Fact: The human liver weighs about 3 lbs, filters all of the body’s blood daily, and when healthy is the only organ capable of regenerating; the liver performs nearly 500 functions, including regulating cholesterol levels.
Our liver weighs about 3 lbs and is located on the right side of of the abdomen. Reddish brown in color, it’s rubbery to the touch and protected by the rib cage. It is the largest solid organ and one of the largest glands in the human body, carrying out over 500 essential tasks necessary to maintain optimal health.
One of the main jobs of the organ is to process and purify blood coming from the hepatic artery and the hepatic portal vein. The liver has 2 main lobes, each of which have 8 segments. Each segment is made up of approximately 1,000 lobules connected by small ducts that eventually come together to form the common hepatic duct.4
In addition to filtering the blood, the liver regulates many chemical levels and excretes bile the intestines use to help break down fat. It also produces cholesterol, stores and releases glucose as needed, and regulates blood clotting. As the liver metabolizes chemicals or breaks down harmful substances, they are released into the bile or blood.
Bile enters the intestines and ultimately leaves your body in stool, while blood by-products are filtered out by the kidneys and leave through your urine. The body stores vitamins A, D, E, K and B12 in the liver, and the liver functions as part of the phagocyte system, a portion of the immunological function of the body.
So, it is safe to say that the liver is very important for good health.
The liver is also the only organ in body able to regenerate. In mice, if 67% of the liver is removed, the tissue regrows to its normal size within 7 days.
In humans, as long as 25% of healthy tissue remains, it regrows without any loss of function in approximately 15 days.
The American Liver Foundation estimates nearly 25 percent of adults in the US are affected by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The condition is associated with serious risks as it may cause the liver to swell (steatohepatitis) and may lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
Normalize the Liver’s Function Naturally
David Unwin, MD, a low-carb advocate, was voted among the Top 50 most influential general practitioners in the UK in September 2018. In the short video above, he discusses the health improvements patients in his practice have experienced, pertaining to insulin resistance and liver function, as they follow a low-carbohydrate diet.
Carbohydrate intake in humans has an effect on glucose metabolism, liver function and your risk of heart disease, stroke and Type 2 diabetes. Reducing carbs to 50 grams for every 1,000 calories and increasing intake of healthy fats is a powerful way to support your mitochondrial health and reduce your risk of chronic disease.
Other ways of protecting your liver health include the following:
|Optimizing the omega-3 to omega-6 ratio — Maintaining a balance of omega-6 to omega-3 fats as close to 1-to-1 is ideal. Omega-3 fat may be found in wild caught Alaskan salmon, herring, mackerel and anchovies. Consider using a high quality krill oil supplement if you don’t eat these fatty fish on a regular basis. Reduce or eliminate processed foods, which are high in damaged omega-6 fats, and vegetable oils for cooking.|
|Giving blood — If a male or a postmenopausal woman, giving blood 2X a year helps lower your iron level and protect the liver from damage.|
|Exercising — Exercise helps burn triglycerides for fuel and may help reduce liver fat.3|
|Take N-acetylcysteine (NAC) — This is a precursor to glutathione, a powerful antioxidant that helps reduce oxidative stress and is used in the treatment of chronic fatty liver diseases.4|
|Avoid medications — Many Rx drugs and hormones are first metabolized through the liver, including birth control and anabolic steroids. In fact, nearly 50% of all drugs on the market are metabolized by just 1 enzyme in the liver.|
Over-the-counter (OTC) medication such as Tylenol and cold and pain remedies are also metabolized through the liver, as are statins, acid blockers, antifungals and certain antibiotics.
So, in all, over 1,000 OTC drugs and herbal medicines have been associated with drug-induced liver injury.4
|Avoid alcohol if you have NAFLD or NASH — It is important to drink alcoholic beverages responsibly, however if one already suffer from NAFLD or NASH, alcohol may increase your risk of cirrhosis and destroy liver cells.|
|Optimize the gut — The release of undigested food and bacteria from a leaky gut condition eventually results in liver inflammation. Emerging evidence has suggested a strong relationship between your gut health and liver. |
The liver receives about 70% of its blood supply from the intestines through the portal vein.
And researchers have discovered up to 75% of those who suffer from chronic liver disease also suffer from microbiome imbalance.4
- Note: The strategies to normalize one’s liver function include reducing carbohydrate intake, balancing your omega-6 to omega-3 ratio, exercising, avoiding medications metabolized in the liver, avoid excessive drinking of wine, beer and spirits, and optimize the gut microbiome
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively