Well, we made it to the new year! Happy New Year everyone and welcome to 2021. I’m hoping that like me, you are starting to feel an inkling of hopefulness, and an impulse for a fresh start, for a clean slate, and the motivation to put good health and vibrancy at the very top of your priority list.
After nearly a full year of some form of quarantining, lockdown, and spending more time on the couch than is normal, one intention you may be carrying is to get in shape, or at least get back to the baseline you were before the pandemic struck.
I’m not talking about “dieting” although that may be something you are thinking about, no I’m talking about making sure that your body and your internal organs are functioning at an optimal level so that you have the physical energy, the mental clarity, and the emotional stability you need to reach whatever goals you have for the new year.
And when it comes to reaching the full potential of your body, for health and vibrancy, the buck stops at your liver. That’s right, your liver is critical for maintaining the overall health and proper functioning of all of your body’s processes. So I’m going to give you some easy and actionable tips for creating excellent liver health. Let’s dive right in.
Few people realize the liver is one of the most important organs in the entire body. Generally speaking, your liver helps run metabolic processes, ensuring that your digestive system operates smoothly. It also eliminates toxins from your body, helps you to maintain a healthy weight, and it’s crucial for good blood circulation.
Let’s dive a bit deeper into what the liver does, and discuss some signs and symptoms of an unhealthy liver, and then we’ll wrap up with a few suggestions for supplements that can help protect and maintain good liver functioning.
So, what does the liver do?
- Breaks down toxins like medications, alcohol, chemicals and pollutants.
- It converts ammonia, a byproduct of metabolism, into urea, which is excreted as urine.
- It produces bile to help with fat digestion.
- It converts glucose, or carbohydrates, into glycogen to be used by your muscles.
- It manufactures cholesterol and triglycerides.
- It regulates blood levels of amino acids.
- It removes bacteria from the bloodstream and supports the immune system.
- It stores some vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin K, and B12.
Imagine your liver is a factory running 24/7. A well-oiled machine divided into 3 parts: a processing plant, a distribution center, and a storehouse.
Your liver processes blood from your body and then breaks down the nutrients from your food. It also processes the toxins entering your body and safely gets rid of them, so they don’t harm you.
All the blood leaving your intestines and stomach passes through your liver to be cleansed and purified before going back into circulation. That means your liver holds about one pint of your body’s blood supply at all times.
The liver distributes vital nutrients to the rest of your body. These nutrients then go on to make blood plasma proteins and other substances including vitamin D and other key elements that aid in digestion. That’s a lot of responsibility for this organ that weighs about 3 pounds and only measures 6-inches on average.
Liver damage or dysfunction can cause toxins to wreak havoc in your body, causing bile regulation to be thrown off which makes you to have problems with fat digestion, and it can even disrupt your cholesterol levels. As you can see, none of these functions are things your body can “do without.”
So how can you know if your liver is not as healthy as it can be? Here are some things to look out for:
1. Yellowing of Skin and Eyes (jaundice)
One of the most common indicators of liver damage is yellowing of the eyes and skin. You’ll notice this as a sort of “tint” to your skin tone, and your eye whites will be an off-white or pale yellow versus a clear white.
2. Itchy Skin
While itchy skin can have many different causes, it is also a common feature of certain types of liver damage. Researchers mention that it is often a result of when the bile ducts of the liver are inflamed or in hepatitis or drug-induced liver injuries. Itchy skin due to liver damage won’t be bumpy or have lesions (unless you scratch it until sores develop). This is what often differentiates liver-induced itching from other types skin conditions.
3. Bruising Easily
Your liver produces many essential proteins that are carried through the bloodstream in molecules, encouraging the blood to clot properly. When the liver becomes damaged, it puts out less of these blood clotting proteins.
4. Water Retention
Water retention often occurs during advanced liver disease or cirrhosis (scarring of the liver). While the exact cause is still unknown, researchers believe increased pressure on the liver and the blood vessels leading to the liver results in less circulation of fluids. When this happens, water is retained either in the abdominal area or in the hands and feet.
5. Tender Abdomen
One of the early signs of liver trouble can also be a tender abdomen – often in the upper right section under your ribs. This area can also be swollen and be accompanied by a throbbing or stabbing pain, and can even be mistaken for shoulder pain, since it tends to radiate outward. This occurs due to inflammation from several liver diseases and damage, including cirrhosis and bile duct inflammation.
6. Dark Urine
The substance bilirubin, a product of hemoglobin, also occurs in your urine, just like in your eyes with jaundice. If the urine turns a dark yellow color, it could be an indication that you have liver stones or some other type of inflammation going on.
7. Pale Stool
Normally the color of your poop is varying shades of brown. If this color begins to turn pale or a clay color, however, there may be problems with your liver, or even your gallbladder and pancreas.
Your liver produces bile, and as a result, bile salts. These salts are what give stool its brown color. If there is something blocking bile production, such as liver stones or another malfunction, these bile salts won’t be released and you will produce pale stool.
If you experience any of these signs or symptoms, reach out to your doctor to get it checked out. It may not be a problem with your liver, so it’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor about any health concern.
Now that we’ve discussed what the liver does, and some signs and symptoms that it might not be functioning properly, I want you to know that there are things you can do on your own to protect and nourish your liver.
So, let’s talk about some ways to improve your liver’s health and functioning:
1. Eat liver nourishing foods.
Try to consume high-quality diet of fresh, organic fruits, veggies, grass fed meats, wild fish, nuts and seeds. Good nutrition minimizes the amount of toxins you ingest on a daily basis, reducing the workload of an already stressed liver.
Good news alert! Coffee has been shown to protect the liver from damage, so have your morning cuppa!
Also, high-antioxidant foods like blueberries, cranberries, and grapefruit have been shown to reduce the amount of harmful connective tissue buildup in the liver, substances which could lead to inflammation and damage.
Probiotic foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and low-sugar, non-dairy yogurts can also be soothing to your liver. The balance of good vs bad gut bacteria plays a large role in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Specific foods that can really nourish and enhance the liver include garlic, broccoli, lemons, limes, avocados, leafy vegetables, turmeric and walnuts.
One note about these food suggestions: we are all very diverse biologically, and one type of “healthy” food can work for some people’s systems, but not others. So, pay attention to how you feel, after you eat. Notice if something doesn’t seem to agree with you and even if it’s on this list, don’t eat it. Pay attention to your body.
2. Minimize the consumption of junk food and alcohol.
By now you all know what foods to avoid – white sugar and gluten products are the main two to look out for.
3. Boost your nutrition with high quality supplements.
I’d like to suggest a few supplements that can help protect the liver. I am not certified to recommend specific doses, so be sure to read the labels or discuss discuss it with your healthcare provider.
The main liver cleansing supplement is called Milk Thistle.
Milk Thistle helps curb inflammation in liver cells and elsewhere in the body. Beyond Milk Thistle, check out supplements containing Alpha Lipoic Acid, which improves your metabolism, and of course, Zinc, which strengthens your intestine’s defensive barrier so that damaging substances don’t enter the blood stream and reach the liver.
Dandelion Root is also wonderful because it reduces the amount of oxidative stress you experience internally when you come into contact with toxins. Buy them fresh and eat a few about 15 minutes before your meal — it will aid in digestion!
And there you have it. A solid primer on how to protect and boost your liver health, so that you can keep all your bodily processes functioning smoothly.
A special invitation from Jeanne
If you would like to one-on-one guidance and support from me to help kick start a healthy eating plan designed for your particular body, I am opening up a few spots in my 12-week Healthy Body Healthy Love program.
The program was designed for men and women looking to call in a healthy relationship while improving their physical wellbeing; however, if your focus is solely on getting healthy, you might prefer my 6-week Healthy Body program instead.
To learn more about both programs, click here. I work with men and women all around the world on Zoom or Skype to help them improve their health, with a comprehensive and custom nutrition plan. I only have a few spots available at the moment, so if you’ are interested please and schedule a free exploratory call to learn more about the program and to see if we’re a good fit.
Wishing you much success with all your goals and desires for this New Year. Take good care and I’ll be in touch soon.
To learn more about private Health and Nutrition Coaching click here ==> https://jeannebyrd.com/healthy-love/
To book a free Discovery Session with me click here ==> https://my.timetrade.com/book/3W331