The liver is the most important organ of detoxification in the human body, and it's so vital for our health and our survival. Even if three-quarters of it gets destroyed, it can regenerate itself into a whole new functioning organ. Now unfortunately in today's environment, there's so much pollution that our livers are being challenged like never before, but there are also other factors, such as the over-consumption of processed foods, alcohol and also pharmaceutical drugs.

Functions of the Liver

Your liver acts as a filter for your blood, and your entire blood supply will pass through your liver to be cleaned several times over a day. Now, if something happens where your liver's detoxification capacities become impaired, then this is when the toxins in your blood begin to build up, and disease can set in. But filtering your blood isn't the only function that your liver performs.

It's also responsible for storing glycogen that you can use for energy later on. It produces bile, which helps to break down dietary fats. It manufactures certain vitamins and minerals. It also helps to break down the protein, carbs, and fats that you eat.

Your liver also manufactures and excretes certain hormones and it helps to maintain stable blood sugar levels. Now, this is a condition marked by an abnormal fat accumulation in a dysfunctional liver, and one of the most common is fatty liver. Now, this is a condition marked by an abnormal accumulation of fat in the liver cells. This is typically a chronic condition that develops over several years and often there are no conspicuous symptoms, but the result can be cirrhosis of the liver. In the past, cirrhosis of the liver was most commonly seen in alcoholics, but physicians today are starting to see more and more cases occur in the general population.


Causes of High Liver Enzymes and Toxicity

Some of the common causes are exposure to toxic chemicals, the abuse of pharmaceutical drugs, obesity, and diabetes. Other common causes of a dysfunctional liver are viral infections, Hepatitis B and C. These two conditions combined, affect hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

The good news about hepatitis B is that only around five to ten percent of the cases ever become chronic. Ninety percent of people infected with Hepatitis B will eventually develop antibodies that make them immune to any future infections. Hepatitis C, on the other hand, has a less optimistic outcome for infected individuals. The large majority of cases of Hepatitis C will eventually progress to either cirrhosis of the liver or liver cancer.

The Hepatitis C virus is transmitted via blood and has the potential to become infected from things such as tattoos, sexual contact, or sharing needles with someone who has infected blood. Those are the two main causes when it comes to a dysfunctional liver in our modern society.

Fortunately, there is an effective treatment for hepatitis B (however, many people do not find out they have Hep B until later in the disease). Hepatitis C can now be cured with an effective treatment that lasts only a few weeks.  But it is important to find out if you have either by getting tested.

Another factors usually not considered to explain mildly elevated liver enzymes is resistance exercise.

Resistance exercise can increase liver enzymes. Some physicians do not know this and get concerned when they see elevated ALT and AST levels in healthy men without liver disease, excessive alcohol use or medication-related liver effects. Muscular exercise can cause highly pathological liver function tests in healthy men






Symptoms of Liver Toxicity

But, as I mentioned earlier, there aren't always conspicuous symptoms to let you know that your liver is impaired or breaking down. This is why it's important to get periodic blood work done through your family physician.

However, occasionally, your body will exhibit certain signs and symptoms when your liver begins to break down or becomes impaired. Some of those signs and symptoms include gallstones and gallbladder disease, abdominal bloating with nausea, unstable blood sugar issues, poor mental focus, food intolerances, chemical sensitivities, chronic fatigue, body odor, and bad breath, dark circles under your eyes and yellowing of the whites of your eyes.

Now keep in mind that these symptoms can also indicate other conditions. This is why it's important if you're exhibiting these, signs and symptoms to go to your family physician and get the appropriate testing done. Obviously, the ideal scenario is not to let the health of your liver degenerate to the point where your body does start to exhibit those signs and symptoms. In order to prevent this, you have to take two measures. You have to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins and you have to take in nutrients that support the health of your liver.


How to Protect Your Liver

One of the best ways to reduce chemical contaminants in your immediate environment is to look at any products that you use in your homes, such as personal care products or household cleaning products. Most commercial products contain chemical contaminants that can gain entry into your body, through your skin or your lungs and these chemicals can overburden your liver.

So, check with your natural health food store and often they have alternatives that have fewer chemicals or more natural ingredients. Another source of chemical contaminants in your immediate environment can be the foods that you eat, things like fruits and vegetables with a high pesticide load or also animal products that contain antibiotics or hormones.

If your budget allows for it, try and purchase more of your fruits and vegetables in organic form, so there's less of a pesticide load and also when it comes to animal products like meats or fish, try and choose animals that were either pasture-raised or wild caught. This will again reduce the amount of exposure to things like antibiotics or any hormones.

Now when it comes to supporting and strengthening the health of your liver, there are three great supplements that I usually recommend to my clients and they are Milk Thistle, Dandelion Root, and NAC or N-Acetyl Cysteine. Milk Thistle has been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years and extensive studies are proving its efficacy for healing and strengthening the liver. It acts as an antioxidant to help protect the liver from free radical damage. It can block the uptake of various toxins into the liver. It also enhances detoxification enzymes required for the liver to do its job and it can even help regenerate damaged liver cells. The recommended dose is 300 milligrams per day, taken for seven days in a row each month as a liver maintenance protocol.

Dandelion Root is a bitter herb that's been used in traditional medicine for hundreds of years to treat a so-called, sluggish liver. It's been shown to help cleanse the liver of pharmaceutical drugs and it also helps to stimulate the flow of bile from the gallbladder. The recommended dose is two to three grams per day, taken for a one to two week period each month.

N-Acetyl Cysteine or NAC is an amino acid that is used in emergency medical situations in hospitals when patients present with liver toxicity due to overdosing on Tylenol or poisonous mushrooms. It's capable of protecting the liver by increasing intracellular levels of glutathione, which is the most powerful antioxidant in the human body. But, it can also neutralize toxic heavy metals such as mercury that tend to have an affinity for organs such as the liver and kidney and can cause significant damage. The recommended dose for N-Acetyl Cysteine is 600 milligrams, taken one to two times every day.