The liver as a detoxifier
Function and wellbeing of the liver
The liver detoxifies by a complex series of chemical, enzymatic reactions, which are beyond the scope of this article to discuss. Be that as it may, the bottom line is for the liver to convert the fat-soluble toxins to water-soluble forms that are less harmful and easily excretable through the urine and bile.
There are three major pathways by which the liver detoxifies. Firstly, it does so by the filtration of the blood from the intestines. As the blood passes through the liver in the first passage, more than 90 per cent of the toxins and chemicals are filtered off. In its passage through the liver, it is estimated that about 100 gallons of blood pass through the liver daily.
Secondly, the liver detoxifies by the production and secretion of bile and cholesterol into which the fat-soluble toxins dissolve. This bile-cholesterol-toxin complexes are transported to the intestine where they are absorbed by fiber and excreted in the stools.
Thirdly, the liver directly neutralizes chemicals and toxins by enzyme action in two phases. In Phase 1, the liver neutralizes the toxins or changes them into intermediates that can be further neutralized by one of several steps in Phase 2. At the end of the processes in phase 2, the wastes are either eliminated through the skin as sweat, through the intestines as stools and through the kidneys as urine.
In the process of detoxification in the liver certain vitamins, minerals, co-factors and coenzymes are involved. The liver itself is at the risk of suffering some damage during detoxification. To protect the liver from such damage, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and nutrients are needed.
The role of water, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, nutrients in the function and wellbeing of the liver.
1. Drink sufficient water
Like the management of most conditions in alternative medicine, the first thing to do in liver cleansing is to correct whatever dehydration that may be present in the body. When the body is dehydrated it affects the cleansing function of the liver negatively. Water is very important in all transport functions in the body. When the body is dehydrated, elimination of toxins and other types of wastes can be adversely affected. Apart from that, sufficient water in the body will help to prevent constipation which increases the acid load in the body. Also, having enough water in the body will support the kidneys to flush out the toxins broken down by the liver easily in the urine.
To ensure that your liver is continuously cleansed, you have to adopt a diet of fresh, raw vegetables and fruits. The vegetables most suitable for liver cleansing are the dark green leafy ones and the red, yellow and orange fruits.
Here now is a list of some vegetables, herbs and fruits that cleanse and support the liver in all its functions:
Leafy green vegetables like spinach, dandelion greens, mustard greens, chicory and bitter gourd have a high content of chlorophyll. Chlorophyll binds and sucks up toxins from the blood. They also have the ability to neutralize heavy metals and chemicals. They help in the production of bile which is useful in transporting toxins from the liver.
Cruciferous vegetables – broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and water cress. These vegetables help in enzyme production and in particular those that flush out carcinogens. They significantly lower the risk associated with cancer.
Carrots and beetroot contain flavonoids and beta-carotene, which help to stimulate and improve liver function.
Garlic contains allicin and selenium, both of which help in liver cleansing. They also activate liver enzymes that flush out toxins.
List of fruits that aid in cleansing the liver.
Apple, predominantly acts in the intestines to reduce the toxic load of the substances to the liver. The fiber in the apple absorbs a lot of the chemicals and toxins from the nutrients in the intestines before they are absorbed.
By its vitamin C content, lemons help to convert fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances that can easily be eliminated. Lime also plays the same role.
Avocados help in the production of glutathione. Glutathione is the most abundant endogenously produced antioxidant. Direct supplementation with glutathione is not very effective because absorption is very low. Glutathione is synthesize in the body by a combination of L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid and glycine. These are all amino acids with the availability of L-Cysteine limiting the rate of the reaction. Supplementation with N-acetyl cysteine is therefore highly indicated.
The grape fruit plays a role in the biosynthesis of the liver enzymes which are essential for the detoxification function of the liver. The vitamin C and other antioxidants in grape fruit also support the liver in cleansing.