.
PROTECT AGAINST HEPATITIS. Viral Hepatitis A is contracted by eating or drinking contaminated water. Hepatitis B and C are spread through blood and body fluids. To cut your risk, don't share personal hygiene items, limit the number of sex partners you have, and always use latex condoms.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT. . .
"To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him." - Buddha
IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH WITH CAULIFLOWER
Known as broccoli's pale cousin, cauliflower offers just as many fantastic health benefits as other members of the cruciferous vegetable family. Cauliflower is a great source of glucosinolates, sulfur-containing compounds that support optimal functioning of our cardiovascular, digestive, immune and detoxification systems. Sulfur, the third most abundant mineral in the body, is highly concentrated in the muscles, skin and bones. It's essential to processes that create protein for cells, tissues, hormones, enzymes, and antibodies.
Research also shows a strong relationship between glucosinolates and the antioxidant properties of cauliflower. Some of the more colorful versions of cauliflower such as Grafiti (purple) cauliflower, have a strong profile of these two powerful plant nutrients. But don't feel you have to go on a hunt for colored cauliflower; white, the most commonly consumed variety of cauliflower, is rich in nutrients and plays an important role in a whole foods diet.
Cauliflower can be prepared in many ways. It can be roasted, sautéed, steamed, or boiled. Studies have shown equivalent benefits from raw and cooked cauliflower, as long as it's not overcooked. Sautéed cauliflower is a better option than boiling, steaming or microwaving, which changes its consistency depleting flavor and nutrition. To spice up sautéed cauliflower, add herbs such as turmeric, garlic, or shallot.
RECIPE: CAULIFLOWER STEAKS WITH CUMIN, GINGER & TURMERIC
Putting cauliflower center stage, most people think of cauliflower as a side to steak, not the "meat of the meal." But cut into thick slabs and roasted with spices, this plain vegetable is easily transformed into a flavorful dish. Roasting brings out the subtle nutty flavor of cauliflower. The brilliant colors and flavors of turmeric, ginger, cumin, and cilantro create cauliflower "steaks" that are simple to prepare and fancy enough for a dinner party or to add pizazz to an ordinary family dinner. This recipe serves 3.
- 1 large head cauliflower
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbs. olive oil, divided
- 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
- 1 tsp. ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp. ground turmeric
- Small handful of cilantro, chopped
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Remove leaves and trim the stem end of the cauliflower, leaving the core intact. Using a large knife, cut the cauliflower from top to base into three 3/4-inch-thick "steaks." Season each steak with salt and pepper on both sides. (Reserve any loose florets for another use.)
Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Sear the cauliflower steaks until golden brown--about 2 minutes on each side. Gently transfer the steaks to a baking sheet. Whisk together the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ginger, cumin, and turmeric. Brush or spoon the mixture onto the cauliflower steaks. Roast in the oven until tender, about 15 minutes. Garnish with cilantro and serve.
MIGHTY VITAMIN B12
Vitamin B12 is a member of the B Complex, a group of vitamins, each with a unique function in the body, but synergistically regarded for how they help the body's cells produce energy. Vitamin B12, along with thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxine (B6), biotin, and folate make up the B Complex. B12 is essential to the production of new DNA, red blood cells, proteins, hormones and fats, as well as regulating mood and maintaining healthy nervous and immune systems.
If you aren't getting enough B12 through diet, or your body isn't absorbing or using it efficiently, you can become deficient. This can lead to a range of health problems: intense fatigue, loss of appetite, trouble concentrating, anemia, and depression. B12 deficiency affects up to 15% of people in the U.S.
The aging process, a vegan diet, stress, certain medications, and illness can alter your body's ability to utilize B12 from food. Medications, such as those for reflux or Type 2 diabetes, affect B12 absorption. Also, if you've had major surgery, have digestive problems, or Celiac Disease you have an increased risk for B12 deficiency.
Most people who eat meat, fish, eggs and dairy products get enough B12. Vegans are advised to eat fortified food and take supplements because B12 is not found in sufficient amounts in plant foods. Carefully read labels for fortified food claims, as these foods can be loaded with preservatives that don't contribute to your health.
B12 is available through a multivitamin (best for those who don't have a deficiency), intramuscular injection (once weekly), or B12 sublingual supplement that dissolves under the tongue.
A holistic health practitioner can determine a B12 deficiency by blood test and then work with you to determine the best form of supplement for your health needs.
THE FOUR DIFFERENT TYPES OF B12
METHYLCOBALAMIN. This is the most active form in the human body and converts homocysteine into methionine, which helps protect the cardiovascular system. Methylcobalamin offers overall protection to the nervous system and can cross the blood-brain barrier–without assistance–to protect brain cells. It contributes essential methyl groups needed for detoxification and to start the body’s biochemical reactions. This form is used often as an injection.
CYANOCOBALAMIN. This is a synthetic version of vitamin B-12 and is created in a lab, which makes it the cheapest supplement option. It offers the most stable form of B-12, although it does so through the presence of a cyanide molecule. While the amount of cyanide is not dangerous, it does require the body to expend energy to convert and remove it.
HYDROXYCOBALAMIN. Bacteria naturally creates this form of vitamin B-12, making it the main type found in most foods. Hydroxycobalamin easily converts into methylcobalamin in the body and is commonly used via injection as a treatment for B-12 deficiency as well as a treatment for cyanide poisoning.
ADENOSYLCOBALAMIN. The energy formation that occurs during the Citric Acid cycle requires this form of B-12. This is the least stable form of B-12 outside the human body and does not translate well into a tablet-based supplement.
Schisandra chinensis, A POTENT BERRY FOR LIVER HEALTH
With its sweet, sour, salty, pungent, and bitter flavor profile, it's no surprise the Chinese call Schisandra chinensis "the five flavored fruit," or wu wei zi. Regarded as the most important herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the schisandra berry might more aptly be called the "fruit of life."
Schisandra belongs to a unique class of herbs known as adaptogens, which enhance the body's ability to adapt to, and recover from, stress. The source of the stress could be emotional, mental, environmental, or physical, such as when you become sick. In addition to supporting the body across physiological systems, it provides protective benefits for the liver, the body's engine for detoxification. Studies show schisandra reduces inflammation, keeps hormones in balance, helps regenerate liver tissue, and lowers levels of an enzyme associated with liver damage.
Traditional Chinese physicians have long used schisandra to:
- Stimulate the immune system and support adrenal gland function
- Enhance recovery from illness or surgery
- Reduce inflammation and fatigue
- Improve blood circulation and enhance detoxification
Dried schizandra berries can be made into powder, capsules, tincture, tonic, tea and even wine. Schisandra is safe for most people, but precautions must be used if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, have epilepsy, or reflux disease. Your holistic practitioner can identify the type of schisandra supplement that is best for you.
DETOX YOUR LIVER WITH A CASTOR OIL PACK
If you're looking for a topical way to support the health of your liver and lymphatic system, consider castor oil. The thick, pale yellow oil, extracted from the seed of the castor bean plant, is native to India and has been used in topical medicinal applications around the world, including Egypt, Japan, China, and India. Today, castor oil is still used by holistic physicians, as well as in commercial products such as cosmetics, soaps, textiles, and massage oils.
Castor oil's healing abilities are derived from its high concentration of unsaturated fatty acids, especially ricinoleic acid. It works by way of absorption through the skin and into lymphatic circulation where it stimulates flow of lymph fluid and helps draw out waste products from the cells of the body. This enhances the body's natural detoxification process, while supporting immune system function. Critical Information: Don't use the seed itself -- it can be deadly and is never used medicinally. Also, ingesting castor oil can cause serious health issues including severe diarrhea, which in some medicinal practices has been used to clear out the colon.
Always use castor oil topically. A pack is an excellent approach and there are many ways to prepare one. Some methods are more suitable than others for particular needs. For example, for some health conditions, the pack is used with heat; for others, without heat. Castor oil packs are not recommended for women who are pregnant and should not be used by anyone who has recently undergone surgery. Before following random instructions found on the Internet for making a castor oil pack, consult with your natural health practitioner to determine which method is best for your health needs.
TAKING CARE OF YOUR LIVER FOR OPTIMAL HEALTH
IMPROVE YOUR HEALTH WITH CAULIFLOWER
- World's Healthiest Foods. Cauliflower. Accessed 28 Sep 2017.
- Lim, T.K., Edible Medicinal And Non-Medicinal Plants: Volume 7, Flowers. (2014) Springer Science & Business Media, Dordrecht. p. 571+ Accessed 30 Sep 2017: Google Books Link
- Cabello-Hurtado F, Gicquel M, and Esnault MA. "Evaluation of the antioxidant potential of cauliflower (Brassica oleracea) from a glucosinolate content perspective." Food Chemistry, (May 2012) 132:2,15; 1003-1009. Accessed 29 Sept 2017.
- dos Reis, LCR, de Oliveira VR, Hagen MEK, et al. "Effect of cooking on the concentration of bioactive compounds in broccoli (Brassica oleracea var. Avenger) and cauliflower (Brassica oleracea var. Alphina F1) grown in an organic system." Food Chem (April 2015) 172:1, 770-777. Accessed 29 Sept 2017.
- Kapusta-Duch J, Kusznierewicz B, Leszczyn'ska T, et al. "Effect of cooking on the contents of glucosinolates and their degradation products in selected Brassica vegetables." Jl Functional Foods (2016) 23; 412-422. Accessed 30 Sep 2017.
MIGHTY VITAMIN B12
A POTENT BERRY FOR LIVER HEALTH, SCHISANDRA CHINENSIS
- Mars, Bridgitte & Fiedler, Chrystle. Home Reference Guide to Holistic Health & Healing. (Beverly, MA: Fair Winds Press. 2015).
- PinnacleHealth Patient Portal. "Schisandra chinensis; Schisandra spenanthera." Accessed on 28 Sep. 2017.
- Johnson, R.L., S. Foster, Low Dog, T. and Kiefer, D. "Milk Thistle" in National Geographic Guide to Medicinal Herbs: The World's Most Effective Healing Plants. Washington, D.C.: National Geographic, 2012. p. 167-169.
- Examine.com. "Schisandra chinensis." Accessed 28 Sep 2017.
- Link to Clinical Citations for the above monograph.
- MedicineHunter.com. "Schisandra: Ultimate Superberry."
- Chang, J. and Xie, J. [Total synthesis of schizandrin, the main active ingredient isolated from the Chinese herbal medicine fructus schizandrae]. Yao Xue.Xue.Bao. 1998;33(6):424-428. View abstract.
DETOX YOUR LIVER WITH A CASTOR OIL PACK
The information offered by this newsletter is presented for educational purposes. Nothing contained within should be construed as nor is intended to be used for medical diagnosis or treatment. This information should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider. Always consult with your physician or other qualified health care provider before embarking on a new treatment, diet or fitness program. You should never disregard medical advice or delay in seeking it because of any information contained within this newsletter.