Be it through a illness [hepatitis], certain medication or self abuse [excess alcohol intake] some of the damage to your liver can be reversed with the help of a correct diet, pre-existing treatments and some self control. The liver has the capacity to ‘fix’ itself [it can regenerate itself from as little as 25% of original and healthy tissue] and with a change to our diet we can assist the damaged liver in its repair process.
Liver function test
This is a blood test, taken to determine the amount of dysfunction or damage to a liver. this blood is tested for certain enzymes [usually present at a certain level], these will be higher than the norm if there is damage to the liver. This is caused by the enzyme ‘leaking’ out of the damaged liver cells into the bloodstream. I could go on in depth but for the lay person this is probably enough information.
Foods for Liver Repair
Remember that a healthy balanced diet will not only assist the liver but will leave you with a sense of health and wellness.
1) Proteins – the most important food source as it helps with the repair of all body tissue [including the liver cells], prevents the buildup of fats in the liver cells and assists in preventing further damage to the liver cells. A few examples of foods rich in protein: poultry, certain fish [salmon, flounder etc], lamb, oats and certain cheeses to name but a few.
2) Carbohydrates [stored as glycogen] – Generally patients with any form of liver damage do not store enough glycogen [the body’s main source of stored energy]. It is advised to increase the amount of carbo’s at this time as it could be to the patients advantage. Good carbo’s include banana’s, cereals, whole grains, apples, pasta and squash.
3) Sodium/salt – due to the retention qualities of sodium, it is advised that the intake of this be reduced. This would also be beneficial in helping the liver repair itself.
Natural treatments for liver repair
There are two well know plants that will assist with self-repair
* Silybum marianum [Milk Thistle]
* Taraxacum officinale [Dandelion]
Silybum marianum [Milk Thistle]
This plant has been used to assist with a number of disorders over the centuries, it is known that it is beneficial in the treatment of hepatitis and jaundice. The plant contains silymarin which acts as both a anti-inflammatory and a antioxidant, thus aiding the liver in the reduction of tissue inflammation and the eliminating of toxins. There is a belief that it can also counteract the effects of damage due to excessive alcohol consumption.
Taraxacum officinale [Dandelion]
A very useful plant containing many of the vitamins needed for cell repair and general health [vitamin C, B-1 (thiamin), B-2 (riboflavin), B-3 (niacin), B-5 (pantothenic acid), B-6 (pyridoxine), Folate, B-12,vitamin A, vitamin E]. This list of ‘B’ vitamins are very beneficial for normal liver functions like the production of bile [aids in the digestion of fats] and the dandelion is often recommended for liver detoxification and to help stimulate the regeneration of the liver itself. [A bit of info which has nothing to do with the actual liver – another bonus from the dandelion is that it aids in the function of the spleen, which creates lymphocytes and this in turn helps in the destruction and recycling of old red blood cells.]
A little more on the self healing of the liver
As already mentioned above, the liver is an amazing organ in that it can regenerate itself from 25% of its original healthy tissue. After several studies, scientist are still baffled by this ability but tend to think that the process is similar to that of organ development in the embryo stage of a human. This ability reduces the need for liver transplants [if only part of the liver is removed].
Remember – if you have a damaged liver avoid any form of alcohol!