The liver is an extremely important organ because of its many functions. We need a healthy liver in order for our body to function properly. So what does our liver do?
First, the liver is actually capable of eliminating toxins, whether it’s food or medications. The liver detoxes and can transform products to be excreted into the bile or urine. When our liver is not able to do this, it can cause our body to have a buildup of toxins or excess hormones that were not able to be excreted.
It is also capable of processing nutrients that have been absorbed from the small intestine and can store nutrients until they are needed. For example, when your blood sugar is low, glycogen (stored in the liver) is converted to glucose to give you that energy you may be lacking.
Because it is capable of storing glycogen, the liver can store glucose and supply it to the brain and kidneys when needed. Ketones are also produced in the liver and can be used as energy when glucose isn’t being utilized for energy.
The liver is important for balancing your cholesterol levels in the body by producing it and clearing it. We need cholesterol because it’s what makes our hormones! Please do not fear healthy fats! If there’s any issues with your liver and it’s not functioning properly, your hormone levels may be imbalanced.
Protein production also occurs in the liver, which we need for our hormones and other bodily functions. The liver can synthesize amino acids (building blocks of proteins) and also break down proteins during digestion. It is also capable of removing ammonia from your body and into the urine.
Not only that, but the liver produces bile which is then stored in the gallbladder. We need bile for our digestion and eliminating excess toxins from the body. We also need bile to be able to absorb our nutrients.
Lastly, good liver function equals a good immune system. This is because it works to digest bacteria, fungi, parasites, and other cellular debris. The liver is crucial for our body to function properly. We need to be supporting our liver every single day through diet and lifestyle.
Because the liver is a key organ for detoxification, it's important to know what nutrients it needs to do its job.
What nutrients fuel our liver?
B Vitamins - found in beef liver and other organ meats, eggs, meat, dairy, and seafood
Vitamin C - found in citrus, cherries, bell peppers, juices, and leafy greens
Taurine - found in shellfish and the dark meat of turkey and chicken
Vitamin A - found in beef liver and cod liver oil
Magnesium - found in cacao, leafy greens, and even epsom salt (to soak in)
Amino Acids - found in animal proteins such as meat, eggs, seafood, gelatin, and collagen
Vitamin E - found in eggs, seafood, and nuts/seeds
We need ALL of these nutrients or our liver will be depleted and not function properly. Without the liver functioning, we can have a sluggish thyroid, metabolism issues, and even hormonal imbalance.
If you're trying to detox by fasting, this is causing MORE stress on the body, and increases autophagy. More stress will slow your metabolism and negatively impact other hormones. Supplements for detox aren't addressing the nutrition and lifestyle. Our liver needs these key nutrients to work properly.
What are some ways we can support our liver?
Consume beets! Beets are one of my favorite root veggies! Not only do they contain a lot of Vitamin C, but they also help increase oxygen, which cleanses the blood to breakdown toxins. This helps toxins be excreted quickly and stimulate bile flow in the body. My favorite way to eat is by slicing it super thin, drizzling avocado oil, salt and pepper and putting it in the oven! It’s basically beet chips!
Raw carrots are also great for your liver because they contain powerful fungicides and bacteriostats. Their fibers attach to endotoxins and bacteria and estrogen that have been detoxed by the liver. They even remove the toxins through the colon in stool.
My favorite way to eat raw carrots is by making me own raw carrot salad. It consists of shaved carrots, coconut oil or olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt!
Bitter greens are things like dandelion and arugula. Not only are these great to secrete stomach acid (which we need for digestion and nutrient absorption), but they are also great for liver function. Because they taste bitter, they stimulate your GI tract to secrete enzymes and bile to help break down the food. They also assist your liver in detoxifying!
Make sure you are sleeping enough each night. We need 7-9 hours of sleep to allow the liver to process and work the way it needs to. Make sure you are going to sleep and waking up at the same time each day. I have a blog post all about sleep if you need more information on how to optimize your sleep.
Another way to support the liver is through removing toxins, such as parabens. Check your products such as laundry detergent, makeup, shampoo/conditioner, body wash, toothpaste, floss, skincare, etc. Your skin is your largest organ, so it is crucial we are using nontoxic whenever possible. I love using the "Think Dirty" app or "EWG Healthy Living" app to scan products.
Also make sure you are eating protein sources that are easy to digest, such as eggs, shrimp, grass-fed beef, bone broth, collagen, and gelatin.
Finally, eat enough food,! Women, please make sure you are eating every 3-4 hours to optimize your hormones. Consume enough carbohydrates to provide the liver with enough glucose. Low-carb diets are not going to support your hormones or liver. Our bodies need carbohydrates to functional properly.
The liver does so many things for our body. If we aren't supporting our liver through a healthy diet and lifestyle, it can affect all aspects of our health because we need it to detoxify excess toxins and estrogen from our body. The best thing we can do for our health is to fuel our bodies properly with real whole foods, manage our stress levels, sleep enough, and optimize our gut health.
Let me know if you have questions!