The liver is one of the most important organs of our body. The liver’s main task is to detoxify the body from harmful chemicals, both those that come from the external environment and those that arose in its interior through the metabolism. Sometimes the liver cannot keep up with detoxification of harmful compounds. This is expressed by the appearance of digestive problems, which can be accompanied by pain in the right side of the body.
Detoxification of chemical compounds in our body is a multi-stage process that absorbs a considerable amount of energy and causes the liver a lot of work.
This process occurs inside the liver cells, which are called hepatocytes. Hepatocytes contain enzyme systems (so-called microsomal complexes) that are used to carry out chemical detoxification reactions. Studies have shown that liver cell enzyme systems vary in activity from person to person. That is why we show different susceptibility to indigestion or liver damage, e.g. under the influence of alcohol. This phenomenon is referred to as individuality.
Substances needed in liver metabolism
At each of these two stages of work, the liver needs specific nutrients. Contact with a large number of harmful compounds can lead to a total consumption of essential nutrient resources. All you need is a shortage of one of the ingredients, and the liver processes can be slowed down or even stopped completely. During the first phase of detoxification, the liver needs vitamin B2, PP, magnesium, iron, molybdenum and essential fatty acids (EFAs, omega acids). If the body has a lot of toxins, phase I also requires vitamins A. In the second phase, the necessary ingredients are zinc, copper, thiamine (vitamin B1), pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), folic acid, pyridoxamine (vitamin B6). As you can see, it is extremely important to provide the body with a healthy diet, rich in vitamins and minerals.
The detoxification process is not the only important function of the liver. It also participates in the digestion and metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins, stores vitamins. The liver also stores glycogen, which is a string of glucose molecules linked together. In the event of a decrease in blood glucose, glycogen releases from its structure glucose molecules (the main source of energy in our body), directly migrating to the blood and supplying all organs.
An important functional aspect of the liver is also the production of bile acids from cholic, deoxycholic, chenodeoxycholic and lithocholic cholesterol. They are stored in the gallbladder located next to the liver. If you eat a lot of fats with food, the gallbladder shrinks, releasing all of its contents into the small intestine. Bile acids are natural emulsifiers whose function is to facilitate the digestion of fats by pancreatic lipase. They break down fat deposits, which facilitates access of pancreatic lipase to individual fat molecules in order to digest them so that they can be absorbed in the intestine and used by our tissues.
Do not underestimate the symptoms associated with digestive disorders such as gas, bloating, constipation, pain in the right side. These may be signals that the diet we are using is too difficult to digest correctly and it should be modified.
If, after a blood test, we can see that the cholesterol and/or triglyceride level is too high, we need to take preventive measures and take care of the liver. Often, problems with this organ are the main cause of our body’s fat metabolism disorders.
Herbs to support liver
Extracts from plants of milk thistle and artichoke turned out to be extremely effective in the treatment of liver problems.
Artichoke – the main active substance is cynarin, classified as flavonoids. Artichoke leaf extract has choleretic, cholagogic, hepatoprotective, cholesterol-reducing and strong antioxidant properties.
Milk thistle – studies have shown its protective and regenerative properties on liver cells. Milk thistle contains silymarin, which is a complex of flavonoglycans, it includes, among others silybin and isosilybin. Silybin shows the most active effect on hepatocytes from the silymarin complex.
Milk thistle extract is also found in preparations together with a phospholipid complex. Phospholipids are compounds that support the regeneration of liver cells, they also support fat metabolism and prevent fatty liver. By building into the structures of hepatocytes, they accelerate their regeneration and increase their resistance to damage that can cause free radicals.