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As we approach the year end festivities, there is a tendency for us to drink more. We are often told that too much alcohol is bad for us, but do you really know why? Have you ever wondered how alcohol affects your liver when sipping your favorite cocktail or schooner of beer? Here’s a quick rundown:
Your liver is a robust organ and can usually cope with drinking a small amount of alcohol. However the liver can only handle a certain amount of alcohol at any given time, so if you drink more than the liver can deal with by drinking too quickly, or drinking too much, your liver cells struggle to process it.
When alcohol reaches the liver, it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde which can damage liver cells and cause permanent scarring, as well as harm to the brain and stomach lining.
Now, here are seven ways to look after your liver:
1. Have a Balanced Diet
It’s also important to watch what you eat. “While nearly every cell in the body is able to metabolise glucose, only the liver cells can handle fructose,” says Dr Sherwood of the Functional Medicine Institute in Tulsa, Oklahoma. “If we consume too much fructose over time, the liver can become overwhelmed and suffer irreparable damage.” Limit foods that are high in refined sugars and high-fructose corn syrup, such as soft drinks, baked goods and sweets. Stick to natural sources of sugar (fruit for example) instead.
2. Maintain a Healthy Weight
Alcohol is not the only thing that can cause fatty liver disease – obesity (or even just being overweight) puts you at risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
People who have NAFLD are at an increased risk of suffering from cardiovascular problems; they also typically have diabetes and high cholesterol. During the early stages of NAFLD, the condition can be managed by losing weight, drastically reducing fat intake and exercising regularly.
3. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercising helps your body burn triglycerides for fuel, which can help reduce liver fat. Following an exercise programme that includes both aerobic exercises (walking, cycling or swimming) and weight training can improve your liver function.
Aerobic exercise helps strengthen your heart muscle, which means it can pump blood more efficiently throughout your body. When this happens, your pulse slows and blood flow improves – it’s easier for your heart to move blood to your liver, and then for your liver to send the filtered blood back into your system.
Building lean muscle mass delays severe muscle wasting, which occurs during the advanced stages of liver disease. Weight training also prevents a build-up of excess body fat, which can cause fatty liver and result in a non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases says that although NASH initially presents with only a few symptoms, it can cause your liver to become non-functional.
4. Stay Hydrated and Drink Lots of Water
Your body needs to remain hydrated. Toxins that affect your kidneys, liver and bowel function will build up when you become dehydrated.
According to Dr Neil-Sherwood, “Dehydration can have a direct effect on our liver’s ability to properly detoxify our body. So as the liver loses hydration, it also loses its organ reserve, or what it uses to take care of the rest of the body.”
Water also helps maintain the fluid content of your blood. When you become dehydrated, your blood becomes thicker – your liver is responsible for filtering blood and the thickness can impact its ability to detoxify.
5. Cut Down on Processed Foods
Manufacturers like to cram in lots of sodium, sugar, and chemicals to “improve” taste and appearance, extend shelf-life, and maximize profits.
Unfortunately, our liver gets the task of filtering through all the junk we eat and too much processed food can really take a toll on its functionality.
One particularly pesky ingredient that’s practically ubiquitous in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup. This refined sugar is made up of about 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.
When we consume high fructose corn syrup, the liver uses it to create fat, which slowly accumulates in the liver cells and can lead to liver disease.
6. Cut Down or Limit on Alcohol Consumption
Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can cause damage to your liver cells. Over time, liver damage can cause a build-up of fat in your liver, inflammation or swelling and/or scarring (cirrhosis). If you already have liver disease, even a small amount of alcohol can worsen your condition.
How much is a moderate amount of alcohol? According to a previous Health24 article, women should limit their consumption to one drink per day, while men should only have two. One drink is equal to 148ml of wine, a 355ml beer or one shot (44ml) of an 80-proof liquor.
7. Consider Liver Supplementation
Milk thistle has been used to treat liver disorders for more than 2,000 years. It’s the herbal ingredient most often used for liver complaints in the United States.
The active substance in milk thistle is silymarin, which is made up of several natural plant chemicals.
Lab studies suggest that silymarin helps regenerate liver tissue, bring down inflammation, and protect liver cells from damage by acting as an antioxidant. A 2017 analysis of studies found that silymarin slightly reduced certain liver enzymes, markers of liver damage, in people with liver disease. More research is still needed to know how well milk thistle might work.
Wellaholic's Liver Support helps boost and support liver function. Milk thistle, is a natural herb that has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and is commonly used to detoxify the body, especially the liver, as well as help liver diseases and gallbladder problems.
Suggested Use: One tablet, taken once daily preferably with meals.
The evidence is compelling that red wine has health benefits.
Most interesting is the observation that resveratrol found in red wine improves the overall health and substantially prolongs the life of fungi, fish and mice.
It's a phytoalexin found in high concentrations in red grape skin that helps fight infections by fungi and certain bacteria.
The molecule is thought to be an antioxidant that helps prevent cell damage from powerful oxidants that are produced during normal metabolism.
Already called an anti-aging drug, the mechanism, by which it prolongs life in animals, is unknown.
Alcohol in moderation also has health benefits. Over 60 research studies have shown that moderate consumption of alcohol reduces the risk of a heart attack.
The benefits only occur if no more than one or two drinks are consumed daily. Any more and the risks of heart attacks and death increases.
Much of the initial information comes from the intriguing observation that despite the fact that the saturated fat content of the French diet is much higher than the average American diet, paradoxically the prevalence of heart attacks is half that found in the U.S.
This reduced risk cannot be explained by lower cholesterol, more exercise, less stress or less obesity among the French. Careful analysis of all factors that could explain the difference pointed to the increased consumption of alcohol and red wine.
Resveratrol isn't the only compound in wine with health benefits. Antioxidants called polyphenols that are found in high concentrations in grape skin are believed to reduce the risk of heart attacks.
The highest amounts of polyphenols are in Cabernets and in wines from France as compared to other countries.
Fats that become oxidized are much more likely to accumulate in the wall of arteries leading to plaques. Not only do polyphenol prevent fat deposition, but also prevent blood clotting by impairing the ability of platelets to stick to damaged arteries and causing a blood clot.
These antioxidants also appear to reduce inflammation in blood vessels decreasing cholesterol deposition and the risk of spasm of a partial blockage of an artery occurs.
Recently, a substance called saponin found in red wine has been shown to raise the good or HDL cholesterol and modestly reduce the bad or LDL cholesterol.
Saponin binds cholesterol and prevents its absorption into the bloodstream from the bowel. Some maintain that saponin is the most potent agent in red wine protecting the heart — and its concentration is highest in California Zinfandels.
Whenever a dietary effect is found to exert a health effect, the compounds thought to be responsible are purified and offered in health food stores in massive doses.
Of course, if a little is good, a lot must be better. Already, Dr. David Sinclair, a researcher at Harvard, recommends taking large doses of resveratrol in tablet form in the hope of reducing the risk of heart attacks, improving health and prolonging life.
His rational is based on the fact that the doses of resveratrol required to prolong life in mice were a 1,000 fold higher than that found in two glasses of wine.
While research studies are underway to find out if resveratrol in varying doses prolongs life or prevents disease, to date no benefits of large doses have been reported in man.
And it's still too early to know if large doses are truly safe. And remember this, while a little Vitamin C, A and E in natural foods has been shown to have health benefits in man, so-called massive or mega doses do the exact opposite; instead of helping they increase the risk of heart attack, cancer, Alzheimer’s and shorten life expectancy.
They, too, are antioxidants with a similar mechanism of action to resveratrol.
In talking to many friends who are true wine enthusiasts, they all recommend moderation and emphasize the importance of the true pleasure of enjoying a good wine with a meal.
The evidence is compelling that two glasses of wine with a meal has significant health benefits.
Wellaholic retails our W+ Resveratrol which contains 200mg of trans-resveratrol for your daily supplementary needs. Preferably to be taken just before you go to bed.
[Source: The Baxter Bulletin]
Does your family have a history of cancer? If so, you’re likely familiar with colon cancer as, according to the Mayo Clinic, it’s the most frequently occurring digestive system cancer. Because of its deadly result, researchers across the world continue to search for ways to prevent it.
A recent study conducted in France concluded that resveratrol was able to slow down the production of cancerous cells and therefore could be considered an effective anticancer agent. Some of the top natural sources of resveratrol include blueberries, peanuts, grapes, and both red and white wines.
In addition, a research by the Cancer Research UK showed that that relatively small doses of purified resveratrol, a chemical found in red grapes and wine, might have an impact in reducing the risk of bowel cancer – at least, in mice prone to developing the disease.
Over the past few decades literally thousands of papers have been published about resveratrol, and its potential benefits are touted for a wide range of ailments including diabetes, neurodegenerative diseases and – of course – cancer.
The chemical itself has a range of effects on cells, mainly by influencing energy production (metabolism), although exactly how it works isn’t entirely clear. Tests on cells grown in the lab and some animal studies have suggested that resveratrol may have anti-cancer properties.