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The Liver: Metabolism's Misunderstood Gatekeeper

Jayson Kroner

Love-hate. Could there be a more fitting way to illustrate the relationship we have with our liver? After all, we can condition our hearts with cardio training, protect our skin with the finest lotions on earth and fuel our minds with books and culture. But when it comes to the liver, we're essentially at the mercy of our diet. With one in three Americans classified as clinically obese, this is far from promising.

Here's another way to look at it. In the unfortunate event that your liver decided to take a vacation, the outcome would be disastrous. Apart from being rendered metabolically helpless, you'd be riddled with an unthinkable number of toxins and chemicals. This would spark a menacing chain of events, guaranteed to lower your survival rate.

The Human Liver - Illustrated Organ Position

As humans, we rely profoundly on this complicated, hard-working organ. Not only to do its job, but to do it flawlessly 24 hours a day, without reward. Sadly, far too many individuals never give a moment's thought to the liver's unceasing list of tasks. But when you take time to consider what a weighty role it plays in virtually every aspect of our lives, that moment seems long overdue.

To better appreciate the significance of supporting the liver, it's wise to have an understanding of what it is, what it does and how serious the consequences can be if left neglected and deprived of the nutrients it needs.

Nestled comfortably in the upper-right portion of the abdominal cavity, the liver is a large, reddish-brown, multi-tasking metabolic gatekeeper. As the largest glandular organ in the body, it spends its days carrying out hundreds of crucial metabolic functions. Two, however, are of foremost importance.

The first is to synthesize bile to aid digestion. Every time you eat, your gall bladder releases its reserve of bile through ducts into the digestive tract. This allows semi-digested food to pass from the stomach to the small intestines.

The second, is to make sense of the waste, toxins, and nutrients following digestion. After a slow trip through the esophagus, stomach and small intestine, the remaining nutrient-rich liquid arrives at the liver. From there, the liver goes into action by filtering out toxins and waste, while determining which nutrients will be used, and which will be stored.

The efficacy of this process is ultimately determined by the health of one's liver. What most of us fail to realize is that the liver lacks something of great importance – sympathy. It won't feel sorry for you after a week-long fast food bender, and it could care less if you had a few too many at the company picnic. No. It deals with metabolic scenarios subjectively, and works in accordance with the nutrients made available to it.

Dr. C. Samuel Verghese

At the forefront of liver science is Dr. C. Samuel Verghese, M.D. In addition to being a world-renowned expert in complementary alternative medicine (CAM), Dr. Verghese is also a fascinating human being who's spent his years searching for ways to better the lives of others. In doing so, he's traveled to some of the most remote regions of the world, treated thousands of patients and developed some of the most unique natural supplements available. Remarkably, his motivation came at a very young age.

Growing up in Kerala, India, I was six years old the first time I witnessed my parents offer to take-in mentally ill visitors off the street, he stated. Their unselfish faith and willingness to help total strangers is what inspired me to do what I do today.

He went on to explain that these 'demonized' strangers (as they were perceived locally at the time) were not treated with conventional medications. Rather, it was a variety of nutrients and Ayurvedic-inspired herbs responsible for bringing them back.

'It was not unusual for these people to make near full recoveries', Dr. Verghese explained.

In 1972, inspired by these unique childhood experiences and a commitment to follow in his parents footsteps, he left for America. The transition was marked with a wealth of cultural differences. One of the most discernible was in our supplement potencies.

Excessive amounts are not always the answer. He added, Focus should be placed on balance to prevent the immune system from reversing. Integrating smaller, more balanced potencies can stimulate the body's vital systems to work harder on their own.

He went on to stress the importance of blood screening to identify liver damage. Though many common illnesses and diseases start in the liver, a large percentage are curable, if detected early.

Almost every liver can be significantly improved, provided that you know what you're up against, according to Dr. Verghese. This is why it's so important to do blood work prior to treating inflammation and other disorders.

It seems to be working. Patients who've visited his practice, Integrative Medicine Clinic in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, have experienced astounding success. Dr. Verghese's unique detoxification process, which includes supplementing with his own liver detox and regenerator formula has given hope to many who believed they were otherwise hopeless.

It's a remarkable instrument, said Verghese. I've had patients with as few a 25% healthy cells make wonderful recoveries. Diet and lifestyle is equally important. Alcohol, processed foods and risky behavior all contribute to the downfall of health. Simple dietary changes, along with the right mix of nutrients and cleansing herbs can be highly beneficial in restoring the liver.

10 Ways to Keep Your Liver in Tip-Top Condition

Have a liver function test – Simple blood tests measures the amount of liver enzymes in your bloodstream to help detect damage.

Detox with cleansing herbs – Milk thistle, turmeric, dandelion and others have been used for centuries to naturally purify the liver.

Cut back on the alcohol – Excessive drinking can lead to cirrhosis and complications that affect its ability to function.

Drink plenty of water – Helps flush away toxins, waste and other harmful substances. 8 glasses a day is ideal.

Eat less saturated fats – Saturated fats can build-up and rob you of essential nutrients.

Easy on the sugar – Diets high in refined sugar force the liver to work harder than it should.

Don't smoke – Three words: deadly poisonous toxins. If you smoke, quit.

Limit your sodium intake – Try to avoid foods high in sodium, especially those that are salted, cured and smoked. Foods rich in fiber and grains serve as wonderful substitutions.

Exercise regularlyReducing LDL cholesterol and maintaining a healthy weight are great ways to boost metabolism.

Multiple vitamin with antioxidants – They're bursting with liver-friendly nutrients needed for healthy digestion.

Health Disclaimer. Content provided by NOW Foods. Copyright ©2006-2019. Published with permission. Jayson Kroner is a health and fitness journalist, a certified sports nutritionist, and co-author of the book 7-Syndrome Healing.