This organ is so important that we could not survive more than one or two days if it suddenly stopped. The liver helps to metabolize fat and produces bile, which breaks down fat, while working also as a filter to clean the toxins from our blood.
Estimated reading time : 13 minutes
In the upper right quadrant of the abdominal cavity, there is a large red mass which does not beat, does not move and looks like jelly: the liver.
This organ is so important that we could not survive more than one or two days if it suddenly stopped. Luckily, it has the opportunity to rebuild and regenerate itself. Up to two thirds of the liver can be removed and what remains will go back to its normal size in a few months, thanks to its incredible ability to create a new liver tissue from healthy cells that remain.
The liver helps to metabolize fat. It produces bile, which breaks down fat while working also as a filter to clean the toxins from our blood, and help us feel excited. The optimization of you livers health will help you lose weight and reach your fitness goals.
The essential functions of the liver
- Storing vitamins, sugar and iron to give energy to your body.
- Controlling the production and the elimination of cholesterol.
- Eliminating waste, drugs and other toxic substances from the blood.
- Producing clotting factors to stop excessive bleeding after cuts or injuries.
- Producing immune factors and removing bacteria in the bloodstream to fight the infection.
- Releasing a substance called “bile” to help digest food and absorb important nutrients.
The liver metabolic functions
Hepatocytes are metabolic super-workers in the body. They play a critical role in the synthesis of the molecules that are used to support homeostasis, when converting molecules of one type to another, and in the regulation of energy balance.
The main liver metabolic functions can be summarized into a few broad categories:
1. Carbohydrates metabolism
It is essential to maintain glucose concentrations in blood at a narrow level, normal. Maintaining blood sugar levels to normal during the short periods (hours) and long periods (days or weeks) is a particularly important function of the liver. The hepatocytes are home to many different metabolic pathways and use dozens of enzymes that are alternately turned on or off depending on whether blood glucose levels are rising or falling off the normal range.
2. Fat metabolism
Very little lipid metabolism issues are unique to the liver, but most are carried out primarily by the liver. The main examples of the liver role in fat metabolism include:
The liver is extremely active in the oxidation of triglycerides to produce energy. The liver decomposes many fatty acids, more than the hepatocytes need, and exports large quantities of acetoacetate in the blood where they can be recovered and readily metabolized by other tissues.
A great part of lipoproteins are synthesized in the liver.
The liver is the primary site for converting excessive carbohydrates and protein into fatty acids and triglycerides, which are then exported and stored in the adipose tissue.
The liver synthesizes high amounts of cholesterol and phospholipids. Some are packed with lipoprotein and made available to the rest of the body. The remainder is excreted in the bile as cholesterol or bile acids.
The liver plays a central role in all metabolic processes of the body.
In fat metabolism, liver cells break down fats and produce energy. They also produce about 800 to 1000 ml of bile daily. This yellow-green liquid, brown or olive color is collected in small channels and then transmitted to the common bile duct, which carries the bile to a part of the small intestine known as the duodenum. The bile is important for the distribution and absorption of fats.
3. Metabolism of carbohydrates
The liver helps to ensure that the sugar level in the blood (blood sugar) remains constant. If your levels of sugar in the blood increase, for example after a meal, the liver removes sugar from the blood and stores it as glycogen. If the sugar levels in the blood of someone are too low, the liver decomposes glycogen and releases sugar in the blood. As well as sugar, the liver also stores vitamins and minerals (iron and copper), and releases them into the blood when required.
4. Protein metabolism
The liver plays an important role in protein metabolism: the liver cells change the amino acids in food, so that they can be used to produce energy, or to make carbohydrates or fat. A toxic substance called ammonia is a by-product of this process. Liver cells convert ammonia into a less toxic substance called urea, which is released into the blood. The urea is then transported to the kidneys and leaves the body in the form of urine.
Hormonal functions of the liver
- The liver converts the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4) into its more active triiodothyronine form (T3).
Thyroid hormones act as a body thermostat, by adjusting the rate at which almost all of the biochemical reactions occur in the body. Inadequate conversion of T4 to T3 in the liver can result in hypothyroidism, which depletes energy, leading to chronic fatigue, weight gain, memory problems and a multitude of other problems.
- Growth hormone (HGH) is produced by the pituitary gland in our brain.
This hormone results in the secretion of the anabolic peptic hormone IGF-1 (also known as somatomedin C), an endocrine hormone produced by the liver. IGF-1 is insulin-like and remains in the body for a few minutes. It plays a role influencing virtually all muscle and bone systems, in the growth and repair of connective tissue, in selective regulation of various aspects of metabolism and helps maintain the normal function of the brain and heart’s health.
Growth hormone (HGH) has a lipolytic (fat mobilisation), hyper-glycemic and diabetogenic action, which stimulates chondrogenesis and osteogenesis through IGF and is antinatriuretic. A certain number of athletes and bodybuilding followers quickly realised that the growth hormone has metabolic effects on their performance gains, increased muscle mass, modification of energy fibers, increased power, anti-aging, and sexual stimulation.
The lack of HGH in adults causes a phenotype of metabolic syndrome, namely the increase in body fat, decreased muscle mass, metabolic disorders and increased vascular complications.
- Anabolic steroids (AS) are effective in improving athletic performance.
Since their use is often associated with increased plasma activity of liver enzymes such as transaminase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (AP), lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and gamma glutamyl transferase (GGT). These enzymes are present in hepatocytes in relatively high concentrations, and an increase in plasma levels of these enzymes reflect hepatocellular injury or at least an increased permeability of the hepatocellular membrane.
In bodybuilding, where usually high doses are used, after the stop of the steroid’s use, the Gonadotropine (HCG) is often administered to stimulate testicular function. The effectiveness of this therapy is unknown.
- Insulin is produced by the pancreatic beta cells in response to high concentrations of glucose in the blood.
When a person has not used the necessary carbohydrates (sugars) the pancreas will release a hormone called glucagon to mobilize reserves in the liver. When we train at the gym, the muscles need nutrients and become sensitive to any amount of insulin. The two main organs which eliminate excess of insulin are the liver and the kidneys. In a non-diabetic patient the liver removes about 60% of endogenous insulin via the hepatic portal vein while the kidney removes about 35 to 40%.
- The hepato protective action of 52 is unmatched in liver care.
The natural ingredients in Liv.52 present potent hepato protective properties against hepatic toxicity induced chemically. It restores the normal functioning of the liver by protecting the hepatic parenchyma and promoting hepatocellular regeneration. The anti peroxidative activity Liv.52 prevents the loss of functional integrity of the cell membrane, maintains cytochrome P-450 (a large and diverse group of enzymes that catalyze the oxidation of organic substances), speeds up time recovery and ensures quick restoration of hepatic functions in infective hepatitis.
- Desmodium is a type of plant belonging to the Fabaceae family.
Its name comes from the Greek word “desmos”; it means a bond or a chain and it refers to the fruit of the plant. Due to the high content of flavonoids, some species of Desmodium are good for the liver. It improves the state of our liver and prevents and fights against liver problems such as hepatitis or cirrhosis.
The liver is the main organ of hormone decomposition after serving its messenger function to their target cells.
For example, if the mature liver does not treat the insulin quickly enough, it results in hypoglycemia since the insulin continues to lower blood sugar. If adrenaline is not eliminated after fulfilling its role, it can lead to chronic periods of irritability and anger.
Proteins and the liver
The liver is the major regulator of protein metabolism. It converts different amino acids into one another, as required. The liver also synthesizes creatine from glycerin acids amines, arginine and methionine. Without biochemical creatine phosphate of super high energy, our sprinting type of athleticism would be biologically impossible.
The main synthesized proteins by the liver are summarized below:
- Albumin – 25% of protein production in the liver
- Globulin – A1
- A2 – globulins
- low lipoprotein (LDL) and very low density (VLD)
- Blood clotting factors *
- Factors 1, 2, 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10
A major function of the liver is to produce secreted proteins in the blood. Plasma proteins consist of many known proteins, including albumin, fibrinogen and apolipoproteins. The factors involved in hemostasis and fibrinolysis including coagulation factors, antitrypsin and plasminogen, are secreted into the blood and transport proteins such as transferrin and retinol binding protein. Examples of plasma proteins include APOB, APOA1, FGG, C2, KNG1 and FGA.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the American Dietetic Association (ADA), protein requirements increase slightly in very active people:
For endurance athletes, protein requirements are 1.2 to 1.4 g per kg body weight per day, while those for endurance sports and muscle building can be as high as 1.6 to 1.7 g per kg body weight per day.
These recommended protein provisions may generally be provided by diet alone, without the use of proteins or amino acid supplements, if the energy consumption is sufficient to maintain body weight.
The ACSM and ADA also claim that quality protein consumed after exercise will provide amino acids for building and repairing muscle tissue.
Athletes should consume a mixed meal providing carbohydrates, proteins and fats, shortly after an intense competition or training session.
The importance of the liver for athletes
A healthy liver is essential for optimal performance. A good liver function is necessary to burn fat, build muscle and provide energy.
The liver removes toxins and manages the processing of the proteins and fats. A healthy liver burns fat and provides a source of protein to build muscles.
A weak liver, or an overwhelmed liver with toxins and stress will not be able to perform these tasks effectively.
A healthy diet, being aware of the amount of pills you ingest, and some supplements of choice for the liver, can preserve the strength, effectively burn fat and keep your liver in good condition for years to come.
Here are some steps that every athlete can take to protect the liver and ensure proper operation:
- Avoiding alcohol and tobacco
- Getting enough sleep, which helps to create a stronger immune system
- Monitoring protein intake, especially for bodybuilders and weightlifters
- Consuming high quality supplements that are useful for the recovery of the liver such as high quality multi vitamins and milk thistle.
- Closely monitoring your use of drugs that enhance performance. Steroid users should particularly consult their doctor every year to review liver enzymes.
- Avoiding daily use of NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen and acetaminophen)
- Exercising regularly … exercising is very important for proper liver function
- Adopting a diet that promotes liver health
- Avoiding dehydration. It is imperative to stay hydrated. Do not underestimate the benefits of old fashion, good clean water.
Although liver diseases are typically related to alcohol or drugs, the truth is that there are over 100 known forms of liver disease caused by a variety of factors that affect us all, from babies to elderly people.
Here are a few:
- Biliary atresia
- Cystic liver disease
- Fatty liver
- Gilbert’s syndrome
- Liver cancer
- Liver disease in pregnancy
- Neonatal hepatitis
- Primary biliary cirrhosis
- toxic hepatitis
- Glycogen Storage
- Disease Type 1
- Hepatitis A, B, C
- Wilson disease
- Viral hepatitis
The Liver and alcohol
Factors such as gender, age, nationality, weight and health can affect how the liver of a person metabolises alcohol. When the liver is too damaged to handle alcohol, normal liver functions can be interrupted leading to a chemical imbalance.
Alcohol transforms certain liver cells into fat and damages others.
Alcohol is readily absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, and up to 98% is metabolized in the liver. Each liver cell contains three pathways for the metabolism of alcohol.
With regular use of alcohol, this regenerative ability may be inhibited and cause damage to the liver. A high intake of long-term alcohol can lead to fat accumulation in the liver, which can progress to alcoholic hepatitis, or lead to liver cirrhosis.
That is why it is important to respect the sensible drinking guidelines and to spend at least two days a week without alcohol.
The maximum recommended amount for men is 4 standard drinks daily. For women, two standard drinks per day.
A standard drink contains 10 grams of alcohol, and is equivalent to a regular beer or a small glass of wine (100 ml).
More than 6 standard drinks per day for men, and four standard drinks for women, becomes dangerous to the liver. The long term effects of alcohol on the liver are intense pain, inflammation (hepatitis) and cirrhosis.
Why and how to protect your liver
The liver is a marvelously complex organ that nourishes and protects your body day after day. It helps neutralize and eliminate toxins, gives your body the energy it needs to function, fight viruses and infections, regulates the sex hormones, cholesterol, vitamin and minerals in your body.
To preserve the health of your liver, it is important that you understand the crucial role the liver plays in maintaining your overall health and which activities help or hinder this vital organ . By knowing more about your liver and how to keep it healthy, you can actually reduce your risk of developing liver disease, diabetes and heart disease .
A healthy diet and regular exercise help the liver work well. An unhealthy diet can lead to liver disease. For example, a person who eats a lot of fatty foods is more likely to be overweight and to have NAFLD.
Consume foods from all groups: grains, protein, dairy, fruits, vegetables, and fat.
Consume foods that have lots of fiber, such as whole grain breads, rice and cereals.
Consume fats sparingly and favor the “good ones”, such as olive and canola oils, nuts and seeds.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
Alcohol can damage or destroy liver cells. Liver damage can lead to the accumulation of fat in the liver (fatty liver), inflammation or swelling of the liver (alcoholic hepatitis), and / or scarring of the liver (cirrhosis). For people with liver disease, even a small amount of alcohol can aggravate the situation. Talk to your doctor to assess what amount of alcohol is good for you.
Liver protection agents
- Silymarin, a vegetarian agent extract of milk thistle (Silybum marianum) in the composition of Samarin, protects the liver against all harmful influences and promote the recovery of healthy cells in the liver.
- Legalon® (MZ 80) helps maintain good liver function. Legalon contains the patented extract of Silybum marianum (milk thistle), which was developed by the German drug maker based in the Madaus plant in 1968. Clinical trials have shown that Legalon promotes liver health by:
- Inhibition of inflammatory cell activation
- Inhibition of oxidative stress
- Inhibition of the activation of hepatic stellate cells that cause fibrosis
- Aids the renewal of normal, healthy liver cells.
- Manage your medications. When medicines are taken incorrectly- taking too much or even mixing them, the liver can be affected. Learn about drugs and how they can affect the liver. Follow the dosing instructions. Talk often to a doctor or pharmacist about the medications you are taking.
- Avoid breathing in toxins. Toxins can injure the liver cells.
- Limit direct contact with toxins from cleaning products and sprays, insecticides, chemicals and additives in cigarettes.
- Do not smoke
How to clean the liver
Your liver is like your own little cleaner. It cleanses the blood of all the toxins we absorb and retain the proper functioning of the internal systems.
The modern diet, environmental pollutants, and our increasing dependence on toxic household products and personal care means our livers have to work overtime and struggle to keep up. For this reason, it is important to know how to clean the liver thoroughly, effectively and naturally.
The thousands of enzyme systems that are responsible for virtually all body activities are built into the liver; the proper functioning of the eyes, heart, brain, joints and kidneys depends on the effectiveness of the activity. If the liver stops building even one of the thousands of enzyme systems which the body needs, there is a deficiency in the overall function of the body and greater metabolic stress on the individual.
You can try a quality liver detox supplement, or you can use some products found in your local health food store, your grocery store, or even some that are already in your kitchen.
Here’s how to clean your liver with 5 common staples
- Lemon and hot water – hot water and lemon is a great way to detox your liver every morning. It’s not lemonade, so there is no need to add sugar. Just pure water and a good dose of fresh lemon juice.
- Garlic – Add some garlic to your kitchen or mince a clove in your next salad. Garlic contains sulfur compounds that can help to activate enzymes in the liver. It contains allicin and selenium, which are both effective in protecting the liver.
- Avocados – As if you needed another reason to add avocados to your diet, a Japanese study found that avocados contain compounds that may protect the liver. Compared with 21 other fruits, avocados had the most promise to protect the liver against galactosemia, a “powerful” toxin that damages the liver a bit like human viral hepatitis.
- Cilantro – This versatile herb can be added to almost any dish, including salads or smoothies. This herb can help eliminate heavy metals from the body.
- Turmeric – another powerful spice with a long list of benefits, turmeric not only protects the liver against damage, but also promotes regeneration of liver cells. In addition, it increases the production of bile and helps to eliminate toxins.
Cleansing your liver is critical, do not hesitate to incorporate these cleaning solutions today.
The link between good health and good nutrition is well established. The interest in nutrition and its impact on performance is now a science in itself.
A healthy lifestyle is a lifestyle that reduces the risk of being seriously ill. All diseases are not inevitable, but coronary heart disease and lung cancer in particular, can be prevented.
Good health is not only to prevent disease but also to preserve physical, mental and social well-being. Whether you are a competitive athlete, a sports weekend or amateur sports daily, the basis for improving performance is a balanced diet.