If you hurt your liver, it will hurt you back

2015-12-09 06:00

OVER-INDULGENCE can actually damage your liver which could lead to damaged arteries, heart attack, insulin resistance, diabetes and weight gain.

Lipotoxins are chemicals found in food and drink that can damage the liver. There are four main lipotoxins:

• alcohol, especially binge drinking;

• sugar, especially fructose (normal sugar comprises 50% fructose);

• excessive amounts of omega-6 fats (found in sunflower and maize oil, for example); and

• advanced glycation end (Age) products found in foods that have been made crispy by grilling, braaiing, frying. The chemical reaction that occurs between protein, fat and carbohydrate molecules in this high-heat crisping reaction is known as glycation, forming Age chemicals.

Why does alcohol impact as it does?

Solal’s pharmacist, Brent Murphy, says: “Alcohol activates Gaba receptors (a class of receptors that respond to the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid, Gaba) in the brain which reduces inhibitions and anxiety. Alcohol also suppresses NMDA receptors, which are responsible for vigilance, co-ordination and memory, so by blocking NMDA, alcohol causes unsteadiness, stupor and memory loss.

Murphy suggests the best supplements to take:

• Milk thistle acts as a shield that helps protect liver cells from damage caused by alcohol and acetaldehyde.

• Curcumin, an extract from turmeric spice, stimulates the rate at which acetaldehyde is removed from the body by the liver.

• SAMe, contains s-adenosyl-methionine, an amino acid that the body uses to neutralise and destroy acetaldehyde produced during and after alcohol consumption.

• Pantethine, also known as co-enzyme B5, helps to protect against fatty liver disease caused by alcohol and acetaldehyde. If left unchecked, fatty liver disease can develop into liver cirrhosis and result in death.

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