What does your liver do and why you should take care of it?
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It works so hard every single day to protect you from toxins, take care of your hormones and so much more! A healthy life undoubtedly depends on a healthy and well-functioning liver!
Among its hundreds of functions, the liver:
- Breaks down fat.
- Controls the production and elimination of cholesterol.
- Stores vitamins and minerals.
- Helps in blood sugar regulation.
- Produces triglycerides.
- Produces glycogen.
- Plays a central role in amino acid metabolism.
- Produces clotting and immune factors.
- Releases bile.
- Destroys old red blood cells.
- Is your body’s primary organ for detoxification!
The liver is primarily a massive filter. It screens everything in the blood entering it. Most toxins are immediately set upon by liver cells to deactivate them. The difference between a person with symptoms and one without is often related to whether the liver can handle intestinal toxins and still have enough capacity left to do its other jobs.
It acts as an immune system filter by helping remove bacteria and others, thus reducing the incidence of infection, inflammation, and allergy.
The liver also deactivates heavy metals such as aluminum, copper, lead, mercury, and cadmium that find their way into the blood. The same goes for alcohol, nicotine, drugs, pesticides, and additives – they should also be broken down by the liver.
Your liver is essentially the main regulator of your blood. It stores or converts nutrients as required. It converts glucose into glycogen, glycogen and amino acids into glucose, amino acids into energy, glucose into fat, and fat into phospholipids. It can convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, and it stores nutrients like glycogen, vitamins B2, A, and D, and iron. It converts B6 into its active form. ⇒As the liver controls blood glucose, if it’s not working efficiently, we would be having extreme swings in blood glucose.
95% of the plasma proteins are made by the liver. One example is the protein albumin, which acts as a carrier for many hormones, vitamins, minerals, and waste products, and it maintains the fluid balance between the body compartments, thus maintaining blood pressure.
The liver makes 1 g of cholesterol daily. Cholesterol is a basic molecule from which steroid hormones are made. It is an essential component of cell membranes and acts as an antioxidant. The liver continually controls cholesterol levels and eliminates cholesterol in the bile. It actually makes a liter of bile a day!
Along with the gallbladder, the liver regulates blood fat levels. The major cause of fat problems is actually inadequate liver and gallbladder function.
The liver metabolizes many hormones. It regulates levels of estrogen, testosterone, epinephrine, thyroid hormone, and others; and eliminates the excess hormones.
Clearly, your liver has many vital functions. However, its major function is detoxification of both endogenous and exogenous harmful substances. ⇒And when it gets overloaded, you may experience many symptoms such as fatigue, immune weakness, blood glucose imbalances, and hormonal imbalances.
Signs your liver may need some extra love
The liver is responsible for balancing the work of your digestive, endocrine, and immune systems, the blood, and many other aspects of your body. Because of that, it can become obvious when the liver is not functioning optimally.
Some of the signs and symptoms to indicate that include:
- PMS and fibrocystic breasts in women
- Irregular or painful menstrual cycles
- Hormonal imbalances
- Blood glucose imbalances
- Immune weakness
- Acid reflux
- Food allergies and sensitivities
- Chemical hypersensitivities
- Elevated blood cholesterol
- Headache and dizziness
- Difficulty getting up in the morning
- Bad breath
- Constipation, bloating, greasy stools, and intolerance to ingested fats
- Gallbladder problems
- Itching, peeling, or dry skin; psoriasis; rashes
- Deficiencies in fat-soluble vitamins and EFA
- Weak or aching joints, muscles, ligaments, and tendons
- Swelling in the legs and ankles
- Loss of appetite
- Inability to lose weight
- Bruising easily
- Emotional excesses and moodiness
- Puffy eyelids
- Dark urine
- Inability to fall asleep
- Gynecomastia (breast enlargement) in men
Keep in mind that compromised liver function doesn’t always cause noticeable signs and symptoms. You need to be therefore more mindful about the things that can potentially overload your liver.
What could be compromising your liver function?
Anything that puts additional stress on the body, specifically on the immune system, the digestive system, the detoxification system, or the endocrine system, will burden the liver. Some of these include:
☑Exposure to excess alcohol, drugs, pesticides, herbicides, industrial chemicals, formaldehyde, paints, tattoos and piercings, fuels, solvents, anabolic steroids, oral contraceptives, chemotherapy, radiation, high dose of certain medications
☑Dysbiosis, constipation, a diet low in fiber and high in refined foods, excess calories, low nutrient intake, and candida overgrowth
☑Dietary sources of free radicals such as rancid oils, fried food, charred meat, preservatives, additives, artificial sweeteners, flavourants, trans-fats, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats
☑Viral or chemical hepatitis
Some of the most common problems people experience due to poor liver function are hormonal imbalances. Poor liver function can lead to sluggish hormone breakdown. Signs of hormonal imbalance are seen mainly in women – bloating, breast tenderness, mood changes, other PMS symptoms, irregular menstrual cycles, and menstrual cramps. Some of these symptoms can usually be quickly eliminated with improved liver function.
Another extremely common symptom is fatigue. If you look at the liver as being a metabolic director or a powerhouse, you can realize that you can only throw sand in it for only so long before the energy output decreases. While there are many causes of fatigue, the factor that leads to improved energy the quickest and most reliably is improved liver function. Decreasing the intestinal-toxin load on the liver usually allows it to quickly recover and thus leading to an increase in energy.
The liver is also responsible for our mood regulation. The liver is considered to be the seat of repressed anger and aggression. Depression, pessimism, irritability, and rapid mood fluctuations are keynote to problems of the liver. Improvement in digestion may relieve the liver of this burden.
There are many preventive steps to take care of your liver, such as limiting alcohol use, losing extra weight, and understanding your risk factors for liver disease. The good news is that if your liver is overloaded, you can support its function.
How to support your liver health?
The concept of liver detox has been widely used as a means of weight loss and health improvement. If you are looking for quick results, you may feel very tempted to try a liver cleanse. However, I’d encourage you to think twice before you attempt to do any kind of liver detox or cleanse using supplements and juices to flush out your liver.
Jumping into а self-prescribed liver detox can sometimes do more harm than good.
The toxins released into the circulation during a detoxification process can cause more damage to your body’s cells and tissues than they did when they first entered the body. If these toxins are not cleared from the body quickly and efficiently enough, they can harm cells and tissues, and even DNA, as they circulate throughout the body. Your body may basically become re-intoxicated.
While liver cleanse is beneficial and even required in certain situations, I would not recommend doing cleansing on your own. Talk to your doctor first and get support from a qualified health professional to know how exactly to proceed.
What you can and should actually do instead is support your liver daily so it can function optimally, and thereby support the natural detoxification of your body.
Here are a few tips on how to support your liver:
- Get regular good amounts and quality sleep.
- Stay hydrated. Drink lots of pure water.
- Avoid foods you are sensitive to.
- Support proper elimination – make sure you have regular bowel movements and urination. Increase your fiber intake (including insoluble fiber). You can also drink fresh lemon in warm water in the morning.
- Consume liver-protective foods such as beets. Beets contain betaine which protects liver cells and can aid regeneration.
- Consume foods high in antioxidants – eat your veggies and fruits.
- Avoid overeating. Allow at least 12 hours between your last meal and the first meal of the next day.
- Make sure you consume an adequate amount of complete protein.
- Focus on consuming nutrient-dense foods.
- Consider lowering your coffee consumption to 2-3 cups a day. Avoid drinking caffeine in the second part of the day.
- Avoid sugar, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners.
- Avoid trans- and hydrogenated fats.
- Decrease your refined and simple carbohydrates intake.
- Make sure to maintain consistent, frequent exercise. It could be in the form of daily walks, yoga, and sports training. Exercise promotes elimination from the skin, lungs, and gut, as well as releases stress and negative emotions.
- Address nutrient deficiencies. If you suspect you have a nutrient deficiency, talk to your doctor and make the necessary blood tests that can help determine if you are deficient.
Remember that your liver is an extremely important organ in your body that is responsible for so many vital functions. Its proper functioning is crucial for your health!
Show your liver some love! 🙂