Love Your Liver

stomachThe liver is definitely the most under-appreciated organ. It takes care of so much and receives so little recognition. It serves as the primary gateway between what we ingest and the rest of our bodies systems. It is responsible for sifting through absolutely every nutrient we consume. That’s right, everything we put in our mouths, whether it be food or drink, nutritious or not, our liver sifts, sorts and metabolizes it.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is considered the “epicenter” of health. They acknowledge that the liver is not only responsible for nutrient breakdown, but also for hormone balance. They believe, that if there are hormonal imbalances, that the liver is responsible. For me, I have both endometriosis and fibroids, which are definitely a big-blinking-neon-signs of ongoing hormonal imbalance. It was my discovery of TCM’s connection between hormones and the liver that made a big impact on resolving my troublesome symptoms. For me, it made perfect sense that I developed these issues a few years after having my gallbladder removed. It was suspected that, as a result of the surgery, my liver had fallen into the “sluggish” category, leaving my body with a less than ideal detoxification system. So, I set out to begin cleansing my liver. What I discovered was that as I was doing so (with herbs and foods), my symptoms improved dramatically. As I further pursued techniques to purge my liver on a deeper level, I saw my symptoms actually disappear! It was crystal clear to me that good liver health equalled good hormonal heath.

shutterstock_126577634Of course, in addition to hormonal problems, the liver is responsible for much bigger health issues. As we already discussed, the liver is the entry point into our bodies from everything we ingest. Unfortunately, our livers tend to take a lot of abuse with poor food choices, alcohol and medications. The liver quietly goes about its job of sopping up the yuck, and providing our body with nice clean nutrients and blood for survival. The problem is that at a certain point, there is only so much the little 7 pound sponge can do. As it gets saturated with gunk, is when the issues begin. When our livers can no longer keep up with the onslaught of crap piling in, some of this toxic goop ends up seeping into our other bodily systems. The real issues arise when these toxins have no way of being removed from the body. As they spill out through the clogged liver, they cause our bodies to react as they do to any invader. “Protector” cells surround the intrusive substance with mucous, or enveloping it in lesions or cysts, or the worst case scenario wrapping it up in tumor cells. All in order to prevent these poisons from traveling throughout the rest of the body, and potentially killing us.

People often have a hard time with the concept that tumors (cancer and otherwise) are actually the bodies way of protecting itself. But, it is a proven fact that these “protector” cells, do indeed, surround toxic substances, trapping them in order to prevent them from poisoning us to death. It is the accumulation of these “protector” cells that results in a tumor. As we mindlessly continue to pile toxins in, and never give our bodies the chance to purge themselves, the tumors grow larger and larger.

We can reverse this dire situation by giving the liver what it desperately needs, a good cleaning. We need to wring out that dirty soppy sponge of an organ and allow it to start fresh once again. We rely on our livers too much to allow them such neglect. That’s why cleanses are so popular and effective, because they quickly clear the liver of the buildup of toxins and stagnant sludge that prevent it from performing its job. By including more of these natural detoxifiers, you can effectively cleanse the liver without having to endure a harsh “cleanse”

Garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that are responsible for flushing out dietary and metabolic acid from the body. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from acidic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.

Grapefruit is rich in natural vitamin C and antioxidants, two powerful liver cleansers. Like garlic, grapefruit contains compounds that buffer excess acids. It also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to bind up acids for elimination rather than storing them in the fatty tissues.

Green grasses, like wheat and barley grass are loaded with chlorophyll, a the main molecule in green grasses that buffers excess metabolic and dietary acids. The increase in chlorophyll from green grasses also helps in detoxing the small bowel and liver and maintaining the alkaline design of the body.

Leafy green vegetables such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory also contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can bear heavily on the liver. Leafy greens also eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body, and spur the creation and flow of cleansing alkalizing bile.

Avocado, rich in glutathione-producing compounds, avocados actively promote liver health by protecting it against toxic acidic overload, and boosting its cleansing power. Some research has shown that eating one or two avocados a week for as little as 30 days can repair a damaged liver.

Walnuts, which contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas.

Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage, and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.

To keep the liver clean and healthy is to ensure your health. So, don’t forget to love your liver…