Is Your Liver as Healthy as It Should Be?
There is much we humans take for granted in life. We don’t notice the good things in life until they are gone or they vanish.
In third grade, a teacher noticed I was squinting trying to read the chalkboard and sent a note home to let my mother know I may need glasses.
I think there are lyrics to a song, “Don’t it always seem to go that You don’t know what you got until it’s gone.”
The intricacies of life are large. Our bodily systems reflect this complexity. This is why doctors are esteemed. They’re tasked with diagnosing using symptoms as markers to make educated guesses about your condition. Relief of symptoms does not always equate with root causes.
The fact is that no one knows your body and how you feel on the inside better than you do. However, since we are “external world focused” we may not be in touch with ourselves as much as we should be.
In eastern philosophy there is more emphasis on intuition, meditation and living a simple life. In the western world, we are primarily driven by outside forces, social cues, external stimuli. With the advent of internet technologies, our focus is further diminished.
In yoga, which at times can encompass meditation, there is a way to do a body scan.
Try this three-minute body scan
Sitting comfortably, take a deep breath in through the nose, and out through the mouth. As you breathe out, close the eyes. Notice how the body feels right now. Starting at the top of the head, gently scan down through the body, noticing what feels comfortable and what feels uncomfortable. Remember, you’re not trying to change anything, just noticing how the body feels as you scan down evenly and notice each and every part of the body, all the way down to the toes.
You can do this on your own. By yourself. It’s a good practice to learn to get quiet within yourself. Or you can use a body scan meditation from youtube, like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41ytj_bh_1I
Today’s question is, “Is your liver as healthy as it should be?”
I have personal experience with my liver being the focus of my attention for about a year. The year was 1976 and I was in my 3rd month of my first year in
India. Southern India, the state of Kerala where the language is Malayalam and the literacy rate is above 80%. The script looks like someone really loved circles in conceiving this written script.
It was common to see men squatting in their lungis reading the newspaper waiting for the overcrowded bus to come. This type of dress is very common in southern India where the heat and humidity demands sufficient air flow! Interesting side note: India will be the most populated country in the world very soon, overtaking China.
I felt really sick. I couldn’t eat any of the local food. I thought I was experiencing “culture shock.” I thought if I could find western style food, I’d be alright. I found a Chinese restaurant and ordered chicken fried rice. The first forkful felt like it blew up in my solar plexus. I had to admit, it wasn’t culture shock, it was a real illness and I was truly sick.
Christmas 1976 I was jaundiced. My skin and eyeballs turned yellow. Urine was coca cola color and stools were white. I had hepatitis. Oh, and my skin became unbearably itchy. Not fun. Not fun at all. What happens with infectious hepatitis is that the liver can no longer digest fats of any kind. I was confined to a diet of boiled squash, boiled rice and my saving grace was grapes. Thank God for grapes.
So take away a functioning liver, this is what happens. You don’t know what you got until it’s gone. I also lost the camaraderie of my peers. I was staying in a cheap hotel in isolation.
After six weeks of this misery I was deemed no longer infectious. But I stayed a vegetarian and boiled everything for a year. My first non-veg meal happened a year later in Colombo, Sri Lanka. A lovely lady made me shark curry!
Hundreds of Functions are Performed by the Liver:
The liver is a vital organ that plays a key role in metabolism and detoxification. Located on the right side of the abdomen, the liver is a large, complex organ that performs a wide range of functions, from producing bile and breaking down fats to filtering out toxins and regulating blood sugar levels. The liver is constantly working to maintain homeostasis in the body, and it is one of the most resilient organs we have. In spite of its importance, the liver can be easily damaged by alcohol, drugs, and other toxins. When damage does occur, it can lead to serious consequences, such as liver failure or cancer. Thankfully, the liver has an amazing ability to regenerate itself, so with proper care and treatment, it is possible to restore this vital organ to full health. The liver is one organ that can be regenerated and a liver donation is a common method of helping people to recover from severe liver damage. Those who donate can regrow and those who receive the new liver thrive.
So, are you playing nice with your liver?
Sure, you might think you’re being nice to your liver by avoiding alcohol and fatty foods. But are you really? According to new research, there are a lot of things that can damage your liver – and you might be surprised at what’s on the list.
For example, did you know that taking too much acetaminophen can be toxic to your liver? Or that eating too much sugar can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease? Even something as innocent as using mouthwash too often can cause problems. (Tip: use an alcohol free mouthwash with cleansing herbs.) More tips: acetaminophen (Tylenol) is hard on your liver, ibuprofen is hard on your kidneys. Be cautious with both. (Read More)
Don’t abuse your liver’s ability to regenerate! It doesn’t mean that you are allowed to treat it poorly. In fact, your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body, filtering out toxins and waste products from your blood. So it’s important to take care of your liver and give it the support it needs to function properly. Here are a few simple tips:
First, watch your alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can damage liver cells and lead to fatty liver disease. If you enjoy a drink or two, stick to moderate amounts and give your liver a break every now and then.
Second, eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains helps to support liver health. Avoid processed foods and excessive amounts of saturated fat.
Finally, exercise regularly. Exercise helps to improve blood flow to the liver and helps the organ function more efficiently. So get moving and give your liver some love! Milk Thistle as a supplement is an easy way to give your liver a little help with its detoxification duties.
Correlated with liver function is the lymph system. The lymph system is a network of vessels and nodes that help to circulate lymph fluid throughout the body. Lymph fluid is clear and contains white blood cells, which help to fight infection. The lymph system also plays an important role in the absorption of fats and other nutrients from the digestive system. The drainage of the lymph system passes through the liver, where the lymph fluid is filtered and detoxified. However, if the liver is damaged or diseased, the lymph system can become overloaded and unable to effectively remove toxins from the body. As a result, it is important to keep the liver healthy in order to maintain a healthy lymph system.
What’s even more amazing is that this lymph system is based on hydraulics, and it requires movement to function properly. For example, when we walk, the action of our muscles squeezes our lymph vessels and helps to push the lymph through them. If we didn’t move our bodies regularly, the lymph would become stagnant and could lead to problems such as infection or illness.
So, next time you’re feeling lazy, remember that you’re not just being idle—you’re also impeding your lymph system! I want to encourage you to move your body often and be wise in how you eat and how much you eat so as not to overtax your lymphatic system and your liver. Eat less to live longer.
A few facts about the Lymphatic System:
- The lymphatic system is our body’s ‘sewerage system’.
- It maintains fluid levels in our body tissues by removing all fluids that leak out of our blood vessels.
- The lymphatic system is important for the optimal functioning of our general and specific immune responses.
- The lymph nodes monitor the lymph flowing into them and produce cells and antibodies which protect our body from infection and disease.
- The spleen and thymus are lymphatic organs that monitor the blood and detect and respond to pathogens and malignant cells.
- The lymphatic system plays an important role in the absorption of fats from the intestine.
- When the lymphatic system is not formed well or has been damaged by surgery, radiotherapy or tissue damage, a swelling of a part of the body may occur (most commonly the legs or arms). When this swelling lasts more than about three months it is called lymphoedema.
- When it’s not functioning well the lymphatic system may have a role in obesity, Crohn’s disease and other disorders.
And this from the British Liver Trust:
5 facts about the liver
The liver is just as vital an organ as the heart, but people often fail to appreciate the importance of keeping it healthy. This is why our Love Your Liver campaign is so vital to raise awareness of how important it is to look after your liver.
- It’s larger than most people realize
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body, weighing some 1.8 kg in men and 1.3 kg in women.
About the size of an American football, it is located mainly in the upper right portion of your abdomen, under the diaphragm and sits above the stomach. If you place your right hand over the area under the ribs on the right side of your body it will just about cover the area of your liver.
- It performs hundreds of jobs
The liver is a vital organ and gland, which carries out over 500 functions.
One of the liver’s most important functions is to break down food and convert it into energy. Carbohydrates, such as bread and potatoes, are broken down to glucose and stored mainly in the liver and muscles as glycogen. When energy is required in an emergency the liver rapidly converts its store of glycogen back into glucose ready for use.
It also plays a vital role in fighting infections, particularly infections arising in the bowel. It does this by mobilizing part of your body’s defense mechanism called the macrophage system. The liver contains over half of the body’s supply of macrophages, known as Kuppfer cells, which literally destroy any bacteria that they come into contact with.
- A healthy liver keeps your brain healthy
One of the most important things the liver does is to change potentially damaging substances that are either made by or taken in by the body and make them harmless. However, if the liver is badly damaged and unable to function properly, these ‘toxins’ can build up in the bloodstream. If they enter the brain, they can result in a condition called hepatic encephalopathy.
- The liver is like an elastic band
It works hard and can take a lot of abuse, but it is like an elastic band – it can only stretch so far before it breaks.
When other organs in the body are damaged, a scar forms, like on the skin. However, if given the chance, the liver has an incredible ability to replace damaged tissue with new cells. It’s the only organ in the body with the ability to regenerate.
Taking steps to look after your liver will give it the chance to regenerate.
- Look after your liver and it will look after you
Improving the health of your liver can have wide-ranging health benefits. It is your body’s factory, processing everything you eat and drink (including legal and illegal drugs). If you look after your liver then your liver will look after you.
Finally, reduce your calorie intake. Most Americans eat more than they need or should. Change your dinner plates from 12 inches to 9 inches. Don’t go for seconds. If you are used to eating several times a day, reduce the meals from three meals to two meals. Stop eating when you are 75% full. It takes several minutes for the satiety hormone to reach your brain. Try it and see if its true. The number one anti aging prescription is to reduce excess calories. You’ll save your organs and increase their lifespan. Study more about Intermittent fasting and autophagy.
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