Because the liver is an internal organ that works behind the scenes, it’s generally not one of the top most talked about. But focusing on you liver health, while always important, becomes even more-so as you age.
When your liver is not working well, it could result in a cluster of possible symptoms, including:
- Skin breakouts
- High cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Emotional fluctuations
- More frequent allergy attacks
- Hormonal imbalances
- Joint pain
- Brain fog
- Weight gain
- Bad breath
- Chemical sensitivities
- Blood sugar problems
- Liver cirrhosis
- Inability to drink alcohol
- Pain in your right upper abdomen (opposite side from the stomach)
As you can see, liver health is connected to a host of other things in your body. So let’s get know the liver a little better. Following are seven important functions a healthy liver performs. After reading these, we’ll discuss how you can detoxify your liver to enjoy a better quality of life.
7 Amazing Things Your Liver Does
Here is a list of some of the many functions that your liver performs daily:
- The liver converts toxic substances into harmless ones that can be then released from your body. This is considered one of the top three functions your liver performs. Some of these toxins may be part of your day-to-day environment. Here’s just a short list of everyday toxins you could be exposed to daily:
- Homes may have toxic carpets that produce volatile organic compounds that you breathe in.
- Bathrooms are cleaned with toxic chemicals.
- Laundry is washed with chemicals that often contain estrogen mimickers and endocrine disruptors.
- Yards use toxic weed resistant chemicals which are also endocrine disruptors and have been documented to cause cancer.
- There are chemicals and pesticides in the foods grown and consumed.
- Drugs and medications are recognized as toxins.
- The liver converts nutrients from foods you eat into substances like amino acids, different types of fats, glucose and fiber that the rest of your body can use immediately. Without good liver function, digestion suffers immensely — and good health quickly becomes bad. If you can’t assimilate nutrients properly, it’s only a matter of time before symptoms arise in the body.
- The liver helps your blood clot by producing clotting proteins. Without clotting proteins, if you were to suffer a cut or large wound, you could bleed to death.
- The liver metabolizes carbohydrates. By metabolizing carbs, your liver plays a role in blood sugar management and control. When blood sugar levels are too high, the liver takes the sugar from the blood and then stores it as glycogen where it can be used later.
- The liver stores fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in the liver for times your body needs them. Vitamins A and E are important antioxidants that quench free radicals. Vitamin D plays an important role in kidney health and acts as a hormone in the body. It also boosts your immunity and keeps you from experiencing depression. Vitamin K is important for clotting.
- The liver breaks down fat for energy. When you are losing weight, your liver is active in the process of fat cell destruction. The fat is then broken down for energy. This should be motivation enough to keep your liver healthy.
- Lastly, the liver produces bile for fat emulsification (critical to cholesterol levels). The fat you eat has to be emulsified so it can be easily transported through the bloodstream in smaller particles. The smaller particles will also be combined with proteins to create HDL-cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, and VLDL-cholesterol. Your liver is responsible for not only the emulsification but the decisions on whether or not to make more HDL-cholesterol, more LDL-cholesterol and more VLDL-cholesterol.
Now, after reviewing this list of all the amazing things your liver does for you, you can see how imperative it is to take care of your liver. To reset your liver or give it a boost from time to time and optimize its functioning, many health care professionals will suggest taking measures to detoxify and cleanse your liver.
How Do I Make My Liver Healthier?
Detox programs address liver health by offering liver cleanses. Be aware that many detox claims are not supported by science. There are, however, safe and natural ways to cleanse the liver.
These methods often include herbs such as turmeric, curcumin, milk thistle, artichoke, Oregon graperoot, boldo, fennel and/or other herbs. In fact, taking turmeric, or better yet curcumin, daily is one of the best health habits you can start for your liver.
The most effective way to keep your liver health is not a juice cleanse; it's making sure you are eating a clean, healthy diet full of fruits and vegetables, exercising regularly, drinking plenty of water, and taking steps to reduce stress.
Consult your health care professional on liver health and how to improve it if you are concerned with the functioning of your liver or notice more than a handful of the symptoms from the list above. Paying attention to your liver’s health will help boost other important organ functions too and raise your overall health and wellness.