Detox is such a sexy word these days. Everyone is talking about or wanting to jump on the latest cleanse. But the truth is you don’t have to embark on a water fasting journey to initiate detoxification. In fact your body is already detoxifying each and every day due mostly to the liver. This is why it is so important to support the liver so it is better able to carry out these natural detox processes. Before we address how to support the liver, let’s cover why it is so important to support this amazing organ.
The liver carries out over 500 different functions in the body, on top of being the only organ that can regenerate itself. This fact is enough to support that the liver is absolutely vital to our health and wellbeing.
The liver is most well known for its function of detoxifying, but this is not the only noteworthy function in the body. The liver breaks down and removes old hormones, aids in cholesterol and bile production, fat metabolism, regulates blood sugar, produces glycogen and ketones, aids in blood clotting, stores fat soluble vitamins and minerals, metabolizes amino acids, destroys red blood cells and so much more.
When detoxifying, the liver helps us to convert and eliminate all toxins from our system. These toxins may come from the environment around us or from something that was created in our body. The liver uses phase 1 and 2 detoxification pathways to transform toxins into water soluble and less harmful compounds so they can be removed from the body through urine or bile. This is why it is so essential that we have regular bowel movements at least once per day, our bowels are one of our most important elimination pathways.
When toxins are not properly detoxified or eliminated, they can become built up and stored in our tissues. When we have a problem with detoxification and a burden of toxins in our system, it can manifest as fatigue, skin rashes, blemishes and acne, intolerances to foods, smells and chemicals and issues with bowel movements such as constipation, diarrhea or IBS.
The liver is a key player in hormonal health. In fact it plays such a big role that when there are imbalances in hormones, the first place one should look is to the liver. The first connection here is the liver's ability to produce cholesterol, which is the precursor to steroid hormones. The liver is also responsible for the production of estrogen and testosterone as well as proteins which carry hormones through the body.
The liver also works in hormone health by allowing the body to break down and get rid of excess or old hormones. When the liver is overburdened with toxins and unable to properly discard excess hormones, we end up with hormonal imbalances such as PCOS, estrogen dominance and PMS.
The liver also serves to regulate blood sugar in the body. The body uses different conversion processes to store and release energy in the form of glycogen. It can also create glucose from amino acids in times of need through a process called gluconeogenesis, and can make ketones from fats through ketogenesis.
The liver also plays a role in digestion. It processes nutrients once they are uptaken in the small intestine and then uses these raw nutrients to create chemicals needed for different functions throughout the body. The liver also creates bile as mentioned before which helps in the breakdown of fats. And lastly, it stores the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K to be used when needed at a later time.
When the liver is not working properly, it can manifest as weight gain, brain fog, acne, digestive issues, fatigue, insomnia, high cholesterol, blood sugar imbalance, excessive thirst and urination and more.
Poor liver function can manifest as weight gain and stubborn weight because of the way our bodies store excess toxins. If toxins are not properly being detoxed and are circulating in the body, they will be stored in the tissues of the body. This creates an inflammatory response where the body holds onto fat in order to use it to protect itself from the harmful effects of the toxins. This is why it is so important to support the liver and detox and elimination pathways during weight loss. If the body can’t excrete toxins, weight loss will be impossible.
Supporting the liver and boosting detoxification can be a complex subject but we will keep it simple and to the point. The first and most important step to supporting the liver is to avoid as many environmental toxins as possible. This means switching out cleaning and personal care products for more natural, healthy alternatives as well as cutting out processed foods and opting for organic and grass-fed options. It is also best to avoid alcohol, inflammatory oils, grains, caffeine, smoking, statin drugs and Tylenol, which all either add excess toxins to the body or inhibit the liver’s detox abilities. Addressing leaky gut and constipation is also extremely helpful in boosting the liver’s detox abilities. Focus on incorporating lots of leafy green and cruciferous veggies, grass-fed meats healthy fats and pure, filtered water. Bitter greens such as arugula, dandelion greens and root, and endive and bitter herbs such as turmeric and milk thistle are all amazing ways to support and boost liver function. Supplementing with a liver support such as Liver Protect or Pure Body Clear can also be an amazing way to boost liver and detox function even more.