Can we just take a moment to thank our liver for all that it does? This vital organ is working hard every day to filter out toxins and waste from the body as well as conducting hundreds of other functions. Your livers primary action is to convert toxins into a safe waste that can be excreted from the body through the means of elimination (in the form of urine and your #2’s).
It has already mentioned that your liver wears many ‘hats’ and is responsible for a large part in your overall health. It has over 400 functions in the body, from digesting fats with it’s pal the gallbladder, storing essential vitamins and minerals like iron, processing nutrients that have been absorbed in the intestines and breaking down drugs and alcohols. With only naming a few functions I’m sure you can already see, and you may already know the importance of it’s role in your health.
We wouldn’t want to burden our liver, yet if we are not providing the body with the right nutrients our hardworking friend becomes sluggish and backed up with loads of toxic work.
How Does the Liver Deal with Toxic Substances?
The liver has two pathways for detoxification. Toxins, which are a poisonous substance that can cause damage to cells are first taken on by Phase 1 of Liver Detoxification, this phase involves using enzymes to transform these lipid-soluble toxins into less harmful substances that Phase 2 can now handle. Phase 2 of Liver Detoxification involves pairing these battered up toxins with other molecules which increase their water-solubility so they can be safely removed from the body through the means of elimination.
Efforts in Proactive Liver Support are for Everyone
Even for those who make a concentrated effort to follow a healthy lifestyle which revolves around organics, pure water, regular exercise, use of toxin-free personal care and cleaning products.. We are still exposed to toxins from our environment (air, soil, water, cars, factories, plastics) and these factors, while we cannot control them – affect us! Even as a Holistic Nutritionist, I will continue to practice daily routines on top of eating clean, exercising and living in my little toxin-free home – because I know I need to, and it makes me feel amazing!
Is Your Liver Feeling Sluggish?
When the liver becomes sluggish, toxins are no longer able to leave the body and are instead stored in fat tissue (since they are lipid-soluble) and they will hang out there until liver function improves and they can be safely eliminated. This can be a huge factor as to why you aren’t shedding extra weight even with a healthy diet and exercise.
There is a variety of tell-tale symptoms of a stressed out liver, regardless of the degree of your symptoms, by taking holistic approaches and preventative steps you have the ability to improve your liver function and improve your quality of life (because you deserve to feel good).
If you experience the following symptoms, don’t stop reading – there are some tips to follow for improving liver function which I encourage you to practice in your daily routine.
- Chronic Fatigue
- Negative Emotions
- Brain Fog/Lethargy/Feeling Drained
- Dull Headaches Improved with Rest or Headaches/Migraines Behind Eyes
- Chronic Joint or Muscle Pain
- Excessive Perspiration
- Trouble Digesting Fats
- Gall Bladder Removed
- Acne or Skin Conditions
- Gas, Bloating, Abdominal Pain, Constipation, Diarrhea
- Hormonal Imbalances
- Anxiety and Depression
- Chemical Sensitivities
- Chronic Stinky Breath
- Unexplained Weight Gain
Tips for the Kitchen:
Your health begins in the kitchen, you cannot expect your body to thrive on supplements alone. We need to create a healthy body through healing meals and habits. You don’t need to diet, restrict or eliminate entirely – the key here is balance. First begin by reducing or eliminating your exposure to processed foods and fraudulent “health” foods (aka “gluten-free” high sugar/starch products) and switch to healthy substitutions, if you’re craving a brownie, give a black bean brownie, made with cacao and coconut sugar a try instead of reaching for the white flour, refined sugar “traditional” version. Make your own favourite meals from scratch with high-quality ingredients at home, instead of dining out.
Eating healthy doesn’t need to be complicated, focuson the following steps to get on the right track:
- Buy Organic, avoid GMO and Shop Clean using the Dirty Dozen/Clean 15
- Consume a balanced dietwhich consists of whole foods, high quality animal and plant proteins, sprouted ancient grains, fermented foods, healing fats, raw nuts and seeds
- Eliminate inflammatory oils: canola, corn, soybean, vegetable oil, cottonseed, safflower, sunflower
- Drink Enough Pure Water: If you take your weight in pounds, and divide it in half, this is the amount of water you should be drinking in ounces (150lbs = 75oz). Source out your best pure accessible water, whether it be reverse osmosis (remineralized) or self harvested spring water.
- Increase consumption of healthy healing fats:coconut oil, sustainable red palm oil, ghee, grass-fed butter, avocado, hemp
- Get in enough fibre:35g daily minimum – coming from whole food sources such as chia seeds, artichokes, golden flax seeds, avocado, broccoli and brussels sprouts
- Eliminate refined sugars:brown/white sugar, cane sugar, cane juice, cane juice crystals, beet sugar
- Restrict fructose Consumptionto 20g – 25g Per Day: agave, glucose-fructose (high fructose corn syrup), high glycemic/fructose fruits
- Increase Leafy Green Vegetable Consumption:for their magnesium, folate, vitamin C and B-vitamin content
- Include Animal-Based and Plant-Based sources for Amino Acids:bone broth, collagen, pasture-raised chicken & eggs, raw spinach, parsley, cabbage, beets
- Focus on Food Sources of Sulfur:pasture-raised eggs, broccoli, brussels sprouts, garlic, onions, asparagus, kale
- Limit or Eliminate Alcohol:if you are experiencing the symptoms above and in general. Find a healthy replacement for this (toxic) habit.
The 3 Superstars for Your Liver:
- Globe Artichoke:this vegetable is a member of the thistle family. If you want to see something very pretty look up an “artichoke flower”. This veggie is in the same family as Milk Thistle, with the main difference being that you can include this in your diet! Beneficial properties include protecting and supporting liver function and increasing bile production, their high fibre content also promotes flushing out bile and reducing LDL cholesterol. Even when cooked, artichokes contain more antioxidant potential than raw garlic, asparagus and broccoli.
Steam your artichokes and pair them with some ghee or coconut oil, raw garlic and Himalayan salt for a liver supporting meal
- Turmeric:This most clinically tested herb for inflammation. It’s active ingredient, curcumin has been linked to many benefits which include assisting the enzymes which are responsible for flushing out known dietary carcinogens! This results in enhanced protection against liver damage, and even regeneration of affected liver cells due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Always pair turmeric with a source of healthy fats and black pepper for maximum absorption, also look for these two keys for best absorption in a supplement.Take a high quality turmeric/cur cumin supplement and give golden milk a try, a beverage with freshly grated turmeric root, plant milk, coconut oil, black pepper and warming spices.
- Milk Thistle:By far the most suggested herb for liver health, in fact this herb has gotten so much attention in the health food world that I put it third just to give the other superstars a chance. Siymarin, which is the active component in milk thistle has anti-fibrotic, anti-viral, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties (which explain it’s fame). Milk thistle protects the liver cells from damage which can be caused by viruses, toxins, alcohol and drugs such as acetaminophen. Take a high-quality milk thistle supplement that is free from GMO, unnecessary binders and fillers. You can also find fermented milk thistle in a liquid form which can be added to a cold-pressed vegetable juice or taken as is.
Your liver does a lot for you, and these are just a few things that you can do to support its function. Be mindful of how you are feeling throughout your day, remember that a symptom is your body telling you that something is wrong and make the appropriate preventative steps. I recommend cleansing with the change of seasons, as the colon stimulating component of cleansing is of much value to the liver and for your other systems of detoxification. Remain aware and be in control, you can’t live without your liver, so give it some love!