By Barbara Bishop
Last week, I had my gallbladder removed. My doctors discovered that it was inflamed, and contained many gallstones.
One of the gallstones was stuck in a pathway where the gallbladder, pancreas and liver distilled and digested the food and drinks I consumed. It was the most excruciating pain I have experienced. And no matter what I did, the pain would not subside without some powerful prescription drugs that I certainly did not want to use on a regular basis.
My liver and pancreas enzyme levels were off the charts (that’s not good.) My eyes were a little yellowish, I was throwing up and I had a rash all over my body (that’s not good either.) And my pee and poo (can I talk about them in public?) were turning weird colors.
The only reason I went to the doctor to get checked out was because I had that rash all over my body, and it was hideously unattractive. Thank goodness for my healthy ego! Miraculously, my body managed to pass the stone soon after the appointment. But the gallbladder had to go.
Everyone says that the gallbladder doesn’t do much when it comes to staying healthy. As far as I’m concerned, it now leaves my liver exposed to all the toxins that the gallbladder was able to distill.
Now that I don’t have that safety net, there’s no way around it; I need to drastically change my habits so that my liver stays healthy and happy. I know the drill – eat more veggies, get more exercise, lose more weight. But there were a few that Web MD listed that caught me by surprise:
People who drink a few cups of coffee a day may be less likely to get liver diseases. Filtered, instant and espresso all seem to work. My personal choice is Yuban – my favorite of all coffees. Sorry Starbucks!
Supplements Can Cause Liver Damage
Supplements cause almost a quarter of all liver damage. Herbs like borage, comfrey, groomwell and coltsfoot have pyrrolizidine alkaloids that can gum up the tiny blood vessels inside the organ, either over time or all at once Other herbs like Atractylis gummifera, Camellia sinensis, celandine, chaparral, germander and pennyroyal oil (used in tea) can also cause liver problems. I don’t take any of them. They all taste like dirt and give me heartburn.
Liver Remedies Can Cause Liver Damage
Common liver remedies like milk thistle, turmeric and astragalus don’t have much research behind them. Colloidal silver, sometimes used (with little scientific support) for hepatitis C, can cause irreversible side effects like turning your skin blue. From yellow to blue. Attractive.
These might be chemicals in cleaning products, insecticides and spray cans. They could hurt cells in your liver if you touch, absorb, or breathe in too much of them. You can protect yourself if you wear a mask and goggles and open the windows when you use them. I wonder if using bleach to turn my hair blonde is a toxic substance. Hmm. I’ll take my chances.
Food with lots of fiber can help your liver work at its best. Eat oatmeal. Research shows it can help you shed some extra pounds and belly fat, which is a good way to keep away liver disease. Why didn’t someone tell me about this?
It’s brimming with a type of antioxidant called catechins. Research suggests it may protect against some forms of cancer, including liver. You’ll get more catechins if you brew tea yourself and drink it hot. Iced tea and ready-to-drink green teas have much lower levels.
One of the best things you can do for your liver is keep a healthy weight. Get in the habit of drinking water instead of sweetened drinks like sodas or sports drinks. You’d be amazed at how many calories it will save you each day. Water is boring to me, so I slightly flavor my water with lemon.
Nuts — including these — are good sources of vitamin E, a nutrient that research suggests may help protect against fatty liver disease. Almonds are good for your heart, too, so grab a handful the next time you feel like snacking. Or try them in salads, where they add a nice crunch. My favorite nut!
Herbs and Spices
Want to protect your liver and your heart at the same time? Sprinkle on some oregano, sage or rosemary. They’re a good source of healthy polyphenols. An extra benefit: they help you cut back on salt in many recipes. I just planted an herb garden that contains parsley, sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano and basil. I started using them this week. I feel so organic!
Practice Safe Sex
If you’re like me, not having it is the best way to practice safe sex (not by choice, damn it.) But if you do have sex, protect yourself from conditions that can spread through sex. One, hepatitis C, infects the liver directly and can do serious harm over time. Most people don’t notice they have it until many years later when much of the damage has been done. Swipe to advance