If you’re like me, you do your best to take care of your health. You eat well, drink adequate water, and exercise regularly. For the most part, life is pretty good. But a part of you feels it could be better.
Perhaps you want to jump out of bed in the morning before your alarm clock goes off. Maybe you’re tired of avoiding foods that make you bloat and give you gas. Or perhaps you just want the redness to go away and your skin to glow.
If you’re doing everything right and leading a healthy lifestyle, but still do not feel or look your best, your liver may be in dire need of your attention.
The liver is your major detoxification organ, performing over 500 functions in the body. Even with healthy organic eating, purified water, restful sleep, and regular physical activity, in today’s modern world the liver requires additional support to keep up with everyday stressors, environmental pollution, and chemical toxins.
100 years ago, our organs didn’t have to work nearly as hard. There wasn’t air pollution in the capacity that exists today, we weren’t bathing in toxic personal care products, and we surely weren’t glued to electronic devices for hours a day. Most people describe the typical North American lifestyle as stressful – and stress is a leading cause of poor liver function.
Luckily, there’s plenty you can do to ensure a healthy, happy liver and today, we’re going to cover just that in 3 simple steps.
3 Steps to Optimal Liver Health
Step One – Reduce Stress
Whether you enjoy long walks in nature or hot yoga, you’ve got to take time out of your busy schedule to connect with your body, let go of stress, and slow down. We are constantly on the go and we know that our fast-paced lifestyle doesn’t support healthy liver function.
A paper that was published in the Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2006 found that stress triggered elevated Alanine Aminotransferase (ALT) levels in healthy animals.1 Serum ALT is routinely checked by physicians as a possible indicator for liver damage and inflammation.
In addition to reducing stress, avoid unhealthy packaged foods and aim for a diet that is rich in broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kale, collard greens, cabbage, cauliflower, garlic, artichoke, and beets. These liver-friendly foods help support the body’s natural detoxification methods.
Step Two – Consider Hepatoprotective Herbs, Antioxidants, and Amino Acids
The liver secretes bile, which helps in the digestion and absorption of fats and specific vitamins. Since bile is a carrier of waste to the intestines, it plays an integral role in the detoxification process. I advise my patients to take Artichoke Leaf, Eclipta Alba Herb, and Dandelion Root, which are herbal ingredients that stimulate bile flow in the liver.
I often suggest L-Taurine, an amino acid involved in detoxification of drugs, food additives and endotoxins (from intestinal bacteria). L-Taurine also assists with cholesterol elimination via the bile.
Other natural ingredients that support liver detoxification, protect the cells of the liver, and enhance cleansing of this vital organ include: Milk Thistle Seed, Curcumin, Alpha Lipoic Acid, N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC), and Selenium. L-Methionine has a protective effect on glutathione and is a helpful amino acid during toxic overload.
It is important to take the right combination of herbal ingredients that work to support both Phase I and Phase II liver detoxification pathways.
Step Three – Obtain Sufficient Soluble Fibre
The liver makes up to 80% of the body’s cholesterol and ensuring healthy liver function is crucial for cholesterol control. While on a 30 day liver cleanse, most people take a soluble fibre supplement, which absorbs excess cholesterol and helps eliminate it from the body.
In clinical practice, I often recommend 100% acacia fibre, as it prevents the re-absorption of toxins and has no taste, which increases patient compliance.
With poor liver health on the rise, it’s no surprise that signs and symptoms are becoming more common. Health complaints that result from a sluggish liver range from fatigue to poor digestion, problem skin, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), difficulty losing weight, erratic blood sugars, and even headaches. Since we are committed to feeling and looking our best, we need to support the liver and assist it with the hundreds of tasks it needs to perform daily. A healthy liver will ensure toxic substances are safely eliminated via urine, bile, and stool.
So now that you know how important the liver is in addressing your symptoms and achieving optimal health, what steps will you take to ensure a healthy, happy one?
- Chida Y, Sudo N, Kubo C., “Does stress exacerbate liver diseases?” Pub-Med [Internet] January 2006. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16460474