Monday, January 20, 2014

The Liver - The Metabolic Heavy Lifter

Another reason people have difficulty losing as they get older is that their livers don’t function as well.  As we get older we tend to have more aches and pains, and we take more Tylenol and Advil and similar OTC medications for them.  These drugs are metabolized in the liver, and, consequently, they consume some of the liver’s capacity.  Same goes for coffee.  No one likes coffee more than I.  But when I want to pick up my weight loss after I’ve gone off the wagon for a while, I cut back on my coffee.  Why?  Because caffeine is metabolized in the liver just like the above drugs.  It also consumes some of the liver’s capacity.  I switch to decaf for a few days whenever I’m getting back on the straight and narrow.  If you can’t stomach the thought of decaf coffee (and I don’t like it, myself) drink decaf Cafe Americano.  (Here is a YouTube on how to make an Americano starring yours truly.)  There is not as much difference (at least to my palate) between decaf and regular espresso than there is between decaf and regular coffee.  Finally, as we age, we tend to drink more.  Most people drink like fish during college, then slack off.  They start to pick it back up (never to college levels, though, thank God) as they drift into middle age.  Alcohol is detoxified in the liver just like caffeine and OTC pain relievers.  All these things add up to put quite a load on the liver.  And if you’ve regainded weight, you’ve probably got some fatty accumulation in your liver and it’s not working at peak levels anyway.  All these added substances that compromise the liver even more don’t help.

We think of the heart and brain as the biggest and most essential internal organs, but of course, it's just a matter of perspective.  The skin is the heaviest "organ" by weight, and the gut is clearly just as essential.  But the more I learn about all the functions the liver performs, the more clear it is - if you want health and you want to feel good, you better take it easy on your liver.

If you want to get fat, feel like crap, and get chronic disease sooner rather than later, try this:
- Consume alcohol daily, the more the better.  This puts the liver to work disposing of the toxin that is alcohol, which is a higher priority than the normal stuff your liver needs to do to keep you grooving along
- Take acetaminophen or NSAIDs daily, to dampen back the pains you'll get from the non-functioning liver.  These will help to make sure your liver doesn't recover from all the work it was doing to get rid of the booze
- Drink and eat as much sugar as possible.  The fructose half of sugar (whether it's the traditional white death, table sugar, or the cheaper and more easily produced high fructose corn syrup) requires the liver to transform it into fat (that's right, fructose has to be converted to fat for use by your body, although apparently cancer can use it as fructose as fructose is a potent agent for fermentation, which is how many cancers feed themselves).
- Beer apparently has many of the same issues as HFCS, so if you want to help speed along your liver disfunction, include beer often.  This will help also get high blood pressure and gout going.
- Don't sleep much or well.  This will help your body make more stress hormones, which will make you feel more hungry for carbage (the nasty carbs that will kill you).
- Eat carbs all day, every day, especially the carbs with sugar/HFCS.  This will surely bring on insulin resistance, if you have not accomplished that already.  That is both a result of a cause of liver disfunction.  Bottom line - you can't get blood sugar levels under control unless your liver is working well, and as you pile on the insults to the liver, it becomes less and less able to do what it has to do to make fat out of sugar and protect you from excess blood sugar.
- Never take walks or work out.  Exercise can help you consume the excess sugar that is produced by the carbage you just ate, and it makes you feel better too.  When you feel better, you are less vulnerable to eating carbage.

So, if you drink and you really want to gum up the works and make an environment that is trip wired for metabolic syndrome, diabetes, CVD and cancer, I prescribe:
- high quantities of beer or booze mixed with sugary drinks
- pain killers
- lots and lots of sugary foods
- crappy sleep
- no exercise
You could call this the High Speed Rail to Chronic Disease and a life of decrepitude.  All aboard?

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