Loving Your Liver
We think of our liver when we think of detoxification but your liver also does so much more. It is responsible for about 500 functions including:
- Hormone balance.
- Vitamin D production.
- Formation of proteins that carry nutrients all around your body.
- Digestion including the production of bile which breaks down fats. (Fats are good for you! They are used for energy, brain function and mood, plus to make hormones and our cells’ important membranes.)
- Immune functions to fight off bacteria, toxins and viruses.
- Clear bacteria from your blood.
- Cholesterol metabolism, and remember cholesterol is an important nutrient used to make hormones, your cell membranes, bile, vitamin D and for proper brain function. Your liver controls how much is made. If levels are too high or too low it’s a sign of imbalance.
- Blood sugar regulation for steady energy throughout your day.
- Storage warehouse of your minerals and vitamins A, E, K and D.
- And of course, detoxification from the world we live in and the toxins made inside us from everyday metabolism.
A well-functioning liver is able to juggle all of these tasks at once like a master multi-tasker. But if your liver is bogged down dealing with excess toxins, other jobs will get neglected. Just like an over-demanding project at work will derail you from your other tasks.
Here are My 3 Tips for Giving Your Liver a Little Love:
#1. Take a break from alcohol and/ or sugar for 3-4 weeks.
Alcohol is a toxin that must be processed by your liver and in doing so it uses up a bunch of nutrients. These are the same nutrients that are needed for detoxification, making it a double whammy. Alcohol is basically liquid sugar. When you eat (or drink) excess sugar your body packages it up and stores it in your liver eventually. A high triglyceride number (over 100) is a sign of this. This will not only affect your liver but your entire metabolism. You’ve heard of foie gras, right? This French delicacy is a fatten goose liver. That poor goose was fed too much sugar in the form of fast-digesting grains. Whatever your vice – wine, beer, gummy worms or chocolate, take a break for a few weeks for a little liver love. Then moving forward cut down your consumption. Take a day off in between drinking to allow your liver to catch up.
#2. Eat lots and lots of colorful vegetables
Including the cruciferous vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and collard greens. In fact, during this liver love fest, eat broccoli every day. The compounds in cruciferous are especially good for detoxification and hormone balance. (If broccoli makes you gassy and bloated, let’s talk. There’s something awry with your GI, tract.) Onions and garlic are also liver lovers. Vegetables contain vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and antioxidants, which are critical for liver function and pretty darn easy to get. Tip, add veggies to your breakfast to start your day with a nutrient boost.
#3. Avoid excess toxins in your everyday life.
Detoxification really comes from avoidance. It’s much easier to deal with toxins if they’re not around in first place. Start by slowly change your body care and cleaning products to more natural versions. The Environmental Working Group has resources for finding out what’s in your current products and how to choose safer versions. Check them out at www.ewg.org. Switch your plastic food storage containers to glass. Choose organic, especially meat and poultry, whenever possible.
Happy liver loving!
Disclaimer: Nutrition therapy is not intended as a diagnosis, treatment, prescription, or cure for any disease, or as a substitute for medical care. Jen Marshall and Stacy St Germain are not licensed medical providers. Nutrition plans are not intended as a substitution for traditional medical care, nor should be interpreted as medical advice, but instead is an adjunctive and supportive therapy.