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Phuket health: Top 10 liver questions you should be asking

Legacy Phuket Gazette



PHUKET: There are many world-class detox centers here in Phuket that attract people from all over the world to lose weight, feel better and recharge.

Our bodies are constantly waging battle to detoxify themselves of foreign entities that enter the system through exposure to pollution, chemicals in processed food, as well as through pathogens and by-products of metabolism.

The main organ involved in the breakdown of toxins is the liver. Let’s look at 10 of the most important questions about the liver, and how they address how harmful a diseased liver is to the body, how a healthy liver can make you a healthier person and what you will experience – and what you should do – during a liver detox.

1. What does the liver do?

The liver carries out more than 500 functions, but the following are five of the most important.

Detoxification: The liver detoxifies the blood of metabolic waste products like ammonia, drugs, alcohol, chemicals and matter such as dead cells and microorganisms.

Digestion aid: The liver secretes bile that aids in the digestion of food.

Metabolism: The liver metabolizes major carbohydrates, proteins and fats. For example, it helps control blood-sugar levels by converting excess glucose in the bloodstream to glycogen – stored energy – and back for use when needed.

Vitamin and mineral storage: The liver provides storage for numerous vitamins and minerals like A, D, E, K, B12, folate, iron, potassium, copper and zinc.

Hormone breakdown: The liver can break down testosterone and insulin.

2. What causes liver disease?

The liver can be damaged in a variety of ways. One of them is through inflammation, which is also known as hepatitis. Hepatitis results from damage to the liver by sugar, pathogens, trans fats, alcohol consumption, use of drugs and ingestion of chemicals.

The liver can also be damaged through lack of either bile or blood flow. Bile and blood flow can both be obstructed by gall stones, which can cause scarring and a build-up of toxins in the bloodstream.

The liver can also incur damage as a result of obesity and having too much iron in the blood.

3. What are the symptoms of liver disease?

The main symptoms of liver disease are jaundice – yellow discoloration of the skin – weakness and fatigue, loss of appetite leading to weight loss, nausea and vomiting, stool discoloration and a distended abdomen.

4. How can a liver detox help me lose weight?

A well functioning liver boosts metabolism, and better metabolism means less food will be stored as fat and more fat will be burned as energy. Also, by reducing toxins in the body, you reduce inflammation and “false fat” or excess water weight will disappear.

5. What other benefits come from a clean liver?

Having a cleaner liver will result in better digestion. With better digestion comes better health, as you will not be “what you eat” but “what you assimilate”. Your body will also be better prepared to break down and remove potentially harmful toxins from the body. Lastly, you will have clearer skin as a result of a healthy, happy liver.

6. How will I feel during a liver detox?

Just a fair warning: as the body detoxifies you could experience a “healing crisis”, which can result in flu-like symptoms such as headaches, joint and muscle pain, body aches, sore throat, sweating, chills and nausea. These generally last a few days at the most. They can be reduced by drinking lots of water and getting plenty of rest. Also, light exercise such as yoga, stretching and walking, as well as deep breathing, can help lessen the pain of uncomfortable side effects. As a precaution, be careful to limit the intake of detox herbs and supplements.

7. What should I eat during a liver detox?

An ideal diet would feature local and organic vegetables at the top of the list, including juices. Raw or lightly steamed vegetables should be the basis of a liver-detox diet. You can also include some free-range meats like fish, chicken and eggs. Add some good fats as well, such as avocados, coconut oil, olives, olive oil, hemp, soaked nuts and sprouted seeds.

Be sure to choose organic, low-fructose fruits like berries and kiwi fruit, and include some whole, non-gluten grains like brown rice and quinoa.

8. What should I avoid during a liver detox?

Take care to avoid processed foods, trans fats, sugar, alcohol, recreational drugs, red meat and processed flour products like bread and pasta.

9. What herbs and supplements help the detox?

Herbs such as milk thistle, artichoke, dandelion and burdock, and supplements of antioxidants like Vitamins A, C, E, Alpha Lipoic Acid, B vitamins, Methionine/S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and MSM will help support the body during a liver detox.

10. How often should/can you do a liver detox?

Our livers are under constant attack from toxins, so my belief is that you should do your best to eat clean regularly and take care to keep toxins at a minimum. Perhaps a few times a year, it would be smart to elect a stricter liver detox regiment, and throw in some supplements.

Craig Burton is a nutritional expert with more than 15 years of experience at the forefront of the health and well-being field. He offers a high-level of expertise in functional training and nutrition, focusing on detoxification, food intolerance and nutrient deficiency. For more information about Craig and his services, visit

— Craig Burton


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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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