Today we’re going inside your body. Not literally, just hypothetically, to talk about one the most vital organs in the human body; the liver. As the heaviest organ in our body, weighing in at around 3 pounds, it is considered as the factory organ in our bodies. We’ll get to that in a second. However, I think our supplement friend protein powder needs no introduction. It’s not uncommon for people to question the safety of their liver when taking in protein, let alone protein powder. So what’s the deal? Is protein powder bad for your liver? Let’s find out!
What Does Your Liver Do?
It’s crucial to know what exactly the liver is capable of, or else, this article would be pointless, and you’d be lost reading this whole thing. So before talking about potential harms that can damage the liver, we have to know what the liver is. The liver is known as the factory of the organ system, responsible for many functions throughout the body. By the end of this article, you’ll know why this factory cannot shut down, keeping you living.
As the most significant function the liver holds, blood goes into the liver to be filtered for several things. No blood gets passed by the liver unless it’s sifted safe for the rest of the body to use. There are two areas from which blood enters the liver, one being the portal vein, coming from the digestive system, and the other as the hepatic artery, blood arriving from the heart. Since these two sources bring blood that contains different properties respectfully, it’s the liver’s job to filter them appropriately.
Blood coming from the hepatic artery is fresh from the heart and is rich with oxygen. This blood gives the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder the oxygen they need to keep running. For the portal vein, since the blood is coming from the digestive system, it will arrive with tons of nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for the liver to absorb. When our meal is broken down by our stomachs, it’s shot into the liver.
Carbohydrates, for example, can be turned into glucose for our bodies to use as energy. When there’s excess carbs in the blood, our livers can store them for future use. Let’s say you’re on a deserted island and are starving, your body will release the stored glucose to save you since you have no food to eat. Your liver can also store vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12 for later usage as a backup.
However, not everything that passes through the liver is safe for it to absorb. Toxic substances may arrive from the portal vein coming from the digestive system. How is that? Well, substances like alcohol, which is literal poison for your body, contain toxins that need to filtered out by the liver and secreted as waste. Too much alcohol, as many of you may know, can damage your liver since it overworks it with all the toxins. Once the liver spots a harmful substance, it’s shot into the kidney, another very important organ of ours. I wrote an article explaining the kidney with protein if you’d like to know about it, click here. The kidney ties in with the liver.
Production Of Bile
Bile is unique to the liver, but it is stored in the bile reservoir known as the gallbladder. Take note that a lot of these organs are intertwined to help each other complete their functions. I’ve mentioned the liver, kidneys, stomach, and now the gallbladder. Bile is used to further digest and breakdown fats and soluble vitamins. It turns fat into fatty acids, which can be absorbed into the digestive tract and also takes in vitamins A, D, E, and K into the body. Bile is quite interesting, if you want more information on it, click here.
Have you ever wondered why when you get a small paper cut or any sort of cut that draws blood, you don’t bleed to death? It’s a good question to ask, and many people don’t know that the liver is actually the reason for it. The main contributors to these blood clots are vitamin K and bile production. You need bile to absorb vitamin K, and you need vitamin K to help clot the blood. So without the adequate production of bile by the liver, clotting factors cannot be produced, and you may die from bleeding out from that paper cut.
Protein Powder On The Liver
So now that we have a good enough grasp on what the liver does for our bodies, it’s finally time to talk about the question at hand when it comes to protein powders. Supplements, and protein in general, is something interesting to talk about when acknowledging the liver. So, is protein powder bad for your liver? This is a simple one, not at all. It’s not like the kidney where unless you have an existing problem, you’ll get damaged, it just doesn’t affect it at all. There’s simply just no evidence that too much protein can damage the liver in healthy individuals. As a matter of fact, protein helps the liver.
Your liver has its own regeneration factor that allows it to repair itself when damage or problems arrive in it. Through evolution, our livers have learned to regrow rapidly as long as they’re healthy and contain a quarter of their tissue. If your liver was somehow cut off, and a third of it was left, it’ll only take about a week to see it fully grow back. That’s pretty spectacular considering the size and weight of the liver. The protein in protein powder produces lipoproteins, specifically, which are the molecules that allow for self-reparation.
Damaged Liver Hurt By Protein
Now, it should not go unnoted that some studies did show that people with pre-existing liver problems experienced some issues when eating protein. A common liver disease known as cirrhosis does not let the liver function normally due to the scarring of tissue. A gas called ammonia is produced into your blood by your metabolism, which can be quite dangerous unless it’s filtered out by the blood. Ammonia gas could potentially be fatal if too much is in your body, which is when your liver swoops in to save the day. But what if your liver is not 100%? Well, it’s safe to say, stay away from protein powder until you speak to your doctor. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
In conclusion, protein powder is not so bad after all for your liver, in fact, it’s not bad at all. If you do have any pre-known illnesses in your monster organ, your safest bet is to steer clear of protein powder until you ask your doctor. Functions, like creating bile, filtering blood, and supporting blood clots throughout your body, are just some of the many things the liver can do for you. Protein actually helps your liver believe it not. I consider it the Wolverine of organs; the liver.
Got any questions about our beloved liver? Leave them down below, along with any comments you may want to share!