I want to have you participate in a short quiz. Let’s see how long it takes for you figure it out.
- This thing is reddish-brown in color.
- It weighs about 3 ½ pounds.
- It is responsible for approximately 500 different functions.
- It is the largest internal organ and gland in the body.
- It is key for digestion and essential for detoxification.
- It is the only human organ that is naturally capable of regenerating its own lost tissue.
- It supports virtually every other organ in the body.
- Science has not developed an artificial organ to replace it.
- Depending on the view, there are either two or four lobes.
- Everything you eat, drink, or medicate with passes through it.
- It stores nutrients like vitamin A, D, B12, and glucose.
- Symptoms only develop after extensive damage is done.
- It is involved with protein metabolism; cholesterol, glucose, and amino acid synthesis; production of triglycerides, and breakdown of hormones and insulin.
- And finally, it rhymes with river.
How perceptive of you; yes, it’s the liver. You now already know more about it than 90% of people worldwide. Seriously, without it, you die. Yet so many of us brutally mistreat our liver; often without even knowing it. I’ve seen jokes like, “I woke up this morning and my ‘Check Liver’ light was on”; and “Your liver called and he quits.” Humorous yes, but potentially tragic.
Last year I lost my best friend to cirrhosis of the liver. It was an ugly, heart-breaking death. He had been a really fun guy, and a great athlete. We had played a lot of sports together over several decades. He was 62 years old at the time of his death, but looked and felt 100. I know, you’re thinking with cirrhosis, he must have been a heavy drinker. Would it surprise you to know that he had only ever had one beer? And that when he was in high school. Sure alcohol consumption is a major cause of liver disease, but there are a number other things that are hostile to this extremely vital organ. Here’s a short list of some of the more common culprits.
- I’ve got to say it again: alcohol.
- NSAIDS. Over the counter pain pills, especially those that are acetaminophen based like Tylenol, and to a lesser degree ibuprofen products like Advil and Motrin.
- Some of the stronger, more specialized antibiotics like tetracycline, as well as prescription meds that contain steroids, codeine, and anti-depressants, like valium.
- Statin drugs, those that are prescribed to control cholesterol.
- Over supplementation with vitamin A, iron, and niacin can become toxic.
- Certain heart arrhythmia medications like amiodarone.
- Methotrexate, a medication prescribed for rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis.
- Certain herbs like kava kava, comfrey, and Chinese ginseng.
- Three of the major liver villains are diabetes and obesity, which are a problem for about 25% of the US population, and hepatitis which is an inflammatory disease caused by a virus.
Keeping your liver healthy in today’s world can be a bit tricky. If you avoid the bad stuff just mentioned, along with eating a healthy diet and getting regular exercise, you shouldn’t have to worry about your “check liver” warning light coming on. Garlic, apples, beets, carrots, grapefruit, asparagus, olive oil, avocados, lemons, limes, cabbage, walnuts, and turmeric are foods that are beneficial and help you to love your liver.
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