Love Your Liver or Pay a Price
We don’t know so much about how our body parts work, and heading the list of misunderstood parts is probably the liver.
Given our lack of knowledge, it’s no surprise that our livers are under attack-from us! It’s a we-met-the-enemy-and-it-is-us sort of thing.
And here’s where things get really serious: A whacked liver develops cirrhosis, a hardening that turns our soft, gushy liver into stiff, non-functioning tissue that looks and feels like leather left out in the sun for a very long time.
Fatty liver disease
Perhaps you’ve heard that only heavy drinking can prune up the liver, but alcoholic cirrhosis represents only a small part of the cirrhosis experience. Most cirrhosis comes from diet; it’s called fatty liver disease, the non-alcoholic version of cirrhosis, which already affects more than 100 million people in the U.S. alone. Even kids.
Blood tests don’t detect a congested liver, and medicine has nothing to heal cirrhosis. Listen carefully and you’ll notice the talk is about treating, not healing. Big difference. Huge, in fact.
And here’s an attention-getter: The endocrine system, which controls all of health, needs a liver in tip-top shape to keep things going, so a struggling liver plays a role in ALL diseases. Results vary, though. Which disaster your body heads for is a matter of its weakest link.
Fatty liver is a stealth disease. After a while, though, you notice a distinct downhill slide in your health, for reasons unknown. Something’s really wrong, but you don’t know what.
Lest you abandon hope, let me tell you some good news. While medicine can’t help the liver, good nutrition can. Of course, nutrition that actually heals has nothing to do with what we’re taught is good nutrition, so we have to do some relearning.
Let’s look at just a few of the things your liver is supposed to do, some of the things that hurt the liver, and several symptoms of a liver in trouble.
• Plays a role in all endocrine functions. For instance, conversion of thyroid hormone from the storage form, T4, to the mojo form, T3, can only happen with a reasonably happy liver.
• Gets rid of metabolic trash. When trash removal stops, so do you.
• Manufactures about a quart of bile every day to break down fat. Good saturated fat blesses the socks off your body, but only when the liver can produce bile.
• Filters nearly 100 gallons of blood a day (a 150-lb adult has about 5.5 quarts of blood, which gets circulated about 72 times daily), getting rid of toxins, etc.
• Stores essential vitamins and minerals, parceling them out as needed, especially, it seems, to your bones.
• Works with the pancreas, an endocrine gland, to regulate blood sugar levels.
• Produces more than 13,000 chemicals needed by your body, including cholesterol, testosterone and estrogen.
• Produces urea, serum albumin, glycogen and blood-coagulating proteins that help the blood do its thing.
Things That Whack the Liver
• Tylenol. And it doesn’t take much; avoid it.
• High fructose corn syrup
• Poor diet-low in nutrients, high in sugar and other simple carbohydrates
• Untreated low thyroid problems. In fact, just about any endocrine problem can be a cause or an effect of fatty liver disease
• Too much iron
Symptoms of Fatty Liver:
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• High triglycerides
• Insulin resistance
• Metabolic Syndrome
• Digestive dismay
• Lack of energy, inability to follow through
• Poor blood supply to extremities
• Poor digestion
• Excessive aging
• Increased risk of disease
• Intestinal bleeding
• Nausea and vomiting
• A “liver roll,” a roll of fat around the upper abdomen
• Endocrine cancers (pancreatic, breast, prostate, etc.)
• Liver spots (brownish spots on the skin)
• Small, broken blood vessels on the face
• Dry, itchy skin
While medicine can’t heal fatty liver disease, good nutrition can, and healing the liver is part of my Moving to Health (below) program. Since all the problems leading to fatty liver disease have to be fixed, not just the liver, it’s a step-by-step, symptom-by-symptom process. Stepping your way to victory over dread diseases strikes me as a worthy effort.
But Do not, Do not, Do not agree to a liver cleanse or detox. Your endocrine system hates them, a hurting liver can’t handle them, and you might feel as if you’re going to die. And all for nothing because cleanses and detoxes don’t heal anything. I don’t know who thought they were a good idea.
God is good,
Copyright by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved
P.S. Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be She’s a patient who’s been studying and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers introductory teleseminars and an in-depth 12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how things work-or don’t, discusses what things to avoid as well as the things that help, and she provides a lot of well-researched nutritional information. Subscribe to her free e-zine at Information is power.