I think most people are aware that the liver is the organ that has to deal with alcohol, but what else is it for? And how can we look after it?
Here are 3 of the liver’s many functions:
1. The liver is the main detoxification organ. It has to deal with everything we consume by filtering the blood direct from our digestive system.
2. Its numerous immune cells play a huge role in defending the body from pathogens.
3. It regulates hormones.
As the liver does so many important jobs, it often needs to prioritise some over others. For example, when we are drinking a lot of alcohol or taking a lot of pharmaceutical drugs, it has to prioritise removing toxic substances from the blood and it cannot regulate the body’s hormones as effectively. This may lead to irregular hormone balance and subsequently fertility issues, PMT, menopausal symptoms, or erratic emotions.
5 ways to help your liver out
1. Abstain from alcohol for 2 consecutive days each week at a minimum or, um, abstain from alcohol. The liver has a remarkable capacity to regenerate itself but it needs time to do this where it is not being bombarded with toxins.
2. Eat whole foods and as few processed foods as possible. Processed foods often contain more elements that the liver needs to filter out.
3. Reduce sugar intake and limit or avoid high fructose corn syrup (often found in sweet drinks) as it encourages fat production in the liver which can lead to non alcoholic fatty liver disease.
4. Eat lots of cruciferous vegetables. The broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower family of vegetables contain powerful compounds that aid the liver in its detoxification.
5. Bitters and tonics. Certain bitter herbs have been used for centuries for liver health. Try dandelion tea, turmeric lattes or milk thistle. NB. Some herbs should be avoided in pregnancy.