Saturday, July 20, 2013

Some foods and natural remedies to keep liver healthy

The liver is one of our body’s busiest organs, with a role to play in most of the biochemical processes that sustain life. It produces bile that is vital to digestion, produces plasma proteins, stores iron, regulates the clotting of blood, synthesizes cholesterol, stores glucose as glycogen, regulates the levels of amino acids in blood, is involved with clotting of blood, removes toxins from the body and produces immune factors that help prevent infections. With our modern-day food and lifestyles (think greater junk food, alcohol, smoking, stress and medication) we put a greater pressure on our liver and this can cause several health problems right from allergies and migraines to obesity and indigestion. One of its most important functions involves breaking down and disposing of toxic substances.If the released toxins are not expelled properly due to the inefficiency of the liver they are simply reabsorbed. These toxins can later lead to various severe complications including cancer.

There are certain vegetables that contain ingredients which help the liver secrete greater concentrations of important enzymes; in turn, these enzymes help to excrete potential carcinogens from the body.
Broccoli, onion and garlic are believed to provide sulfur to the body. Sulphur, helps enhance the detoxifying reactions in the liver, and carry out processes that prevent its damage.
Beetroot contains pectin which is very useful in flushing out the toxins from the liver, and does not allow them to be reabsorbed.
Cabbage is known for its high levels of sodium, which help in proper disposal and detoxification of the liver.
Carrots are rich in Niacin and beta carotene, they are great for the eyes and liver. The niacin helps the liver properly break down substances to release toxins, keeping it healthy and avoiding re-absorption of harmful substances.

Some of the herbal remedies that can help liver stay healthy are as follows:

Amla or Gooseberry
The Indian gooseberry or amla is known as one of the richest sources of vitamin C. What is less well-known is its ability to keep the liver functioning at optimal levels. This herb has been used extensively in Ayurveda for treatment of a sluggish liver; now researchers are finding in laboratory studies that extracts from amla have liver-protective function. However, there is no clear indication of whether it is useful to treat hepatitis B infection. The best way to consume it is raw as small pieces in salad or by making a raitha with grated amla and curd.

Jethimad or Licorice
People with non- alcoholic fatty liver disease show increased levels of the transaminase enzymes called ALT and AST. Studies have found that the use of licorice (Jethimad or Mulhati in Hindi) extracts led to reduced concentrations of these enzymes indicating that licorice has beneficial effects on the liver. Although licorice is more well-known for its sweet taste and anti-ulcer action, it has been used in Ayurvedic remedies to cure liver ailments. Licorice is available at stores selling Indian medicinal herbs; get the root, powder it at home and make a tea by pouring boiling water into the powder, steeping for a few minutes and then straining the liquid.

Haldi or Turmeric
Full of valuable antioxidants, turmeric is an important herb that improves liver health. No wonder then that people in Asian countries use it so extensively in their cooking. Now, it is being recognized even in western countries for its liver-protective value. Some studies have also found that the antiviral action of turmeric is effective in preventing the multiplication of the viruses causing hepatitis B and C. The easiest way to take turmeric is to include it in your cooking; you can also make it a practice to drink a little turmeric-flavoured milk on a regular basis to get its benefits.

Along with the use of these natural remedies, it is also important to avoid foods that cause damage to the liver. If you eat foods that are highly processed with a large number of additives, or if you take too many medications, your liver has to work overtime to tackle this greater chemical load and this can cause damage. Food that is rich in hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweetening agents and alcohol are some of the other substances that can put a greater load on your liver. Along with consuming of liver-protective herbs, it is also important to make sure you avoid the foods that cause it harm.


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