Protein Hazard: How to Save Your Liver When You Are on a Diet

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Protein Hazard: How to Save Your Liver When You Are on a DietOver the last few years the high protein, high fat and low carbohydrate diet has become a standard and almost axiomatic approach to weight loss. Often it does seem to work really well. On other occasions people feel really awful on it, but still lose weight anyway. On still other occasions no weight is lost at all!

There is no doubt that there are biochemical differences between people. This biochemical individuality does account for the varying successes that are seen between cases, however, there is one other point that may have been overlooked in all this dietary enthusiasm!

Often your liver is already overloaded with all the work it has to do (something we will discuss shortly) and thinking it will also break down the extra amount of fat that is recommended to be consumed in these diets is perhaps expecting too much.

Your liver is the largest organ in your body, weighing anything from 1.2 to 1.6 kilograms. It is responsible for several vital mechanisms, including production of bile, the metabolism of carbohydrate and nitrogenous materials, removal of toxins from the body, storage of glycogen (which is released into the blood stream as glucose when needed by the body), and destruction of old or abnormal red blood cells. A properly functioning liver is vital to sustain life. The liver is a very resilient organ, and often by the time something notably abnormal shows up in a medical test it can mean that the liver is a bit more than unhappy!

Common signs that your liver may need a little help include abdominal bloating, poor appetite, nausea after eating foods (especially fatty ones) and constipation. You may wake in the morning with a coated tongue or with bad breath. Other digestive signs can include bowel motions becoming paler and the urine being a darker colour.

The liver plays a major role in detoxification of foreign ingested substances. Commercial vegetables and fruit are sprayed with toxic chemicals, animals given potent hormones and antibiotics and most of our food is either genetically engineered, processed, refined, frozen and cooked. Thousands of additives are found in foods and chemicals in our drinking water.

Many toxic chemicals that we ingest are fat-soluble. This means that they will be stored in fat deposits and cell membranes. These toxins may be stored in this manner for years, but they can be released during times of exercise, stress or fasting. Weight loss programs encourage a rapid breakdown of fatty tissues, and this, of course, releases all those stored toxins. Is it becoming clearer why you may be feeling so awful?

The liver uses two major detoxification pathways to deal with these substances These are called the Phase 1 and Phase 2 detoxification pathways. Supporting these pathways with various Musashi products could actually help you lose weight, and feel better while doing it!

The Phase 1 pathway is the one involving the Cytochrome P-450 oxidative enzymes. This pathway converts toxic chemicals into less harmful chemicals. This is achieved by chemical reactions such as oxidation, reduction and hydrolysis. During this process free radicals are produced which, if excessive, can overload or damage liver cells. Antioxidants such as vitamin C and E and alpha lipoic acid reduce the damage caused by these free radicals. If antioxidants are lacking, toxic chemicals become far more dangerous.

The Phase 2 detoxification pathway, also called the conjugation pathway, involves the liver cells using another substance, usually an amino acid such as cysteine, glycine or a sulphur molecule to neutralise a toxic chemical or drug and render it less harmful. It can then be excreted from the body via the bile or urine in a water soluble form. Conjugation allows the liver to turn drugs, hormones and various toxins into a form where they can be excreted.

For efficient Phase 2 detoxification, the liver cells require sulphur-containing amino acids such as methionine, taurine and cysteine. Other related B group vitamins such as choline and inositol (which are found in Huan), and the amino acid glycine are also important for Phase 2 detoxification. Typical Phase 2 enzyme systems include UDP-glucuronyl transferase (GT) and glutathione-S-transferase (GSH-T). Glutathione is the body's most powerful internal antioxidant and liver protector. Glutathione is made from methionine or cysteine, glycine and Glutamine.

So, as you can see, if you are going to use a high protein diet, you really must consider the effect it has on your liver, and whether it can cope alone with the extra load.

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