Your Skinny, Healthy Liver

March 12, 2019
Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Award-winning nutritionist and New York Times bestselling author.

If you bloat after meals, your energy is lagging, you crave sweets, and those extra pounds just won’t budge – despite your best dieting efforts – then it’s time to take a look at your liver.

Liver health is the hot topic in health news. In fact, First for Women magazine interviewed me on this very important topic for their issue that is out on newsstands right now. The health of your whole body is tied to the health of your liver. If your liver is sluggish and your bile is congested, every organ in your body will be affected and your health and weight loss efforts will be thwarted from all sides.

Your liver is your body’s primary detoxification organ, and it’s being bombarded with toxins and chemicals both from within your cells and from your outside environment. Medications; heavy metals and chemicals in your air, water, food, cosmetics, and personal care products; refined sugars and grains in your diet; eating unhealthy fats, like processed vegetable oils along with too little fiber; indulging in too much alcohol or caffeine; lack of exercise; and even emotional stress – your liver takes quite a beating from all of this, resulting in congested bile.

More than 80 percent of women over age 40 are packing on pounds because of thick, congested bile – the digestive liquid your liver makes to break down dietary fats – and this is why you’re tired, bloated, and cravings are through the roof.

Bile is a Big Deal

When it comes to reversing a toxic metabolism and losing stubborn body fat, nothing is more important than bile. Harvard University research shows that when women improve their bile health, their overall metabolism increases by a whopping 53 percent!

Bile is “liquid gold” – this emulsifying yellow-colored substance, similar to soap or detergent, breaks down fats so they can dissolve in liquid and be more easily absorbed, and that’s not all. Healthy bile is essential for detoxification, proper hormone balance, healthy thyroid function, good digestion, fat metabolism, absorbing essential Omega 3 and Omega 6 fats, absorbing fat-soluble vitamins, and reducing appetite and sugar cravings.

Did going Keto or Paleo leave you feeling bloated and tired? Your bile flow could be to blame. Bile becomes thick, sludgy, and congested, and stops flowing freely because of toxin overload, clogged bile ducts, excess cholesterol and fats, high blood sugar and insulin resistance, gallbladder inflammation, or lack of nutrients needed to create quality bile.

Bile should be thin, golden, and free-flowing, and your liver should be making more than a quart a day, with its flow being regulated by your gallbladder. But, if you’re having gallbladder symptoms or missing your gallbladder, this by itself can also derail your bile production. I recommend UNI KEY Health’s Bile Builder for anyone with gallbladder issues or insufficient bile flow.

Signs of Sluggish Bile include:

  • Inability to Lose Weight
  • Nausea
  • Bloating and Gas
  • Queasy after a fatty meal
  • Bitter taste in mouth after eating
  • Constant full feeling
  • Constipation
  • Light colored or floating stools
  • Hemorrhoids
  • Pain Between Shoulder Blades
  • Pain Under the Right Rib Cage
  • Headaches Over the Eyes
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Estrogen Dominance
  • Dry Skin and Hair
  • Chemical Sensitivity
  • Easily Intoxicated
  • Joint Pains
  • Insomnia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Varicose Veins
  • Mood Changes with Irritability, Depression, or Anxiety
  • History of Prescription or Recreational Drug Use

Once bile is flowing better, it breaks down estrogen to be eliminated, bringing hormones back into balance so you can say bye-bye to belly fat. Better bile flow also triggers an increase in the conversion from inactive to active thyroid hormone, improving thyroid function and switching the body into fat-burning mode. More bile also means more toxins removed, which means better health overall.

To get the slim-stimulating, toxin-removing, hormone balancing effects of bile back and wake your metabolism up from its winter hibernation, turn to the bitter greens of spring. Just tasting these bitter foods is enough to also cut cravings and keep your appetite in check.

Bitters Build Better Bile

Some of the most powerful healing foods that help us detoxify our cells and absorb essential nutrients are in the class of foods we call “bitters.” Bitter foods like spring greens (dandelion, arugula, watercress, baby kale, and broccoli rabe), coffee, cacao, cabbage, ginger, grapefruit, peppermint, and so many more, set off a chain reaction that:

  • Gets your digestive juices flowing – saliva, pepsin, gastrin, and pancreatic enzymes – for better digestion and absorption of nutrients
  • Optimizes stomach acid levels and relieves acid reflux
  • Stimulates your liver to produce more bile
  • Promotes better bile flow
  • Feeds “skinny bugs” and reduces the population of “bad bugs” by balancing intestinal pH
  • Suppresses sugar cravings
  • Regulates appetite
  • Relieves constipation
  • Boosts thyroid function
  • Flushes toxins, and
  • Boosts your fat-burning metabolism

All of which are key components of losing weight and getting healthy. But, if you are part of the 25 percent of the adult population who has Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), there are a few more steps you need to take to get your liver health back on track.

From Fatty Liver to Skinny Liver

If you’ve been diagnosed with NAFLD, then your liver has stopped processing fat and started storing it. A fatty liver is a toxic liver. Without enough bile, your liver can’t process all the toxins it encounters and it becomes toxic. It shuttles the excess toxins off to be stored in your fat cells, causing these cells to swell with inflammation and bringing your fat burning to a screeching halt. To make matters worse, these toxins also promote cellulite by increasing body fat and reducing collagen formation.

You can break this vicious cycle and support the health of your liver with these 5 steps:

  1. Get Bitters. Bitter foods are a great start to restoring liver health because of the chain reaction of healing effects they set off that lead to better bile production and flow. Once bile is flowing better, it will flush out the toxins your liver collects so they can be eliminated rather than stored.
  2. Get Moving. According to the 2017 European Congress on Obesity, daily exercise alone will reduce fat in the liver. You don’t have to run a marathon – even small amounts of daily physical activity will start burning fat in the liver.
  3. Get the Sugar Out. When it comes to fatty liver, the fructose found in fruit juices, whole fruits, and foods or drinks with high fructose corn syrup are your worst enemy. Fructose has been clearly shown to cause fatty liver, using the same mechanism that alcohol does to cause the damage. You’ll need to become a label reader, because fructose is hiding in everything from lunch meats to sausages, packaged seasoning mixes and so much more.
  4. Fight Fat with Fat. The fat that builds up in the liver causes inflammation, and anti-inflammatory fats in our diet can help turn this process around. The essential fats found in fatty fish from pristine waters, grassfed meats, nuts, seeds and their oils all build health from the cellular level and quell inflammation.
  5. Supplement with Liver Healing Herbs. Toxins accumulate in the liver before fat does, and this leads to weight gain, fatigue, joint pains, digestive problems, headaches, and even cardiovascular disease. Support the liver’s detox pathways to help process and eliminate these toxins. I recommend UNI KEY Health’s Liver-Lovin Formula while you increase the fiber-rich green vegetables in your diet to help bind and move toxins out.

To learn more about your liver, pick up the current issue of First for Women, then order my new Radical Metabolism book, which will teach you everything you need to know about your liver and gallbladder, the bile connection to your thyroid and hormones, and how to lose weight and feel great while eating the foods you love – including chocolate and coffee!

Related Articles and Podcasts

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is an award-winning New York Times bestselling author of more than thirty books including The Fat Flush Plan series and her latest book, Radical Metabolism. She’s been rewriting the rules of nutrition for more than 40 years and is internationally recognized as a pioneer in the field of diet, detox and women’s health issues. 

For a FREE daily dose of tips and strategies for maintaining healthy weight, conquering insomnia, and much more…check out my Radical Health Tips.

I’d like to meet and greet you on my Facebook groups, so won’t you check us out at the Radical Metabolism RevolutionFat Flush Nation, or my Inner Circle!


  1. Kevin

    Thanks for this article, Ann Louise!

  2. Barb May

    Interesting to know all the symptoms of liver problems. It seems like most people have at least some of these. We’re all toxic and don’t know it!

  3. Marianne Teske

    I find it strange that my doctor has not even mentioned any of the things that I have just been reading.
    What he is doing instead is urging me to take the Cholesterol medication – but I have refused since I know of the bad side effects that this medication has.
    I am happy to have found this website – I will get rid of my FATTY LIVER and tell my doctor to keep his pills for himself.

  4. TT

    Do any of the supplements interfere with medications? I am on meds for thyroid & cholesterol. I have recently entered menopause and have started seeing the effects. I have recently decided to take charge and start by clean eating and exercising. I would love to be off the medications sooner rather than later.

    • Team ALG

      There is no reason that any of the supplements would interfere with these medications. Clean eating and exercising are good beginning steps to help with menopause symptoms. Taking a Salivary Hormone Test to find out where your hormone levels are and how to balance them will make it easy to navigate this change.


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