All of your organs are important, BUT your liver is one of the hardest working organs in town!
Holy cow, it’s got a big job with a lot of responsibilities to keep you healthy and vital.
Here are some of the amazing things your liver does for you:
Cleans your blood – yep… your blood is filled with toxic residue that needs to be cleaned up. Toxins can form internally from the metabolic waste of normal digestive processes (breakdown of food substances), or environmental exposure to toxins, and drugs (both pharmaceutical and street) and alcohol.
Stores glycogen – your body breaks down carbohydrates into glucose that is the main source of energy and fuel for our cells. The liver stores glucose as glycogen to use for energy when blood glucose levels drop and/or stress levels rise.
Creates bile – this bitter yellow/green substance is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. It is critical for the digestion and absorption of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
Produces cholesterol – your liver creates cholesterol based on your physical needs and the amount of cholesterol you ingest. If you eat a lot of cholesterol rich foods, your liver produces less. If you don’t eat much cholesterol, your liver produces more. We need cholesterol and your liver is regulating the levels in your body.
Metabolizes hormones – the liver breaks down and metabolizes hormones once they have done their work. If the breakdown of those hormones does NOT occur, they can accumulate and cause hormonal imbalances. For example, if estrogen is not metabolized, it can lead to PMS, and cellulite around the hips and thighs. If testosterone is not metabolized efficiently, this results in weight gain on the upper part of the body and abdomen, PCOS and acne.
Conversion of thyroid hormone – T4 needs to be converted to T3 to be effective and do its work in the body for the thyroid. The majority of this conversion happens in your liver (kidneys and muscles, too). If you are feeling sluggish, overweight, swollen and depressed, it’s not your thyroid’s fault, your liver actually needs support.
The ability to regenerate itself – yes, you read that correctly! The liver is unique in that it is the only organ that has the capacity to regenerate itself when its tissues have been damaged. “If up to 50-60 percent of the liver cells may be killed within 3-4 days in an extreme case like a Tylenol overdose, the liver will repair completely after 30 days if no complications arise.”
Wow! This organ has the ability to repair itself?! That says a LOT about its importance in the body. So, let’s keep it functioning optimally.
Below are some of my favorite ways to support the health of your hard-working liver:
- Eat organic: The less external toxins (herbicides, pesticides, fungicides), you consciously put into your body, the more your liver is freed up to clear naturally occurring internal toxins.
- Eat smaller meals: if your body has to digest and metabolize less, it eases the workload on the liver (and the rest of your organs). Be mindful of how much food is being shoveled into your pie-hole on a daily basis.
- Daily stretching: sounds too simple right? Wrong! The liver, according to traditional Chinese medicine is responsible for the tendons and ligaments. If you stretch and gently open up your body, it can relax your liver. Consider stretching as an important feedback loop to the liver.
- Medicinal herbs – milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock, yarrow, bupleurum, barberry and curcurmin are some of my favorites. They all have specific ways that they support liver health. Curcurmin reduces inflammation, barberry inhibits bacterial growth, milk thistle helps regenerate liver cells, burdock helps with lipid metabolism, bupleurum eases a congested liver, and dandelion root is a classic for supporting liver health, promoting bile, and clearing the digestive system.
As you can see, there’s a LOT you can do to support you liver and improve your health in the process.
Don’t delay, support your liver right now!
Andrea Beaman is an internationally renowned Holistic Health Coach, Natural Foods Chef, Speaker and Herbalist. Named one of the top 100 Most Influential Health and Fitness Experts, she is also a recipient of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Award for Excellence in Health-Supportive Education and a Health Leadership award from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Since 1999, Andrea has been teaching people how to harness the body’s own preventative and healing powers using food, herbal remedies and alternative medicine.