September 12th, 2006
The liver is responsible for keeping potentially harmful substances that enter our system out of our blood supply. Some of these substances are obvious, while others may be a surprise to even the most health conscious among us. Discover five such items that may be threatening your liver and learn the signs of exposure to them.
by Nicole Cutler, L.Ac.
We need to drink water to survive but consuming just any water could seriously jeopardize your health. That is why most drinking supplies pass through a water treatment facility before reaching the tap. The purpose of the water treatment facility is to filter out anything harmful from the water before it reaches our mouth.
Just as we need the water to survive, our bodies require blood to course through our veins and nourish all our cells. However, the circulation of toxin-laden blood could also seriously jeopardize our health. That is why we have our own means to filter anything harmful from the blood before it reaches our cardiovascular system. Our beloved liver is our natural blood treatment facility.
When our liver is operating below its optimal functioning level, its ability to cleanse the blood diminishes. Any person with liver disease, including hepatitis, fatty liver and liver cancer, has a compromised blood treatment facility. The ideal way for anybody, particularly someone with liver disease, to prevent the liver’s overload and consequent shutting down, is to reduce the load of toxins it must process. The two most common routes our bodies are affected by toxins are through ingestion and inhalation. Taking common sense steps to reduce the daily toxic onslaught is recommended for individuals with a diminished capacity to remove toxins from their blood.
While many are aware of some of the more commonly known toxins (alcohol, cigarettes, formaldehyde, etc.), our experts have highlighted five toxic substances that may surprise you:
1. Artificial Sweeteners: They definitely lurk in diet foods, especially soda, but are also found in an increasing number of staple foods. Aspartame®, Splenda®, sucralose, NutraSweet® and Equal® are all chemically manufactured sweeteners capable of creating toxic reactions in the human body. The government cautions against the use of any artificial sweetener by children and pregnant women. People with liver disease should definitely be added to this list.
2. Fried Potatoes: French fries and potato chips contain a toxin called acrylamide, a chemical used to produce plastics and dyes. Acrylamide causes DNA damage, which can result in reproductive damage and cancer. When starchy foods are heated to high temperatures, they spontaneously form acrylamide, even though none was present in the raw ingredients. Both American and European scientists agree that the foods with the highest levels of acrylamide include french fries and potato chips. Additionally, deep fried foods are high in liver-toxic lipid peroxides (rancid fats, which are immuno-suppressive and damage liver cell membranes) and trans-fatty acids (which suppress the production of PGE1, an important liver-protecting prostaglandin).
3. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): This flavor enhancer for a variety of foods has been used for many years. Many mistakenly assume that only Asian restaurant foods contain MSG, but it is found in everything from soups, to snacks, to main courses. Although the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) claims that MSG is generally recognized as safe, its toxic effects have been reported for decades. Based on peer reviewed studies, there is no question that glutamic acid is neurotoxic.
4. Acetaminophen: While many drugs (over-the-counter or prescription) are toxic to the liver, excessive acetaminophen ingestion is a leading cause of liver failure. Brands including Tylenol®, Anacin-3, Arthritis Pain Formula Aspirin-Free, Datril Liquiprin Elixir and St. Joseph Aspirin-Free Fever Reducer for Children may be casually used to ease a headache or reduce a fever, however, more than 15 grams can lead to irreversible liver disease in adults. Although liver toxicity may be increased with prolonged use, when taken in combination with alcohol or if taken while fasting, the use of any acetaminophen products by a person with liver disease must be monitored by a physician.
5. Fuel Exhaust: This is important information for any person with liver disease who is considering or currently engaged in a job in the automotive industry. Auto and diesel exhaust contain dozens of liver damaging poisons such as lead, sulfur and nitrogen oxides, acetaldehyde, cadmium and peroxyacetylnitrile.
Avoiding excessive toxin exposure is an important step in reducing the impact of liver disease. The most common sign of toxic overload is fatigue, while headaches, nausea and dizziness are close behind. The sensible approach is to reduce your toxin exposure rather than attempting to eliminate every known toxin. If you have liver disease, and thus have less ability to cleanse your blood of toxins, reduce your exposure to car fumes, save diet soda for a special occasion, choose foods without MSG and opt for a pain reliever that doesn’t contain acetaminophen. Your body will notice even the smallest efforts, and will thank you by increasing the capacity of your personal blood treatment facility.
Van Rijn CM, Marani E, Rietveld WJ, The neurotoxic effect of monosodium glutamate (MSG) on the retinal ganglion cells of the albino rat, Histol Histopathol. 1986 Jul;1(3):291-5.
www.drlam.com, Toxic Food, Michael Lam, MD, 2004.
www.foodandhealth.com.au, Love your Liver and Live a Little Longer, Gowings Food and Health, 2006.
www.liver-cirrhosis-failure.com, Liver damage and Failure: Causes, Liver Cirrhosis and Transplant, Legal Center, 2006.
www.mercola.com, The Five Absolute Worst Foods You Can Eat, Dr. Joseph Mercola, 2006.
www.nutrimed.com, Toxic Overload: No Fast Solution, Nutrimed Labs, Inc., 2006.
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