Talking about the liver is one of my favorite topics. I don’t think the liver gets enough press, I mean this organ is pretty darn cool.
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body and weighs approximately 3.5 lbs! It is a HUGE filter.
Important functions of the liver:
- Detoxifies the blood to rid it of harmful substances such as alcohol and drugs.
- It makes and secretes bile to help your body absorb fats and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
- It metabolizes and stores carbohydrates, fats, sugars, vitamins (and other nutrients obtained from the foods we eat) for energy and brain function.
- It breaks down harmful chemicals (bilirubin and ammonia) produced by the body and keeps the body regulated and healthy.
- It manufactures proteins to help maintain blood purity and proper flow.
What does this have to do with weight gain?
If the liver is overburdened with toxic substances day in and out, other important functions such as metabolism will be compromised. The liver is responsible for helping to metabolize fat through the production of bile. A compromised fat metabolism leads to weight gain as well as feeling bloated and sluggish.
Anger and the Liver
Did you know that anger is the emotion tied with the liver? Have you ever noticed that alcoholics or people who regularly abuse their liver tend to be angry?
Signs that your liver can’t keep up with the junk you are sending it:
- Don’t feel like eating first thing in the morning
- Food allergies and chemical sensitivities
- Dark urine
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea, and light colored stools
- Enlarged blood vessels, easy bruising
- Anxiety and depression
- Mental confusion
- Exhaustion and fatigue
- Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin
- Impaired libido (sex drive)
If the signs above point to a clogged liver and you would like to confirm that, there is a lab test we can run. This lab would also make sense if you have been making a lot of effort to reduce stress on your liver and want to see your progress.
How will I know if my liver is congested?
As a Certified Functional Nutrition Practitioner, examining liver function is one of the first 2 lab tests that I complete with a client. The BH 101 collects data on digestive and detoxification functions by looking at the Urinary Bile Acid Sulfates (UBAS). When the liver cannot filter efficiently the bile acid sulfates spill over and are present in the urine. A high UBAS is a clue into what is going on within the body.
How can you support the liver?
1) ½ Lemon in 16 oz water in the morning (warm or room temp) – the lemon water will help flush out the liver.
2) Increase your intake of greens – dandelion greens, kale, parsley and collards
3) Herbs that support the liver – milk thistle, dandelion, burdock root & turmeric (curcumin).
4) Avoid eating out– the added chemicals, “natural flavors” and additives in restaurant food (even healthy restaurants) are much higher than in any home cooked food.
5) Eat liver – The Native American cultures believed that if you want to support an organ you should eat that organ of an animal. With 2 wise Native Americans in my house, I am going to take this advice to be true! If you are into eating odd, squishy foods, go for it. Get yourself some liver and chow down. Are you grossed out by the idea of eating liver? You can also get desiccated liver capsules by Radiant Life and take them first thing in the morning.
6) Give the liver a break! Limiting your intake of highly processed foods, dairy and meat and replacing that with vegetables, fresh juices and soups for a few weeks (if not always!). I like to do this at the change of the seasons.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, Spring is the time of the Liver and the Gallbladder. This is why every Spring I like to give the liver a break from the toxins, chemicals, alcohol and processed foods. During my 2 week cleanse I also support this liver with herbs, chlorophyll rich foods, and a special detoxifying beverage!