Spring is here! The world is finally reawakening and coming into bloom with renewed energy. And with the transition to spring comes another important renewal – it’s time to turn attention to your liver and its sister organ the gallbladder.
The liver doesn’t get the attention that the heart and brain do. But it is every bit as important, performing close to 400 different jobs from transforming food into energy and controlling hormonal balance to producing bile that supports healthy digestion.
The largest organ in the body, the liver is also a potent detoxifier. Perhaps its most important function, detoxification—ironically—puts the liver at great risk for damage. Everything from alcohol abuse and environmental toxins to parasites and unprotected sex can harm this vital organ.
A number of pharmaceutical drugs—acetaminophen and non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, antidiabetic meds, anticonvulsants, cholesterol and triglyceride lowering drugs, and synthetic hormone replacement therapy—have been found potentially harmful to the liver. Even certain supplements—anabolic steroids, chaparral, comfrey, germander, high-dose vitamin A, ephedra, and senna—may be damaging if taken on a regular basis.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a leading cause of systemic inflammation, which can result in Type 2 diabetes. A Swiss study in the journal Nutrition shows that eating too much sugar can lead to a fatty liver, as well as insulin resistance and increased body fat. And research in Hepatology links high-fructose corn syrup—common in today’s processed foods and drinks—with liver scarring or fibrosis.
“Non-alcoholic fatty disease is present in 30% of adults in the United States,” says Manal Abdelmalek, MD, MPH, associate professor of gastroenterology/hepatology at Duke University Medical School. And another study in the International Journal of Obesity shows that 11% of overweight and obese kids have NAFLD.
Finally, the liver is getting some respect! I’ve always observed that a persistent roll of fat at the waistline could be a warning sign of a fatty liver.
While it is true that the liver is perfectly designed to detoxify itself automatically, if it’s overloaded with poisons, petrochemicals, and prescription/OTC meds, it cannot perform its essential functions—maintaining blood sugar levels, synthesizing and normalizing blood proteins, and helping keep the body in hormonal balance. Freeing up this vital organ to do all its jobs may be the single most important step you can ever take in improving your overall health.
Detoxification is a highly nutrient-dependent process so your body needs to be well-fortified in order to detox your liver effectively.
Here are some simple, but effective ways to love your liver:
• Become a food sleuth. Nix food, drinks, salad dressings, and energy bars that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
• Begin each morning with hot water and lemon to help thin bile and tone liver function.
• Every day, eat liver-loving foods—particularly cruciferous veggies (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, cabbage, and cauliflower)—to speed the breakdown of fat-storing toxins from the phase 2 detox pathway.
• Drink cran-water, an antioxidant/phenol-rich cranberry juice and water mixture, throughout the day to keep detox pathways clear.
• Get plenty of fiber (from chia, flaxseed, or psyllium, as well as fruits and veggies) to keep toxins moving out of the body.
• Enjoy sufficient protein like eggs with sulfur and lecithin to support detox and to aid in the formation of bile salts, and/or whey protein with amino acids that are precursors to glutathione—the liver’s premier antioxidant.
For Added Support:
To nourish your liver naturally and give your body a cleansing boost, I recommend Liver-Lovin Formula.
This is a unique blend of:
• Artichoke, a well-known liver healer that’s loaded with antioxidants to help move toxins through detox pathways and to boost bile production.
• Copper-free chlorophyll to further enhance elimination.
• Taurine, a major amino acid detoxifier that boosts the liver’s production of bile, aiding in fat breakdown.