KEYS TO FITNESS: Liver Health

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By Sheila Yonemoto, PT
(First published in
The Rafu Shimpo on August 13, 2011.)

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The liver, one of the largest organs in the body, is responsible for detoxification, energy production and the production of numerous chemicals necessary for normal physiological processes. It is estimated there are over 500 chemical reactions in the liver daily.

When you look at the liver, it is filled with blood vessels for filtering.  The liver is one of the organs that can regenerate itself because of the amount of blood it receives.

Over the years, many man-made chemicals have been produced that our bodies have absorbed by eating, breathing and touching. The liver has the task of determining whether these chemicals are nutrition or waste. In some cases, the liver cannot decide what to do with the chemicals and stores them in our bodies, usually in fatty tissue. In some instances, these can irritate tissues enough to cause cancer.

Several strategies, including those listed below, will minimize our risk of developing toxic-related problems.

• Avoid toxicity. Minimize chemicals in food and drinks, household cleaning products and your physical environment. Eat more natural foods and less processed foods. Use less toxic chemicals for cleaning and be sure to use gloves if you do use toxic chemicals. Avoid breathing smoke from tobacco and forest fires.

• Eat more vegetables and fruits. They play a strong role in detoxifying the body. The alkalizing effect of plants and their fiber content reduces the damaging effects of acidity in the bloodstream, decreases leaching of minerals from bones, and helps the digestive tract remove waste from the body.

• Move more. The muscles act as a pump to move the lymph fluid, which is responsible for moving cellular debris and other waste material out of the body and helps strengthen our immune system. Muscle movement helps get waste out of the lymphatic system, decreases heaviness in limbs caused by lymph edema (water retention), and helps drive nutrients into the cells.

• Drink more water. Dehydration is a real problem, causing sluggish movement of the lymph and blood, which creates stagnation on a cellular level. It may also cause a more acidic environment that damages the cells, blood vessels and organs. Some people think this is the underlying reason for disease.

• Avoid being angry. Chinese medicine believes the liver is related to anger. One episode of very intense anger can sometimes trigger a stroke. How well you keep your cool may indicate the state of your liver. Someone who angers easily may have significant liver dysfunction.

• Avoid watching a computer screen or video screen for long periods of time. Chinese medicine believes the eyes are connected to the liver and radiation from electronic devices can enter the eyes and damage the liver. Take a 10-15 second break every 30 minutes of viewing or a break of several minutes after one hour. Watching green, living things is also recommended.

• Avoid glaring angrily into children’s eyes. According to Chinese medicine, children have a more delicate system and looking angrily into children’s eyes will cause liver damage.

• Do detoxification cleanses once or twice a year. Most of these cleanses advocate giving the organs a rest by eating mostly vegetables and fruit and drinking water. Many use supplements and protein shakes to support the body while detoxifying.

• Practice qigong. There are many exercises in qigong that help improve the function of the liver and decrease stress, as well as help you sleep better.

There are many ways to improve your health. Take one step at a time and see if you feel more energetic, happier and healthier.

Get more energy, lessen stress and rid yourself of aches and pains.  Try a no-impact “Chinese Energy” exercise class at our office. Your first class ($30 value) is free! Call or visit our website for more information.

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Sheila Yonemoto, P.T., has been a physical therapist for over 30 years, specializing in Integrative Manual Therapy utilizing a holistic approach. She can be reached at Yonemoto Physical Therapy, 55 S. Raymond Ave, Suite 100, Alhambra, CA  91801. Call (626) 576-0591 for a free consultation, or visit  www.yonemoto.com for more information. Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

 

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