Shield Your Liver and Give it a Helping Hand Over The Party Season

Written by December 2015 Phoebe Wynne-Lewis, BHSc, Dip Nat Med, Dip Herb Med – FxMed Technical Support

Too much festive spirit can wreak havoc on our major detoxing organ, the Liver. Over indulgence on rich, fatty foods, alcohol, smoking and so on causes damage to our liver cells. A sluggish liver underlies many common health complaints, and can interfere with digestive function; hormone detoxification; fat, protein & carbohydrate metabolism; regulation of blood sugar levels & weight management as the liver struggles with its key roles in toxin elimination.

The liver acts as a complex filter. Approximately two litres of blood pass through the liver every minute to be cleared of toxins and waste compounds. The bowel, kidneys, skin, blood & lymphatic circulations also play a part in the removal of unwanted or toxic substances. When this system is compromised toxins re-circulate and can accumulate in the body, acting as a constant drain on health & vitality.

The body’s natural liver detoxification process involves two steps; Phase I and Phase II. A toxin initially enters Phase I, the P-450 cytochrome system, and is reduced to smaller fragments. These fragments then progress to Phase II, where they are bound to molecules such as glutathione, glycine & sulfate. This process creates a new non-toxic molecule that can be excreted in the bile, urine or stool. In effect, Phase I either directly neutralizes a toxin, or modifies the toxic chemical to form activated intermediates which are then neutralized by one of more of the several Phase II enzyme systems. In Phase I, a toxic chemical is converted into a less harmful chemical. This is achieved by various chemical reactions (such as oxidation, reduction & hydrolysis), and during this process free radicals are produced which, if excessive, can damage the liver cells. Antioxidants reduce the damage caused by these free radicals. If antioxidants are lacking and toxin exposure is high, toxic chemicals become far more dangerous. Some may be converted from relatively harmless substances into potentially harmful (even carcinogenic) substances.

Without being the kill joy on the party season, most of us are well aware that the over indulgence of foods and alcohol is damaging to the liver and not exactly good for us. Fortunately there are measures you can recommend to your patients to reduce the consequences of their lack of restraint:

  • Liver supportive foods i.e beets, carrots, artichokes, garlic, leafy greens, avocados, apples, grapefruit (in moderation), olive oil can help activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins.
  • Six-eight glasses of water a day.
  • Increase omega-3’s i.e fish oil to help repair the damaged linings of our cells.
  • Exercise in fresh, clean air – helps with digestion, metabolism & weight management.
  • Limit alcohol – aim for at least 2 alcohol free days a week & look for alcohol reduced options.
  • Limit additives, junk foods and takeaways – regular consumption can bombard the liver.
  • Consider supporting their liver with herbs, homoeopathy or nutritional supplementation both in times of heavy demand & to help them re-set afterwards.