Love Your Liver & Add Years to Your Life

Love Your Liver & Add Years to Your Life

Plus: 15 Tips To Keep Your Liver Healthy

People who have struggled for years with excessive weight and/or chronic health problems may be interested to learn that the liver may well be the missing part in the jigsaw puzzle to achieve good health.

Chances are, you do not give much thought to your liver and may not be aware of the myriad of functions it performs every second of every day.  Admittedly, it is an easy organ to ignore—its work is mostly silent and it usually does not give off very many early warning signs that something is amiss, unless you know what signs or symptoms to be alert to or what to look for.  Knowing that your liver goes about its business quietly does not mean you should take it for granted.  This amazingly complex organ affects virtually every physiological process, either directly or indirectly, and if your liver is not working up to par, it will likely affect all other areas of your health.

Among the common causes of premature death in the United States—cardiovascular disease, cancer, and diabetes (to name a few)—comes liver failure.  It accounts for over 4,500 deaths a year—that is more than road traffic accidents—and costs the government and the taxpayers more than 2 billion dollars a year.  However, liver dysfunction plays a part in most of these other diseases as well.  In the U.S.A. obesity has become the first most preventable cause of premature death – and a major driver of what is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Functions of your liver

The liver is the cleanser and filter of the bloodstream and is the greatest multi-tasker.  It is the largest organ in the body and has an enormous amount of blood flowing through it every minute of our lives. It is between 8 – 9 inches in its greatest diameter, 5 – 6 inches in its greatest height and 3 – 4 inches in its depth, weighing around 42 to 56 ounces.  As a result, its function—or dysfunction—has an incredibly important impact on our health.

Breaking down and eliminating toxins.  When this function is compromised, toxins remain in the system, causing an immune reaction and associated problems such as inflammation, increased likelihood of infections and food allergies, sensitivities, and intolerances.

Breaking down and eliminating excess hormones.  When this function is not working optimally, all kinds of hormonal imbalances can occur, from pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) to an increase in perimenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes and night sweats, to acne and skin problems.

Balancing blood sugar.  When our blood sugar levels are high (for example, just after consuming sugary foods and drinks), the hormone insulin triggers the liver to store the excess as glycogen.  When blood sugar levels fall, the liver releases glycogen to be broken back down into glucose.  If the liver fails in this task, the result is chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, weight gain, and ultimately, diabetes.

Producing bile.  This vital substance helps digestion, by breaking down fat and removing excess cholesterol.  Without it, cholesterol levels rise and many digestive disorders can result, including bloating, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, food allergies and intolerances and the malabsorption of nutrients, especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Storing nutrients.  The liver is a storehouse of many essential vitamins and minerals, including the vitamins A, D, E, K and B12, and the minerals iron and copper.

What Causes Liver Problems?

Alcohol – As you may have guessed, the number one cause is excess alcohol.  More than 400,000 people in the USA are admitted to hospital for alcohol-related conditions each year.  Half of all the alcohol consumed in American is consumed by only ten percent of the population.  One in three adult Americans is a heavy drinker, with a sufficient liquor habit to be indistinguishable from an alcoholic.  This behavior wreaks havoc on livers.  Prevention is the way to go: stop drinking and add vitality and energy back into your life.

Viral hepatitis – This infection damages the liver directly.  Worldwide, hepatitis and other infections such as malaria are major causes of liver failure.

Diabetes & Obesity – Being overweight and/or diabetic, conditions affecting one in four people over 40, are major causes of fatty liver.  These promote, and are in part caused by insulin resistance, which means you cannot keep your blood sugar levels even.  That is since sugar cannot get into the cells, as it should, blood sugar levels remain dangerously high.  The excess sugar is converted to fat, mainly in the liver where some of it stays.

Drugs — As little as 10 paracetamols can kill you – and 8 can harm you.  A common cause of acute liver failure is paracetamol overdose; 4 grams (8 x 500mg tablets) pushes up those liver enzymes AST and ALT. While paracetamol is the most common drug-induced cause of liver failure, there are many other drugs, which are also liver toxic. If you are taking medication, do check the side effects of liver toxicity. These could even include some herbal remedies, so it is worth checking the liver toxicity of any herbal medications you may be taking. Excess vitamin A can also contribute to liver problems, especially if you already have liver damage. Vitamin A is stored in ‘stellate’ cells in the liver and if these are overloaded, it can lead to liver damage. My advice, therefore, is not to eat organ meats, which are particularly rich in vitamin A, especially if you take a daily supplement containing retinol.

Gut & Digestive Problems – There is a direct link between gut health and liver health. Keeping your digestive tract healthy, therefore, perhaps by supplementing with occasional probiotics and avoiding any food allergens, helps the liver. When the gut wall becomes more permeable, more material that is undesirable enters the blood, which the liver has to clean up. Alcohol, NSAID painkillers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, antibiotics and food allergies can all irritate the gut. Glutamine powder (a teaspoon) last thing at night can help heal the gut, but too much of an amino acid or dietary protein is bad news if you have a damaged liver, since it will be unable to detoxify protein properly.

We still have a lot to learn about this often-abused organ, however. In fact, the cause of a quarter of all cases of liver failure is unknown. If your liver is somewhat damaged, combinations of all the above may just tip it over the edge.


Symptoms of an unhealthy liver

Symptoms partly depend on the type and the extent of liver disease. In many cases, there may be no symptoms. Signs and symptoms that are common to a number of different types of liver disease include:

  • Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, liver spots on the skin, poor hair texture and slow hair growth
  • Darkened urine
  • Mental confusion, spaciness
  • Sluggish elimination, general constipation alternating to diarrhea
  • Food and chemical sensitivities, usually accompanied by poor digestion, and sometimes unexplained nausea
  • PMS, headaches and other menstrual difficulties
  • Bags under the eyes
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual weight loss or weight gain and the appearance of cellulite, even if you are thin
  • Anemia and large bruise patches indicate severe liver exhaustion
  • Vomiting
  • Light-colored stools
  • Abdominal pain in the upper right part of the stomach
  • Malaise, or a vague feeling of illness
  • Skin itching and irritation
  • Varicose veins (enlarged blood vessels)
  • Unexplained fatigue, listlessness, depression or lethargy, lack of energy
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Low-grade fever
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Depression

There are four stages to the declining health of your liver:

  • The first stage is an overload of toxins and a lack of supporting nutrients, which causes certain liver enzyme pathways to start to become overloaded and consequently to under-function.
  • Then you start to accumulate fat in the liver, officially called steatosis or fatty liver
  • Too much of this and you start to get an inflamed liver
  • This inflammation damages liver tissue causing fibrosis and cirrhosis, in other words, cell death.

Since the liver is the central clearinghouse of your body, detoxifying toxins, making fat from sugar, sugar from fat, and breaking down proteins, plus thousands of other critical functions, this final stage has many repercussions. Your immune system starts to break down, you lose blood sugar control and start experiencing insulin resistance – a precursor to diabetes type 2 – excess fats accumulate elsewhere in the body, leading to cardiovascular disease among other degenerative conditions.

Fatty Liver precedes liver disease

More than ever before in the history of humankind, human beings need to have healthy livers to break down the chemicals that have crept into our environment. If you talk to radiologists and gastroenterologists who are looking at people’s livers, today they will tell you that the condition “Fatty Liver” affects more than 50% of people over the age of 50!

Fatty liver is also known as NASH, which stands for Non-Alcoholic Steatorrhoeic Hepatosis or Non-Alcoholic-Fatty-Liver-Disease (NLFLS), which are terms that just mean that your liver is being invaded with fat!  A fatty liver is one that contains an excessive amount of fat and the normal healthy liver tissue is partly replaced with areas of unhealthy fats.  In such a liver, the liver cells and the spaces in the liver are filled with fat so the liver becomes slightly enlarged and heavier.  The liver has a greasy yellow appearance and may show an elevation of the liver enzymes.

Signs and symptoms of a fatty liver

  • Extreme tiredness and fatigue
  • Overweight, especially in the abdominal area
  • Cannot seem to lose weight
  • Elevated cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood
  • May have diabetes Type 2
  • May have Syndrome X
  • May have problems with your immune system and “catch” whatever bug is going around.

The good news is that a fatty liver can be reversed but this can take some time – years in some cases.  If you are overweight and find it difficult to lose the excess weight, it is important to look at all the factors relevant to your present weight and state of health.  Apart from diet and nutritional deficiencies, the most important factors are –

  • Insulin resistance or Syndrome X
  • Fatty Liver disease.  The liver contains an excessive amount of fat and the normal healthy liver tissue is partly replaced with areas of unhealthy fats.
  • Toxicity

You may have a build-up of fat-soluble toxins (such as insecticides & pesticides), drug metabolites or waste products of metabolism in your fatty tissues and liver.  This slows down the metabolism of the fatty parts of your body and also over-burdens your liver.  This means that the liver burns fat less efficiently.  Gentle and regular detoxification is very helpful when trying to lose weight.  Drinking plenty of water, raw vegetable juices and liver toning herbs and formulas will help the detoxification process.

Here are 15 tips to keep your liver healthy:

  1. Cut back on alcohol or avoid it altogether.  Do not have more than one drink of alcohol a day (e.g. 4 ounces of wine), and preferably not every day.
  2. Have a dark green leafy vegetable salad every day.
  3. Drink at least eight to ten glasses of purified water every single day and drink it throughout the day.
  4. Eat foods high in sulphur such as garlic, onions, and eggs.  Sulphur is vital for healthy liver function.
  5. Avoid refined carbohydrates and sugar.  The liver prefers bitter to sweet tasting foods.
  6.  Eat lots of antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables which help to detoxify the liver and boost your immune system.
  7. Take a B-complex vitamin every day, especially vitamin B12 which significantly reduces jaundice, anorexia, and serum bilirubin and helps to strengthen the function of the liver as well as fight stressors
  8. Keep your digestive tract healthy.  If you have digestive problems explore the possibilities of food allergies and eliminating sensitive foods from your diet for several months to give your liver and body a rest.  Consider supplementing with probiotics.
  9. Supplement with at least 1,000 milligrams of vitamin C daily.  Studies show that vitamin C helps protect the liver.  Even doses as low as 500 milligrams daily helps prevent fatty buildup and cirrhosis.  5,000 mg of vitamin C per day appears to flush fats from the liver.
  10. Eliminate red meats, partially hydrogenated fats
  11. Lose weight if you are overweight.  Excess weight puts added stress on your liver and causes imbalances and hormonal irregularities.
  12. Give yourself a liver detox twice a year in the spring and fall, using extra vitamin D from the sun to help.  Your liver is probably the most stressed in the spring and early summer (one of the reasons that people with skin problems get more flare-ups in the spring).
  13. Increase your intake of liver friendly nutrients, such as dandelion and milk thistle extracts, and remove all toxins from your body.
  14. Get plenty of exercise and fresh air daily.
  15. Avoid eating sugar and all artificial sweeteners as these are toxic to the liver and cause fatigue and hypoglycemia.  Choose fresh raw fruits as a natural source of sweetener and eat in a balanced way as much as possible.

BONUS TIP #16:  Do a 3-day juicing detox and cleanse program!  Juice detoxing is the fastest, and safest (biochemical) method of removing unwanted weight and toxins, while increasing physical well-being, helps you to stay slim, feel energized, healthy, and vital, and is a huge help in breaking of dependencies and addictions.

Over time, with reduction and removal of toxins, everything simply starts to work better — from your joints and muscles to your immune system. Your skin will glow, and people will remark that you look younger and healthier. And there’s a good chance your doctor will notice a difference too at your next check-up.  Even if you feel relatively healthy, a juicing detox is a wonderful preventative measure against aging and possible future ill-health.

A liver that is loved and healthy will make you look much younger!

A healthy liver will support your heart in the full experience of JOY!

A healthy liver will give you amazing VITALITY AND ENERGY!


Hi! I'm Deirdre Rawlings, a personal Certified Health Coach, Holistic Nutritionist, Master Herbalist, Naturopathic doctor, Sports Nutritionist, Speaker, Author, and a trained Plant-based Chef. I practice a holistic approach to health and nutrition to help you to uncover the root cause for symptoms and disease so you can live a life that restores and supports your wellness, growth, and highest self. Read More . . .

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