Modern life, one way or another, puts a tremendous toxic burden on our liver. We are living in an increasingly fast-paced and polluted world and eating more processed foods than ever before. The air we breathe in contains industrial fumes, automobile exhausts, tobacco smoke and tons of other harmful gases. Huge amounts of chemicals are added to foods and over 700 chemicals have been identified in drinking water. Cosmetics, personal care and household products that we use on a daily basis are also full of toxic chemicals. Moreover, stress and negative emotions also cause toxic build-up in the body.
Liver and detoxification
Our liver, being the largest internal organ in the body, plays fundamental roles in a multitude of health-promoting tasks in the body. One of the principal functions of the liver is filtering the blood. It removes toxins from the bloodstream, rendering them less harmful, so that they can be excreted from the body. Highly efficient, it filters nearly 380 litres of blood every day, cleansing the blood from the detrimental toxins.
In addition to detoxification, the liver is responsible for converting glucose (sugars) to glycogen (stored sugar), producing bile for the breakdown of fats, synthesising proteins for blood clotting, regulating hormones, storing vitamins and minerals, etc.
However, the liver is vulnerable to injury and damage because it plays an essential role in chemical metabolism and is exposed to toxic substances. Regular, heavy alcohol consumption can also cause damage to the liver. Fat accumulation, drugs and viral infections are other major culprits that result in liver diseases.
How can we tell when our liver is not working well? Watch out for symptoms such as fatigue, loss of appetite, nausea, itching, abdominal pain, unexplained weight loss, mental confusion, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice) and swelling of legs (edema). If left untreated, these symptoms can progress and lead to other more severe complications.
Protecting your liver
Lifestyle changes such as abstaining from alcohol consumption, eating a balanced diet and being physically active can help protect your liver. Just like any filter, the liver needs to be cleansed regularly. Nourish your liver naturally with herbs such as milk thistle to stay energetic and revived.
Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) is a flowering plant that has been used medicinally for over 2000 years. It contains both active and inactive constituents in varying amounts, with the active compound, silymarin, contributing to a multitude of health benefits and medicinal value. Most studies suggested the use of milk thistle extract standardised to 70% – 80% silymarin to confirm its effectiveness and efficacy. A high strength formula should contain 400mg of milk thistle extract.
Milk thistle is traditionally used as a liver tonic to support healthy liver functions and protect the liver against toxins, alcohol and environmental pollutants while encouraging the regeneration of damaged liver cells. It has powerful antioxidant properties and can help to block harmful free radicals from attacking liver cells. It also maintains gallbladder health and assists in healthy bile flow, essential for optimal digestion.