Why I Quit Drinking Cow’s Milk and Eating Cheese.

Have you ever wondered why humans drink something designed to be baby calves growth food? Why don’t we drink… I don’t know… giraffe milk instead? Why don’t other animals go to cows and drink their milk? Why is it that our stomachs should be prepared to digest a milk that comes from an animal, when human mothers produce their own milk?

Well, if I’m writing this post you can guess I have asked myself those questions and I have done some research to try to find answers. Was that liquid they make us drink as kids, really providing my bones with the calcium they needed, and thus making them stronger? Or was this some weird thing we picked up a long time ago that really has no health benefits whatsoever? What if it is actually bad for me?

Now this post isn’t a request for you to stop eating dairy, I just thought I would share some of the reasons I personally have decided not to consume it anymore.

Cow’s milk is custom-designed for calves:

Thanks to our creative ingenuity and perhaps related to our ancient survival needs, we adopted the dubious habit of drinking another species’ milk. Nobody can dispute that cow’s milk is an excellent food source for calves. Weighing around 100 pounds at birth, a calf typically gains approximately eight times its weight by the time it is weaned. But unlike humans, once calves are weaned, they never drink milk again. And the same applies to every mammalian species on this planet.

So yeah humans don’t need cow’s milk any more than they need a giraffe’s milk.

(https://saveourbones.com/osteoporosis-milk-myth/)

Most people are lactose intolerant:

Nearly three quarters of the world’s population are estimated to be lactose intolerant after the age of weaning and therefore do not tolerate the consumption of milk and other dairy products well.

(https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1602030/)

Approximately 70 percent of African-Americans, 90 percent of Asian Americans, 53 percent of Mexican Americans, and 74 percent of Native Americans were lactose intolerant.1-4 Studies showed that a substantial reduction in lactase activity is also common among those whose ancestry is African, Asian, Native American, Arab, Jewish, Hispanic, Italian, or Greek.

(http://www.pcrm.org/health/diets/vegdiets/what-is-lactose-intolerance)

Milk increases the risk of fracture:

“Consumption of dairy products, particularly at age 20 years, was associated with an increased risk of hip fracture in old age. (“Case-Control Study of Risk Factors for Hip Fractures in the Elderly”. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 139, No. 5, 1994).

And the 12 year-long Harvard Nurses’ Health Study found that those who consumed the most calcium from dairy foods broke more bones than those who rarely drank milk. This is a broad study based on 77,761 women aged 34 through 59 years of age.

Populations that consume the most cow’s milk and other dairy products have among the highest rates of osteoporosis and hip fracture in later life. (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1602030/)

Dairy is linked to many different types of cancer, especially those associated with your hormones:

Harvard’s Physicians’ Health Study followed 20,885 men for 11 years, finding that having two and one-half dairy servings each day boosted prostate cancer risk by 34 percent, compared to having less than one-half serving daily.

Milk does other mischief. Its load of calcium deplete the body’s vitamin D, which, in turn, may add to cancer risk. Most dairy products are also high in fat, which affects the activity of sex hormones that play a major role in cancer.

(http://www.pcrm.org/health/health-topics/milk-and-prostate-cancer-the-evidence-mounts)

The following Data shows how dairy is linked to increasing risk of colon and breast cancer.

(http://www.readcube.com/articles/10.1002/ijc.29466?r3_referer=wol&tracking_action=preview_click&show_checkout=1&purchase_referrer=onlinelibrary.wiley.com&purchase_site_license=LICENSE_DENIED_NO_CUSTOMER)

For women who have had breast cancer, just one serving of whole dairy a day can increase their chance from dying from the disease 49%, and dying from any disease 64%

(https://academic.oup.com/jnci/article/105/9/616/986948/High-and-Low-Fat-Dairy-Intake-Recurrence-and)

It is dangerously addictive:

Cheese is made mostly of casein, where most of the liquid whey found in milk has been filtered or strained out. But all dairy products contain casein, not just cheese. Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, says through his studies he has found casein to be the most relevant cancer promoter ever discovered.  Because casein digests so slowly, natural morphine-like substances in casein known as casomorphins, act like opiates in the body as they enter the bloodstream. Just minutes after you eat a dairy-based food, the casein protein begins to break down. This releases the drug-like casomorphins, which attach to opiate receptors in the brain, and cause severe addictions to dairy products (hence the reason they keep people coming back for more.) Casomorphins trigger such an addictive response that they’ve been compared to heroine in terms of their strength to cause food addictions and mood disorders.

(http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/casein-dairy-protein-and-your-health/)

Opiate-like casomorphins liberated from the cow’s milk protein, casein, are accused of participating in the cause of such conditions as autism, crib death, type I diabetes, postpartum psychosis, circulatory disorders, and food allergies.

(https://nutritionfacts.org/video/cows-milk-casomorphin-and-autism/)

Human breast milk also has casein but only 2.7 g per liter, when cow’s milk has 26 g casein per liter. that is almost ten times more. If human breast milk was custom-made for humans how come we are drinking a substance with nearly 10 times as much casein?

To be totally honest with you I still eat an occasional ice cream or chocolate that contains milk, but for all these reasons I have stopped cooking with dairy products or adding milk to my cereal. I have started using unsweetened almond milk and it is delicious! It really tastes good.

I hope you liked this post and you are considering alternatives to a dairy filled diet. If you can’t get rid of dairy, I do recommend you start lowering the amounts you are consuming. You might notice benefits like less acne and constipation which are always a plus. Good luck with whatever you decide.

Love, Knowledge Empress

 

 

 

 

 

 

Still Alice by Lisa Genova – Review

Not long ago I wrote a post about Alzheimer’s disease. I discussed how it was a tragic loss of self, and I included some information about the Alzheimer’s Association. However, after having finished this beautiful novel by Lisa Genova today, I have a better image of what it is like for someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, particularly early-onset. A few years ago I saw the movie for this book where Alice was portrayed by the talented Julianne Moore, and I was very touched, however when I read this book I got a completely different feeling.

This is not just a book about illness. When I saw it in my bookshelf knowing what it was about I thought “oh yeah that’s the book about Alzheimer’s”, and while is it pretty much the theme, I understood after reading it that it is also a book about family and about love. It is a book about awareness, and it is a book about understanding. When you see a person with a physical handicap, or someone who you can visually tell is fighting cancer, we see someone who is brave, someone who is a hero. For some reason when a person suffers with mental illness or with a cognitive disease like Alzheimer’s or dementia in general, the word people tend to use is “crazy”, their fight is undermined and they are thought to be frustrating and hard to cope with.  Alzheimer’s is a very serious incurable and quickly progressive disease and the people who are diagnosed with it have an unimaginable internal fight. A fight to remember. To remember the people they love and that they love them, to remember their name and who they are, their accomplishments, their struggles, or even where they live.

 Background:

Dr. Alice Howland has been a cognitive psychology professor at Harvard for over twenty years, she is an world-renowned expert in linguistics and a published author or many articles and a book. She is a mother of three and has an equally smart and successful husband. She is proud of the life she has built. A little after her fiftieth birthday she starts noticing symptoms of forgetfulness that she disregards as simply menopausal, but after that comes a diagnosis that will change her life and that of everyone around her forever.

What I learned:

  • Give importance to the present. we often dwell on the past or think about the future, but we fail horribly in embracing the moment. “My yesterdays are dissapearing, and my tomorrows are uncertain, so what do I live for? I live for each day. I live for every moment. Some tomorrow soon I will forget that I stood before you and gave this speech. But just because I’ll forget it tomorrow doesn’t mean I didn’t live every second of it today. I will forget today, but that does not mean today didn’t matter” Unlike Alice we will probably remember today so we might as well make today worthwile.
  • It is important to build a life we are proud of, but our career and our work shouldn’t keep us from realizing what is the most important part of life. It is family and it is love. We need to have people in our life that love us unconditionaly and will always put us first, and we need to make sure to always put them first and love them unconditionally in return. At the end of the day when we don’t have a career anymore, the relationships we build are what will bring us utmost and true happiness.
  • Lastly I learnt that I should always do my best not to limit people who have either physical or mental handicaps. They are the ones suffering and we are the ones with the responibily to empower them. Also never undermine the pain or suffering of another person, don’t look away and fear them, and whatever happens do not judge.

I really recommend this book and I hope you all decide to read it as some point. If you really don’t read I recommend you at least watch the movie which I believe is currently on Netflix. And whatever you do don’t forget to cherish your today and to love unconditionally.

Love, Knowledge Empress

Hydrogenated Fats: The Horror Story

We’ve all at some point seen the words “Trans Fat” in the nutrition facts of food. We associate the word “fat” with unhealthy and we completely ignore the “trans” part and what it stands for. In this post I would like to raise awareness about partially or entirely hydrogenated fats, which have been deeply integrated in the food industry today. And as much as there have been new regulations to cut them out they are still hiding in our everyday diets.

Food fats naturally occur in three general types:
1. Saturated (e.g., butter, lard, coconut oil)
2. Monounsaturated (e.g., olive or canola oils)
3. Polyunsaturated (e.g., omega-6 oils like sunflower or safflower oil, or omega-3 oils like fish and flaxseed oils)

Hydrogenation (or, more accurately, “partial hydrogenation,” as the process is incomplete) is the forced chemical addition of hydrogen into omega-6 polyunsaturated oils to make them hard at room temperatures, primarily as a cheaper and less perishable substitute for butter in crispy bread products. Common hydrogenated fats include hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated cottonseed, palm, soy, and corn oils, but theoretically almost any polyunsaturated oil can be hydrogenated.

The chemical structure of artificially hardened hydrogenated fat is, however, different from either that of a naturally hard saturated fat or naturally liquid unsaturated (mono- or poly-) oil. For this reason, hydrogenated fats are difficult for the body to “grab onto” and metabolize, and can neither be incorporated into cell structures nor excreted in the normal fashion. Thus, hydrogenated or “trans-” fats tend to remain “stuck” in blood circulation, becoming oxidized and most importantly, contributing significantly to an increased risk for cardiovascular disease and possibly also cancer.

Trans fats work against the body in many ways. They increase bad cholesterol –low-density lipoprotein, or LDL — and decrease good cholesterol — high-density lipoprotein, or HDL. Furthermore, they block the production of chemicals that combat inflammation and benefit the hormonal and nervous systems, while at the same time allowing chemicals that increase inflammation. This means that trans fats promote inflammation and negatively impact cholesterol levels.

Harvard School of Public Health notes that trans fats promote immune system over-activity and inflammation and are linked to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, among other chronic diseases.

The FDA labeling Loophole

In 2015 the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) recognized the dangers of partially hydrogenated fats, and they ordered food processors to cut it out, but the agency has given food processors three years to transition to other ingredients. What a lot of people don’t know is that there is a loophole in the rules that allows processors that include 0.5 grams (or less) of this synthetic trans fats, to label their foods “Trans Fat Free” or have a 0g of trans fat in the nutritional facts. This means that a lot of food labeled free of this poison, actually contain a small amount of them that adds up through the consumption of more than one of this products a day. Partially hydrogenated oils will usually still be in the ingredients list, this is why it’s important to read both the food label and the ingredients list.

Also, The FDA rule does not prevent food processors from using other hidden sources of trans fat, such as refined oils, fully hydrogenated oils, emulsifiers, flavors and colors.

The Common Trans Fatty Foods:

  • margarine
  • vegetable shortening
  • packaged snacks
  • baked goods (especially premade versions)
  • ready-to-use dough
  • fried foods
  • coffee creamers (both dairy and non-dairy)

Hydrogenated oils go hand in hand with food preservation, so hydrogenated fat often ends up in packaged foods.

The EWG Food Score Solution.

As always at the end of my posts I like to offer viable solutions for the problems I present you with, in this case I found an initiative by the Environmental Working Group. During the phase-out period and afterwards, consumers should use EWG’s Food Scores to search for foods that are truly free of trans fats. Food Scores highlights foods that contain ingredients likely to carry trans fat and warns consumers when an item may harbor hidden trans fat.

The EWG Food Scores are available online and in app form. Besides helping you detect hidden trans fats, it also gives you an overall rating of over 80,000 products with detailed health concerns. I have found it very helpful so far and I definitely encourage you to give it a try at:  http://www.ewg.org/foodscores or download the EWG’s Healthy Living app in your app store of preference.

Sources

 

 

Midnight Blue by Simone van der Vlugt – Review

I don’t judge books by their covers, but I have to say that some covers just scream at you to buy them at the bookstore. I’m happy this one did, because very rarely do I find such a beautiful and engaging piece of literature. One thing I got to say, my sleeping schedule is not happy with this book because it kept me up until 5:28 a.m. on Friday. Some books you really just need to start and finish the same day because they won’t let you sleep anyways.

Midnight Blue was originally written in Dutch by Simone van der Vlugt and it was thankfully (and very masterfully) translated to English by Jenny Watson. It is set in 17th-century Holland (1654-1655 to be exact) and it is a beautiful portrayal of life there at that time. Midnight Blue is a work of historical fiction, but the historical context and even some of the characters are historical events and figures that are very much real. I especially recommend this book if you if you have an interest in art history, but really even if you have no previous interest, this might awaken one.

Background:

1654. following the death of her young husband, Catrin Barentsdochter takes a job as a housekeeper in Amsterdam. As she assists her mistress with painting lessons she dreams of developing her own skill as an artist. But when her past catches up with her, Catrin must leave behind the comfortable security of her new home for the smaller city of Delft. She dreams of a life in which her secret stays buried, but in a world of tragedy, epidemics, gossip and suspicion that is not always easy. Women’s rights at the time were not a thing and being a woman with no husband (or with an abusive one) wasn’t an easy reality. This story of forgiveness, hard work, perseverance and love is guaranteed to inspire women to chase their dreams and recognize their true power.

Characters:

Catrin Barentsdochter: Born in the little village of De Rijp, Catrin a 25 year old widow wants to move to the city. Most see it as running away and it rises suspicion, but she needs a second chance in life, especially since her late husband Govert was an alcoholic who beat her daily since the day they got married. Catrin is a very talented painter and a very beautiful woman. She is innovative, smart and pious. She has very dangerous secrets that haunt her and people who would like to see her end. Catrin is the narrator, and this is her story.

Jacob: He is the farmhand of Catrin and Govert until she leaves the village. He knows things. He is resentful, ambitious and determined. When he wants something he will find a way to get it, even if it means hurting anyone in or out of his way.

Matthias van Nulandt: Matthias is in his thirties and is very attractive. He has no sense of commitment and would like to conserve his freedom. He is a traveling businessman for his brother’s company and he loves it. He is a kind man but he is also a heartbreaker.

Adriaan van Nulandt: he employs Catrin and is a very kind master. He lives in a beautiful house in Amsterdam filled with art treasures of the time. He is very successful in business, but no so successful at pleasing his wife Briggita, they stay married despite the lack of love, but he is a good husband to her.

Briggita: She is a well to do lady who married Adriaan because Matthias didn’t want to get married. She lost all lust for life after she couldn’t have children and now all she does is paint. She doesn’t have talent and she is critical of herself. She is often sick and on meds. She is kind once she gets used to someone but she is not a warm person.

Evert van Nulandt: Evert is the older brother of Adriaan and Mathias. He lives in Delft and owns a pottery there. Evert is a widower himself and lost all his children as well in a fire. He is a very good boss and a kind man. He is loved by the people in Delft.

The list of characters is very long and there are many important characters I didn’t include in this list simply because it would take forever.

Thank you for reading my review on this beautiful book, I hope you consider it as a possible future read, and if you have already read it let me know what you think and whether I did justice to it.

Love, Knowledge Empress

My Semester in Israel

Ever since I can remember it has been a dream of mine to spend some time living in Israel. This year thanks to G-d and my parents I had the opportunity to do it for a semester. After researching seminaries and other educational institutions for a year, somehow I applied, got accepted and enrolled in Midreshet Tehillah, a small seminary in the Neve Yerushalayim campus. The program had started in September and I was arriving at the very end of December, just in time to spend Hanukkah in Israel.

Everyone had a lot of questions, and for the sake of making friends I was more than happy to answer and try to engage in friendly conversation with these girls. I didn’t know that a few months later I would be calling them sisters. It was both easy and difficult to adapt, easy because the people were so helpful and friendly and difficult because well I just couldn’t imagine any of them sticking around after the “welcome to our school” and the basic questionnaire, in all honesty I couldn’t find my place in the social life at first. It was also difficult because I had to start going to class which started at 9 AM and ended at 9 PM (with breaks obviously).

I had gone on many trips before but this was the first time I was living abroad and that meant respecting a budget. What I didn’t know was that the food was going to be difficult to eat (that’s as nice as I can put it). So on my second day there I went on a shopping spree and spent more than half my budget. Then when it was time to afford food and other basic necessities I found myself using all my birthday money at the groceries store. Thankfully by the start of the next month when the budget renewed I had a much better financial plan.

On the first few weeks I noticed that this was going to be my most difficult health challenge I had ever had. Junk food followed me, and we barely had any way to cook. I ate close to nothing from the dining room, and I was starting to get really sick from the quality of “food” I was consuming. Snacks drenched in monosodium glutamate, preservatives, hydrogenated oils, food coloring, GMOs and other weird chemicals I can’t even pronounce. I was violating all my food standards and I was suffering the consequences I was becoming bloated, constipated and all my energy was drained. On top of everything I was not working out and that’s just like a recipe for doom.

Week three came and I decided I hadn’t come to Israel to become a slug, and as addictive as those Cheetos and Doritos were I had to cut it out. I replaced the nasty junk with delicious and healthy snacks like peanuts, walnuts and pistachios. I found an electric burner in the dining room and I bought a pan and some eggs (and a can of canola oil I thankfully lost and replaced with coconut oil and olive oil). I started buying whole roasted chicken from the groceries store and eating it with the rice from the dining room. I bought a lot (like a lot) or fruit. I started getting into fruit shakes until I became addicted. All this changes made my days drastically better. I was more energetic and could wake up easier for class. The fiber from all that fruit helped with the bloating and the constipation. I did at some points have chocolate, ice cream and other sweets, but I did so in moderation and with care.

My classes were amazing and mentally stimulating, I had very good teachers and I really cannot complain in that area. I did miss class sometimes, I tried not to but as much as I love learning it got a little too much sometimes. My favorite part of the week was when Thursday came and it was time to go to volunteer. Ever since the first time I set foot inside Zichron Menachem I knew that was the place I wanted to go to every week. Despite the fact I have very poor Hebrew and there was a communication barrier with the children, I had an amazing time every single week. Zichron Menachem is a foundation that works with children that are battling Cancer and their families. I went for a few hours in the afternoon and just basically played with the siblings of the ill kids. It is known that every child requires a lot of attention and I know the wonderful parents of this children would love to give them all their attention but it is really hard when you have a kid that needs to go through chemo and surgeries. It was very fulfilling and it made me really happy just being there.

The most important part of my seminary experience were no doubt my gorgeous friends. I never knew I could meet such amazing people and get to call them my friends, it was beautiful to see how different we all were and how we managed to go beyond tolerating each other and creating loving bonds. I felt very encouraged, respected, loved and cared for. And I deeply thank all the people who were there for me during this whole journey, you made it incredible. Thank you for inspiring me to grow and chase my dreams, and thank you for supporting me in everything I do, you are now part of my family and I hope to see you all very soon.

I’m so happy I took a chance on seminary, and I’m so happy I ended up in Midreshet Tehillah. I encourage you to take a chance on your dreams, don’t let the people around you put you down because it is different and out of what you are used to. The best things in life happen to you the minute you step out of your comfort zone.

Love, Knowledge Empress.

 

 

Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys – Review

Set in the year 1945 this riveting historical novel by American-Lithuanian author Ruta Sepetys is a revelation of important parts of history that seem to have died with the Second World War. While the characters are fictional the historical context is very much real and it pained me deeply to have never even heard this tragic events took place.

I love historical novels in general (I myself want to become a historical novelist someday) but whenever I read one of Ruta Sepetys’ novels I am truly captivated. Besides being well researched, well written and an important topic, she truly has a way of making her stories alive. When you read her books you are there with the characters and you are living it. She gives you a true experience and you just can’t believe it is fiction. Salt to the Sea is no different. Whether you enjoy historical novels or not, this is a book you must read, simply because it is important. And having read very difficult books in history this is a fast read, it completely takes over you until the very end and does not get boring or annoying at any point.

Background:

The story is narrated through four different perspectives. Four young people with different origins and backgrounds all affected by the war in different ways. All of them hunted and haunted by tragedy, lies, secrets, fear, guilt, shame and fate. The MV Wilhelm Gustloff  was the ship that promised them freedom and safety from their wretched pasts and presets. But when there is war not all promises can be kept.

 The Characters:

Joana Vilkas: Born in Biržai, Lithuania Joana is only twenty one years old. She and her mother repatriated to Germany (her mother was of German origins) to get away from Stalin’s cruel rule and deportation to Siberia or the famous gulags. She is consumed with guilt for someone she cared about and endangered without meaning to. Joana is a studious girl and a talented nurse. She was a physician’s assistant in Isterburg (East Prussia, which was part of the Reich) until she had to flee for her life in early 1945 because the Russians were approaching. She is kind, compassionate and empathic. She has a burning desire to heal or help whoever she sees and is a hero of her own, still she feels guilty for her past and for all the people she has let down. Joana is very attractive and has had a very poor history with dating and romance. She is seeked by many but remains humble, troubled and consumed.

Florian Beck: Florian is from Tilsit, Prussia. He is of age to be enlisted in the German army but he was the apprentice of Dr. Lange, who used him to restore many important art pieces stolen from the rest of Europe by the Reich. He is a talented artist and a fantastic replicator. He is full of resent towards Dr. Lange, Hitler and Gauleiter Erich Koch (the regional Nazi party leader, and one of the most cruel war criminals) and so he intends to take revenge by stealing a mystery object. He’s on the run and very badly injured from an explosion. His mother died and they killed his father. Despite everything he is a very good person and he can’t be indifferent even if he tries. He does not let people see him smile often but when he does no one can deny he is handsome.

Emilia: Emilia is only 15 years old. She is a Polish girl from Lwów. Her mother died giving birth to her little brother (who also did not make it). She loves nature and math. She has been through a lot and is seen as an inferior “filthy pole” by the Nazis. Her father sends her to a farm up north with some family friends for her safety, but was she really safe there? Emilia finds herself running for her life and then she crosses paths with Florian who saves her from a Russian soldier. Emilia is the icon of sacrifice in this book, she gives it all for others and is selfless, she feels alone in her war stricken world and she misses her old life, but she tries to pretend everything is okay. She is so good at pretending she even fools herself with her own lies sometimes.

Adolph Frick: Adolph is a young lad from Germany. He is a late enlister of the German army because he is nothing more than a wimpy psychopath in training. He calls himself “a thinker” and likes to quote Hitler’s ideas from his book Mein Kampf. He has a profound love for the Furher and buys into the whole superior race ideology. He likes to chant a list of Hitler’s enemies. He is in the lowest rank of the navy and assigned to assist in the ship Wilhelm Gustloff in Operation Hannibal. He has unimportant jobs but he is obsessed with becoming a hero to Germany. He writes countless mental letters to Hannelore, his “adored one” from back home. But he is full of fear and resent, he has been bullied and made fun of a lot. He is not very clever, and he believes himself to be. He is very physically unfit and a very much interested in women who will only make fun of him. He reminds me a lot of Hitler himself. He just wants to feel powerful, worth it and useful and he is prepared to get rid of anyone in his path to achieving self confidence.

Heinz “the shoe poet”: this old shoemaker is a character, he’s on the run with Joana and their group. He is convinced shoes tell people’s stories and he just has an obsession with shoes in general. He is a very honest loving man. He is charismatic and caring. Everyone loves him.

Ingrid: Ingrid is a blind girl, this handicap makes her unworthy of living by Hitler’s standards. She has all her other senses sharpened and she can sense many thing others with sight can’t.

Sorry Eva: Eva is also part of the group evacuating with Joana. She has very pessimistic comments to say and always adds the word sorry in every one of them. She is her own priority. She is a bitter woman and the shoe poet describes her a blister.

Klaus: Klaus is a little boy wandering by himself, the group takes him in because he has no one. He is sweet and loves the shoemaker. He calls him Opi (Grampa) and is fascinated by him.

As for the plot I will not spoil it for you now. But my recommendation to you is: read this book. Read it if it’s the only thing you ever plan on reading. Read it if you are not a regular reader, and if you are. This is an important story, please don’t let it die.

Love, Knowledge Empress

 

Liver Loving

Most people who have spent time with me would know that I love talking about the liver. Whenever this obsession started, it came with a lot of consciousness about what I was eating, putting on my skin and surrounding myself with. In this world of increasing toxin levels everywhere we turn, I have become petrified of the future of our generation.

The liver is a vital organ that is located in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm. The liver has a wide range of functions, including detoxification of various toxins, protein synthesis, and the production of biochemicals necessary for digestion. It also plays a role in metabolism, regulation of glycogen storage, decomposition of red blood cells and hormone production.

In other words your liver is awesome and it’s vital, meaning you cannot live without it.

So now let’s see how exactly your liver cleanses your bloodstream and why it doesn’t automatically cleanse itself.

There are two mechanisms the liver uses to cleanse your bloodstream:

1. It is a mechanical filter consisting of spaces (sinusoids) lined by the fenestrated endothelium. As the blood flows through the liver sinusoids, the toxins pass through the fenestrated endothelium into the space of Disse and then into the liver cells.

2. The phase one and two detox pathways. A series of enzyme reactions in your liver cells convert toxins into a less harmful state, so that they can be excreted.

So if the liver can cleanse the bloodstream, the liver should be able to cleanse itself and is in no need of extra help – right? Or is the liver filter like the air and oil filters of an engine which need regular cleansing and maintenance. If these filters become dirty, blocked and over worked they malfunction and eventually the engine breaks down.
Well this is what happens in the body and eventually an overloaded or “dirty liver filter” can cause wide ranging symptoms of poor health in the body.

What is it that can overload or impair the liver’s ability to detoxify?

1. High exposure to environmental toxins, alcohol, heavy metals, and/or certain medications – there is an unprecedented amount of chemicals that are integrating themselves into our environment – dyes from printing, hair colors, plastics, alkyl-phenols, PCBs, phthalates, paints, insecticides – thousands of tons of these chemicals go into the environment around the world every year and get into the food chain. The effects of these chemicals are not fully studied. An enormous amount of research literature associating toxin exposure to disease has been published and current estimates suggest that up to nearly $800 billion is spent in  the US and Canada every year on toxicity-related diseases.

2. Generation of excess free radicals from immune complexes or viruses. People with allergies and autoimmune diseases have an immune system that is continually spilling out inflammatory chemicals. These chemicals and immune cells eventually make their way to the liver where they can overwork it. Infection with viruses, bacteria or parasites also places a strain on the immune system. Plus these infectious agents release a number of their own toxins.

3. Fatty infiltration of the liver, and we all know that the condition fatty liver is now an epidemic. When fat infiltrates the liver it can displace healthy liver cells. Fat in the liver can damage liver cells, promote inflammation in the liver and cause raised liver enzymes. The majority of toxins are fat soluble; if you have a fatty liver it is like a magnet for toxins.

4. Nutritional deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and sulphur-bearing amino acids that are required for the detox pathways in the liver. Poor diet, trans fatty acids & excess sugar can inhibit phase one and two pathways. Excess caffeine stimulates too fast phase one detoxification; this is a problem because free radicals build up in the liver before they enter the phase two pathway.

5. Enzyme polymorphisms. These are genetic conditions where there is a deficiency or abnormality in an enzyme required for proper detoxification.

6. Leaky gut syndrome. This is an extremely common condition whereby the intestinal lining becomes more permeable than it should be, allowing bacteria, toxins and undigested food into the bloodstream. These substances then pass directly to the liver.

7. Medications. Several medications can either inhibit or modify detox enzymes.

You could be wondering why does this matter or why should you care. Here’s why:

So we said your liver detoxifies the body, but it is also the one organ in your body that can metabolize fat. So if your toxins build up in your body your liver will be overworked trying to filter and your metabolism will slow down significantly and that will cause you to gain a lot of weight (and not from the good one). Besides the whole fat gain, your liver health deteriorates giving you more chances of developing one of many liver diseases over time.

I could end the post here but I don’t like leaving you without some solutions. Luckily there are numerous strategies to improve the health and detoxification abilities of your liver. So let’s now look at how you can cleanse your liver:

1. Your liver cell membranes are largely composed of fatty acids. These fats are delicate and fragile, and easily damaged by chemicals that act as free radicals. It is important to avoid hydrogenated vegetable oil and all food that is fried in vegetable oil, because you don’t want these damaged fats making up your liver cells.

Taking omega 3 fish oil and vitamin E in supplement form can protect and repair liver cell membranes. Increasing the quantity of antioxidants in your diet, through eating more fruit and vegetables will also protect your cell membranes from damage.

2. Correct leaky gut syndrome (if you have been diagnosed with it).

Nearly everyone with leaky gut syndrome has one or more food allergies or intolerances; these will need to be identified and avoided. Herbs with natural antimicrobial properties help to reduce the levels of harmful bacteria, yeast, fungi and Candida in the bowel; these herbs include wormwood, thyme and barberry. Garlic and onion also help to control harmful microbes in the gut.

Glutamine and slippery elm help to reduce inflammation and irritation to the intestinal lining and make the gut lining a stronger, healthier barrier. A probiotic supplement, containing beneficial bacteria such as acidophilus is also essential in correcting leaky gut syndrome.

3. Support and facilitate the phase 1 and 2 detox pathways. The efficiency of these pathways is highly dependent on your nutrient intake. There are also specific nutrients and herbs that improve the activity of phase 1 and 2 liver detox pathways. Many of these also act as antioxidants, to mop up the free radicals generated in the liver during detoxification. Some of these substances include:

St Mary’s thistle: This herb is also known as Milk thistle and it contains the powerful liver protector silymarin. This compound can protect the liver cells from toxic damage, enhance repair of liver cells and it is a strong antioxidant. Silymarin increases levels of glutathione in the body; this is the body’s most powerful antioxidant. Clinical trials have shown that the most effective dose of silymarin is 420 mg per day.

Green tea:  It contains a group of antioxidants known as catechins, of which the most powerful is epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Catechins are thought to be a 200 times more powerful antioxidant than vitamin C. Along with reducing the risk of cancer and heart disease, green tea improves the efficiency of phase two liver detoxification reactions.

Turmeric: This is a plant in the ginger family. The active component of turmeric is curcumin; it is a powerful antioxidant, raises levels of glutathione in the body and may offer protection against cancer.

Sesame seeds: Sesame seeds contain sesamin, a compound that protects the liver cells from damage. It is a powerful antioxidant and reduces the breakdown of vitamin E in the body, thereby increasing levels in the body. Sesamin particularly protects the liver cells from the effects of alcohol.

Watercress: This herb is in the same family as cabbage and broccoli. It promotes the excretion of cancer causing substances and may particularly protect against lung and colon cancer. Watercress enhances phase two liver detoxification pathways. Try to include some watercress in your salads and vegetable juices.

Limonene: This is a compound found in the rind of citrus fruits, particularly lemons. It is responsible for much of the smell of lemons. Limonene is a powerful antioxidant and is capable of blocking the harmful effects of many different free radicals. You can include some citrus rind in your raw vegetable juices and salads, but only if it is organic.

Other foods that help your liver in its missions: grapefruit, beets, carrots, avocados, apples, olive oil and walnuts.

Other things to consider are the pH levels of the water you are drinking. your blood pH is (supposed to be) neutral and any water with an acidic pH (bellow 7 in the pH scale) is harmful to the whole functioning of your body. Oh and try to only drink water or completely natural fruit juices, it’s one of the best things you’ll ever do to yourself.

Sources:

  • liverdoctor.com
  • Globalhealingcenter.com
  • Wikipedia.org

Thank you so much for reading, I hope you treat your liver with love.

love, Knowledge Empress