Friday, June 17, 2011

Bodybuilding and Your Liver

The liver is the one organ of the human body to which bodybuilders should pay the most attention. The liver is the body's second-largest organ, second only to the skin. Its functions include insulin and glycogen breakdown, cholesterol synthesis, and toxin breakdown. This is especially vital for bodybuilders, as many aspects of the bodybuilding lifestyle present challenges to liver function.
Oral Steroids
Many competitive and non-competitive bodybuilders, from local level to professional ranks, consume oral steroids. The anti-steroid contingents in media and government have gone out of their way to ensure the general public knows the dangers of steroids, and there is no denying that many oral steroids are toxic to the liver and cause long-term damage. However, working with a doctor to monitor liver enzyme levels, many have found little to no noticeable long term effects. It's a personal choice with obvious trade offs that any bodybuilder considering steroids has to make.

OTC medication
Aspirin, Acetaminophen, and particularly Ibuprofen are over-the-counter medications available to anyone. Administered according to directions and in moderation, they provide pain relief. However, they are toxic in small doses, and long term, heavy use of them (particularly in conjunction with alcohol or steroids) can lead to liver damage. Always use these medications wisely, and in small doses whenever possible. Many people mistakenly believe that if they can buy medication at a grocery store, it is harmless. This is entirely wrong.
The liver metabolizes insulin and manages protein use for the bloodstream. A novel could be written on the dangers of insulin abuse on the liver, but to keep it brief, one should ALWAYS consult with a doctor and monitor liver enzymes when engaging in insulin use. Insulin has allowed physiques to reach new levels in the last decade, but it can be deadly when used incorrectly. Additionally, very few studies have been conducted on long term use of insulin for bodybuilding purposes, and its effects on the liver after decades of use cannot yet be known.
Long Term Care
Bodybuilding is a great way to supplement a healthy life, but one should always remember that life comes first. The liver is essential for life, and any abuses to it for short-term gains can have very serious long-term effects. As a bodybuilder, you should think about the liver before making each food, supplement, and steroid decision.

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