January 16, 2017

7 Things You Need to Know About Your Liver

by Sarah Stanley

When we think of our health, we don’t tend to think of our health in separate parts.  We usually eat with our eyes. “Look, a pretty donut!” But, we fail to realize how a donut will affect our heart, cholesterol, blood, and yes, even our liver.

Each of the health choices we make is a drop in the bucket that adds up over time. The thoughts we think, the food we eat, the beverages we drink and how we move our body is all connected together either for disease prevention and good health, or for disease and poor health.

  • If we don’t have a good immune system, then we’ll be more susceptible to diseases and get sick often.
  • If we have lung problems, then it will be challenging to walk up stairs or a small hill.
  • When a part of our body isn’t functioning properly, other parts have to work extra hard to compensate. They become drained and fatigued as a result.

Everything works together. This is why it’s important that we live a life that supports holistic wellness. God designed our bodies with intricate detail and it’s up to us to treat our bodies the way he intended: with great care and thought.

Which brings us to a part of our body that does so much for us: our liver! You might think about your legs, arms, brain, and beating heart frequently. But, when was the last time you thought about your liver? Our liver plays a vital role in keeping us well. What makes our liver so special? Here are 7 important things you need to know about your liver!

#1. Key to life

Without a healthy liver, a person cannot survive! The liver might only weigh about 3 pounds, but this organ is essential to our life and well-being. The liver plays a crucial role in helping our body fight disease, get rid of toxins (i.e., detox), and support our immune system.

Because we live in a toxic world, our liver is constantly working to keep us healthy. From the food we eat, the air we breathe and even the water we drink, the liver is one of the most important organs in our body’s natural detoxification system.

Thankfully, the liver regenerates itself so we can keep on living our lives. But, if we don’t take care of it and abuse this wonderful part of our body, our liver will slowly start to deteriorate.

#2. Key to metabolism

Everyone wants a better metabolism, right? Did you know your liver could help with that? It’s true!

Our liver has hepatocyte cells, which perform most of the liver’s functions. These cells metabolize carbs, protein and lipids (fats and fat-soluble vitamins) into energy.

This is why eating real foods is so important. When we consume things that aren’t healthy, the liver has to work extra hard at processing these toxins. Over time, the liver breaks down from processing prescriptions, over-the-counter drugs and junk food.

Oreos are an example of junk food. I’m sure we can all agree they are an unhealthy “food.” Organic vegetables would be an example of a good, or real food that gives us energy. We keep our liver alive with real foods, so the liver can keep us alive.

What our liver does with cholesterol is interesting for our metabolism.  Generally speaking, most people fear cholesterol. This is due in part to misleading information from Big Food. Products claiming to be cholesterol free are, in fact, filled with additives, coloring dyes and other toxic ingredients. Sorry, but Fruit Loops will never be a healthy item. Don’t be fooled by marketing!  People need to know that man-made cholesterol is never a good thing.

But we do need God designed-cholesterol for health and vitality. Cholesterol is essential because the liver uses it to produce bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder. Why is this important? Because the body needs bile to digest fatty foods. How Stuff Works describes bile as an emulsifier.(1)

The liver produces and metabolizes cholesterol. When we eat real, organic sources of cholesterol (like eggs, for example), the liver produces less cholesterol, which makes for a happy organ!(2) As you can see, our liver is really an amazing part of our body!

#3. Key to digestion

You may not have thought about how your liver helps digestion, but the liver plays an important role! Although the digestive system has many parts (mouth, stomach, small intestine, and pancreas to name a few) the liver helps process what you consume. Your liver digests fat, minerals and vitamins for your body to use. It contributes to good eyesight, clear thinking and a healthy heart. So the next time you take a bite, thank your liver for giving you life.

#4. Key to detox

When you hear the word “detox,” your mind probably thinks of going on a 7-day juice binge because you are going to the beach next weekend. And you’re dreading being hungry all the time! But, don’t think of detox this way. Instead, detox should be something we think about on a daily basis, not just in swimsuit panic mode!

If a person eats an unhealthy diet, then the liver cannot possibly “detox” all that junk in a short period of time. It’s already been working overtime to keep the person alive! Drinking alcohol, taking over the counter drugs and prescription drugs are all heavy toxins to the liver and body.

If you ask a person why they are detoxing, usually it is to lose weight. But weight isn’t gained in 3 days, so it is unrealistic to think it will come off in 3 days! (Note: people will lose weight on a detox, but it’s mainly water weight as opposed to true weight loss.)

A proper detox focuses on cleansing the liver, blood, brain (via the second brain, the gut), kidneys and colon. Plus, the time frame is longer than just 3 or 5 days.

This is why I am a proponent of living a detox life. What does this mean? It’s simple. Whatever you put in your mouth, ask yourself if this is serving your body well. Does this have to make my liver work harder or is it happy that you are nourishing it?

If you routinely rely on short detoxes throughout the year as a quick fix for the problem, then switch to a detox lifestyle. A detox lifestyle means:

  • Eating real organic foods
  • Limiting alcohol consumption (try a kombucha instead!)
  • Avoiding OTC drugs
  • Making lifestyle choices that enable you to stop the use of prescription drugs

Your liver is begging you to make wise, healthy and natural detoxing choices!

If there’s one thing that most people understand about the liver, it’s that it serves as the body’s liquor control board. Alcohol is the one thing that bypasses the normal digestion process when consumed and goes straight to the liver. If you continue to drink excessively, you’re making your liver work overtime.

While the liver is working diligently to process the sugar and carbs from the alcohol, it will have consequences on your health.  Because the liver has to process other environmental toxins, the liver dreads when alcohol is consumed! So when the liver starts to shut down, health problems begin to happen: food intolerance, trouble falling asleep, allergies, acne, exhaustion and hormonal imbalance.

To embrace a detox lifestyle, I recommend incorporating these organic real foods on a daily basis, or at least 4 times a week:

Detoxing shouldn’t be a crunch time decision. Be kind to your liver on a daily basis and, in turn, your health will be rewarded!

#5. Key to immunity

Remember how everything is linked together? Although 80% of the immune system lives in our gut, our liver helps process what is in the GI tract.(3) When the liver isn’t working right, foreign invaders bypass the liver, enter the bloodstream, and overtax the immune system. Cleaning out the liver with a good liver detox program improves your liver’s ability to produce immune factors and remove bacteria from the blood.

So if your liver isn’t strong and healthy, then your immune system is compromised and your gut health will suffer, too. See how everything is connected?!

#6. Key to storage

What happens to the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients you are eating? The liver is storing what it needs and also getting rid of what doesn’t serve it. The liver delivers (say that 10 times fast!) the vitamins and minerals such as A, D, E, K to the tissues of the body that need it. When you eat for health it means you are eating to nourish each part of your body and your liver helps keep your body healthy.

#7. Key to health

The liver also produces several important vital proteins in blood plasma that keep the body from infections and blood disorders. These proteins help form blood clots. They also work to keep the body in perfect balance by making sure the cells of the body don’t gain or lose water in essential body fluids.

Another thing your liver does is to balance your hormones. And as mentioned before, the liver helps to burn fat, keeps libido functioning, and can either speed up or slow down aging. So, if you experience things such as mood swings, low sex drive, or are aging more quickly than you should, then you might want to eat some liver-nourishing real organic foods!

As you can see, the liver is a VIP! After reading this, I hope you won’t take your liver for granted again. I also hope you took some sips of filtered H2O and began to think of how you can change your lifestyle to support a healthy, happy liver to live a healthy and happy life!

 

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SarahStanley
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Sarah Stanley is a wellness educator, endurance athlete, speaker, author, and founder of #wellnesschat & {wellprint}. Passionate about healthy living Sarah lives what she speaks about, practicing a whole foods, plant-based lifestyle that fuels her ultrarunning adventures. Her goal is to empower others to be knowledgeable about what they put in & on their body so they can live healthy, disease-free and happy life. She’s been featured in SELF, SHAPE, Ladies’ Home Journal and Washingtonian. Find Sarah on Twitter (@SarahStanley)G+ (+SarahStanley) and visit SarahStanleyInspired.com to start your wellness journey today.

 

(1)http://health.howstuffworks.com/diseases-conditions/cardiovascular/cholesterol/how-the-body-uses-cholesterol.htm
(2) http://authoritynutrition.com/how-many-eggs-should-you-eat/
(3) Campbell-McBride, 2010

 

 

 

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