Your Liver Needs to be Protected?   

Your Liver Needs to be Protected?

Excessive alcohol consumption and viral hepatitis (hepatitis B) can harm your liver.
Most people take liver health for granted. Liver as we know is one of the body's most robust organs and is the only one capable of regenerating itself. Modern living unfortunately involves daily exposure to substances that are toxic to our bodies, which can impose heavy stress on the liver.

The liver carries out thousands of specialized functions including detoxification (breaking down toxic substances for elimination). Most liver functions including detoxification occur on cell membranes of liver parenchymal cells (hepatocytes). In order to carry out its functions, the parenchymal cells are densely packed with membranes.
All toxic substances such as drugs, chemical food additives, pollutants and alcohol to name a few, can damage the liver and, do so by way of attacking the membrane systems of the parenchymal cells.

In a healthy state, these parenchymal cells are well equipped with protective antioxidants such as glutathione to neutralize free radicals generated during the process of detoxification.
The problem starts when the liver is unable to cope with the toxins and become overburdened. Its stores of antioxidants are progressively depleted and this, can lead to a number of serious disorders from fatty liver to viral hepatitis to drug induced liver damage to alcohol induced liver damage.

How our liver detoxifies toxic substances
Many of the toxic substances that enter our body are fat soluble which means they dissolve only in the fatty region of the cell (membranes) and not in the watery region. The detoxification system in our liver can be divided into two phases which are designed to convert fat-soluble toxins or chemicals into water-soluble chemicals so that they can be easily excreted via the watery fluids such as bile and urine.

The Phase I system involves the enzymes on the membranes of liver cells. These enzymes convert toxic chemicals into harmless chemicals. However, during this detoxification process, free radicals are produced as by products - which if in excess, can damage liver cells.
Antioxidants such as vitamin C, E, and Alpha Lipoic Acid reduce the damage caused by these free radicals. If these antioxidants are lacking, or are depleted by free radicals, these toxic chemicals will become far more dangerous and some may even convert to potentially carcinogenic substances.

The Phase II system involves a process called conjugation whereby the liver adds on another substance (Glutathione) to a toxic chemical or drug to render it less harmful. At the same time it makes it water-soluble, so it can be excreted easily. Glutathione is also a powerful antioxidant produced by the body to mop up free radicals which could otherwise damage the liver tissues.

Nutritional support for your liver
Polyunsaturated Phospholipids also known as Essential Phospholipids (EPL) - are important support nutrients for the liver. The main component of EPL is phosphatidylcholine, which is the major constituent of cell membrane systems. These phospholipids of cell membranes are highly vulnerable to oxidative attack from free radicals and other highly reactive toxins. Under excessive attack, the membrane phospholipids become degraded. Holes begin to develop in the cell's membrane, resulting in loss of control over the cell's internal structure, which eventually leads to cell death.

Viral infection in the liver is similar to toxic chemical attack.
It causes the cells to release pro-inflammatory substances which degrade the phospholipids leading to damage of parenchymal (liver) cell membranes . Damage to the parenchymal cell membrane must be repaired in order to preserve normal cell function and in order to do so, the cells need an abundant supply of EPL. Studies show that taking 1-2 grams per day of EPL prevents membrane damage and helps to maintain cell membrane integrity, reduces accumulation of fat in the liver tissue, reduces cell death and fibrosis (fibrous scar tissue) and improve liver functions.

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) - This is sometimes known as the ideal or universal antioxidant. Antioxidants as supplements are useful to keep free radicals in check. ALA is both a fat soluble and a water-soluble antioxidant. This is unique as all other antioxidants can only function in one type of environment such as vitamin E in fatty tissues and vitamin C in watery regions. Hence, ALA can protect the total cell as it destroys fat-soluble free radicals formed on cell membranes as well as water-soluble free radicals in the water-soluble cellular components that make up most of the cell.

Glutathione - is naturally produced in the body and is found in very high concentrations in the liver for good reasons.
First, it is the cell's primary antioxidant against free radicals produced by toxic chemicals and viruses. Secondly, as mentioned - it is an essential part of the liver's Phase II detoxification system. Studies show that there is a strong correlation between liver diseases such as cirrhosis of the liver and low levels of glutathione. Researchers have also found that ALA has the ability to boosts glutathione levels in the body. Although glutathione is sold as a supplement, only very small amounts can be absorbed into the bloodstream. This is because of its molecule size, which is far too big to be absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract. Hence, the best way to boost glutathione levels is to take ALA supplements daily.

Polyunsaturated Phospholipids combined with Alpha Lipoic Acid help protect the liver against damage by alcohol and infection due to viruses. Both nutrients provide nutritional support in the management of damaged liver-fatty liver, chronic hepatitis and alcohol induced liver damage. By combining these two nutrients, the damaged liver tissues slowly resume their function dead cells are replaced with new cells and the entire organ starts to repair itself. 

Happy reading,

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