The Silence of the Livers
Another Stampede is in the books and livers everywhere are sighing in relief. If your liver was one of the abused, have no fear. There are a few things you can do to help yourself.
If you’ve heard of the liver but you’re not really sure what it actually helps you with, let’s take a quick tour down physiology lane for a second. The liver is one of the body’s largest organ systems and engages in hundreds of different functions in a day, from detoxing chemicals and drugs, to building and metabolizing hormones and proteins. Its main function is to clean the bloodstream but it’s also a big player in digestion and immune support. There are actually quite a few functions that are completed by the liver in a day, but perhaps the most interesting fact about the liver is that it can completely regenerate from as little as one quarter of the original liver tissue (some sources say one third but really, tomato-tomatoe when we’re talking about the revolution of liver regeneration). I can almost hear a sigh of relief from the room. Yes, you can lose almost all of your liver tissue and it will completely regenerate providing there isn’t something really wrong with the organ system itself. This is really only an issue if you were going to give a portion of your liver to someone else but it’s always a good fact to know. There are only certain organ systems in the body that can complete this interesting magic trick and the liver is one of them. It’s a great trait to have when there’s so much for the liver to complete in a day.
The liver is truly the Cinderella of bodily organs so it’s best to keep it as healthy as possible. Have you damaged your liver so significantly that regeneration is the only answer? Almost for sure, that’s a no but did your 1o days of Stampede give it a run for its money? Perhaps. Here are a few things to get it back in tip-top shape.
- Alcohol – The first, of course, is to lay off the alcohol for a little while to give the liver a time to rest. It’s summertime, so let’s be realistic, the abstinence from alcohol may not be weeks long, but even a week will do wonders for your traumatized liver. This is even more important for you lady folk out there. While we all like equality in as many things as possible, sadly the liver is a bit behind the times. According to the Canadian Liver Foundation, women absorb more alcohol than their male counterparts which makes them more susceptible to alcohol-related liver disease. Hoping that if you just change up the drink that your liver will be better protected? Sadly, you’ll have to put down the wine because that is untrue. It’s the number of drinks, rather than the type of drink that makes the difference so less is always better when it comes to liver support. The Canadian Liver Foundation says that abstaining from alcohol entirely for a short period of time is the way to go. You can read more about some of the other things that damage the liver on their wonderful website.
- Drink coffee – Yes, you read that correctly. Put down the Budweiser and pick up a Starbucks; a cup of coffee seems to be great for the liver. According to the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology and the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, coffee seems to reduce the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer in those people with significant liver disease. Perhaps it’s the anti-oxidant or anti-inflammatory effects. It might be because it reduces fat deposition in liver cells and increases glutathione production (one of the most important detoxification enzymes in the liver). Researchers aren’t quite sure yet but it’s in a few pretty reputable journals so the evidence is there. Apparently, a coffee a day keeps the cirrhosis away. Anytime we can drink coffee and it’s good for us, it’s a wonderful day my friends. It almost makes up for asking you to shelve the wine for a week or two…… Here are the links to the journals so you can see for yourselves.: Article 1 and Article 2.
- Eat the right food – Avoiding alcohol is important, but so is getting rid of the deep fried Oreos and putting some healthy food back into your diet. Everyone loves a deep-fried Oreo, I had one at the Stampede. It was a delight — but if you love your liver and hope for its triumphant return, you’ll put them down for a little while and pick up some veggies and lean protein. The liver needs clean fuel to help with its gigantic list of energy-consuming tasks and adding more hydrogenated fat, sugar, and additives just increases its workload. Healthy foods add vitamins and minerals like potassium, choline, magnesium, b-vitamins, and fiber back into your diet to help the liver detox effectively. Even if it’s only for a week, getting rid of crappy foods and starchy grains and upping the veggies and proteins will help your liver in its return to glory. The best foods to assist in the process? Artichokes, broccoli, walnuts, apples and lean proteins are all good places to start. Eat foods high in fiber to assist the digestive system with cleaning things up before they even get into the bloodstream and then chow down on some broccoli sprouts to get some great liver benefits. Broccoli sprouts contain sulphoraphane, which is great in assisting in liver detox. Most of the studies have been done on men, but we know broccoli is great for the ladies as well. See broccoli in all its wonderment here.
- Water – We’ve all heard that lemon and water helps with liver function, but we’ll take any water at all, really. How do you get enough water into your daily routine? Great question. Summer is easier because it’s so hot — but it’s a good habit to get into regardless of the time of year. Drink an 8-ounce glass of warm water and lemon while you’re getting ready in the morning to get the day started. Once you’ve got into that habit, try a more difficult one and set your focus on drinking a one-litre container of water before noon and another one-litre container before 5 pm. You can set iphones and watches if needed, but simply having a shorter timeframe for water drinking usually does the trick for most people. The best thing about the 5 pm time limit? You won’t have to balance between an unhappy liver and an irate bladder because all of that fluid will have been moved out before you go to sleep at night.
- Herbal products – Last, but not least, (well for this blog anyway) there are many products that assist the liver in detox and repair. Herbal products that contain milk thistle, turmeric, N-acetyl cysteine, chicory root, dandelion, and celandine are all great in assisting the liver in its journey back from the dark side. Let the liver take off its helmet and take a real breath by reviving it with a month of a liver-balancing product. Not all products are created equal and there are many medications that can’t be taken with herbal products, so please consult a professional before beginning a supplement program. That’s where we can help — we know how great your liver can be and we’re happy to help in the repair process.
If Stampede was good to you but traumatizing to your liver, we’re here to assist you. Just give us a call at 403-287-9201.