The liver is the gateway to the body and in this chemical age its detoxification systems are easily overloaded. Thousands of chemicals are added to food and over 700 have been identified in drinking water. Plants are sprayed with toxic chemicals, animals are injected with potent hormones and antibiotics and a significant amount of our food is genetically engineered, processed, refined, frozen and cooked. All this can lead to destruction of delicate vitamins and minerals, which are needed for the detoxification pathways in the liver. The liver must try to cope with every toxic chemical in our environment, as well as damaged fats that are present in processed and fried foods.
The Liver Filter
The liver is the cleanser and filter of the bloodstream and is of vital importance. It is the largest organ in the body and has an enormous amount of blood flowing through it every minute of our lives. It is between 8 - 9 inches in its greatest diameter, 5 – 6 inches in its greatest height and 3 – 4 inches in its depth, weighing around 42 to 56 ounces.
A Normal healthy Liver
What are the functions of the liver?
- It is responsible for the production of bile which is stored in the gallbladder and released when required for the digestion of fats.
- The liver stores glucose in the form of glycogen which is converted back to glucose again when needed for energy.
- It also plays an important role in the metabolism of protein and fats. It stores the vitamins A, D, K, B12 and folate and synthesizes blood clotting factors.
- Another important role is as a detoxifier, breaking down or transforming substances like ammonia, metabolic waste, drugs, alcohol and chemicals, so that they can be excreted. These may also be referred to as “xenobiotic” chemicals. If we examine the liver under a microscope, we will see rows of liver cells separated by spaces which act like a filter or sieve, through which the bloodstream flows. The liver filter is designed to remove toxic matter such as dead cells, microorganisms, chemicals, drugs and particulate debris from the bloodstream. The liver filter is called the sinusoidal system, and contains specialized cells known as Kupffer cells which ingest and break down toxic matter.
The Liver Filter
The liver filter can remove a wide range of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites from the bloodstream, which is highly desirable, as we certainly do not want these dangerous things building up in the blood and invading the deeper parts of the body. Infections with parasites often come from the contaminated water supplies found in large cities, and indeed other dangerous organisms may find their way into your gut and bloodstream from these sources. This can cause chronic infections and poor health, so it is important to protect your liver from overload with these microorganisms. The safest thing to do is boil your water for at least 5 minutes, or drink only bottled water that has been filtered and sterilized. High loads of unhealthy micro-organisms can also come from eating foods that are prepared in conditions of poor hygiene by persons who are carrying bacteria, viruses or parasites on their skin. Foods, especially meats that are not fresh or are preserved, also contain a higher bacterial load, which will overwork the liver filter if they are eaten regularly.
Recently, it has become very fashionable for people to detoxify their bodies by various means, such as fasting or cleansing the bowels with fiber mixtures. Fasting can by its extreme nature, only be a temporary method of cleansing the body of waste products, and for many people causes an excessively rapid release of toxins which can cause unpleasant, acute symptoms. The liver filter, like any filter, needs to be cleansed regularly, and it is much easier and safer to do it everyday. This is easily and pleasantly achieved by adopting a daily eating pattern that maintains the liver filter in a healthy clean state. By following the methods and guidelines on this site, you will be able to keep the liver filter healthy and clean. Although it is important to keep the intestines moving regularly and to sweep their walls with high fiber and living foods, it is important to remember that the bowels are really a channel of elimination and not a cleansing organ per se. In other words the bowels cannot cleanse, filter or remove toxic wastes from the bloodstream.
More than ever before in the history of mankind, human beings need to have healthy livers to break down the chemicals that have crept into our environment. If you talk to radiologists and gastroenterologists who are looking at people’s livers today they will tell you that the condition “Fatty Liver” affects more than 50% of people over the age of 50!
See Fatty Liver for more information.
Common causes often include; incorrect diet, excessive alcohol intake, adverse reactions to drugs and toxic chemicals, and viral hepatitis. Dr. Cabot believes it is because modern-day medicine has become sidetracked into treating the symptoms of diseases and not the causes. Excess weight is a symptom of liver dysfunction and not solely due to the number of calories you consume.
We have been attacking the symptoms of weight excess with fad diets, obsessive high impact aerobics, stomach stapling and toxic drugs, such as appetite suppressants, laxatives and diuretics. We have failed to consider the underlying cause of LIVER DYSFUNCTION and indeed we have virtually ignored the hardest-working organ in the body, with dire consequences.
Dr. Sandra Cabot’s books on the liver show us these consequences – not just weight problems, but a higher incidence of cardiovascular and degenerative diseases that are the leading causes of death in modern affluent societies.
Dr Cabot received an email from a reader of her books and websites, who was alarmed by the large number of hormone implants being inserted into beef animals where she worked in a stock and station agency. Steers are implanted with Hormonal Growth Promotants (HGP) which is justified by corporate statements, that tests have shown that a non-pregnant woman produces 54,000 times the amount of estrogen found in a 17 oz steak and that only a fraction of the amount used in human hormone replacement therapy is used in the implants that are put into animals. This is all very well, however, it is still increasing the workload of the liver, which over a long period of time may cause hormonal imbalances in those who eat beef regularly. We must ask ourselves why is the incidence of breast cancer so high, particularly in relatively young women? Surely it is better to eat meat from animals that roam free and happy in fresh green pastures that are not injected with potent hormones or fed concentrated stock feed to rush their growth?
The use of drugs to control and treat animal disease and to promote faster, more efficient growth of livestock is a common practice. An estimated 80 percent of U.S. livestock and poultry receive some animal drugs during their lifetime. Improper use of animal drugs may cause residues in the edible tissues of slaughtered animals that could be hazardous to consumers.
Most countries will have set MRL or Maximum Residue Limits. This is the amount of pesticide residue, heavy metals, hormone residues and natural toxins that the food ( eggs, meat or milk) are allowed to have and still be sold to the public for consumption. The MRLs in Australia are set by the National Registration Authority for Agricultural and Veterinary Chemicals. In the USA they are set by authorities under the Food and Drug Administration. The key point is, just because a food substance complies in relation to the MRL , does not mean that the food is free from ALL contamination – just that it is at, or under, the level set by the particular authority deemed to be safe. MRLs are often set on a national basis to meet the requirements of a particular country. However, pests and pest pressure can vary between countries, as can chemicals used and agronomic practices. The lists of MRL values applying in different countries can therefore be quite different.
There is also the point that despite the existence of these laws, it does not guarantee that all farmers and growers comply 100% . Principle causes of excessive drug residues are failure to observe drug label withdrawal periods before slaughter or processing, or failure to withhold milk after dosing of herds with drugs such as the treatment of bovine mastitis with large doses of penicillin which requires a withholding period before the residues in milk are reduced to acceptable levels. Other causes may include failure to follow other drug label directions, poor feed manufacturing practices, and human negligence.
There are many chemicals (e.g., trace metals, industrial chemicals, and mycotoxins) that may be inadvertently present in animal tissues yet have no established safe concentrations. This of course does not mean that these substances are not harmful.
It is a fact of life that pesticides, herbicides and hormones are used in food production. Although the regulatory levels set by authorities provide some control over residues – it is not the ‘be all and end all’. The liver is again highlighted as vital, as it is the organ that metabolizes these substances and excretes them from the body.
It is only the liver that can purify the bloodstream and we only have one liver.
These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat or cure any diseases.