After being diagnosed with liver disease, most people almost immediately question whether or not there is any special diet they should be on. Actually, there isn’t any one diet for a damaged liver because there are various types of liver disease and each type requires a different treatment to some extent. While a healthy diet can help the liver to function better, there may not be a diet for a damaged liver that can actually repair the damage. However, the liver is an amazing organ in that it is the only organ within the body which can regenerate itself even after 50 or 60% of it has been removed. This has been evidenced time and time again on cancer patients who have had a portion of their liver removed due to malignancy. Amazingly, within just a matter of weeks the liver can regenerate itself to its normal size.
Understanding Liver Function
Because the liver has so many functions within the body, if you have liver disease or a damaged liver your whole body can be thrown off balance. Most of us know that the liver filters toxins, chemicals and foreign matter from the system, but that is just a part of what the liver is responsible for. It also breaks down fats, converts glucose to glycogen, produces some amino acids, produces urea, stores vitamins and minerals and helps to maintain healthy levels of glucose in the bloodstream. Remarkably, many people are unaware of the fact that the liver is responsible for producing cholesterol; in fact, it actually produces more than three-fourths of the cholesterol which can be found in the body.
Also, the liver produces bile that is a necessary component of digestion and the liver is also responsible for the processing of hemoglobin in order to use the iron content within. Remember, one of the main functions of the liver is to store vitamins and minerals, among which is iron. Another function of the liver is to convert toxic amounts of ammonia into urea for excretion. It also regulates clotting of the blood and is an important component of immunity as it produces immune factors that are responsible for counteracting bacteria in the blood stream. During the cleansing process when the liver is removing toxins and contaminants, part of them leave the body in the form of feces as a by-product of bile. The other toxins are sent to the blood to be filtered out by the kidneys.
Keeping Your Liver Healthy
You can clearly see that it is imperative to protect your liver at all costs. It is vital to a great number of biological processes and if just one of them breaks down, a whole chain of problems arise. The question still remains as to whether or not there is such a thing as a diet for a damaged liver functions. Many times diet can help you to restore the liver to healthy functions. If the damage isn’t severe, then certain foods can revitalize many of those functions. The first thing to consider is adding antioxidants to your diet. Foods that are high in beta carotene such as beets, carrots and any of the bright colorful fruits and vegetables are jam packed with beta carotene among other antioxidants. Antioxidants bond with many toxins in order to carry them out of the body before they can attach to cells and do damage.
It is recommended that a diet for a damaged liver should be low in animal proteins. Since the liver is where proteins are broken down into amino acids which can be utilized by the body, eating too much protein can overtax an already damaged organ. Animal protein actually isn’t in a form which the body can utilize so it must be broken down into smaller units, amino acids, in order to be reconstructed into protein that the human body can use. Also, avoid alcohol and other chemical pharmaceuticals as much as possible (unless prescribed by your physician) because they are lethal to your liver. However, new research has found that a certain amount of coffee is actually good for your liver. Further testing needs to be conducted, but several studies substantiate that caffeine, in moderation, is actually good for you.
When all is said and done, the thing to keep in mind is that your liver is vital to a number of processes within the body. Since it both breaks down fats as well as being responsible for producing cholesterol, it makes good sense to drastically reduce the amount of saturated fats you consume in order to put less strain on your liver. Avoid anything that is potentially toxic such as alcohol and cigarettes and eat plenty of high-fiber cleansing foods on a diet for a damaged liver. By eating small amounts throughout the day instead of large meals you will also reduce the strain on your liver. Your objective is to reduce your intake of toxins while increasing your intake of antioxidants and other cleansing nutrients such as fiber. A diet for a damaged liver shouldn’t be a problem if you make healthy choices in the foods you eat.
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