The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. Commonly referred to as a “filter,” the liver is actually more subtle and sophisticated than a passive filter. Every drop of blood in your body moves through your liver every hour of every day you are alive – not to be filtered, but to be restored.

Think of the liver as a recycling center. As the blood moves through the intricate network of cells that make up the liver, it is carefully examined. Metabolic by-products, hormones, cholesterol, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, bacteria, viral particles, and all the chemical detritus of living that are in the blood are judged: some are allowed to stay, others dismantled for recycling, and some tagged for removal.

The liver stores very little. It produces bile, which is stored in the gall bladder. With the kidneys, it creates vitamins A and D, and stores those fat soluble products. And, of course, the liver caches unused energy from food in the form of sugar.

Chemicals, however, do not build up in the liver, despite what you may have read. The liver sends unneeded water-soluble chemicals, such as ammonia, to the kidneys to be excreted. (To get a sense of how quickly this happens, eat some asparagus, which contains a harmful natural chemical, and notice the smell of your urine, and how quickly you have to “go.”) The liver incarcerates oil-soluble chemicals by locking them up in fat cells, or sending them to be excreted in breast milk, ejaculations, ovulations, and tears. (Chemicals are not excreted by sweating.)

The liver can be damaged. Alcohol can kill liver cells. Viruses, especially hepatitis viruses, can destroy liver cells. And cancer can take over the liver and quickly render it dysfunctional.

But the liver is amazingly regenerative. Cellular turnover is quite fast. Every cell in a healthy liver is replaced every forty days. Only substances that can keep up with the ever-changing liver are preserved (such as vitamins and sugars); chemical toxins are made homeless.

To regain and maintain good liver health is reasonably easy if the liver is not too badly damaged. I follow these guidelines to nourish and protect my liver:

Avoid liver cleanses. Herbal and other products and regimes which claim to cleanse the liver can damage and destroy cells. The liver cannot be dirty; and it does not need to be cleansed.

By Haadi