The organs are very deep within our physiology but as the old saying goes, out of sight out of mind!
Just to shed some light on the subject, poor organ function can be worse than originally believed. The body doesn't like change, not to mention superficial change like muscle gain and fat loss. Why drop fat when it is our back up fuel tank? The body's main function is to protect itself, the organs! If the organs are in jeopardy, everything gets put on hold. If it's a contest between your kidneys and your muscle mass, there's only one winner! We will do a whole article on something called visceral somatic inhibition, which explains how organs, muscles, nerves are all on the same nerve vortex and how a whole system can be shut down. This is the reason the signal of the left arm going numb during a heart attack, or the abdominals shut down and do not activate when there are gut problems. The body is connected to a fascinating degree!
Back to the Liver, this is the filtration system for everything that goes into the body. Food, drinks, drugs, stimulants, everything. If by any chance this system isn't working properly, all of the above substances that are consumed or inhaled will have limited and/or negative impact within the body. Also during weight gain, this organ gets put under immense strain by an increase in sub cutaneous fat (white adipose tissue), the process of lipogensis is too slow that the liver takes on this strain. This could easily lead to the liver being the back up fat storage unit (fatty liver). The inability of the liver to deal with this situation rapidly becomes problematic as toxins and hormones ideally should be filtered and excreted by the liver, if this doesn't happen, the body has to send these things somewhere (for temporary storage in the fat cells). So if you are not excreting your estrogens say hello to your increased hamstring fat accumulation.
This process already being far less than ideal, with rising leptin levels, due to excess white adipose tissue. Leptin resistance can fast become a reality and this greatly affects its synergistic (protein) hormone adiponectin in a bad way which has a major role in insulin sensitivity, lipid breakdown, beta oxidation and up regulation of uncoupling proteins. Whoa!! Did you just become insulin resistant?!? From here on in, carbohydrate intake needs to be controlled as blood sugar levels will be chronically increased, leading to increases of blood triglycerides. With our adiponectin affected, the body cannot regulate blood sugar and clear blood triglycerides. Meaning? Problem gets worse!
This increased fat storage in the liver itself is termed fatty liver, which is not ideal but isn't fatal. Another type of Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatisis (NASH) which microscopically looks exactly the same as Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (AFLD) which can both be far more serious. So if you drink excessive amounts of alcohol, and have relatively poor nutrition, you are almost certain to have some sort of Liver problem. With insulin resistance, diabetes, obesity or excessive weight are all big signs of liver trouble. Other things that cause FLD and even liver failure;
- Excessive paracetamol
- Too much dietary sodium (increases blood pressure which can have adverse effects on liver)
- Excessive sugar
- Drugs (even prescription)
The more of these things you expose yourself to, the lower the functionality of the liver. If the liver doesn't function properly, it cannot filter toxins and waste products out of the body. If the toxins cannot be excreted, this causes specific fat gain on different sites on the body. Not to mention a serious risk to your health if you cannot rid your body of this toxicity. So this would be a good time to consciously reduce the amount of toxins and bad chemicals we expose ourselves to. This would be a good time to mention that toxins can be eliminated via other organs, lungs, lymph nodes, colon and kidneys but the liver plays a central role in the process.
Now there is a basic understanding of what the problem is, how do you fix it? Exercise is something that can have significant effects on fatty liver. However, I emphasise, YOU CANNOT OUTWORK A BAD DIET. If you persist with doing the things that have caused this state of the liver simply exercising will not be enough to restore the function of the liver to optimum levels.
The word that is used abundantly throughout the health and fitness industry is 'Detox'. The basic definition of detoxification is reducing the toxicity (de-toxify). However, the general perception of detox programmes go against everything you have just learned. With copious amounts of fruit, fruit juices (all increasing blood sugar) oats, oat cakes, potatoes, brown rice, brown pasta, brown noodles, yoghurt and vegetables - being the only thing in the list I would incorporate. Physiologically to get rid of toxicity and to produce new liver cells and replace the liver cells that are damaged needs specific herbs to assist the regeneration process. Protein is the nutrient that helps cells grow and rebuild. To exclude protein while going through a 'liver detox' and include extra amount of carbohydrates is crazy especially considering that you get adequate amounts of fibre just from vegetables, without the constant glycemic load on the digestive system and ongoing overuse of insulin, this giving the pancreas a bit of a holiday too. Excessive amounts of carbs after insulin resistance has set it is a big part of why the liver toxicity has been so high.
Fasting is also something that can be considered ideal for a detox, the logic being the digestive system gets a break and some time to self heal. Or something like that! In reality the body, given the right herbs and foods in the right concentrations will always try to heal itself. As mentioned earlier, the first port of call for the body to protect is the organs. There have been little to no concrete evidence that prolonged water fasts allow detoxification of the liver to occur. This considering how risky it is (David Blane didn't exactly look detoxified when coming out of that suspended box in the early 2000's). Intermittent fasting - which is slightly different - is long periods within the day, normally one window of 4-10 hours where food is permitted and the body gets a 'break' during this time the body has sufficient relief from the constant digestion that takes place on a daily basis. However, there has been new research to suggest that prolonged periods of fasting could actually wreak havoc on the brain.
One thing that is completely underestimated is enough water (filtered or bottled). The liver is 85% water, so water needs to be a very important part of the detoxification process. 2-3 litres of water a day alone will help all types of liver disease, and a good portion of chronic diseases for that matter.
Other herbs and spices that help with liver detox are Silymarin which is a fruit extract that is in Milk Thistle. Turmeric, is a powerful anti-inflammatory also Artichoke is a bitter herb that protects against Liver toxins and infections.
There are many signs and symptoms that indicate problems with the Liver there are 2 main forms of liver damage, an alcohol induced fatty liver and a non alcoholic induced fatty liver (induced by nutrition). If the liver is damaged too much it is a huge risk to our health. Once the liver has had significant damage, it creates a situation where most of its functions become impaired and the body then has to restrict its function. The removal of toxins, hormones, and other waste products cannot be removed and this means that the body then suffers and this could lead to most of the major symptoms of liver disease. Treatment of the liver with certain foods and supplements along with continued liver protection is something that needs to be considered when attempting to detox and not just a juice day or a few days fasting as this could produce the opposite effect. The main thing is to find the cause of the Liver trouble and fix the underlying problem, otherwise the persisting re-toxifying of the body creates a bigger problem while you struggle to fix the initial smaller problem.