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Better life, better liver: How to look after the wetlands of the body

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Your liver: the swamp of the body (in a good way)

I’m about to tell you all about your liver. I’ll even tell you how a Swisse liver detox can play a role in keeping your liver healthy and happy. 

But, before we get there, I want you to contemplate art. I’m talking about a classic exploration of aesthetic attainment. I’m talking about a triumph of modern cinematography. I’m talking about a work that is as revolutionary as Van Gough’s sunflowers, Monet’s endless pictures of haystacks, and that marble carving of David by one of the teenage mutant ninja turtles.

I’m talking, of course, about Shrek.

What motivates Shrek? And what does this have to do with the Swisse liver detox? Well, what thrusts him forward into a world of adventure, of action, of companionship with a talking Donkey, and of romance with the shape-shifting Princess Fiona?

Easy: he wants to protect his swamp.

And why wouldn’t you? A swamp is a serious thing. To put it simply (and does anyone put it more simply than Wikipedia?), a swamp is ‘a forested wetland’.

Wetlands – swamps, bogs, quagmires, fens, bayous – play an important role in an ecosystem. Why? Simple: swamps filter water. They help clean pollutants and excess nutrients from the water.

Your liver – which just so happens to be your largest internal organ, by the way[1] – shares something in common with a swamp: the cleansing power of filtration. You see, one of the key jobs of your liver is to help remove toxins from your bloodstream.[2] Just as a wetland helps keep a water source clean, so too does your liver ensure that your blood stays healthy.

What are the problems with an unhealthy liver?

Imagine setting up a large tropical aquarium. Good choice: it’s an enjoyable hobby with plenty of colourful fishy friends. One of the first things you’ll need to do is make sure the filtration system keeps chugging along. If that goes kaput, everything else will soon follow.

Unfortunately, liver disease is a serious issue in Australia. It is the 11th leading cause of premature death in Australia.[3] That’s a sobering fact. It’s particularly confronting because, if we’re honest, we rarely think of our liver. If you asked a child to name five important parts of the body, I highly doubt the liver would make the list. I don’t think an adult would do much better.

Because the liver is an underestimated organ, many Australians underestimate liver disease. Symptoms of liver disease include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of eyes and/or skin)[4]
  • Impaired cognition, including confusion, changes in personality, and difficulties thinking clearly[5]
  • Weight loss[6]
  • Swelling in your abdomen[7]
  • Bruising easily[8]
  • Fatigue[9]

Should you experience symptoms like these – or any others that suggest that you have liver disease – then you should speak to your doctor immediately. Sadly, many liver diseases lead to cirrhosis, which refers to scarring of the liver. This impairs proper liver functioning and can lead to liver failure if not addressed. 

Liver issues can also be a result of cancer. Let me say it again: don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor for further advice, information, and treatment.

Looking after the liver

All that said, even those of us without liver disease should pay more attention to our liver health.

One of the challenges is that we can’t see our liver. I suspect that if our skin was entirely translucent, we’d pay more attention to our internal organs. But, for better or for worse (and probably mostly for better), our skin isn’t crystal clear or the semi-transparency of a rice paper roll.

I remember speaking to a young man who went to the gym many times a week and whose life philosophy seemed to revolve around taking his shirt off as often as possible, around as many people as possible. I once asked him why he was so careful about eating healthy and hitting the gym, but he still smoked a pack a day of cigarettes.

He shrugged. ‘People can see my abs. They can’t see my lungs.’

Sadly, this attitude is all too common!

But what if you could see inside of your body? What if you could take a peek at your liver? Here’s what you’d notice:

  • It’s on the upper right-hand side of your abdomen
  • It’s about 1.5 kilograms, making it the same weight as a small chihuahua
  • It’s on top of the stomach and intestines
  • It’s shaped like a cone

Sadly, you might notice the start of a liver disorder, especially in the form of fatty buildup on the liver. Not a pretty sight. Not good for your blood. And, ultimately, not good for you.

Hitting Reset on Liver Health

Maybe it’s time to be honest: you suspect your liver isn’t as healthy as it could be. There are many reasons why that might be the case.

  • Excessive drinking
  • Recent weight gain
  • Illness and infection

Whatever the case, it could be wise to hit reset on your liver health. The following steps could be appropriate for you:

  1. Work towards a balanced diet and a healthy weight. Phase out unhealthy meals and replace them with nutritious alternatives. Aim for a slow and sustainable reduction of weight.[10] If you are very overweight, speak to your doctor about safe ways to lose weight. It may be appropriate to seek a referral to see an exercise physiologist or a dietician.
  2. Limit your alcohol intake. Drinking in moderation rather than excessively will do wonders for your liver health. There is a range of non-alcoholic options now available on the market, so you can replace the feeling of drinking beer, wine, or even spirits without any of the alcohol content. If you have an advanced liver disorder, your health professional may advise you to entirely eliminate alcohol from your diet.
  3. Consider a Swisse liver detox. Many Australians have used these tablets as part of the liver health puzzle. These tablets provide a blend of herbs rich in antioxidants to help support your liver functioning and encourage overall health. Formulated with thistle, globe artichoke, and turmeric, Swisse liver detox tablets are free of artificial flavours and are based on scientific and traditional evidence.

Of course, please speak to your doctor or one of our pharmacists if you want further information about liver health. But for now, let’s raise a glass (of a non-alcoholic beverage, of course) to a wonderful if unappreciated organ, the liver.

[1] https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/a088f80f-fcdb-4c5d-aa00-ca776bd7f792/phe199-liver.pdf.aspx#:~:text=Liver%20disease%20was%20the%2011th,decades%20from%201982%20to%202012.

[2] https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/information-and-support/liver-health-2/love-your-liver/

[3] https://www.aihw.gov.au/getmedia/a088f80f-fcdb-4c5d-aa00-ca776bd7f792/phe199-liver.pdf.aspx#:~:text=Liver%20disease%20was%20the%2011th,decades%20from%201982%20to%202012.

[4] https://www.hep.org.au/liver-health/signs-and-symptoms-of-liver-damage-or-disease/

[5] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes

[6] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cirrhosis-of-the-liver

[7] https://www.hep.org.au/liver-health/signs-and-symptoms-of-liver-damage-or-disease/

[8] https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/cirrhosis-of-the-liver

[9] https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/liver-disease/cirrhosis/symptoms-causes

[10] https://hw.qld.gov.au/blog/love-your-liver-this-world-liver-day-and-every-day/