Did you ever stop to think what an important part of your digestive system and your body in general, your liver is? We can’t survive without a healthy liver and sadly, liver disease is so prevalent it affects one out of every ten Americans.
What does the Liver do?
The liver weighs in at around 3 pounds and is the body’s second largest organ with only the skin being larger and heavier. It performs many essential functions related to digestion, metabolism, immunity and nutrient storage within the body and without it, the tissues of the body would quickly die from lack of energy and nutrients. Fortunately, the liver has an incredible capacity for regeneration.
The 7 primary vital functions of the liver are:
- Bile production and excretion
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
- Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
- Enzyme activation
- Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals
- Synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin, and clotting factors
- Blood detoxification and purification
Due to these important activities, the liver is one of the body’s organs most subject to injury.
Liver and Detoxification
Most detoxification processes happen in the liver, intestines, and kidneys with the liver being the most active of all. Given the right raw materials, it does an amazing job of filtering toxins out of the blood, altering them to make them less toxic, and, eventually, sending them out of the body as waste.
The subtle but important differences between one person’s body and another’s really shows up when it comes to liver function. When working with patients, I have seen one person’s liver being able to handle the tough detoxification demands of a highly polluted environment and even a junk food diet while another person’s liver may be overwhelmed by just everyday exposure to cleaning products.
How liver detoxification works
Blood that has just absorbed nutrients from the intestines is channeled directly to the liver to be filtered for toxins. If your liver is functioning well, any drugs, foreign chemicals like pesticides, “used-up” hormones and other biochemicals, and toxins made within the digestive tract were filtered out of that blood. Before many of these toxins can be flushed out of your body, they must undergo two distinct detoxification phases in the liver. Known as phase I and phase II, both must be in good working order for a smooth detoxification process, and for this to happen, key nutrients are needed in adequate amounts.
How do you know when your liver may need some TLC?
Think of all the pollution, pesticides, food additives, fluoridated water, chemicals in our skincare and a whole host of other hidden poisons that find their way into our bodies, every day – overburdening not just our liver but also our kidneys and skin.
15 Signs You May Need a Liver Cleanse
1. Bloating or abdominal discomfort
Cramping or pain in the lower abdomen, excess gas or bloating can be early signs of liver problems
2. Skin changes
If you notice your skin suddenly looks yellowish, is itchy, dry or has dark patches, these could be warning signs and may mean the liver is not releasing toxins out of the body properly.
3. Urine and stool changes
If your urine becomes dark or stool is pale or tar-colored, then it could be time to check in with your health practitioner.
Chronic tiredness is often an early sign of a liver problem as your body works harder to try to remove excess toxins.
5. Confusion or cognitive problems
When the liver can’t filter blood normally, toxins build up and can make their way to the brain and may cause confusion and difficulty in making decisions and memory issues.
6. Mood swings or depression
When the toxins make their way to the brain they can also affect your mood. If you’ve been feeling anxious, angry or depressed it could be connected to your liver health.
7. Weight gain or inability to lose weight
When the liver isn’t working correctly, the body is unable to metabolize fat properly. Losing weight may become difficult and you may have more fat on your body than usual, especially around the belly area. You may also experience a sluggish metabolism adding to more weight gain.
8. High cholesterol
Because the body can’t regulate fat levels, it can throw off your cholesterol balance causing blood fats (triglycerides) and bad LDL cholesterol to rise, while the good HDL cholesterol drops. Left untreated, you are at risk for blocked arteries, heart attack, and stroke. 
9. Nutrient deficiencies
We know that the liver converts nutrients from our food into substances that our bodies can use but if it is struggling, our bodies are unable to absorb those nutrients. An iron deficiency, magnesium deficiency, Vitamin D deficiency or a lack of any other nutrient, especially when you eat a balanced diet, may mean your liver is not functioning optimally.
10. Digestive problems
The liver produces bile – a bitter alkaline fluid which helps digestion. So, if your liver is making less bile, you will have a harder time digesting fatty foods and alcohol. That may result in constipation, diarrhea, acid reflux or heartburn.
11. Sugar crashes
The liver keeps blood sugar levels steady and constant. When it is not working well, we can experience “sugar crashes” which happen when our blood glucose levels rise abnormally after eating, then shortly thereafter fall rapidly, leaving us feeling exhausted, irritable, confused and lacking in energy. Continuous blood sugar crashes can lead to insulin resistance and eventually type 2 diabetes.
12. Hormonal imbalances
A dysfunctional liver can lead to imbalances in the hormones estrogen and testosterone, which can cause issues like a reduced libido, worsened PMS symptoms or more severe menopausal symptoms such as hot flashes or night sweats.
13. Immune problems
Our liver plays a big role in our immunity, helping us to fight off bacteria and viruses so if you always seem to be catching a cold or flu, it may be time to check in on your liver health.
14. Excessive sweating or body odor
Excessive sweating and an unpleasant body odor are signs you may need to cleanse your liver.
15. Fat deposits
Fat around the upper abdomen (liver roll) or protuberant abdomen called a ‘pot belly’ or cellulite are indications that your liver is not metabolizing fats properly.
All of the above symptoms are common manifestations of a poorly functioning liver. However, in all cases of persistent symptoms, it is important to check it out with your healthcare professional. Fortunately, there are liver support action steps you can take to naturally help your liver function optimally.
Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is a growing epidemic affecting approximately one million Americans, particularly those in their 40s and 50s. Unfortunately, it is increasingly being diagnosed in younger adults and children. Fatty liver disease is a condition that occurs when there is a buildup of fat inside the liver. Left untreated, fatty liver can lead to more serious conditions known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Further damage can cause scarring of the liver that may lead to cirrhosis and even liver failure. [1, 2, 3]
How to Cleanse Your Liver
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to undergo a comprehensive program that addresses phase I and phase II pathways to true liver detoxification. My patients have had a lot of success with my 14 and 21-day detox programs that are easy to follow and yield great results. Most of them report weight loss, increased energy, mood enhancement and more.
Healthy Liver Diet
- Eat whole foods
The best way to help your liver is to eat a clean diet which includes plentiful amounts of whole foods such as fruits and vegetables, quality protein and healthy fats.
- Eat organic
The types of foods you eat are equally as important. It is highly recommended that your foods are organic, meaning it is produced without synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fertilizers, or size enhancing hormones. It is always best to look for foods that are “certified as organic” or buy from local farmers you trust.
- Eat quality
Be selective and look for quality foods, not quantity. Try not to overeat and listen to the messages from your body. Stop eating when you feel satisfied, rather than feeling stuffed. Overeating puts a burden on your liver causing it to overwork and reduces its ability to detoxify harmful substances efficiently. It can also lead to the development of a fatty liver which reduces the liver’s ability to burn fat and lose weight.
The best diet guidelines are as follows:
1. Consume a low carbohydrate diet
2. Increase the amount of raw plant foods
3. Eat quality protein with every meal from animal and/or plant sources
4. Eat healthy fats
5. Drink raw vegetable juices
6. Drink lots of filtered water
Foods that are Good for Your Liver
- Dark Leafy Greens – such as spinach, watercress, bok choy
- Crucifers – such as cauliflower, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage
- Lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges
- Onions, leeks and garlic
- Free range eggs
- Fats – olive oil, avocados, flaxseed, chia and hemp seeds
- Raw nuts and nut butters (almond, hazelnut, cashew or macadamia)
- Fermented foods – such as kimchi and sauerkraut
- Organic apple cider vinegar
- Sea vegetables – such as nori, kombu, arame, dulse, wakame
- Medicinal mushrooms
- Protein options for the omnivores – grass-fed meat, wild caught fish, free range poultry, whey
- Protein options for the herbivores – beans, nuts, seeds and pea protein
- Teas – green tea, licorice, peppermint, dandelion, ginger, and rooibos or try golden milk tea
Herbs for the Liver
Worst Foods for the Liver
- Processed meats – such as pepperoni, sausages, canned meats and hot dogs
- Processed fats and oils – such as margarine, corn oil, palm oil and canola
- Processed foods containing additives, preservatives and chemicals
- Deep fried foods
- Sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Excess coffee
- Alcohol 
Liver Cleanse Drink
When doing a liver cleanse, it is important to think raw. Eating plenty of raw fruits and especially vegetables is vital for liver health. More than 40 percent of your diet should come from raw fruits and vegetables.
If you have time, a great way to include more raw vegetables in your diet is to drink a raw juice. My “Liver Juice Cleanse” juice recipe is a great way to pack in living enzymes vital for liver health. It includes many liver cleansing veggies such as cabbage, dandelion, parsley and lemon. For the most benefit, your raw juice should be comprised of 20% fruits and 80% vegetables to reduce excess sugar spikes and carbohydrate content.
If making your own raw juice is not your thing, then consider ordering one from your local health food store the next time you are in the neighborhood.
Best Liver Supplements
Besides a good liver detoxification program, many of my patients do well with daily supplement support. My three favorites are:
LV-GB Complex™ which is a comprehensive formula designed to support liver and gallbladder function, including helping with the elimination of fatty substances from the liver and the digestion and assimilation of fats and fat-soluble vitamins.
Hepatatone Plus™ is a synergistic formula of botanical and mushroom extracts, along with N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC), a derivative of the amino acid cysteine, which has powerful antioxidant and liver-protective actions.
Milk Thistle is an effective herb for detoxifying the liver by promoting the flow of bile and may protect the liver from the normal and inevitable exposure to toxins. Milk thistle (or silymarin) contains substances that also help restore the liver. This herb prevents depletion of glutathione which is a powerful antioxidant produced by the liver needed to gather and eliminate toxic chemicals. If you currently have a liver problem – whether it stems from alcohol, hepatitis or blockage from gallstones – then milk thistle therapy is in order.
How to Improve Liver Function
To summarize, here are the best practices to improve your liver function.
- Maintain a clean diet full of raw fruits and vegetables
- Watch your sweet tooth
- Take liver supporting supplements
- Pamper your liver with healing herbs
- Practice good hygiene during food preparation and handling
- Avoid insecticides, pesticides, solvents and other chemicals
- Avoid cooking with a microwave
- Drink raw vegetable juice regularly
- Do a liver cleanse routinely
- Rehydrate your body
So, whether you find yourself at one end of the detox spectrum or the other, or even somewhere in the middle, it is totally possible to improve your liver’s ability to detoxify by making sure that it has all the nutrients it needs to do its job. CONTACT ME TODAY and let me help you get started on the road to great liver health.
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