Your liver is such an incredible organ…& not just because it can take care of that extra glass of wine you had last night 😉
In addition to helping your body to deal with alcohol, the liver plays a crucial role in over 500 critical bodily functions!
Here are some of the amazing things that it does:
– First & foremost… Detoxification! This is what your liver was made to do! See, we’re exposed to an insane amount of toxins every single day, pollution, pesticides, drugs, alcohol, medications, food additives, plastics, heavy metals…but our liver has to convert them into safer substances BEFORE we can excrete them! Amazing right?
– It produces bile, a substance that is needed to breakdown fats & to absorb fats + fat soluble nutrients (like vitamin A, D, E & K) & move waste products out of the body.
– It stores important vitamins & minerals needed to support the detox process
– It produces cholesterol, an essential compound that every cell in our body needs to function!
– It produces important proteins
– It manages blood glucose levels
– It helps the blood to clot after an injury
– It helps the immune system function
– It clears out old or damaged red blood cells
Not too shabby right?
One could even say absolutely incredible!
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg!
Now while your liver is an organ of many talents…I want to zero in on the detox process, because this is one of the most important tasks it performs… & it’s your best line of defence against all the toxins you’re exposed to on a daily basis!
Here’s how the detox process works:
As I mentioned above, your liver has to convert toxins into safer substances BEFORE you can excrete them!
Now wherever the toxin comes from (most come from external sources, but some are actually produced inside our own bodies)… your liver has a 2 part approach to dealing with them, known as phase 1 & phase 2 liver detoxification.
Here they are in a nutshell:
Most of the toxins we’re exposed to are fat soluble, meaning they can’t be broken down by water, so you can’t pee them out. In phase 1, your liver makes them less harmful by making them water soluble, meaning you can now pee them out 🙂
Even though they’ve been made safer, the toxins still need a little bit of a push before they can be excreted. In phase 2 your liver uses sulfur & certain amino acids to finish them off & get the job done.
So that’s the detox process, sounds pretty simple, right? But here’s the thing…
You’re liver can only handle so many toxins at one time, & if it is over worked for too long, it can’t function properly & can slow down its ability to detox, leading to a build-up of toxins in the body.
Go on, read that bit again :p
This can lead to a whole list of issues, including:
– Gas or bloating
– Yellowing of the skin/eyes
– Skin issues like acne & eczema
– Chronic fatigue
– Chronic inflammation
– An over active immune system
– Brain fog, memory loss
– Hormone imbalance
(Btw if you suffer from a number of these symptoms & you think you think you might have an issue with your liver, make an appointment with a functional medicine practitioner asap)
Nasty stuff right? Definitely not what you want!
So you can see why it’s so important to support your liver in any way you can, yes?
Here are the nutrients that are absolutely critical for liver function & healthy detoxification:
– B Vitamins
– Vitamin A
– Vitamin E
– Vitamin C
– Beta Carotene
– Amino Acids
There are some incredible liver loving foods out there that you can easily grow yourself! (we try to have a spot in our patches for each of these veggies as much as possible!) Take a look:
Rocket – Rocket contains vitamin K, vitamin A & powerhul phytochemicals
Kale – Kale is an excellent source of vitamin A & also contains B vitamins & Iron
Mustard Greens – Mustard Greens are a great source of folate & also contain vitamin K, A, C & E
Watercress – Watercress is packed with antioxidants as well as vitamins K, C & A
Bok Choy – Bok choy contains vitamin B6, folate & is a great source of vitamin A, C & K
Onion – Onion contains powerful antioxidants & anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It’s also a good source of vitamin C & B6
Leek – Leek contains powerful antioxidants, & is a good source of vitamins K, A, C & folate
Now you may have noticed a bit of a trend here, these 7 veggies come from only 2 families…
The Brassica & the Allium family of veggies.
While they all pack a serious nutritional punch, there’s one thing all these guys have in common…Sulfur!
As I mentioned before, sulfur plays a big part in phase 2 of the detox process, it’s incredibly important & it’s a mineral that many of us could potentially not be getting enough of (Low sulfur levels can be caused in part, by glyphosate, the most widely used pesticide on our food supply – but this is another post for another time!)
So getting a few extra handfuls of sulfur rich organic veggies onto your plate every day can go a long way towards supporting that beautiful liver of yours.
Now there are some other things you can do to further support your liver, let’s take a quick look:
Other foods you can eat to support your liver function:
Organic, grass fed meat & liver
Organic, pasture raised chicken & eggs
Herbs including milk thistle, tulsi, dandelion root & turmeric
Organic, cold pressed coconut oil
Organic leafy greens & fibrous veggies
Organic Apple Cider Vinegar with the mother
A high-quality supplement or multi vitamin to address any deficiencies
There are also some things that, if you really want to take special care of your liver (& you really should!) you should say goodbye to immediately:
Processed, packaged & refined foods
Conventional fruits & vegetables
Conventional meat products
These things put a serious strain on your liver & make it incredibly difficult for it to do its job.
Now… before we wrap up, I want to touch on 1 last point.
It’s a question I hear all the time…
“Is liver safe to eat?”
A common belief is that because the liver is the primary detoxing organ in the body, & that all the toxins consumed by the body pass through the liver, wouldn’t the liver be loaded with toxins & therefore, not a good idea to eat?
This might sound plausible, but as you just learnt, the liver doesn’t store any toxins, it filters them & clears them out.
What it does store, is boatloads of important nutrients, including B vitamins, vitamin A, B12, iron, zinc. Organic, grass fed liver is one of the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, & because it isn’t as popular as the more common muscle meats, it’s usually very affordable! (We get ours from Cherry Tree Organics in Melbourne.)
So if you can combine organic, grass fed, meat, eggs & liver, with fresh organic, (hopefully homegrown) leafy greens & non fibrous veggies –especially brassica & allium veggies – you’re well on your way to a strong, healthy functioning liver!
I hope you enjoyed this post, & that you learnt a thing or 2 about the importance of keeping your liver happy!
If you know of anyone else who might benefit from it, please share it with them.
And if you have any q’s at all, just let me know!