Are you your liver’s friend?
Your liver is one of the most important organs in the body weighing in at around 5lb. It also requires 12% of your daily energy supply. Whilst we can live without a stomach or colon, it is impossible to function without a liver. (1)
What does your liver actually do?
Well, we should really ask what doesn’t it do as it is involved in over 500 functions. (2)
stores blood, vitamins and iron,
produces clotting factors necessary for proper blood clotting and wound healing,
is involved in the production of red blood cells,
functions as a gland to produce bile,
breaks down protein into amino acids
breaks down fats into energy,
breaks down carbohydrates,
stores glycogen which is released as glucose when required, and is consequently important for blood glucose control,
has two blood sources, one from the heart and one from the gastrointestinal tract and associated organs,
breaks down and regulates cholesterol levels,
is responsible for breaking down the thyroid hormone which regulates our metabolism and
produces angiotensin which helps regulate blood pressure (3)
Moreover, it is the primary organ involved in the breakdown of every toxic substance your body encounters, whether you ingest, inject, touch, breathe, or otherwise come into contact with it, preventing accumulation of waste products. (3)
Consequently, one would imagine we would like to keep its health at an optimal level. Unfortunately, many of us have either in the past or still currently tend to abuse this overworked organ by making it work overtime.
According to traditional Chinese medicine, the liver recuperates between 1.00 am and 3.00 am. (4)
Consequently, alcohol, snacks before bed, fast food or just a late night upset our biorhythms resulting in a sluggish liver.
What does this mean for us?
As previously stated the liver is involved in many fundamental processes that help to keep us in optimal health. However, If the liver becomes overburdened it will struggle to filter out toxins.
What causes this burden?
refined carbohydrates, sugar,
fast /junk food,
low fibre intake,
insufficient fruit and veg and
eating when stressed or in a hurry.
Toxins that are not broken down by the liver are stored in our fat cells. Consequently, it is unwise to try to lose weight when pregnant as the toxins will be released and are able to pass through into the placenta.(5)
Throughout the ages, the association between toxicity and disease has been clearly established.
Some Symptoms of Liver Stagnation & Imbalance
• frustration, depression or repressed anger
• hypochondriac pain
• the sensation of oppression in the chest
• a feeling of a “lump” in the throat
• abdominal distension
• women – pre-menstrual tension, depression, irritability, distension of the breasts
• belching, sour regurgitation, nausea, vomiting
• bitter taste in the mouth, belching, jaundice
• contraction and/or spasms in the muscles and sinews, impaired extension/flexion, numbness of the limbs, muscle cramps, tremors
• dark, dry or cracked nails
• blurred vision, myopia, floaters, colour blindness, a feeling of dryness or grit in the eyes
• bloodshot, painful or burning sensation in the eyes
• irritability, outbursts of anger, red face, dizziness, tinnitus, headaches
• lack of direction in life, the feeling of being stuck (6)
So what can we do to improve life for our liver?
Well, the obvious is to reduce our alcohol, sugar, caffeine, dairy and red meat intake. Eat mindfully, remember we literally are what we eat or more accurately, digest and absorb.
Increase fibre intake by adding more vegetables and fruit. The daily recommendation is 8 portions for vegetables and 2 to 3 of fruit, with an adult serving being 80 grams. Most adults only obtain around 17 grams of fibre a day, nowhere near the RDA advised. They are therefore not reaping the benefits associated with a high fibre diet.
What foods can boost the effectiveness of my liver?
The best foods for detoxification are:
cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, rocket, horseradish, radish, watercress, cabbage, kale and bok choy.
Give your digestive tract a detoxifying boost of chlorophyll by enjoying blue-green algae, barley, wheatgrass, kale, spinach, spirulina, alfalfa, chard, arugula, and other organic leafy greens. Chlorophyll rids the body of harmful environmental toxins from toxic metals, herbicides, cleaning products, and pesticides.
Start the day with warm water and lemon to kickstart the digestive process.
Increase daily water to 8 glasses,
drink green tea,
remove as many toxins from your environment,
give up water from a plastic bottle,
check the labels on cleaning equipment, suncreams, body lotions, makeup,
note that some of the most toxic substances can be found in the cleaning products we use. (7)
If you really want to give your liver a helping hand introduce broccoli sprouts to your diet. Broccoli sprouts contain 100 times more sulforaphane than most cruciferous vegetables. Sulforaphane is an enzyme required for phase II detoxification (8)
Foods containing sulphur are another great way to boost the phase II process. They include onions, garlic and eggs.
Berries, oranges and grapes contain high amounts of vitamin C which acts as an antioxidant. They will eradicate any free radicals that cause damage to our health if left unattended. (9)
Adding spices to your cooking is another good option as they contain many beneficial properties, especially turmeric, ginger and cinnamon.
If you feel a supplement may help then milk thistle or silymarin is beneficial unless you are on medication for diabetes, in which case consult with a health professional.
Also boosting vitamin C intake will not go amiss, either through diet or supplement. (8)
By boosting your liver you will reap the rewards and experience
fewer aches and pains
no dark circles under the eyes
fewer menopausal symptoms
a clearer mind and be more alert.
9) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2730585/ - vit C