Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind– Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Nutrient – Part Five – #Amino Acids and #Liver Health by Sally Cronin

Last week I posted Part Four of this alternative shopping list with a brief summary of minerals Calcium to Manganese and the foods that provide the best source of these particular nutrients.

At the end of the the posts, I will collate the foods into nutritional groups so that you can print off and refer to when doing your weekly shop.

I believe in eating, and eating all food groups, just moderating the amount that you eat based on your requirements. Your body knows how to process fresh food, raw and cooked from scratch. It is not designed to extract nutrients from manufactured foods which includes the majority that come in a packet, jar or can.

With that in mind here is part five of a shopping list that your body might write if it was capable. It does try to tell you that it is missing elements that it needs which is when you are sick.

 Part Five – Amino Acids and Liver Health

Amino Acids

Amino acids are the building blocks that make up proteins, which of course is what we are made of. Vitamins and minerals can’t perform their specific functions effectively if the necessary amino acids are not present. Amino acids are either classified as essential or non-essential. The non-essential ones can be manufactured in our bodies but the essential amino acids have to be obtained from food.

All hormones require amino acids for their production.

For example:

  • L-Arginine encourages growth hormones and constitutes 80% of semen, which is why a deficiency causes sterility and may be associated with prostate problems.
  • L-Tryptophan helps in the production of Serotonin and Melatonin and helps to control emotional behaviour.
  • L-Glutamine is helpful for Thyroid gland function.
  • Taurine is used for hyperactivity and poor brain function.

Some of the two types of Amino acid (liver produced or in the diet) are detailed below.

For your body to produce a healthy balance of amino acids, you need to promote liver health. If your liver is compromised then many of the functions in your body that rely on amino acids will also be comprised and it will impact many areas of your health.

You can read more about this vital organ in a post from last year: The Liver – Largest Waste Organ Inside the Body

Here is a brief look at its function. What does the liver do?

The liver is a multi-tasking organ, capable of around 500 functions. Before you put rubbish in your mouth, think about the liver as your best friend. Is it going to be happy when this jumbo hotdog, salad cream, on a white bread roll with margarine, onions cooked in lard and the reconstituted chips with lots of salt and large blueberry muffin with a 16oz diet soda hits the system!! Everything you consume including all the preservatives, toxins, lousy fats, drugs, excess sugar will pass through this portal…..


The liver has two essential roles – making or processing chemicals and eliminating toxins and waste. Without this portal system none of the nutrients that we have carefully processed and passed in the intestines could be carried in the blood, through the liver to nourish the body and give us energy.

The liver is the organ but the work horses are the millions and millions of cells it holds.

Specialist cells, hepatocytes deal with the raw materials our body runs on – proteins, carbohydrates and fats. We are made of protein and we need to consume high quality protein to renew our cells and create new ones – in its raw state some proteins are not accepted by the body and the role of the liver’s cells is to change the format so that it is usable. Any waste from the liver cell’s processes is not passed back into the blood stream but stored for elimination. Similarly with carbohydrates, the liver cells will convert the carbs into appropriate fuel that can be easily accessed by the body for energy.

Strategies to keep your liver healthy and functioning at peak performance.

Restrict the amount of sugars that you consume. Studies have shown that the liver reacts in a very similar way to Ethanol (Alcohol consumption) and Fructose (sugars) A major role of the liver is to keep blood sugar stable. Without the liver you could suffer from diabetes. Even one fizzy drink a day can raise your risk of developing diabetes by 1%.

The term ‘moderate alcohol consumption’ is not a measurement but a ‘guesstimate’. One person’s definition of moderate can be very different from another persons. Basically one small drink a day can still have an impact on your liver and also your brain. My mother had a whisky and water every lunchtime most of her adult life and lived to nearly 95. However, what can be more dangerous is not drinking all week and then binge drinking at the weekend with the result of overwhelming your liver’s ability to remove toxins from the body. Liver Diseases

The liver, like the rest of the body, needs antioxidants to prevent oxidative damage. Eat a varied diet of fresh produce including proteins, brightly coloured vegetables, wholegrains, fruits, healthy fats in the form of virgin olive oil, coconut oil, avocados, oily fish.

Cook from scratch and avoid anything that comes in a bottle, can or packet.

A diet high in industrially foods is not only going to give the liver even more work to do, processing additives and excess chemicals such as phosphorus, but is also not going to give it the raw materials it requires for its own health.

Keep hydrated to help remove toxins from the body.

Avoid taking over the counter medication such as painkillers unless absolutely necessary. Liver Damage and Painkillers

Now back to the Amino Acids….

Arginine: Arginine is an essential amino acid that aids in liver detoxification and is helpful in liver disorders. It may help to reduce tumours and cancer. It may also assist in elevating the sperm count in males. The body uses Arginine during periods of growth and protein synthesis. It is helpful during trauma or with kidney conditions. It can stimulate growth hormones and detoxifies ammonia from the body. Arginine is required during the manufacturing of substances such as haemoglobin and insulin. This is an amino acid produced by the liver.

Cysteine: Cysteine is an amino acid made in the body. It is important because it maintains the proper configuration of both structural proteins and enzymes. It contains sulphur that is formed in the liver and is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the body from chemicals, heavy metals, and smoke pollution. It has been shown that it may stimulate the immune system, help burn fat, aid in tissue healing, and aid muscle growth. Another Liver amino acid.

Glutamine: Glutamine is found in high concentrations in the human brain where it is converted to glutamic acid. Taken in modest amounts, Glutamine can substantially increase your production of growth hormone. It may help with mental alertness and clarity, decrease sugar cravings. Is being studied in connection with mental disorders such as senility and schizophrenia. It maintains a healthy digestive tract and may help with people suffering from alcoholism. Produced by the liver.

Carnitine: Carnitine is made in the body from the amino acids lysine and methionine and is needed to release energy from fat. It transports fatty acids into mitochondria, the powerhouses of cells. It may promote normal growth and development and treat some forms of cardiovascular problems. Studies have been carried out with athletes and there are some indications that it protects against muscle problems and helps build muscle. It may also protect against liver disorders and diabetes. It is manufactured in the liver.

Lysine: Lysine is an essential amino acid that helps maintain nitrogen levels and calcium absorption. It is often taken during a breakout of the herpes virus, either oral or genital. It helps produce enzymes, antibodies and hormones and helps repair tissue. This amino acid also is important when recovering from an operation. It also helps build strong muscles, collagen, bone and cartilage.

This amino acid comes from dietary sources are high proteins such as beef, cheese, chicken, lamb, milk, and beans.

Phenylalanine: Phenylalanine is an essential amino acid and is the precursor of tyrosine. This is an important amino acid. It produces neurotransmitters in the brain to produce norepinephrine and it assists in learning, memory, clarity and elevates the mood. Therefore, it may aid in the treatment of depression.

N.B. It should not be taken in supplement form by anyone suffering from high blood pressure, anxiety attacks, panic attacks, cancer or anyone taking MAO inhibitors. Women who are pregnant or lactating should also avoid using Phenylalanine.

Taken from dietary sources and found in most foods but it is highest in those that are high in protein such as dairy products and meats.

Taurine: Taurine is an essential amino acid that is found in the body, but mainly in the skeletal muscle, heart muscle, brain and central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord). Taurine also aids in the digestive processes including bile. A liver produced Amino Acid.

Tryptophan: Tryptophan is an essential amino acid that is the lowest in terms of levels needed by the body. It is responsible for normal sleep patterns. Vitamin B6 is needed for the formation of tryptophan, which affects serotonin levels. These serotonin levels influence sleep and mood.

Best food sources are Turkey, Chicken, fish, bananas, yoghurt, pineapple and cheese.·

Tyrosine: Tyrosine is used by the thyroid gland to produce thyroxin. Thyroxin is a hormone that helps regulate growth, healthy skin, our metabolic rate and our mental health. Low levels of tyrosine have been connected with hypothyroidism. Tyrosine is used in our body to make epinephrine and dopamine. It reduces body fat and is an appetite suppressant. Manufactured in the liver.

N.B: People with high blood pressure, skin cancer and those who are using MAO inhibitors should not take it in supplement form.

Next week in part six I will be sharing the foods that contain essential fatty acids.. and the following week I will compile the complete shopping list which you can print off to check which foods you might not be eating enough of and to include more regularly in your diet.

©Sally Cronin Just Food for Health 1998 – 2021

I am a qualified nutritional therapist with twenty-three years experience working with clients in Ireland and the UK as well as being a health consultant on radio in Spain. Although I write a lot of fiction, I actually wrote my first two books on health, the first one, Size Matters, a weight loss programme 20 years ago, based on my own weight loss of 154lbs. My first clinic was in Ireland, the Cronin Diet Advisory Centre and my second book, Just Food for Health was written as my client’s workbook. Since then I have written a men’s health manual, and anti-aging programme, articles for magazines, radio programmes and posts here on Smorgasbord.

If you would like to browse my health books and fiction you can find them here::Sally’s books and reviews


Thanks for visiting and I am always delighted to receive your feedback.. stay safe Sally.


28 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind– Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Nutrient – Part Five – #Amino Acids and #Liver Health by Sally Cronin

  1. Pingback: Smorgasbord Health Column Rewind– Weekly Grocery Shopping List by Nutrient – Part Five – #Amino Acids and #Liver Health by Sally Cronin | Retired? No one told me!

  2. HI Sally, this information is very useful. I am finding these posts even more useful now that I am studying biology with Michael and know more detail about how the body works. The interaction between hormones and amino acids is good to know.

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  3. Again very interesting news, Sally! I always thought Taurine only was an ingredient for one of these sugar based lifestyle drinks. But i also remember, our cat had been fed taurine once and acted like it was on drugs. Thanks for another great adjustment to my shopping list. xx Michael

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  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round Up – October 31st – November 6th 2021 – Birds, Chart Hits 1981, Memories, Book Reviews, Blogger Aces, Health and Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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