Your liver helps your body digest and absorb food. Its primary role involves the production of biochemicals needed for digestion and the production of proteins used by the rest of the body. It is also responsible for filtering blood before it is re-circulated back to the rest of the body.
This organ is unique in that it is the only organ in your body that can restore itself. However, it is not impervious to disease, and its regenerative capability can be completely prevented by conditions such as cirrhosis (excessive scarring of the liver) and liver cancer.
While the treatment of liver damage can be difficult and expensive, prevention definitely is not. Here are natural ways to reduce your risk of liver problems.
Avoid Processed Pork
Several studies have found a strong correlation between the consumption of pork and liver cirrhosis rates. In fact, the correlation of pork with liver disease is stronger than the correlation with alcohol consumption.
The problem with pork lies in their diet. Most piggeries in the US feed their pigs a combination of grains and seed oils, which makes them rich in omega-6 fatty acids such as linoleic acid and arachidonic acid. Omega-6 consumed in excess has been shown to elevate the risk of certain diseases, while arachidonic acid promotes an inflammatory response in the body.
The preservation of processed pork also entails the use of artificial preservatives such as nitrates as curing agents. When consumed, the body converts these substances into nitrosamines, which, as studies suggest, cause an increased risk of cancer in the liver and other gastrointestinal organs. In addition, cooking meat in high temperatures contributes increases the risk of liver cancer.
Aspartame is a highly controversial artificial sweetener. Known in the US under the brand names NutraSweet ® and Equal®, mounting evidence has linked aspartame to an increased incidence of liver cancer. One study involving mice constantly given aspartame throughout their lifetimes showed a higher rate of occurrence of liver cancer in the specimens. Another study conducted by a European cancer research group called the Ramazzini Foundation also showed a highly correlated link between aspartame consumption and cancer occurrence in mice.
Avoid Risky Behavior
By far, the most significant risk factor for liver cancer is repeat contamination with the hepatitis B and hepatitis C viruses. These viruses are spread from person to person through unprotected sexual contact and contaminated needles.
When used correctly, pain and fever relievers such as acetaminophen have no lasting effect on the liver. However, research proves a link between the excess use of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and liver failure. As many over-the-counter medications contain the compound, it is important to be very cautious and critical of the amount of medication you take when fighting off a cold or flu.
Taking care of your liver is far less about eating or drinking things that are nourishing to the organ, but more about avoiding what’s bad for it. Keeping it in top shape is not tricky either. It’s all about sticking to a clean and healthy lifestyle. Treat it right so it can function as it should.