By Meghan Trompetter
When it comes to our internal organs, the liver is a powerhouse for detoxification and helping to keep our bodies feeling energized, rejuvenated and revitalized. Over time our liver can become extremely burdened by exposure to toxins from the food we eat, the air we breathe and even the products we use.
Seems like a lot of work for just 1 organ? No need to think twice about whether or not the liver can handle it - why you ask? Because the liver has over 400 functions to conquer on its own - it’s safe to say it knows what it’s doing!
Known as the cleanser and filter of the bloodstream, it is of vital importance. Being our largest organ, it is also one of the hardest working in the body. From collecting nutrients in food and supplying our bloodstream with rich vitamins and minerals, it aids digestion, balances hormones and rids the body of harmful toxins and pathogens.
The list goes on for the endless functions of the liver, but our focus this month is detoxification. How does the liver’s role in the body aid in such a process? Let’s start with the obvious - the liver filter can remove a wide range of micro-organisms such as bacteria, fungi, viruses, and parasites from the bloodstream. We know that these invaders are not wanted in the body, especially building up in the blood and invading deeper parts of the body. This can cause chronic infections and poor health, so it is important to protect our liver from an overload of these micro-organisms.
How and where do these not-so-nice invaders even get into our body?
A major contributor is food - even on a perfect organic diet, they can sneak through the cracks. Once our digestive system has broken down our food, small particles enter the blood from the intestine and are routed to the liver for filtering. There the liver separates the nutrients, needed for building blocks, from the waste chemicals that need to be removed from circulation. The liver converts amino acids into proteins to build lean muscle mass and enzymes. It produces bile that squirts back out through the gallbladder in our intestinal tract to digest fatty foods. Additionally, the liver also stores energy from sugar as glycogen for later release. It truly works like a factory that receives, filters and then repackages substances for use in the body or for safe removal.
Let’s break this process down a little further. The liver detoxifies harmful substances in two steps:
- the first step is to use enzymes and oxygen to burn toxins, especially fatty ones, so they are more water soluble, making them easier for the body to eliminate.
- The second step is the proces of combining partially processed toxins with sulfur or amino acids so they can be removed through bile or urine.
It is important for both of these steps in the detoxification process to be in balance, with enough nutrition for each step to work. If toxins aren’t broken down fast enough during the first step, they are recirculated through your blood until the liver has the material it needs to handle them. Hence why a diet full of rich nutrients and plentiful antioxidants is essential: it aids the liver completing this large process.
It’s hard not to think -after reading the above- that our livers do A LOT. It also makes sense that having a healthy liver contributes to a healthy life, and vice-versa. So giving the liver a helping hand at least once a day should be part of your healthy living regime. I mean the organ has over 400 functions, it’s the least we can do!
How can you help?
There are plentiful, easy at home tips and tricks you can start today to help the process and provide the liver to be the best it can be. Let us share the simple tools to get our giant, in-house filter, mighty.
Rise and Shine
Have a large, warm glass of H2O with a squeeze of organic lemon upon waking. This acts as a gentle cleanse to the liver and promotes detoxification. It stimulates bile production, cleanses the stomach and stimulates bowel function.
Remember we mentioned that the liver needs oxygen to burn toxins, especially fatty ones? By exercising and moving the body you are increasing blood flow and oxygen intake in the body, sending the liver oxygen and aiding the detoxification process.
In order to flush out toxins, no pun intended, your liver needs water. Water acts as a carrier for other materials, moving them from the liver, through the kidneys or through our sweat glands. Keeping hydrated increases energy levels which will boost metabolism, makes exercising more comfortable and improves overall health.
Eat the Rainbow
Antioxidants give color to foods, so imagine all the different colors you see at your market and their potential? For example, beets get their vibrant, red color from betanin, carrots get their orange color from beta-carotene. Both are antioxidants.
Now from experience, one does not need to over excite and grab the exotic super fruit from across the globe. Local fruit has just as much, if not more, antioxidant powers to it than one might think. The key here is variety. Switch things up and aim for two or three different colors each day. Juicing can play a wonderful role in maximizing your antioxidant load through colors of the rainbow.
An Apple a Day
Apples make the liver happy. Apples are an excellent source of vitamins and minerals that help in the detox process, especially pectin. A form of soluble fiber which absorbs toxic metals and other contaminants from the blood stream.
When we look at the body it is best to look at the body as a whole. Everything works synergistically in an incredible and beautiful cycle that nature has created for us. It goes without saying that if the liver is functioning well, the rest of the body is too. And on the flip side, if the liver isn’t functioning at top notch, it’s now easier to see that the rest of the body may fall behind.
Detoxing and cleansing can be somewhat gimmicky and trendy, so it is important to consult a healthcare practitioner for guidance if you are considering taking it to the next level aside from gentle home care. Feeling good feels good! And giving the body the right tools to replenish and thrive is the best thing we could do for our bodies at this time.
Any additional tips on how you help your liver? Experiences you want to share? Go ahead and post them in the comments below. We love learning more.
- Preventative Nutrition - a course by Julia O'Loughlin
- Fundamentals of Nutrition - a course Julia O'Loughlin
Meghan Trompetter was born by the sea in beautiful Vancouver, BC. Inspired by the natural beauty around her, it was inevitable the healing ways of forests and mountains moved her into a career of Holistic Health. A dedicated yogi, Kombucha brewer, plant-based enthusiast and born world traveller, Meghan can tell you a thing or two about keeping balanced. Graduating with a diploma in Natural Nutrition and a Yoga Alliance 200hr certified yoga instructor, Meghan can be found writing and inspiring the holistic lifestyle she lives through her Health and Wellness blog.