Are you taking good care of your liver in this Chinese New Year?
We all know that our liver works 24-7 to keep us healthy. Besides functioning as main body detoxifier, it also responsible in nutrients metabolism and storage, body chemicals production (eg hormones, cholesterol, bile acid), destroys old red blood cells… Basically, liver is a multitask organ with more than 500 vital functions! Yet, many are still taking granted on its hard work and continue their liver-harming activities. The fact is, liver is medically known as “the silent organ” because it contains very limited nerve thus it can be damaged without sending any signals or symptoms. It will remain “silent” even it has severely deteriorated up to 80%. As a result, this severely damaged liver often only gets noticed at very late stage with limited treatment options. Of course, getting your regular health check (eg blood test, imaging scanning test etc) is recommended, however you can take more initiatives in maintaining liver health.
This herb has been widely used for centuries due to its detoxification benefit. The active compound – silymarin found abundantly in the fruit and seed. Silymarin consists of flavonoglignans (silybins, isosilybins, silychristin, isosilychristin and silydianin) and a flavonoid (taxifolin). Silybin is the mainly prevalent and the most active constituent in silymarin which possessing excellent liver protection effects. Therefore, consuming milk thistle extract works well for those with overburdened liver:
- Antioxidant – scavenge and inhibit free radicals damage towards cells, thus also interferes with lipid peroxidation which is important in reducing oxidized lipid accumulation in our body
- Detoxification – support liver in the role of cleansing and detoxification
- Protein synthesis – stimulate synthesis of protein in enhancing liver cells regeneration
- Anti-inflammation – lower inflammation by inhibiting inflammatory enzyme’s activity
- Anti-fibrosis – reduce synthesis of procollagen type I which contribute in liver fibrosis formation
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Besides Milk Thistle, Dandelion can be used together to help support liver detoxification. The medicinal uses of dandelion dates back over 1000 years. It highly regarded for its diuretic and blood cleansing capabilities. Dandelion extract can help to
- Enhance bile production in the liver and increase bile release from gall bladder that aid in fat digestion
- Has diuretic effect which helps to eliminate toxins out of the body
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Phospholipids are the building blocks of cell membranes. Phospholipids that can only be obtained through diet are called Essential Phospholipids (EPL). Soy bean is a good source of EPL. The intactness of cell membranes is crucial for maintaining cell shape, supporting the cell biological activity of moving in nutrients and eliminating wastage out, as well as the protection barrier for the internal cell content. There are many types of phospholipids, while liver cells are made up of 85% phosphatidylcholine (PC). Taking the correct type of EPL is phospholipids is important in improving liver health with the benefits:
- Facilitate liver cells repair and regeneration
- Reduce the liver fibrogenic processes
- Enhance lipid regulating activity in liver3, thus reduce lipid accumulation around liver
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Vitamins for Liver
Sufficient vitamins are associated with healthy liver. For example, vitamin B complex is needed especially in enhancing lipid metabolism, which help to improve fatty liver. On the other hand, taking additional antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin E provides extra antioxidant protection towards liver. This protection is important as liver always encounters with all the harmful toxins during detoxification process.
Don’t wait until your liver is out of order! Take initiatives now to improve and prevent poor liver health is better than regretting later.
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- Loguercio C and Festi D. 2011. Silybin and the liver: From basic research to clinical practice. World Journal of Gastroenterology. 17(18): 2288-2301.
- Dixit N, Baboota S, Kohli K, Ahmad S, Ali J. Silymarin: A review of pharmacological aspects and bioavailability enhancement approaches. Indian J Pharmacol. 2007;39(4):172-79.
- Gundermann KJ et al. 2016. Essential phospholipids in fatty liver: a scientific update. Clinical and Experimental Gastroenterology. 9: 105-117.
- Li et al. 2016. The Role of Vitamins in the Pathogenesis of non-alcoholic Fatty liver Disease. Integrative Medicine Insights. 11: 19-25.