The liver is the largest internal organ. It is responsible for a multitude of functions including: the regulation of glycogen stores (that’s your energy storage), protein synthesis, the production of hundreds of hormones and enzymes, regulation of cholesterol levels, and the removal of toxins and heavy metals.
With a healthy liver you feel energetic, strong, focused, and in tip-top shape. However, in today’s over-processed, caffeine-charged, toxin rich society our liver is often overtaxed leaving us feeling less than our best.
So what are some signs of a toxic liver?
- Fatigue – We all get a little tired now and then. But, if you are waking up every morning feeling tired, drained, and more exhausted than the day before, an overburdened liver could be to blame.
- High cholesterol – The liver regulates the production and elimination of cholesterol. The liver is in charge of it’s production and it does a good job of it. However, we try to “help” the liver do its job when we eat foods high in saturated fats and triglycerides. When we ingest too much cholesterol the liver cannot filter it out of the blood fast enough and it builds in our arteries.
- Digestive issues – Liver aids digestion by producing a variety of enzymes necessary for the breakdown of protein, fats, and carbohydrates. When the liver is not functioning properly it can result in abdominal bloating, indigestion, gas and bowel disorders. The inability to lose weight is also a side effect of a sluggish liver.
- Blood sugar issues – If you frequently feel irritable, confused, or slightly nauseous if you wait too long between meals or if you have signs of high blood sugar, your liver may be part of the problem. The liver regulates the storage and release of glucose into the blood. Release too little and you feel weak and shakey. Release too much and blood sugar levels rise leaving you feeling thirsty, tired, and at risk for diabetes.
- Weak immune system – The liver supports the immune system by storing lymphocytes and killer cells which protect against dangerous invaders, and heals wounds by making the clotting factors in your blood. If you get sick easily the cause could be a toxic liver.
A toxic liver can also cause mood changes, premature aging, foggy thinking, and stiff, achy muscles and joints.
Some of these ailments can be caused by more serious conditions so if you have one or more of these symptoms it might be best to visit your doctor for a checkup.
However, if you have an otherwise clean bill of health you may just need to detoxify your liver.
How to detoxify the liver
- Reduce your exposure to pollutants, cigarette smoke, fertilizers, preservatives, dyes, and alcohol.
- Increase your intake of raw fruits, vegetables, and legumes as well as healthy fats.
- Decrease the amount of meat you eat.
- Drink ½-1 gallon of water per day.
- Exercise 4-5 days per week.
- Do a liver cleanse. Liver cleanses are often a protocol of various herbs and nutrients designed to clean the liver. My favorite herbal cleanses are Puretrim’s Livermaster and Global Healing Center’s Liver Cleanse Kit.
Taking the time to detoxify your liver can help you look and feel your best physically and mentally as well as aid in the prevention of some diseases. Just a few easy adjustments to your daily routine and diet can make the difference between feeling your best or feeling tired and sick.
Here is a delicious recipe to help you get started:
Quinoa Asparagus Salad
- 1 cup red quinoa, rinsed
- 2 cups green tea, steep for 1-2 minutes
- 1 pinch sea salt
- 1 cup fresh or frozen organic asparagus, cut in 1″ pieces
- 1/2 cup scallion, finely diced
- 1 clove fresh garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup carrot, finely diced
- 3-4 sprigs parsley, coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons flaxseed oil
- 1-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- Bring brewed green tea to a boil in a 1 quart sauce pan.
- Add quinoa, salt, asparagus, scallion, garlic, and carrot. Reduce heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until all the liquid has been absorbed.
- Drizzle with flaxseed oil and lemon juice.
- Garnish with parsley.
Serve warm or cold.