10 Steps to a Liver Loving Life

WHY IS LIVER HEALTH SO IMPORTANT?

Your beautiful liver has many, many functions, such as helping to digest food, activating enzymes by releasing bile into your intestines, activating immune cells, metabolising excess cholesterol, producing and metabolising hormones, storing and regulating vitamins and glucose. Signs of liver toxicity include fatigue, indigestion, gas, bloating, constipation, heartburn, PMS, acne, psoriasis, pain on the right side of your abdomen, mood issues, bad breath and yellowing whites of your eyes. Your liver needs fresh water, green vegetables, certain vitamins and antioxidants in order to be able to do its jobs properly.

Your liver processes and detoxifies chemicals, heavy metals, drugs and hormones from your body, converting it to urea which is excreted by your kidneys as urine, and via your skin as sweat, or via your bile and gallbladder and into the stool. There are two phases of liver detoxification. Phase 1 may be working smoothly, but if phase 2 is sluggish, then this can cause a possible toxic burden to the system. Phase 1 requires B vitamins, folic acid, iron, magnesium, antioxidants and herbs such as milk thistle. Phase 2 liver detoxification makes toxins less harmful, more water-soluble and ready to be excreted via the bile, urine or sweat. Supporting phase 2 can be done via the master antioxidant glutathione, and its pre-cursor NAC, as well as milk thistle and turmeric. Certain amino acids such as glycine, taurine, glutamine and arginine also assist.

A process known as methylation is also vital within phase 2, and methylation depends upon high levels of vitamin B2, B3, B6, folate and B12 as well as SAM-E and the amino acid methionine. We can get some of these nutrients from dark-green leafy vegetables, organ meats and pasture-raised eggs among other sources. Poor liver function can have a knock-on effect within many aspects of the body. For example, thyroid hormones are made in the liver and gut, and these are important for many functions such as metabolism. So a low functioning thyroid may actually be due to a sluggish liver.

Liver stagnation may also cause chronic inflammation, which could put stress on the adrenal glands due to hormone dysregulation. This in turn may cause depression and anxiety, due to lowered levels of the happy and calming brain neurochemicals GABA, dopamine, serotonin and melatonin.

Food and Lifestyle Suggestions For Liver Health

Increase prebiotic foods for the gut microbiome
Increase probiotic food for the gut microbiome
Increase diversity of fruits and vegetables for the gut microbiome
Include ‘Time-Restricted Eating’ for decreasing inflammation
Stress reduction for increased diversity and digestion
Increase oily fish and omega 3
Amino acids (glutamine, glycine, taurine, cysteine and methionine) for phase 2 liver detox
Include Epsom salt baths
Focus on optimal hydration
Focus on stress reduction
Focus on an anti-inflammatory and keto-green diet

Specific foods to increase

Curcumin EGCG (Green Tea) 
Onions 
Garlic 
Citrus 
Omega 3 fish oils 
Fermented foods (kimchi and sauerkraut) 
Cruciferous vegetables 
Organic where possible 
Berries 
Celery, spinach, cucumber, romaine lettuce 
Steamed vegetables 
Bitter foods for the liver 
SMASH foods (salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines and herring) 
Peppermint 
Coriander 
Turmeric 
Ginger 
Kale 
Leeks 
Limes 
Beetroot 
Olives and olive oil 
Avocado 
Dark green leafy vegetables 
Chia, flax and hemp 
Peppers 
Mushrooms 
Dark chocolate 
Tomatoes 
Cherries 
Sweet potatoes 
Grass-fed meat 
Apple cider vinegar 
Bone broth 
Grapefruit 
Electrolytes (salts) 

Decrease

Alcohol
Processed foods
Sugar
Coffee
Energy drinks
Farmed fish and processed meats

Ten Steps to Loving Your Liver

  1. Remove/reduce inflammatory foods. This includes wheat/gluten, dairy, sugar and alcohol. Avoid excessive sugars and refined carbohydrates too as these raise insulin levels which may cause fatty deposits in your liver. Aim to make your meals include 50% of your plate with green leafy vegetables, 30% protein and 20% complex carbs.
  2. Include liver-friendly foods such as bitter foods which stimulate the gallbladder to produce bile. These include radish, dandelion, turmeric, ginger, kale, artichokes and dark chocolate. Include antioxidant filled foods such as basil, beetroot, ginger and berries, as well as herbs such as coriander, fennel and cumin. In addition to this, include foods high in sulphur, such as broccoli, cabbage, bok-choy and garlic, which will all help with phase 2 liver detoxification.
  3. Also, include green leafy vegetables which are high in folate and which enhance methylation; red cabbage and buckwheat for both phases of liver detoxification; ginger for bile flow and insulin balance; and last but not least lemons which help to break down fat and improve digestion.
  4. Increase fibre to help eliminate toxins from the gut. Soluble fibre adds bulk to the stool and binds toxins, while insoluble fibre will help speed up elimination and may help clear up debris as it passes.
  5. The use of some supplements may help with liver detoxification, but always check with your GP or Nutritionist first. NAC is an antioxidant which helps produce glutathione, the master antioxidant. You could take either of these in supplement form. SAM-E (with B6, B12 and folate) is a neurotransmitter which helps to produce serotonin, dopamine and melatonin as well as protect the liver. Taurine is an amino acid that helps with phase 2 liver detoxification, as well as reducing cholesterol and is even beneficial for brain and heart health.
  6. Fasting is beneficial to your liver, because it gives it a break from continuously having to process nutrients and chemicals from the gut. Toxins and general metabolism create inflammation too, so giving the liver and body a break from eating helps to create a process known as autophagy whereby the cells are able to ‘clean’ out debris and rejuvenate themselves. There are many different ways to fast: you can start with a 12 hour overnight fast and work your way up to a 16/8 fast (16 hour water only), for example.
  7. Movement is key. Deep breathing pushes your diaphragm to massage your liver, creating a massage effect and a flushing effect. It also activates the vagus nerve which helps induce a state of rest and digest across many functions of the body, including the liver. And it goes without saying that exercise is an important part of any wellness routine, but in particular continuous movement, so as not to stagnate the body. Not only will this increase lymph node clearance and blood flow to keep things moving, but it helps with blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity, which are important factors for the liver, which stores the majority of our glucose stores.
  8. In addition to this, an effective hack is to have nice warm Epsom baths as many evenings as you can. Adding magnesium to a warm bath helps your body in many ways as magnesium is calming and relaxing for the muscles and nervous system, but also magnesium helps to draw out toxins from the skin.
  9. It’s important to let go of negative emotions. Hurt, resentment, regret and grief, for example. We do not want to be letting these things manifest inside of us. The liver in particular can be a store for these emotions which the body sees and treats just like any other toxin or burden to the system. Finding ways to release these through yoga, meditation, cold water therapy or simply talking it through with a loved one or someone who is neutral is highly beneficial for our health.
  10. Finally, consider running some tests. If you’re worried about liver damage or just want to improve your health by looking under the bonnet, then the tests I would recommend are firstly a liver enzymes test, which is useful to assess if there is any damage to the liver, plus a fasting glucose test to see if your liver may be burdened with high glucose levels, and also a DUTCH hormone test which shows the phase 2 methylation pathways and can help to assess whether this function needs support.

For further information, feel free to contact me https://laylagordon.uk/contact/