Your liver is the unsung hero of your body. It’s the workhorse of the digestive system, performing 500 functions that help keep your body in tip-top shape. Of those 500 functions, the most important are metabolic.
Anything that is eaten or consumed, whether it’s food, alcohol, medicine or toxins, gets filtered by the liver. Once we ingest food, it goes through the stomach and intestine, gets absorbed into the blood and goes to the liver.
Given the critical importance of the liver, you need to know how to ensure it stays in peak condition. Here’s what you need to know.
The Primary Functions Of Your Liver
Coming in as the largest organ in your body, the liver has many primary functions. Each function is just as important as the last. Here is a short list of the most essential functions:
- Bile Production: Bile helps the small intestine break down and absorb fats, cholesterol, and some vitamins. Bile is made of bile salts, cholesterol, bilirubin, electrolytes, and water.
- Supporting Blood Clots: Vitamin K is necessary for the creation of certain coagulants that help clot the blood. Bile is essential for vitamin K absorption and is created in the liver.
- Fat Metabolization: Bile breaks down fats and makes them easier to digest.
- Metabolizing Carbohydrates: Carbohydrates are stored in the liver, where they are broken down into glucose and siphoned into the bloodstream to maintain normal glucose levels. They are stored as glycogen and released whenever a quick burst of energy is needed.
- Vitamin And Mineral Storage: The liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12. It keeps significant amounts of these vitamins stored. In some cases, several years' worth of vitamins is held as a backup. The liver stores iron from hemoglobin in the form of ferritin, ready to make new red blood cells.
- Metabolize Proteins: Bile helps break down proteins for digestion.
- Filters The Blood: The liver filters and removes compounds from the body, including hormones, such as estrogen and aldosterone, and compounds from outside the body, including alcohol and other drugs.
Keep Your Liver Healthy
Just in case the list of the liver’s primary functions isn’t enough to convince you to keep your liver healthy, I’ll give you a few more reasons.
First of all, as I mentioned earlier, your liver performs 500 different functions, all essential to the health of your body. That’s 500 different things your liver is responsible for. That’s impressive when you think about it. Do you own anything that can do 500 different things? My first thought is your computer or smartphone, but have you actually done 500 different things with it?
Anything that can do 500 essential things for our body deserves to be taken care of. And secondly, and probably the most important reason to keep your liver healthy, is because if it goes, we go. We cannot live without our liver. If your liver dies, you die right along with it.
Healthy Foods For Your Liver
Sorry if the mention of death has you a little nervous, but there’s no need to worry. We are in the driver's seat when it comes to the health of our liver, and there are many things we can do to ensure it stays healthy.
Eating foods that are good for our liver is an easy first step. Here are 5 foods and drink that you can have today that will provide a boost to your liver.
- Coffee. This one’s for all the coffee lovers out there. Studies have shown that drinking coffee protects the liver from disease, even in those who already have problems with this organ. Drinking coffee may also reduce the risk of developing a common type of liver cancer, and it has positive effects on liver disease and inflammation. If that doesn’t justify your daily trip to Starbucks, I’m not sure what will.
- Grapefruit. Grapefruit contains two main antioxidants, naringenin and naringin, that naturally protect the liver. The protective effects of grapefruit are known to occur in two ways; by reducing inflammation and protecting cells.
- Blueberries and Cranberries Several animal studies have demonstrated that whole cranberries and blueberries, as well as their juices, can help keep the liver healthy. Consuming these fruits for 3–4 weeks protected the liver from damage. Blueberries also helped increase immune cell response and antioxidant enzymes.
- Nuts. Nuts are high in fats, nutrients, including the antioxidant vitamin E, and beneficial plant compounds. This composition is responsible for several health benefits, especially for heart health, but potentially also for the liver
- Fatty Fish The fats found in fatty fish are beneficial for the liver. Studies have shown that they help prevent fat from building up, keep enzyme levels normal, fight inflammation and improve insulin resistance.
Healthy Activities For Your Liver
Now that you have a few powerful liver foods added to your diet, you’re ready to add in some activities. Here are 5 things you can do daily to keep your liver healthy.
- Manage your medication The medications you take are broken down in the liver after being metabolized by your digestive system. That means you can damage your liver if you use medication incorrectly. Taking more than the prescribed dose, or mixing medications can all damage your liver.
- Maintain A Healthy Weight Obesity (or even just being overweight) puts you at risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Exercise Regularly Regular exercising helps your body burn triglycerides for fuel, which can help reduce liver fat. Following an exercise programme that includes both aerobic exercises and weight training can improve your liver function.
- Stay Hydrated Your body needs to remain hydrated. Toxins that affect your kidneys, liver and bowel function will build up when you become dehydrated.
- Limit Alcohol Consumption Drinking alcohol in excess can cause damage to your liver cells. Over time, liver damage causes a build-up of fat in your liver, inflammation or swelling and scarring.
Six Steps To A Clean Liver
If you’re just now learning all of this new information about your liver, and you’re worried it might be too late, we’ve got a simple solution for you. All you need is a liver cleanse to knock you back onto the right track. A liver cleanse helps get those extra toxins out of your body so your liver is back in tip top shape in no time. Here are six steps to get you your clean liver.
- Remove The Toxic Foods Processed foods, hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, convenience foods, fast foods, and lunch meats are notoriously toxic to your system. When you eat these you are putting the health of your liver at risk as these foods basically work against liver health. Cut them out completely.
- Drink Raw Vegetables A lot of people find It nearly impossible to eat all of the raw vegetables you need to make your liver cleanse effective. That’s where juicing comes in. With juicing, you can easily get the 4-5 servings of the vegetables you need.
- Get Your Potassium Potassium-rich foods help to lower systolic blood pressure, lower cholesterol and support a healthy cardiovascular system, in addition to helping cleanse your liver.
- Coffee Enemas Okay, this isn’t for the faint of heart, but it works. Coffee enemas help with constipation, reduce fatigue, and aid in liver detoxification. The enema will target the lower portion of your large intestine and can thankfully be done in the comfort of your own home.
- Milk Thistle, Dandelion, and Turmeric Supplements Yes, that’s dandelion like the ones you spend all spring and summer removing from your yard. A dandelion supplement along with milk thistle and turmeric will aid in your liver cleanse.
- Eat Liver If you don’t have the stomach for it, you can take a liver supplement. Liver from healthy, grass-fed cattle or chicken is rich with vitamins A and B, folic acid, choline, iron, copper, zinc, chromium, and CoQ10. It’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods we can eat.
Your Liver Is Constantly At War
The main job of your liver is to remove all the toxins from your body. That means that your liver is constantly being bombarded by the worst things that make their way into your body. That’s why it is very important to take care of your liver. If you don’t take care of it, there are certain liver disorders that you can be afflicted with.
Luckily, your liver is protected against disease in two main ways. First, It can regenerate itself by repairing or replacing injured tissue. Second, the liver has many cell units responsible for the same task. Therefore, if one area is injured, other cells will perform the functions of the injured section indefinitely or until the damage has been repaired.
It is still possible for you to come down with a liver disorder if you aren’t careful. Different types of liver disorders include hepatitis, cirrhosis, liver tumors, and liver abscess to name a few. The two most common disorders are hepatitis and cirrhosis.
There is more than one type of Hepatitis, but they all have very similar symptoms. However, they are all contracted in very different ways.
- Hepatitis A - Is the most common and spreads easily from person to person like most other viruses. It is responsible for more than 2 million deaths a year.
- Hepatitis B - Is acquired through exposure to infected blood, vaginal fluids, or semen.
- Hepatitis C - About 15% of those with hepatitis C may have been exposed to infected blood products before widespread blood testing began.
- Hepatitis D - Can only affect those that already have hepatitis B.
Cirrhosis is the second most common liver disorder. It's the final stage of many different forms of liver disease and involves permanent scarring of the liver that can severely impact the proper functioning of the organ.
Respect Your Liver
I hope after reading this you have a newfound respect for your liver. It plays a vital role but doesn’t get nearly the attention or respect it deserves. Everyone knows the importance of keeping your heart and lungs healthy, but the importance of liver health is often lost on most people.
As you can see now, the liver is vital to your well being and should be treated as such.