Many people don’t realize how important it is to look after their liver in order to be in good health.
The liver is responsible for many important functions which affect the entire human body. Some of these include cleansing the blood of harmful contaminants and breaking down exhausted hemoglobin cells, regulating hormones such as insulin which controls blood sugar and energy levels, storage of vitamins and minerals, production of bile for digestion of fats, and the processing of proteins obtained from food into usable form. Needless to say, when the liver is stressed or overworked, every other system is negatively affected.
Unfortunately, with all of the environmental toxins and hidden poisons which most of us encounter and absorb into our bodies on a daily basis, it is very easy for the liver to become toxic itself. For this reason, it is crucial to know how to aid this most important of organs in flushing unwelcome materials out of itself and out of the body. Take a look at the following signs and methods to naturally detoxify your liver.
Sign 1: Unexplained Weight Gain
With a sluggish liver, calorie reduction and hours spent at the gym per week mean little; that weight will keep piling on. The body’s tendency to store unfiltered toxins in its fat cells is just one reason for this. You see, the liver is also responsible for metabolizing fat. When it’s running sluggishly, fat will simply circulate from the gut through bile and right back to the organ.
Sign 2: Allergies
A properly functioning liver creates antibodies that attack allergens. When it gets sluggish, though, the body stores those allergens. Your brain responds by producing histamine – a chemical meant to ‘mark’ allergens for removal. When too much histamine builds up in your body over an extended period of time, you wind up with allergy symptoms like headaches, itchiness and fogginess. This point is especially important if you’ve only recently developed seasonal allergies; your body may have temporarily lost its ability to process those allergens.
Sign 3: Chronic Fatigue
Dr. Edward Group says chronic fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of liver toxicity. Toxins disrupt muscle metabolism, producing aches, pains and physical fatigue. According to Dr. David Bushcer, this gets worse when a ‘backlog’ of toxins takes down the immune system. Over time, this chronic fatigue can give way to moodiness, depression and angry outbursts.
Sign 4: Excessive Sweating/Body Odor
The liver is kind of like a computer; when it gets overworked, it becomes sluggish – and hot. Because it’s such a large organ, it easily transfers that heat to the rest of your body, which attempts to cool itself by sweating excessively. This excessive sweating can lead to funky body odor.
Sign 5: Stubborn Acne
All those pesky toxins that build up in your liver cause hormonal imbalances. Those imbalances, in turn, lead to skin problems like acne. No amount of external cleansing will get rid of acne that’s caused by a sluggish liver.
Sign 6: Bad Breath
Do you feel like, no matter how much your brush your teeth and floss, your bad breath keeps coming back? As Dr. Frank Lipman reports, it could be a sign of liver malfunction. Fetor hepaticus occurs when foul-smelling toxins accumulate in the body. It tends to make breath smell musty and fecal-like. If you notice one or more of those symptoms, speak with a doctor or naturopath to confirm the cause. If it is indeed a sluggish liver, have a look at this post to learn about foods which detox that organ.
- Boost Your Glutathione: Glutathione is an antioxidant which the human body natural synthesizes from amino acids L-cysteine, L-glutamic acid, and glycine. This nutrient not only functions to prevent oxidative damage to cells, it also plays a key role in supporting many of the liver’s detoxifying functions. While our bodies produce a moderate amount of this important antioxidant, in most cases it isn’t enough to counter the amount of toxins to which we are exposed every day. For this reason alone, most people have a glutathione deficiency and that means a toxic liver. One of the most important steps a person can take to detoxify and repair the liver is to bolster the body’s natural production of glutathione with supplements such as this one by Nature’s Answer or through changes in the diet (which are covered in depth below.)
- Take Time to Exercise: Thirty minutes of vigorous exercise each day strengthens the circulatory system, facilitating more efficient transport of oxygen and nutrients to cells as well as the movement of toxic materials out of the body through the sweat glands and bowels. Just be sure not to over-do it as excessive physical activity can actually cause an overload of oxidative damage which will exhaust the body’s supply of antioxidants like glutathione.
- Remember to Stay Hydrated: In order to flush out toxins, your liver needs adequate water. (Think of it like rinsing out a sponge.) Water acts as a carrier for other materials, moving them from the liver, through the kidneys or out through the sweat glands. Keeping your body hydrated also increases energy levels which will boost your metabolism, allow you exercise more comfortably, and improve your overall health.
- Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods: In order to protect cells from oxidative stress which may result from a vigorous detox plan, you will want to include foods containing nutrients such as vitamin A, beta-carotene, vitamin C, B-vitamins, zinc, and selenium in your diet. In addition to being antioxidant, each of these vitamins and minerals also offers its own auxiliary benefit which will aid your liver in flushing out contaminants.
- Feed Your Body Thiols: Vegetables like garlic, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus all contain high levels of thiols – the sulfur-containing organic compounds which give these foods their signature and often pungent odors. Inside the human body, thiols act as chelating agents, meaning that they bind to toxic metal ions at a molecular level, rendering them inert, then transporting them out through the bowels and urinary tract. Furthermore, protein-rich foods such as eggs, poultry, pork, and dairy products also contain high levels of the thiol L-cysteine, one of the three amino acids responsible for synthesis of the detoxifying antioxidant glutathione. Remember, thiols are powerful compounds which maintain their funky smells as they pass through the body. Be sure to enjoy a variety of foods from both of the above-mentioned groups in moderation to give your liver the full spectrum of detoxifying organosulfur support without accidentally turning yourself into a living, breathing stink bomb!
- Try Spirulina: the blue-green algae commonly known as Spirulina – is a single-celled microscopic organism which has long been recognized for its incredible liver-protecting capabilities. Not only is Spirulina a powerful anti-oxidant, it is also packed with nutrients, essential fatty acids, and chlorophyll, all of which contribute to the liver’s detoxifying activities.
- Consider Milk Thistle: there are many herbs and herbal cocktails which claim to be able to detoxify the liver, milk thistle (also known as St. Mary Thistle) is considered to be the most effective. With a track record of over 2,000 years backing its hepatoprotective qualities, milk thistle may be able to give your liver the support it needs to flush out a major toxin overload. As with any herbal supplement, milk thistle has the potential to negatively interact with other medications. If you intend to use it, you’ll definitely want to consult with your physician first.
- Have an Apple-a-Day: While they may not always keep the doctor away, eating fresh organic apples will make your liver happy. Apples are an excellent source of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients which aid the body’s detoxification efforts. Apples provide flavonoids which lighten the liver’s workload by assisting with its production of bile. Furthermore, apples are rich in pectin, a form of soluble fiber which absorbs toxic metals and other contaminants from the blood stream, so the liver doesn’t have to process them.
- Increase Your Arginine: During the detoxification process, you’ll want to be sure that your liver has the right tools in adequate quantities to handle all of the toxic byproducts that your body can throw at it. One of these crucial biochemical tools is arginine – the amino acid which aids the body in neutralizing and flushing out ammonia from your system. While the human body is capable of synthesizing L-arginine on its own, you may need to supplement your natural supply if your liver is in particularly bad condition. If you aren’t certain about whether or not you need to increase your arginine levels, as always you should consult with your doctor. When you’re ready to try arginine, you can purchase supplements here. This semi-essential amino acid may also be obtained from foods such as yogurt, whey protein, lean meats, nuts, seeds, and soy products.
- Cut Back on Fructose: Detoxification can be a strenuous process for your liver. With this in mind, you’ll want to do everything that you can to avoid adding to this hard-working organ’s to-do list. High-fructose foods like juice, soda, syrups, and other sweet liquids are not only taxing on the liver, processing these super-sweets also takes precedence over other functions such as detoxification. Give your liver a break by avoiding any foods containing high-fructose corn syrup, added fructose, honey, agave, and other liquid sugars.