Liver and Weight Loss
Your liver is a remarkable machine for keeping weight under control, being both a fat burning organ and a fat pumping organ. If you talk to radiologists and gastroenterologists who are looking at people’s livers today they will tell you that the condition “Fatty Liver” affects more than 50% of people over the age of 50! Common causes are incorrect diet, excessive alcohol intake, adverse reactions to drugs and toxic chemicals, and viral hepatitis.
Dr. Cabot believes it is because modern-day medicine has become sidetracked into treating the symptoms of diseases and not the causes. Excess weight is a symptom of liver dysfunction and not solely due to the number of calories you consume. We have been attacking the symptoms of weight excess with fad diets, obsessional high impact aerobics, stomach stapling and toxic drugs, such as appetite suppressants, laxatives and diuretics. We have failed to consider the underlying cause of LIVER DYSFUNCTION and indeed we have virtually ignored the hardest-working organ in the body, with dire consequences.
Vital Points for the Weight Conscious!
The liver is the major fat burning organ in the body and regulates fat metabolism by a complicated set of biochemical pathways. The liver can also pump excessive fat out of the body through the bile into the small intestines. If the diet is high in fiber this unwanted fat will be carried out of the body via the bowel actions. Thus the liver is a remarkable machine for keeping weight under control being both a fat burning organ and a fat pumping organ.
If the diet is low in fiber, some of the fats (especially cholesterol) and toxins that have been pumped by the liver into the gut through the bile will recirculate back to the liver. This occurs via the entero-hepatic circulation. The term entero-hepatic circulation describes the recirculation of fluids (consisting mainly of bile acids) from the gut back to the liver. The entero-hepatic circulation is very large, with approximately 95% of the bile acids being reabsorbed from the last section of the small intestine (ileum), into the portal vein to be carried back to the liver. The liver recirculates these bile acids back into the small intestines and the entire bile pool recycles through the entero-hepatic circulation six to eight times a day. If this recirculated fluid is high in fat and/or toxins, this will contribute to excessive weight.
A high fiber diet will reduce the recirculation of fat and toxins from the gut back to the liver. This is vitally important for those with excessive weight, toxicity problems and high cholesterol. The inclusion of plenty of raw fruits and vegetables as well as ground-up raw seeds will increase both soluble and insoluble fiber in the gut, and reduce recirculation of unwanted fat and toxins. Some people find that rice or wheat bran, psyllium husks and unprocessed homemade muesli can boost fiber efficiently.
If the liver filter is damaged by toxins or clogged up (blocked) with excessive waste material it will be less able to remove small fat globules (chylomicrons) circulating in the blood stream. This will cause excessive fat to build up in the blood vessel walls. This fat may then gradually build up in many other parts of the body, including other organs, and in fatty deposits under the skin. Thus you may develop cellulite in the buttocks, thighs, arms and abdominal wall. If the liver is dysfunctional, it will not manufacture adequate amounts of the good cholesterol (HDL), which travels out of the liver to scavenge the unhealthy cholesterol (LDL) from the blood vessel walls.
If the liver filter is healthy it allows dietary cholesterol to be shunted into the liver for metabolism or excretion through the bile. A healthy liver filter is essential to properly regulate blood cholesterol levels. Poor liver function may increase your chances of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. If the liver does not regulate fat metabolism efficiently, weight gain tends to occur around the abdominal area and a protuberant abdomen (potbelly) will develop. This is not good for the waistline! Another sign can be a roll of fat around the upper abdomen, which I affectionately call the “liver roll.” This is often a sign of a fatty liver.
It can be almost impossible to lose this abdominal fat until the liver function is improved. Once this is done the liver will start burning fat efficiently again and the weight comes off gradually and without too much effort from you. It is not necessary to make yourself miserable by following a low fat, low calorie diet. What is effective in the long term is to eat the correct foods and nutrients for the liver to improve its fat burning function. A good liver tonic containing the liver herb St. Mary’s Thistle, and sulfur containing amino acids will help the liver to burn fat more efficiently and thus is an aid to weight control.
Many middle-aged people with excess fat in the abdominal area have a “fatty liver”. In this condition the liver has stopped burning fat and has turned into a fat storing organ. It becomes enlarged and swollen with greasy deposits of fatty tissue. Those with a fatty liver will not be able to lose weight unless they first improve liver function, with a liver cleansing diet and a good liver tonic. If you have a fatty liver it is vital to be patient, as it can take between 3 to 12 months, depending upon the amount of fat deposited in the liver, to remove the excess fat from the liver. After this accumulated liver fat has been removed, weight loss will occur easily.
If you have a very severe case of fatty liver it can take several years to lose all of the excessive weight. However, this is very successful in the long term and provides the best chance of restoring your figure and your health. Fatty liver is common and doctors often tell their patients with this problem not to worry too much because it is not serious. I disagree with this, because if you have a fatty liver, your chances of high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease and mature-onset diabetes are significantly higher. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to find a fatty liver in adolescents who consume a diet high in processed and fast foods.
If you overload the liver with the wrong type of hormone replacement therapy, drugs or toxins, the liver’s biochemical pathways will have less energy reserves left over to perform their function of fat metabolism. Thus these things can lead to weight gain. For menopausal women with a weight problem, the best type of hormone replacement therapy is that which bypasses the liver, namely hormone patches, creams or buccal lozenges.