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The liver might be the most underrated and least understood organ in our bodies.  Unless they have a diagnosed liver disease, many people don’t put any thought into theirs at all.   However, did you know your liver gives you many signs that it needs support?  Before we review signs of liver distress, let’s take a look at what the liver does and how it functions to keep you well!

 

The Many Functions of the Liver:

When the topic of the liver comes up, many will think of bile production, and the fact that bile helps you digest fats and eliminate waste.  After bile, most people at least have the basic knowledge that your liver is constantly working to filter all your blood and break down toxins like alcohol and medications.  Your liver is made up of four lobes, each of which can be broken into eight sections, and further into thousands of mini lobes, called lobules.  In total, your liver performs more than 500 tasks!  Here is a list of the primary tasks it performs:

  • Blood Filtration and Detoxification – All of the blood passing from your stomach and intestines must pass through the liver, where toxins and byproducts are removed.
  • Glucose Processing – After removing excess glucose from your bloodstream, the liver stores it as glycogen.  This may be released in times of extreme stress, or in the case of a Diabetic person, glycogen may be released when your body detects a severely low blood sugar.
  • Bile Production – Bile is critical in the body to break down and digest fats.
  • Production of Albumin – Albumin prevents fluids in your bloodstream from accessing the surrounding tissue.  Albumin also transports minerals, vitamins, enzymes, and hormones throughout your body.
  • Blood Clotting – The substances that allow your blood to clot is produced with Vitamin K.  Bile is needed to absorb the Vitamin K you consume.
  • Pathogen Resistance – Your liver removes pathogens from the bloodstream as part of the filtering process.
  • Amino Acid Regulation – Your liver monitors the levels of amino acids in your bloodstream, allowing them to become proteins.
  • Nutrient Storage – Your liver is a storehouse for Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12, as well as the minerals iron and copper.
  • Hormone Detoxification – Excess amounts of hormones in the body can result in their own set of health problems, such as estrogen dominance and related conditions.  Your liver detoxifies those excess hormones.

 

Signs of Liver Distress:

By reviewing the primary functions of the liver, we can see how essential it is too good health.  But it’s also a very “vocal” organ!  It gives you many signs that it is distressed.  Unfortunately, much of modern medicine is not trained to recognize these signs, only to treat the symptoms.  At Body in Harmony, we believe in whole-person healthcare, and that starts with liver support!  When your liver starts to suffer, it becomes congested and sluggish in its functions, which can result in:

  • Bad Breath or White Tongue Coating – This indicates that you are not digesting your food well and results in Candida Overgrowth.
  • Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease – There can be multiple causes of NAFLD, but many times it is caused by over-consumption of sugar and its resulting insulin resistance.  What constitutes excess sugar for you may be more or less than any other person.  In particular, fructose is broken down in the liver, so any processed food with high fructose corn syrup may stress the liver.  Other causes of NAFLD may include genetic defects and medications.
  • Chemical Sensitivities – Perhaps you don’t tolerate alcohol or the smell of perfumes or air fresheners gives you a headache or makes you nauseous.   Chemical sensitivities indicate that your liver is having trouble filtering toxins.
  • Fatigue – If you always feel drained or fatigued, even if you feel you have adequate sleep, it may be a sign your liver is distressed.
  • Food cravings – Cravings for processed food and sweets may indicate a hormone imbalance.  Your liver is critical for detoxifying excess hormones from the body.
  • Hormone Imbalance – As mentioned above, your liver is meant to filter out excess hormones.  Symptoms that they are not being properly filtered include weight gain, sleep problems, low immune function (frequent colds/flu), mood instability, high blood pressure, bloating, fatigue, low libido, and junk food cravings.
  • Gallbladder Dysfunction – Your gallbladder stores the bile produced by your liver until you eat a meal when it is released.  A lack of bile production in the liver is often at the heart of gallbladder dysfunction.
  • Frequent Illness – This could be related to excess hormones not being filtered properly, but may also be due to the fact that a healthy liver is more capable of filtering pathogens out of the bloodstream.
  • Abdominal Pain – Specifically in the upper right quadrant of your abdomen, this can indicate inflammation or enlargement of the liver.
  • Poor Digestion – Indigestion often occurs when there is insufficient bile production.
  • Weight Gain – Increased toxin levels in the body lead to blood sugar and hormone imbalances, which result in weight gain, even if you are eating healthily and exercising regularly.
  • Skin Problems – Acne, Rosacea, Psoriasis, Dermatitis, Eczema, or Rashes may all indicate that toxins are building up in your body.

 

Love Your Liver:

By reviewing this list, many of us will recognize that we have multiple signs of liver distress.  So what can we do to support this most critical organ?   Let’s look at ways we can love our livers!

  • Reduce Sugar in Your Diet – Including anything with processed or added sugars, fructose in particular.  In some cases, even excessive whole fruits may be too much.  Each person’s situation is unique, and at Body in Harmony, we can help you determine what foods are best suited to your wellness!
  • Nutrition Changes – These may include increased fiber, reducing seed oils and replacing them with healthy fats, reducing fast food and sugar; and eating foods that are especially supportive of the liver.  At Body in Harmony we specialize in helping you devise an eating plan that supports your health from the liver up!  Contact us today for a consultation with our Nutritionist, Katie.
  • Reduce Medications When Possible – Nearly every medication is processed through your liver, so the more you take, the more likely it is that they are leading to liver distress.
  • Reduce Toxins in Your Life – We are all surrounded each day by thousands of chemicals, and only a very small percentage of them are even regulated.  Common pollutants in plastics, cosmetics, and personal care products, gasoline, fabric softeners, candles, and air fresheners, just to name a few, but a far bigger burden on our livers than humans experienced even 100 years ago.  Daily liver support is absolutely essential in the 21st Century.
  • NUCCA – As with all organs, the liver is supported by nerves coming from your Central Nervous System.  When the spine becomes misaligned, the functioning of your liver can become sluggish.  If you’d like to ensure your organs are working to the best of their abilities, we recommend regular adjustments.  Contact us today to schedule a NUCCA consultation!
  • Exercise – Did you know that the loss of just 3-5% of body weight can improve fatty liver?  Even simple exercise can improve overall health in a multitude of ways, including muscle tone, better Circadian Rhythms, and therefore better sleep, and mood improvements.
  • Supplementation – Wise use of supplements can be of great assistance to your liver.  This month we would like to feature the following supplements for 10% off:
    • Standard Process Livaplex – Can decrease elevated liver enzymes (a primary symptom of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease); aids in liver detoxification and fat metabolism; decrease allergic reactions and histamine buildup.  Livaplex is also a good source of zinc.  Contains numerous vitamins, minerals, herbs, and bovine liver.
    • Mediherb LivCo – Helps detoxify excess estrogen and medication.  Protective and restorative of the liver.  Contains Schisandra, rosemary, and milk thistle for cleansing liver support.
    • Mediherb Livton Complex – Also helpful for those who take multiple medications, it is protective and restorative of the liver and helps reduce bloating and flatulence.  Contains globe artichoke, dandelion, milk thistle, and more.
  • Detoxification – At Body in Harmony, we are trained to assist you in a gentle and healthy detoxification strategy.  Detoxification protocols should not be attempted without the assistance of a qualified practitioner.

 

A Note on Detoxification:

There are three phases of detoxification in the human body.

  • In Phase 1, fat-soluble toxins are converted to water-soluble toxins, to prepare them for release from the body.  These may include chemicals, medications, pathogens, or excess hormones.
  • In Phase 2, free radicals are neutralized and prepared to exit the body
  • In Phase 3, toxins are eliminated from the body through urine, feces, lymph, and sweat.

When any one of the detoxification phases is not functioning well, a detoxification protocol will not only make you feel unwell but can also truly endanger your health.  For example, if you are supporting Phase 1, but you are chronically constipated, the toxins you are preparing for release have nowhere to go.  For this reason, detoxification should be approached carefully and with appropriate practitioner guidance.

At Body in Harmony, we are passionate about improving and supporting health from the ground up.  Our liver is central to this approach, and we look forward to helping you develop strategies to Love Your Liver!

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