The liver is an incredibly important organ for your digestive system, your metabolism, your health, energy levels, vitality and so much more. The liver is increasingly being found to be a more and more valuable organ over time. In fact, it was known to have over 500 biological functions in the body, functions that have to do with your digestive health, metabolism, cholesterol regulation, hormone regulation and so much more.
One of the most important functions of the liver to understand is that it’s a drainage organ. Meaning, it’s beyond ‘detoxifying’ in the body. To detoxify something is to simply remove it from that specific area of the body. With the liver, it acts as a drainage organ. In other words, what you detoxify can end up in your liver and if your liver is not functioning optimally it can create toxicity within the liver.
Chemicals, toxins, traces of pharmaceutical drugs and anything that you eat or drink, including alcohol as a prime example will affect liver health or leave unhealthy residue in the liver. This is why liver health is vital, you want these things removed from the liver and out of the body so that the liver can continue processing and filtering effeciently and effectively.
What Does The Liver Do?
The real question is what does the liver do in our body? Well, that’s a great question. It is responsible for metabolizing carbohydrates, protein and fat. In other words, it takes these macronutrients and extracts what it needs to in order to create energy and value in the body from them. It is important to know that carbohydrates are generally fairly easy to digest but protein and fat are much more difficult to digest as they are more dense and take up more resources by the liver and body as a whole.
If you want to have your fat and protein go to the right places on your body, your liver health matters.. a lot.
The liver also produces bile. Bile is a digestive fluid that is produced by the liver and stored in the gallbladder. Bile is basically salt, waste products and cholesterol. That is the ‘recipe’ for bile. Bile helps to carry waste products out of the body as well as to break down fats in the digestive process. Another very important function of the liver.
But that’s not all. Remember the liver has over 500 vital functions in the body!
The liver also helps to regulate cholesterol, which isn’t all ‘bad’ like the media would suggest. Cholesterol actually helps to produce testosterone, vitamin D and other hormones. It also helps to create cell membrates, which protect the cells. Cholesterol is actually pretty important! The issue becomes when there is too much or too little cholesterol, but that’s another article for another day. It’s important to note that the liver plays a role in sex hormones, thyroid hormones and stress hormones. Think about how valuable each of these hormones are in the body. If you’ve had challenges with sex, thyroid or stress hormones, perhaps your liver needs support.
The liver also plays a vital role in transporting the number one nutrient throughout your entire body. Can you guess what that nutrient is? It’s oxygen! The liver produces hemoglobin which is a molecule in red blood cells that carries oxygen throughout your entire body. When the liver is healthy oxygen gets to where it needs to in the body.
The liver also has the very important job of cleaning and purifying the blood. Imagine that, all the blood in your body is being filtered by your liver. By keeping the liver healthy you’re actually keeping your blood healthy as well.
This is just the tip of the icebreg and I could go on for hours, but you’re probably not searching to have a degree in ‘liver health’ today. I’ll leave you with this, the liver is vital for blood health, hormone health, metabolism, sexual health, muscle, fat burning, digestive processes, oxygen transporation and much much more. If that’s not enough to support the health of your liver on a day to day basis, I don’t know what is!
Foods & Nutrients For Liver Health:
Eat More Beets:
Beets are rich in betaine which is a compound that is found in beets and other foods. Beets just happen to be a good source of it. Betaine promotes both cardiovascular and liver health. Studies have found that it breaks down the fatty acids within the liver. This supports the function of the liver with one of it’s most difficult and energy exhaustive jobs, fat metabolism. This is also really great for people with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Long story short? eat more organic beets!
Eat More Lemon, Lime & Citrus:
Lemons, limes and citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and the like are incredibly valuable for liver health. These are rich in specific enzymes, acids and compounds that help to cleanse the liver. Grapefruit is especially beneficial as it contains naringin and naringenin, two valuable antioxidants that reduce inflammation and protect the liver. Citrus fruits are a great way to start your day. I often start my day with lemon or lime water for liver health!
Leafy greens such as collard greens, spinach and arugula are packed with antioxidants which help to manage free radical damage and stress caused to the liver. Leafy greens are also great sources of fiber which benefit the liver and colon as well. Eat more salads, or add leafy greens to the bottom of your plate adding cooked food on top of it. I do this all the time as it’s a great way to get the antioxidants, enzymes and fiber from the leafy greens while still having a plate of warm food that I enjoy which is filling. Keep in mind tha kale is not a leafy green that you want to consume. This article explains why kale is actually not supposed to even be in our diet in the first place!
Microgreens & Sprouts:
The liver loves microgreens and sprouts. These are nutritionally dense green vegetables that are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, minerals and all sorts of liver supporting compounds. Microgreens and sprout, such as mustard microgreens, broccoli microgreens, pea shoots, radish sprouts, sunflower shoots and wheatgrass all support liver health with a high levelf of blood purifying agents, nutrients and antioxidants for protection. The lesson? eat more microgreens and sprouts for liver health.
Eat More Wild Caught Fish:
Wild caught fish is rich in both vitamin a and vitamin D. The liver has a symbiotic relationship with vitamin D as it helps to produce it, so any food source or sunshine that gives more vitamin D to the liver helps to strengthen and fortify it. Wild caught fish also contains anti-inflammatory omega 3 which helps to protect the liver from stress and damage caused by free radicals.
Raw honey is one of my favorite foods for liver health. I first noticed that my liver loved raw honey when I started taking it daily while working out. I noticed that I looked more cut, and had better muscle definition. I could only attribute this to the raw honey that I was consuming daily. Raw honey gives your liver glucose, an important fuel to function. Raw honey will help to sculpt your body and muscles as well as give your liver the fuel it needs to repair from a long days work. A little raw honey in a relaxing tea at night will improve your sleep quality also!
Apple Cider Vinegar:
Apple cider vinegar contains certian enzymes, acids and compounds that help make the liver’s job easier. It also supports anti-inflammatory pathways, promotes fat loss, improves protein metabolism and helps to support healthy cholesterol levels. A lot of functions of the liver are supported with ACV. The challenge here is that apple cider vineger is acidic and really shouldn’t sit on the teeth. For this reason I take this apple cider vinegar complex capsule. This link will give you 15% off to support your liver health today.
Eat Liver Organ!
Maybe your grandmother said it, maybe your mother said it. Maybe they both said it! Liver organ meat is nutritionally going to support your liver better than anything else. You want to ensure you’re getting liver from a grass fed free range animal such a cow, bison or venison. An animal that was’t caged inside away from the sun, fresh breeze and wild grass to chomp on. I am not a fan of the taste of liver at all so I take a supplement called ‘organ complex’ which is grass fed heart, liver and kidney all in one capsule. You can click here to get 15% off that capsule. If you’re getting the acv capsule as well, click here to visit their store and get the ACV complex as well as the Organ Complex for 15% off in the Paleovalley store.
Eat Sulfur Rich Foods:
Sulfur is a crucial nutrient for liver health because it is quite literally needed to produce glutathione. Glutathione is the body’s master antioxidant and is needed by the liver. If you consistently eat sulfur rich food such as onions, garlic, leeks, broccoli and shallots your liver will have more available sulfur to make glutathione, your body’s master antioxidant.
Get More Sunshine!
Lastly, you want to ensure to get in the sun more often. The sun will provide your body with vitamin D which supports the body in reducing inflammation as well as reducing chronic liver disease. Sunshine light beyonds your body, blood and lymphatic system beyond vitamin D as well. Light is a nutrient and as long as we are hydrated and have antioxidants in our body to counteract the oxidative affects of too much sunshine, we’ll be alright!
And there you have it. Ten solid ways to support the helath of your liver in on angoing basis. If you participate in these liver supoprtive and restorative techniques your liver will be healthier and stronger at doing it’s job. Your body needs your liver to be healthy. Your health goals depend on your liver health. Whether you wish to burn fat, gain muscle, have healthier sex hormones, reduce stress hormones, balance cholesterol levels, whatever it may be. Your liver plays a large part, so take care of it!
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