When talking about diabetes – the liver gets little attention
When it comes to diabetes, the liver which is the second largest organ in the body is – largely ignored. The pancreas and its failure to produce insulin gets all the attention. If you know a little more then you know about insulin resistance. The liver is to a great extent responsible for clearing blood glucose and its failure to do so leads to hyperglycemia. Fatty liver disease has a lot to do with why the liver fails. It is very important to understand the liver functions and how it interacts with diabetes in order to understand the disease process if you want to address any type of natural recovering in your body. If you don’t think in term of your liver health, you are not going far enough and missing the larger picture. So let’s go over what exactly the liver does.
The liver acts as the body’s glucose (or fuel) reservoir, and helps to keep your circulating blood sugar levels and other body fuels steady and constant. The liver both stores and manufactures glucose depending upon the body’s need. The need to store or release glucose is primarily signaled by the hormones insulin. During a meal, your liver will store sugar, or glucose, as glycogen for a later time when your body needs it. The high levels of insulin and suppressed levels of glucagon during a meal promote the storage of glucose as glycogen. So when your liver is not working due to fatty liver disease these functions become severely impaired. Both fasting and postprandial hyperglycemia are affected by fatty liver but in different ways. Not all hyperglycemia is the same.
Fasting hyperglycemia results from cellular insulin resistance; but postprandial hyperglycemia results from the inability to store glucose as glycogen after a meal which is the function of the liver as we just reviewed. Both of these hyperglycemia events however are associated with the body mechanism of storing fat and that’s way is so important to lose weight and fight obesity to improve diabetes. So it all goes back to how much glucose we ingest.
When we eat excess carbohydrates and sugars our pancreas go into overdrive and produces large amounts of insulin in a short amount of time. This excess insulin helps to drive fat into the liver and that’s where things begin to go wrong. This excess insulin also produces insulin resistance which adds insult to injury creating more liver fat. The role of the liver in glucose control is vital because without its right functioning glucose that would be store as glycogen for later use don’t get stored and end up circulate in your blood where it begin to wreak havoc. The process of how the liver gets sick begins in two ways.
First is the accumulation of triglycerides in the liver resulting in oxidative stress. This excess lipids is a direct consequence of the increase in insulin production due to high glycemic index in food consumption. The oxidative stress result in liver injury and disruption of cell organelles and membranes which leads to necrotic cell death as well as inflammatory response and a liver disfunction an aggravator of metabolic syndrome and diabetes. What is extraordinary is how little attention has been given to the role of the liver in producing diabetes but this process has been known for a long time by the medical community.
“Hepatogenous diabetes” is the name of this disease process – a definition coined in 1906 to describe the high incidence of diabetes in people with hepatic cirrhosis but now has gained renewed interest. Clinical observations have supported that non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) the most common disorder in many Western countries is a forerunner in the development of diabetes Type II. If you are pre diabetic or have risk for diabetes you should pay extra attention to your liver’s health. Here are some ways you can protect your liver.
1. Eat organic foods as much as possible
Your diet represents one of the biggest potential burdens on your liver, as many foods are contaminated with pesticides, growth hormones and chemical additives.
By eating organic you are opting for the purest foods possible, which means you’re saving your liver from a slew of toxins. By definition, organic foods must be free from genetically modified organisms, synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, antibiotics, growth hormones and other drugs.
2. Limit fructose, fried foods and processed foods containing trans fats or hydrogenated oils
Two more dietary burdens to your liver are hidden in many processed foods on your supermarket shelves: trans fats and fructose. Trans fats are common in fried foods like French fries and doughnuts and are also found in cookies, crackers and many other processed foods. If the ingredient list contains “hydrogenated” or “partially hydrogenated” oil, it will contain some amount of trans fat. Fructose is also found in numerous processed foods as well as in soda and fruit juice.
According to one study in the journal Hepatology, a diet high in fructose and trans fats leads to obesity and fatty liver.
3. Increase fruits, vegetables and other liver health boosting foods in your diet
On the flipside, you can also use your diet strategically to support your liver health by eating plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, which are naturally detoxifying.
Specifically, sulfur-rich foods, such as onions, garlic and all the veggies in the cruciferous family (broccoli, kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.) are known to help your liver detoxify environmental toxins, including prescription drugs and pesticides. Vegetables are also an excellent source of fiber, which helps toxins to move through your digestive tract, reducing stress on your liver. Turmeric, cinnamon and licorice are also known to support healthy liver function.
4. Drink alcohol only in moderation (if at all)
Alcohol can destroy liver cells and lead to liver damage that causes fatty liver health, inflammation, alcoholic hepatitis or cirrhosis. If you already have liver health disease, drinking even a small amount of alcohol can make it worse.
5. Use natural household products
The more chemicals you are exposed to, the harder your liver has to work to keep you healthy. You can reduce stress on your liver health by choosing natural cleaning products for your home and natural personal care products for your body. Be sure your drinking water is free from contaminants and consider using an air purifier in your home, especially if you live in a high-traffic area. You’ll also want to avoid spraying pesticides in or around your home.
6. Detoxify your body regularly
Your liver health (along with your kidneys, blood, bowel, lymphatic system and skin) help your body process and eliminate chemicals in your sweat, urine and feces. Detoxing can help to support and enhance this natural process. For tips on how to help support your liver health’s two-phase detoxification process, be sure to read The Natural Way to Detox … and Why You Should
7. Be careful with medications
Taking medications in improper doses, for too long, or mixed with other substances, such as alcohol or other drugs, can harm your liver health. Acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) is notorious for its potential danger to your liver health, as overdose of this drug is actually the leading cause of acute liver health failure in the United States.
In fact, even when used correctly acetaminophen (in this case Extra Strength Tylenol) caused liver enzymes to increase three-fold beyond the normal upper limit, which is a sign of possible liver damage, according to one study. Some patients even had levels as high as eight times the normal enzyme level.
So keep in mind that you need to be careful with medications as far as your liver health is concerned, and this applies to over-the-counter drugs like Tylenol as well as prescription medications.
Exercise is one straightforward way to lower your risk of fatty liver health disease, not only by helping you to maintain a healthy body weight (obesity increases your risk of fatty liver disease) but also by leading to liver health improvements independent of weight loss.
One study published in Hepatology even found that staying active for at least 150 minutes a week improved liver enzymes and other indices of liver health function.
9. Avoid smoking
Smoking may harm your liver’s ability to effectively process and remove toxins from your body. It can also make alcohol-induced liver health disease worse.
10. Consider liver health supportive supplements
Certain high-quality supplements may help support liver health.
Milk thistle: Milk thistle seed extract helps to protect and promote liver health. Studies show that milk thistle:
- Protects and promotes the growth of liver cells
- Fights oxidation (a process that damages cells)
An analysis of 16 milk thistle trials by the National Institutes of Health also concluded that the supplement helped protect the liver via:
- Antioxidant activity
- Enhanced protein synthesis
- Toxin blockade at the membrane level, inhibiting membrane peroxidation
Research suggests that silymarins, a group of potent antioxidants extracted from the seeds of milk thistle, have antioxidant properties several times greater than that of vitamins C and E. Of the silymarins, silybin has been shown to be the most effective in promoting liver health, which is why you’ll want to look for a supplement with a high percentage of silybin.
Detox Nutrients is a unique combination of amino acids, nutrients, and herbs created as nutritional support for liver health that also helps promote detoxification. Carefully selected, ultra-pure ingredients include the herbs Milk Thistle, Curcumin, Grape Seed Extract, and Green Tea, plus MSM. This powerful synergistic blend of antioxidants helps enhance the body’s natural defense systems and supports the liver’s primary detoxification pathways (phase I and phase II)
Alpha Lipoic Acid:
Alpha Lipoic Acid is a powerful antioxidant that supports liver health function.
Remember, a strong liver health is one of your best defenses against the toxins bombarding your body on a daily basis. A healthy lifestyle that lessens your toxic load while providing your body with high-quality sources of essential nutrients will keep your liver in top working order.
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