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Hold The Onions: Your Liver and Its Importance In Fighting the Battle of the Bulge

Hold the onions! Let's talk "liver". No, not beef liver, but human liver and its relationship to weight loss. This king of the organs is so important in our battle of the bulge, it's worth spending some quality time discussing it.

According to the American Liver Foundation, the liver is responsible for the following functions (and more):

to convert the food we eat into stored energy, and chemicals necessary for life and growth;

to act as a filter to remove alcohol and toxic substances from the blood and convert them to substances that can be excreted from the body;

to process drugs and medications absorbed from the digestive system, enabling the body to use them effectively and ultimately dispose of them;

to manufacture and export important body chemicals used by the body, one of these being bile, a greenish-yellow substance essential for the digestion of fats in the small intestine.

It is the fourth function that we are mostly concerned with, but it cannot be viewed except in light of the others. What I mean is that the liver has the ability to do only a certain amount of work in a day. If it is damaged or busy removing contaminants from the body, there is not enough time for it to deal with the fats that we consume. If not dealt with immediately, excess fat will be stored away until it can be.

The bile produced by our liver is passed along to the gall bladder, which then releases it in order to emulsify the fat. An emulsion is simply the combination of two or more items that will not naturally mix on their own. Think of oil and vinegar. On their own they separate; if mixed with a chemical emulsifier, they can be "forced" to remain together in an emulsion.

What practical application can this have for you? This means that you need to make sure that your liver isn't working overtime to remove toxins and such from your system, and make sure that you eat things that will help the liver to work at its utmost efficiency.

In the avoiding toxicity category, here are a few simple suggestions:

1. Avoid unnecessary drugs. Medicines are chemicals and must be removed by the liver. If you don't take them, your liver won't waste time removing them.

2. Avoid drinking alcohol. Your liver will have to work to remove it from your blood.

3. Avoid absorbing chemicals into your body. Wear a mask when using aerosols, wear rubber gloves when handling liquid chemicals, and NEVER use a solvent to "clean" paint, ink, or other sticky contaminants from your skin. Doing so causes the solvent and the contaminant to be absorbed into your body.

4. Avoid steroids and other hormones whenever possible.

As far as consuming, or not, certain foods, here are some guidelines:

1. Eat lots of fresh, preferably organic, fruits. Do not eat the canned fruit in sugary syrup.

2. Eat lots of fresh, preferably organic vegetables. These can be juiced and seasoned if the raw veggies alone are not palatable.

3. Reduce (dramatically) the amount of processed (refined) carbohydrates such as pasta, pastries, bread, and most other commercially baked goods.

4. Avoid hydrogenated fats. If a fat can sit in a can for ten years and not go rancid, how can you expect your body to easily process it? Margarine, shortening and most oils should be avoided. Extra virgin olive oil is one exception to this rule.

5. Avoid dairy products - especially those that can contain hormones and pesticides.

6. Avoid deep fat fried foods. Duh...

7. Try to drink a gallon of water a day. A reader once asked if lemon squeezed into water would help you lose weight. I read recently that fresh lemon juice helps the liver to produce bile, which is definitely advantageous.

8. Drink Aloe Vera gel or juice. Aloe Vera helps to cleanse the liver and to flush fat deposits from the liver.

9. Eat more fiber. Not only does fiber readily attach itself to fat and help to clean the digestive tract, but it also helps to sweep toxins out of your system, thus limiting their ability to circulate back into the blood.

Some of these tips may seem redundant or obvious but it's very important to think of them in light of your liver and its ability to metabolize fat. If you do all that you can do to make your liver as effective as possible, it will do its best job as a fat-removing machine. As we can see here, there is more to keeping our liver efficient than just eating the right foods!

Reference: The Liver Foundation

Michael Callen is the author of the Weekly Weightloss Tips Newsletter ( and the Chief Technology Officer for, an online retailer of dozens of health and wellness products such as conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), r+ alpha lipoic acid (R+ ALA), and Green Tea Extract.


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