Medical Associate Newsletter:
The Liver, Master Detoxifier
by Dr. Jason Peñaranda
Medical Associate, Aegle Wellness Center
Like any organized operation, the human body maintains an efficient system of waste management. Every day, harmful substances circulate in our bloodstream and tissues. They may be by-products of our bodies’ natural processes or toxins from the environment.
THE DETOXIFICATION SYSTEM
Fortunately, our bodies have organs designed to address this concern. Collectively, they are called the excretory system and their function is what we familiarly know as “detoxification.” It includes the skin, which releases toxins through sweating; the lymphatics, which drain wastes from blood vessels; the lungs, which release carbon dioxide and other gases; the kidneys, which filter our blood and release toxins through urine; and the liver, which is the master of them all.
THE MASTER DETOXIFIER
The liver is our largest internal organ, and is arguably the most hardworking and probably the most abused. Our other detox organs are dependent on our liver for them to do their function.
When toxins find their way into our bodies through the food we eat, beverages we drink, medicines we take, or air we breathe, they circulate in our blood and eventually pass through our liver. Some substances cannot be readily eliminated by the other detox organs because they are harmful even to them. Synthetic chemicals like food preservatives, prescription drugs, pollutants, water contaminants, and secondhand smoke need to be neutralized by our liver before our other detox organs can safely remove them. A lot of these deactivated toxins are released with the bile into the intestines for elimination through our bowel movement. This is why it’s important that we stimulate bile flow and flush our liver and gall bladder regularly.
Aside from being the master detoxifier, our liver has other functions crucial to overall health and well-being. It produces bile, which is stored in the gall bladder and eventually ends up in the intestines. This is a necessary step for us to properly digest fats and absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. It is the site where we produce and store glucose for energy. The metabolism of fats necessary for our hormonal balance and cellular integrity also occurs in the liver.
Although our liver is very resilient (it can regenerate its tissues), its functions are not without limit. For example, although alcohol is toxic to the liver in any amount, the liver can handle and reverse the damage of the alcohol content of a glass of wine on a daily basis. Beyond that, tissue injury will start to develop and create health issues. Synthetic medications taken for long periods (months to years) will cause liver damage that will continue as long as they are being taken.
There is no set standard as to how much the liver can take that is applicable for every individual. The threshold varies from person to person, and it’s not wise to test your limit. What's important is that we avoid the things that harm our liver, and do the things that protect and support it. Otherwise, the functions of our liver will eventually be compromised and all our other organs will be affected. Our bodies’ daily wear and tear will accumulate, our organs will age faster, and our overall ageing will accelerate.
MAINTAINING LIVER HEALTH
With the right care, our liver can be rejuvenated and kept healthy. Here are some ways to protect our liver and its functions:
Avoid taking substances that are harmful to the liver or the body in general like alcohol, synthetic food additives, processed food, oysters, and certain synthetic medications
Keep yourself well-hydrated
Provide the liver with the nutrients it needs through proper diet and supplementation
Cleanse the liver regularly through juicing, flushing, or IV liver detox
Manage anger and stress. Stay happy.
Learn to recognize the many toxins that we may have been overlooking in our environment, and find out how we can avoid them, and reverse and neutralize their harmful effects that may have accumulated in our bodies. Join us on Thursday, June 29th for yet another animated and educational discussion on how we can very well manage the toxins in and around us.
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Pursuing integrative medicine right after graduating from medical school, Dr. Peñaranda braved the turbulent waters of clinical practice as a pioneer of this once obscure specialty. Specializing in electronic medical education, he is known for writing many of the materials on advancing lifestyle and functional medicine, maximizing the reach of digital networks and social media. He established authority in wellness advocacies and lifestyle articles among his colleagues—a skill he uses in educating his patients in achieving their health goals.
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