I’ve been thinking a lot about the liver this week as a friend of mine went to the doctor and found out, much to her surprise, that she has an enlarged liver and elevated blood sugar levels. I volunteered to help her out with learning more about the liver and how to gently detox it and what foods will support bringing her liver back to health. This was a wake up call for my friend, and as far as we know so far, this problem stems from her diet. I have known how important the liver is in our overall health, and the importance of taking care of it. I do partake in a cleanse every Spring to cleanse my liver and other important digestive organs, and with Spring just around the corner I think liver cleansing is a great topic to talk about!
Lets talk a little bit about the life of the liver. The liver is the major filter of the blood stream. It screens everything in the blood entering it. Most toxins are immediately set upon by liver cells in order to de-activate them. The difference between a person with symptoms and one without is often related to whether the liver can handle intestinal toxins and still have enough capacity left to do its other jobs. The liver is not only the detoxifier of poisons of intestinal origin. Heavy metals such as aluminum, copper, lead, mercury, and cadmium that find their way into the blood should be de-activated by the liver. Coffee toxins, alcohol, nicotine, drugs, pesticides, and additives should also be broken down quickly by the liver. A liver overloaded with intestinal toxins is more vulnerable to the cumulative effects of these. In effect the liver is the main regulator of the blood. It regulates contents of blood including sugars, fats, protein, and hormones, which are messengers from other parts of the body. Many of the symptoms of disease are a result of the liver being unable to regulate properly due to an overload of toxins, many of which come from fermentation or putrefaction in the intestines. The liver regulates the blood sugar level, along with the pancreas and the adrenal glands. It, along with the gallbladder regulate blood fat levels. The liver produces bile to help with fat digestion, ad also processes the end products of digestion, and stores things for future use. When these organs are rendered sluggish by intestinal toxins, they don’t regulate adequately. This is the single most important cause of high blood fat levels. The other main substance that the liver regulates is hormones. Hormones are messengers secreted by glands which travel through the blood to tell cells what they should be doing, to help maintain smooth functioning of all the cells together. Everything that happens in our body is regulated by hormones, right down to feeling hungry and thirsty. Poor liver function can result in sluggish hormone breakdown, and our entire body systems being out of whack.
From this information we can see how important the liver is to us, this amazing organ has more than a thousand known functions that I have barely even begun to touch on. Taking care of your entire digestive system can really help prevent your liver from getting too bogged down by toxins, and allow it to function properly. This can include taking Probiotics to keep a healthy gut flora, or drinking Kefir or Kombucha, which will help keep the toxins down, or eliminate them all together.
If you have inflammation in your liver or it’s in need of some love, these are the foods you should avoid:
Coffee: aggravates liver function (its acids break down stored fats in the liver) and therefore contributes to irritability and anxiety. In addition, the oils in coffee can increase blood cholesterol.
Nuts: are the most concentrated vegetable source of oils and, if eaten in excess, challenge the liver.
Seeds: also have a high oil content that may also make them a digestive challenge for people with a compromised liver.
Foods that support a healthy liver are:
-Apple -Summer Squash -Onion -Artichoke -Strawberries -Orange
-Avocado -Vinegar -Peppers -Basil -Water Chestnut -Plums
-Beans and Legumes -Wheat Grass Juice -Pomegranate
-Beet -Broccoli -Raspberries -Blackberry -Brussels Sprouts -Rhubarb
-Cabbage -Celery -Rosemary Essential Oil -Chard -Cherry -Rutabaga
-Cumin -Dandelion -Rye -Dates -Fennel -Sesame Seeds -Garlic -Ginger -Spirulina
-Grapes -Grapefruit -Kale -Kombucha -Lemon -Lettuce-Mint -Olive Oil
Supplements to support a healthy liver:
-L-Carnitine -Vitamin C -B Vitamins -Essential Fatty Acids -Vitamin A -Probiotics
When it comes to cleansing the liver, I usually use Renew Life First Cleanse. It’s gentle, but effective, and reasonably priced. The best herbs to look for when you are shopping for a cleanse are:
Milk Thistle, Burdock Root, Beet Root, Blessed Thistle, Dandelion Root, Garlic, Peppermint Leaf, Yarrow, and Yellow Dock Root.
Be sure to speak to your health care practitioner before starting any cleanses!
Another thing that can contribute to an unhealthy liver is anger. Anger manifests itself in the liver. There isn’t any amount of cleansing or healing foods that are going to heal your liver if you are holding onto a lot of anger. I personally can understand that letting go of anger isn’t easy. It takes time and a lot of work. Looking after your health, practicing self-care, and doing the things that make you happy, meditating and yoga can also help. As well as any kind of physical activity or exercise that will get your endorphins going and releases tension are also helpful. If you have someone you can talk to, a support system can also help work out your anger. No amount of anger is worth your physical or emotional health, please keep that in mind 🙂