This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.
Liver Health: Support the Body’s Detox System
Your liver is your body’s own Environmental Protection Agency – it works continuously to screen, monitor and cleanse the contents of your blood – quite an important job! The ability of your liver to perform its cleansing operations efficiently and effectively depends on the balance between its cleansing capacity, the amount of cleansing you ask it to perform and the tools you provide to help it perform its functions.
The Liver Needs Help
While the liver is an extremely efficient organ, it can be overwhelmed with toxins that accumulate as a result of lifestyle activities. Things that can contribute to the pool of toxins that the liver must detoxify include the foods we eat, the air we breathe, and the liquids we drink. Other contributors to the overall toxic burden include drugs, heavy metals, and other chemicals we are exposed to at work and home. Smoking and alcohol intake are also obvious contributors to our overall toxic load. All of these factors play a part in increasing the liver’s workload. If liver supportive cofactors are not present in adequate amounts, the liver can become inefficient at performing its duties. Cofactors necessary for liver health and function include antioxidants present in fruits and vegetables, which function to help the liver directly and support our body’s production of innate antioxidants that fortify the liver’s detoxifying capacity. Thus, in order to fully support liver function, dietary and lifestyle factors that enhance liver health must be implemented.
Published research shows that dietary factors can make a large contribution to the liver’s overall efficiency – for example, in an animal study published in Biomedical Research, drinking green tea (which has a high content of catechins such as EGCG) helped protect rat livers from the damage caused by a deadly hepatotoxin.1 Another study in rats recently published in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that the dietary supplement N-acetylcysteine helps the liver protect itself.2 In yet another study published in the Journal of Nutrition, adding fish oil supplements to the human diet was found to accelerate the removal of some detoxified toxins from the liver.3 In contrast, the consumption of alcoholic beverages was again shown to interfere with human liver function in a recently published study.4
The liver is a complex factory that requires many individual tools and materials to foster the efficient performance of its machinery. Some of these tools perform very specialized functions while others are generally useful to the entire organ. You can assist your liver by providing the tools and help it needs. On the other hand, you have the ability to prevent your liver from doing its array of jobs effectively. Recognizing the balance between help and harm will enable your liver to remain healthy for decades, which is a vital component to healthy longevity.
Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Lifestyle Choices that Keep Your Liver from Getting Old
1. Abe K, Ijiri M, Suzuki T, Taguchi K, Koyama Y, Isemura M. Green tea with a high catechin content suppresses inflammatory cytokine expression in the galactosamine-injured rat liver. Biomed Res 2005;26:187-192.
2. Rana SV, Attri S, Vaiphei K, Pal R, Attri A, Singh K. Role of N-acetylcysteine in rifampicin-induced hepatic injury of young rats. World J Gastroenterol 2006;12:287-291.
3. Jonkers IJ, Smelt AH, Princen HM, Kuipers F, Romijn JA, Boverhof R, Masclee AA, Stellaard F. Fish oil increases bile acid synthesis in male patients with hypertriglyceridemia. J Nutr 2006;136:987-991.
4. He P, Court MH, Greenblatt DJ, von Moltke LL. Factors influencing midazolam hydroxylation activity in human liver microsomes. Drug Metab Dispos 2006;34:1198-1207.