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Check Your Attitude: Your Liver’s Greatest Ally
Depending on how you look at it, developing a positive attitude could be the easiest – or the hardest – way to improve liver health.
Any comprehensive discussion of liver health relies heavily on the ubiquitous umbrella known as lifestyle modifications. Most experts advocate diet and exercise as the primary components of a “healthy lifestyle.” However, eating well and exercising are second to a much more powerful daily practice – fostering a positive attitude.
In recent years, healthcare providers have noticed that taking care of the liver’s health helps ensure longevity. The liver has many essential, life-sustaining roles, including its detoxifying and manufacturing responsibilities. Anything that hinders detoxification will have a double negative impact on these two aspects of liver health because:
- toxins will back up and accumulate in the liver and bloodstream
- the backlog of toxins will impair the liver’s ability to manufacture necessary compounds
Consequently, steps people take to help support detoxification will benefit their liver’s health and contribute to lengthening their life span.
Lifestyle practices such as what we eat, what we do and how we think have a much more direct connection to the liver’s ability to detoxify than most people realize. Eating the right foods and being physically active provide the body with a wide variety of necessary ingredients for the liver to remain on top of its game. On the other hand, inactivity and eating the wrong foods can quickly snowball into liver cell injury that impairs liver function. Diet and exercise are repeatedly acknowledged for their importance in a liver wellness program – and for good reasons:
- By feeding the body antioxidants, natural anti-inflammatory substances and building blocks for healthy cells, diet supports the liver’s health.
- On the other hand, consuming alcohol or fatty, sugary, chemical-filled food fuels the cycle of inflammation that injures liver cells.
- By keeping active, fat accumulation in the liver is prevented and the liver’s natural glide in the abdominal cavity is practiced. In these ways, physical activity supports the liver’s health.
- With inactivity, the reduced blood circulation causes a buildup of toxic deposits which, in turn, puts an additional burden on the liver.
While nutrition and exercise contribute to the liver’s capability of detoxification, upholding a positive attitude creates a direct path towards healthful liver cells.
Capable of superseding all other lifestyle modifications, attitude is the ultimate director of wellness. The mind’s ability to affect health can be realized by examining the powerful connection between the brain and the digestive system.
The stomach and intestines are known to have more nerve cells than the entire spinal cord. An intricate network of nerves runs directly from the brain to the digestive system, allowing messages to flow in each direction. Released from nerve cells, serotonin is the predominant hormone that controls mood. Sometimes referred to as the happy hormone, serotonin is intricately tied to well-being. Surprisingly, 90 to 95 percent of the body’s serotonin is found in the digestive system – not the brain. Thus, our emotional well-being goes beyond the mind, as this chemical clearly influences the physical body as well.
An increasing amount of research demonstrates that humans have control over the mind which, in turn, has a profound influence over biology. This is not surprising considering the negative effect stress has on nearly every aspect of our well-being. A positive attitude and optimistic thinking early in life predicts health and well being in the future. An analysis of 99 Harvard graduates found a strong correlation between their optimistic thinking as college students and good health at age 40 and above.
In our culture, many have been brought up to instinctually gather negative thoughts about a situation, relationship, experience or challenge. Although this is often a defense mechanism, it creates negative energy – which has a negative biological effect. The first step to correcting this habit is to think another thought that will lead you towards a positive attitude.
Luckily, our thoughts are under our control. Recognizing that we can direct our own thoughts is the bridge to overcoming feeling that our health is out of our control. Applicable to those wanting to influence their liver, having a positive attitude about your health always results in an improvement in health.
For example, someone with a lab report of elevated liver enzymes could choose two very different thought paths:
- Negative – This report could incite fear of liver damage, and recollections of all your potentially liver-damaging activities in the past. This convinces you that every ache or bout of fatigue is due to liver disease and you believe your liver to be permanently injured. You start to research and worry about possible therapies that could cost you lots of money, stress and impair your quality of life.
- Positive – This report could serve as a reminder to you to treasure your health, incorporate healthful lifestyle changes into your day and enjoy every moment. You are grateful for this sign to pay closer attention to what you want in life and take time to do it. You start to research the best ways to support detoxification, relieve stress and love your liver.
There is no doubt of which thought path will lead towards liver wellness, and which path leads away.
Fostering a positive attitude is the most important lifestyle adaptation you can make because this shift has the capability of influencing every aspect of your life – mentally, spiritually and physically. Feeling positive about your liver’s ability to detoxify will influence your decisions about what to eat and how active to be. Guided by a positive attitude, a liver-friendly diet and exercise program has the potential to aid detoxification, reduce inflammation and promote healthy cell growth in the liver – a surefire recipe for optimal liver wellness.
http://consumer.healthday.com/encyclopedia/article.asp?AID=645906, Stress and the Digestive System, Chris Woolston, MS, Retrieved March 3, 2013, HealthDay, 2013.
http://drhyman.com/blog/2010/05/19/stress-tips-calm-your-mind-heal-your-body/, Stress Tips: Calm Your Mind, Heal Your Body, Mark Hyman, MD, Retrieved February 26, 2013, Dr. Mark Hyman, 2013.
http://suite101.com/article/the-power-of-positive-attitude-a12600, The Power of Positive Attitude, Jerry Lopper, Retrieved March 3, 2013, suite101.com, 2013.
http://www.hepcchallenge.org/choices/pdf/Chapter_04-Sec_02_OL.pdf, Understanding Hepatitis C Disease – Promoting Liver Health, Retrieved March 3, 2013, Caring Ambassador’s Program, Inc., 2008.