Last week, I told you how easy it is to damage your liver taking any drug containing paracetamol (acetaminophen) or aspirin after a heavy night of drinking. In fact, these drugs, when used in high doses on a regular basis, can cause a lot of harm to your liver on their own.
However, it’s not just alcohol and painkillers that put a strain on your liver. Our heavy reliance on processed and sugar-laden foods certainly doesn’t do this essential organ any favours and hampers its ability to carry out many essential functions relating to digestion, metabolism, immunity, and the storage of nutrients within the body.
Think about your liver
Your diet represents one of the biggest potential burdens on your liver, as many or our foods today are contaminated with pesticides, growth hormones and chemical additives… all passing through it in your bloodstream.
The artificial sweetener high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is probably one your biggest enemies. It is believed that HFCS plays a major role in the increasing number of people suffering with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) – a disorder that can cause scarring and hardening of the organ, which can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure and liver cancer.
In fact, the latest numbers indicate that as many as 30 per cent of adult Americans now have NAFLD. With the rising rates of obesity, NAFLD has become increasingly common. The newly-identified link to HFCS comes from a study at Duke University Medical Centre, where researchers looked at dietary questionnaires completed by 427 adults with NAFLD.
Only 19 per cent of the participants reported no consumption of HFCS containing beverages. Fifty two per cent consumed between one and six drinks containing HFCS per week and 29 per cent consumed beverages that contained HFCS daily.
So far, there’s no treatment for NAFLD – all that sufferers can do is lose weight and lower their triglycerides (blood fats) if they’re elevated. However, the Duke study’s researchers also suggest healthier diets – limiting your intake of fizzy drinks, fruit juices from concentrate, processed foods, trans-fats and HFCS. It’s my opinion that this approach will also help prevent NAFLD.
Increasing your intake of fresh organic foods will also save your liver from a slew of toxins. By definition, organic foods must be free from genetically modified organisms, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and other drugs.
On the flipside, following an organic diet will help support your liver, especially when you eat plenty of fresh fruits and sulphur-rich vegetables, which are naturally detoxifying. Sulphur-rich foods, such as onions, garlic and all the veggies in the cruciferous family (broccoli, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower) are known to help your liver detoxify your blood from environmental toxins, including prescription drugs and pesticides. Vegetables are also an excellent source of fibre, which helps toxins to move through your digestive tract, reducing stress on your liver.
The spices curcumin, cinnamon and liquorice are also known to support healthy liver function and milk thistle, grape seed extract and green tea will also assist in the detoxifying process.
Supplementing with methylsulfonylmethane (MSM) can help your liver tremendously, especially if it has been taking some strain after the festive season (January is after all a month of detox and repair). While not an antioxidant by itself, part of MSM’s action is to improve your body’s ability to make its own antioxidants.
MSM is 34 per cent sulphur, which plays a critical role in detoxification, and also in inflammatory conditions. For detoxification, sulphur is part of one of the most important antioxidants that your body produces: glutathione. Without sulphur, glutathione cannot work. Glutathione helps your body eliminate some of the toxic by-products in your blood.
Another supplement that can certainly benefit your liver is N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – an invaluable antioxidant amino acid that also stimulates the production of glutathione. Studies have shown that NAC is effective in helping to repair the damage paracetamol does to your liver. Coupled with its excellent anti-inflammatory properties, NAC is not only effective support for a liver in crisis, it is also essential for anyone who regularly takes paracetamol, which is known to cause liver toxicity.
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Disclaimer: Bear in mind the material contained in this article is provided for information purposes only. We are not addressing anyone’s personal situation. Please consult with your own physician before acting on any recommendations contained herein.
MSM Health Benefits May Be Related to Its Sulphur Content, published online 03.03.13, articles.mercola.com
Top 10 Ways to Protect Your Liver, published online, cncahealth.com
High Fructose Corn Syrup and Your Liver, published online, drweil.com
Dietary fructose in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Hepatology. 2013 Jun;57(6):2525-31. doi: 10.1002/hep.26299. Epub 2013 May 1.