With all its delicious decadence, the holiday season can be tough on the body. Hearty celebrations, rich food and the occasional libation are especially challenging for the liver, which is responsible for removing toxins from the body. After the holiday binge, New Years is the perfect time to make a fresh start.
While it may be tempting to try a harsh cleanse or an aggressive diet, these approaches can be shocking to the system. Fortunately, there is a safer way to cleanse the system and improve the health of the liver, using our good friends: Probiotic Bacteria.
Probiotics are live microorganisms that perform beneficial functions, which make using probiotics a safe, natural approach to cleansing the system. These organisms help the body by competing with bad bacteria, viruses and other harmful pathogens in the intestinal tract. Probiotics also provide other specific benefits to the host. Bifidobacterium, for example, promote the health of the body’s own “waste and sanitation” processes that occur in the kidneys, intestines and, most importantly, in the liver.
LIVER AND ITS FUNCTION
The liver is one of the largest and most important organs in the body, performing hundreds of functions essential for life. It works closely with the circulatory and digestive systems to maintain homeostasis, which is the ability of the body to regulate its internal environment to maintain balance and equilibrium between all the organs, tissues and cells.
One of the liver’s most important jobs is to clear toxic substances from the blood. After the liver breaks down toxins, it excretes the byproducts through the kidneys, which filter out blood byproducts and eliminate them through urine, or through the intestines that eliminate byproducts through feces.
The liver performs other duties, such as producing bile, keeping blood sugar levels in balance, and clearing bilirubin from the system. It is also responsible for the regulation of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. The liver changes food into amino acids that the body uses for energy.
HOW PROBIOTICS CAN AFFECT LIVER HEALTH
Probiotics can have direct and indirect effects on liver health. There is a close association between the gut and the liver, in which organisms in the intestine affect the health of the liver. Harmful organisms can pass through the walls of the intestines, move into the bloodstream and eventually reach the liver and other organs to cause illness. The body prevents this by creating special barrier cells, known as tight junctions, which make it difficult for pathogens to move from the intestines into the inner tissues of the body.
Tight junctions are a specialized connection between two adjacent cell membranes, in which the cells are so close together that there is no space between them. The two membranes actually fuse together to form a virtually impenetrable barrier that makes it easy for nutrients to pass through but difficult for organisms to get by. Probiotics support the formation of tight junctions by boosting the production of proteins that make tight junctions.
Probiotics can also increase the production of mucins, which are a type of very heavy protein that coat the intestines and provide a protective barrier. A thick layer of mucins prevents pathogens from passing through the intestinal lining, moving through the body and eventually reaching the liver.
Probiotics also facilitate communication between body cells, a natural phenomenon known as cellular signaling. Poor cellular signaling can lead to dysfunction and even serious diseases, such as cancer, diabetes and autoimmunity. Probiotics optimize cellular signaling to help cells work in unison.
INDIRECT BENEFITS OF PROBIOTICS
Probiotics also provide indirect benefits to the liver. These beneficial organisms support a healthy balance between helpful bacteria and harmful pathogens. Probiotics also compete with pathogens for access to the gut lining.
In addition, probiotics bind with and immobilize toxic compounds before harmful substances can reach the liver. This reduces the liver’s workload and protects the liver from exposure to toxins in a way that improves liver health right away and over a lifetime.
PROBIOTICS AS A DAILY HELPING HAND
All of these mechanisms are naturally occurring systems in the body that are designed to keep the “bad guys” out and help your body maintain itself. However, our lifestyle and our diet, especially around the holidays, puts us in a position where we need to give our body a little extra help to stay healthy. That is why we recommend a daily probiotic supplement such as Natren’s HEALTHY TRINITY® or Natren’s HEALTHY START SYSTEM®. To find out which probiotic is best for you, call one of our expert Probiotic Consultants at 1-866-4-NATREN.
NATASHA'S HEALTH TIP
"Did you know that probiotics have both direct and indirect effects that may benefit liver health? Instead of a harsh cleanse learn how to safely use probiotics to naturally support this detoxifying organ in your body. Wishing you and yours all the best in 2016!"