Love Your Liver!

Wow, our Liver sure does a lot for us.

The liver performs hundreds of chemical functions in our body, including storing nutrients and metabolizing carbs, fats, and protein. What else does the liver do?

  • The liver is a filter; it screens absolutely everything that goes through it. In fact, the liver filters toxins from 1 quart of blood every minute. The cells in our liver try to neutralize any toxic chemical, including caffeine, heavy metals, alcohol, pesticides and herbacides, and food additives. Once neutralized, they can be excreted from our bodies.
  • As we digest the food we have eaten, the nutrients we absorb must first go through the portal hepatic vein into the liver for processing.
  • The liver filters out the nutrients and then processes those nutrients so that they can be used, stored, or released.
  • The liver converts glucose into glycogen for storage, helping to regulate blood sugar levels.
  • The liver also plays a major role in the processing of protein by taking the amino acids (the building blocks of protein that we actually absorb) and assembles them into proteins for our use.
  • The liver regulates fat levels in the body and also manufactures bile, which is then stored in the gallbladder and released to help breakdown fats that we eat.
  • The liver regulates hormones in our bodies. Hormones are messengers that tell our cells what they should be doing.

What are some ways that you can help support your liver?

  • Lemon Water: Squeeze half a lemon in a glass of room temperature water to gently stimulate the liver and digestive system. Do this in the morning 20-30 minutes before breakfast to get the body ready for food. Try this a couple of times a week to help support the liver.
  • The liver is often overburdened with fatty and refined foods. Too much fatty foods, like fast foods, will overwork the liver, and it might not be able to keep up with bile production, affecting the breakdown of fats. Refined foods are usually high in refined sugar, which also puts stress on the liver. Read labels to see how much sugar is in the foods you are buying.
  • Stress: when we are stressed, our entire digestive system is compromised. Foods high in B vitamins, like whole grains, will help support our bodies.
  • More water: lots of water will help flush the body of toxins
  • Fiber: fiber plays an important role in getting rid of toxins from the body. Ensure you are eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes (beans and lentils). Apples contain large amounts of pectin, a fiber that will help with elimination.
  • Beets will help gently stimulate the liver’s detoxification process and it will also help with elimination. Check out my borscht recipe online.
  • Use turmeric on the foods you are eating, as turmeric will help stimulate the liver and aid detoxification. Turmeric also helps increase bile flow. Use it on chicken and on stir-fry’s.
  • Vegetables like kale, broccoli, and cauliflower also provide many nutrients that will help support the liver.
  • Garlic helps cleanse the blood, so add it to salads, soups, stews, or eat it roasted!

So give your liver some love!

Carrie Dancey, RHN
Sources:
Perrault, D., & Dean, A. Nutritional Symptomatology: A Workbook for CSNN students. 2003.
Matsen, J. Eating Alive: Prevention through Good Digestion. 2002.
Haas, E. Staying Healthy with Nutrition. 21st century edition. 2006.
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