Where is your Liver and What does it Do
Your Liver is the largest solid organ in the body and is located on the right side of your abdominal area tucked under the rib cage.
It is sometimes possible to feel the outer edge of your liver, but it is mostly protected under the rib cage.
Your gall bladder is found on the underside of the liver. The gallbladder stores bile.
The liver has a unique ability to regenerate and regrow to full size. This can happen even if only 25% of the liver remains after injury or surgery
Your liver has key essential roles in the body which include
Your Liver acts as a filter for the body by filtering the blood of impurities. Liver cells break down and neutralise toxins from chemicals, alcohol and other toxic compounds from outside of the body. After the toxins have been processed, they are moved back into the blood or eliminated through the digestive tract.
The Metabolism of Drugs
Medications are broken down and metabolised by the liver. Your Liver gets rid of any by-products of these medications
Storing Vitamins and Minerals
Your liver stores the vitamins B12, A, D, E ,K and also iron and copper. The storage of these nutrients acts as a backup in times of need.
Keeping Blood Sugar Levels Stable
If your blood sugar levels increase for example after eating a meal or snacking the liver helps to remove the sugar from the blood and stores it in the form of glycogen (This is done in conjunction with insulin)
If on the other hand the blood sugar levels are too low, then the liver breaks down the glycogen and releases the sugar into the blood stream
Liver Makes Proteins for Blood Health
Your liver produces proteins which are important in healthy blood clotting.
This is done with the assistance of vitamin K
Helps control Body PH
For homeostasis the body keeps a control on its acid alkaline balance
The liver helps keep this balanced PH along with other organs including the kidneys and lungs.
This is a build-up of fat in the liver often associated with excess alcohol intake. Continual alcohol assault can result in liver damage and an increase in liver enzymes.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
This is often considered more serious as it can result in inflammation in the liver, scaring and the risk of cirrhosis and liver cancer. Contributing factors to this include obesity, increased belly fat, high carbohydrate diet, insulin resistance, and poor digestive health.
Hepatitis is inflammation of the liver generally caused by a viral infection. The common infections are Hepatitis A, B and C. Hepatitis can also be caused by excess alcohol. There is also a less heard of autoimmune form of hepatitis where your body’s immune system attacks the liver
Glandular Fever is an extremely fatiguing virus which affects the liver and the spleen.
Gilberts syndrome is a genetic disorder in which results in the build-up of bilirubin. It is caused by the inability of the liver to efficiently process bilirubin and therefore a common symptom may be slight jaundice. Bilirubin is produced by the breakdown of red blood cells. This condition is considered common and harmless
A toxic Liver can occur after exposure to an acute toxin or chronic toxic exposure. This results in inflammation and potentially liver damage. A common drug which can cause this is paracetamol. Extra care should always be taken when administering this over the counter drug to children
Cirrhosis of the liver
Cirrhosis is the result of long-term continual damage to the liver from one or many sources. It results in scarring and fibrosis and makes it more and more difficult for the liver to function. Eventually it can result in Liver failure.
Symptoms of Liver dysfunction.
Your liver can be sluggish and toxic, but you may not notice any symptoms necessarily. Having said that there can be subtle symptoms going on which can be missed.
These can include
Sensitivity to chemicals and smells
Eyesight not as good
Weight gain or difficulty losing weight
In cases of infection such as Hepatitis or Glandular fever there more obvious signs of unwellness.
In that situation a Liver Function test along with other specific tests may be ordered from your Doctor to pinpoint the problem. Liver enzymes are usually elevated in these situations.
Liver Function and Weightloss
The many roles that the liver has makes it an organ which can have a huge effect on weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. This happens through the different mechanisms of Liver function.
Toxins if they are not efficiently processed by the liver will increase fat stores. The body will increase fat as a storage depot for toxins as it tries to keep the body’s health in balance. This is also why when you go on a diet and lose weight too quickly you can feel unwell. Toxins are released back into the systemic circulation as fat stores are broken down. It is also why you can plateau on a weight loss regime. The body has a resistance to release deep-seated toxins back into the circulation.
In some cases, a carefully planned Detox may be required to stimulate fat burning.
Body Ph has an influence on weight loss as the more acidic you are the harder it is to lose weight. The more alkaline the easier it is to lose weight as well as being healthier. If the liver is overloaded, then it can’t assist the body in achieving an optimum PH
Blood Sugar stability has a huge effect on weight loss by supporting healthy insulin levels. Insulin is considered to be the most inflammatory hormone in the body. If sugars remain high, then the amount of insulin in the system is also high. This results in increased inflammation resulting in difficulty losing weight. High insulin is also linked to a number of other chronic diseases. Your body can convert healthy foods into fat under the influence of unstable blood sugar levels.
Testing for Liver Health and Function
Medical Liver Function Tests
You may be familiar with Medical Liver Function tests. This test shows if the liver enzymes are elevated in the bloodstream which is often the case when there is a viral infection affecting the liver. Examples include hepatitis and glandular fever.
This test however won’t show whether the liver is detoxifying efficiently, controlling PH, supporting blood sugar or many of the other functions of the liver. So, while it is a useful test it is very limited in what is shows.
The Hepatic Detox Profile tests markers in the urine which are present due to the liver detoxifying environmental toxins. High or low levels have their own significance as far as how well the Liver is doing this process.
Hair Mineral Analysis Measures 17 minerals and 18 toxic elements including mercury, cadmium, arsenic along with other toxic metals
Urine Toxics Measures 20 Toxic elements which are in the urine after a chelating agent is used. The chelating agent draws toxins out of the tissues for an accurate overall assessment of the toxic load of 20 heavy metals.
GPL-TOX Profile screens for 172 different environmental pollutants using 18 different metabolites. Pollutants tested include Phthalates, organophosphates, Xylene along with other key metabolites.
Organic Acids is a test that evaluates over 70 health markers giving unique snapshotof your overall health. The test assists in evaluating neurotransmitters, nutritional deficiencies, fatty acid metabolism, antioxidant deficiencies, kreb cycle abnormalities, oxalates, detoxification and more.
Gene testing for Liver Health
The Health and Wellbeing Genetic Profile includes genes involved in Liver Detoxification.
The test will show if you have issues around detox and what you can do to mitigate the effects of the gene variants to improve your ability to detox. It will also show you what are the most problematic toxins you should try and avoid.
This profile also tests the ability of the enzymes to produce the key antioxidants, Catalase, Glutathione and Superoxide Dismutase. This can affect the health of the Liver if there is inability to be able to control free radicals. Free radicals are by-products of metabolism but if they are not neutralised by antioxidants, they can damage tissue and increase toxicity. The highly volatile detox environment in the liver requires a lot of antioxidant protection.
The same profile also tests Fat genes and again what you can do to mitigate the possible effects of those genes. This includes your ideal protein to fat ratio.
The Food Choices Gene profile tests whether you have a genetic risk around certain foods.
If you are consuming foods your body can’t process, they will increase inflammation and put more burden on Liver Function. They will also increase the risk of chronic disease.
AMY 1 Gene test will tell you whether you can process starch from Carbohydrates. This will also impact on Liver health and the ability to lose weight.
Because the Liver is part of the digestive system any issues with digestion will directly impact the Livers ability to do its Job.
For any information on Natural Medicine, Functional Medicine tests and Genetic Testing
Contact me through www.genetesting.nz or 07 3436929
Annette Charles BHSc(Comp Medicine) ND
Natural Medicine Practitioner
Rotorua Natural Health.