The brain might rule the roost up top, but if you travel down the body, the liver is king (or queen).
The liver is the body’s detox center and performs a number of functions ranging from eliminating toxic elements to maintaining the chemical balance in the body. Among all the essential functions of the liver, detoxification is the most important and highlighted function.
The liver is capable of transforming nutrients from the diet into useful substances that benefit immune function. The liver also makes about 400 to 800 milliliters of bile, a substance that helps with fat digestion and elimination of toxic substances from the body. From environmental and food toxins to waste products made by our own bodies, we count on the liver to help us get rid of an assortment of toxic elements. It’s easy to see why we need to prioritize liver health.
Indeed, we have to give tons of credit to this dynamic organ for continuously performing so many vital functions. Any disturbance in regular liver function can lead to a number of health problems. Despite the monumental task of keeping the body toxin-free, the liver is quite capable of performing other tasks as well. But we must remember that even our main detox organ needs to go through a little detox therapy itself from time to time.
Think about how we treat a spent or clogged filter in a motor vehicle or ventilation system. Those filters remove impurities too, but to ensure that the overall machine keeps working properly, the filter needs to be cleaned or replaced periodically. Your liver needs the same periodic TLC.
When liver function isn’t operating at its best, you might experience some symptoms that indicate it’s time for a liver detox. Symptoms include:
- Chronic headaches
- Acne and other skin problems
- Hormonal imbalance
- Improper digestion
5 Effective Ways to Cleanse Your Liver
Most of us only get one shot at a liver, so it’s in our best interest to treat the one we’ve got with care. We are capable of limiting the exposure to certain toxins, like ones found in the foods we choose to eat, the amount of alcohol we consume, the medications we take, and the personal care products that we use. There are, of course, some toxin exposures we don’t have as much control over, like the ones floating through the air and water supplies. Regardless of whether toxin exposure is self-inflicted or not, everyone can benefit from these simple ways to cleanse your liver.
1) Increase Your Vitamin C Intake
If there is one vitamin to focus on for liver health, it would be vitamin C for its powerful antioxidant properties. This essential vitamin performs many functions to ensure proper liver function. Vitamin C play a substantial role in regenerating liver cells that get damaged by toxic elements.
Vitamin C also boosts the levels of glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant, which is crucial to neutralizing free radicals in the liver.
2) Consume a Potassium-Rich Diet
While we were all concerned about getting enough calcium to stave off osteoporosis, we overlooked the importance of potassium. The majority of Americans are not meeting the recommended potassium intake of 4,700 milligrams a day.
Potassium and other electrolyte minerals help to regulate fluids levels in the body. More specifically, potassium counterbalances sodium’s effect of retaining fluid in the body. By reducing water retention, toxins and waste products are more likely to be excreted. The fluid –balancing property of potassium also plays a role in maintaining the integrity of cell membranes.
Low levels of potassium have been linked to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a condition caused by a poor diet that encourages excess fats storage in the liver, resulting in diminished liver function.
Potassium-rich foods to add to your diet include sweet potatoes, apricots, leafy greens, lentils and bananas.
3) Increase Your Water Consumption
Water constitutes a significant part of the body and is essential for survival. It keeps the skin hydrated and the joints lubricated as well as helps to maintain pH levels. Water is also perhaps the single most important nutrient when doing a liver cleanse, or any cleanse for that matter. Water is the vehicle through which toxins and wastes are eliminated from the body.
Aim to drink at least your body weight in ounces of water every day. Start your day off with a glass of filtered water upon waking. Some health professionals suggest adding things like lemon juice or spices to your water to intensify the cleansing properties, but the proof that this actually works is mixed. When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with plain, non-carbonated water.
4) Increase Your Fiber Intake
Fiber works synergistically in the body and offers a wide range of benefits. If you don’t make a point of adding lots of fiber to your diet, then now is the time to start doing it. Eating a significant amount of fiber is extremely important because it helps the liver work at an optimal level. Liver function depends on what we eat and excessive consumption of fried foods and sugar can affect the performance of the liver. When you are eating unhealthy food, you are actually leaving the most vital organ of your body defenseless.
High-fiber foods help to draw toxins, waste products, and excess compounds like vitamins and cholesterol, out of the body. Without enough soluble fiber, bile gets recirculated instead of being excreted and replaced with fresh bile. The recirculated bile becomes concentrated with toxins that the liver keeps trying the re-filter. This cycle puts more stress on an already taxed organ, while the recirculating sludge promotes inflammatory conditions.
Make sure you’re eating plenty of whole fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, and lentils to increase your daily fiber intake. A minimum of 28 grams of fiber a day for adults is suggested.
5) Take Liver Detox Supplements
It’s scary to think that one in four of us will develop fatty liver disease, which is exactly what it sounds like – a buildup of fat in the liver cells. Excessive consumption of alcohol is a common cause of the disease, but a poor diet is the root of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The disease can be treated and liver function restored by diet and exercise to reduce the fatty liver risk factors such as obesity and diabetes. But even if you’re not at risk of developing a fatty liver, exposure to environmental toxins, harmful additives in food, and medications over time lead to a toxic buildup and dysfunctional liver cells. Getting help from some of the best liver detox supplements available works in your favor no matter how liver function was minimized.
Milk Thistle Seed: One of the most liver-friendly herbs is milk thistle seed, which contain a flavonoid called silymarin. This naturally occurring compound has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, protects the liver from toxins, and repairs damaged liver cells.
NAC and Glutathione: N-acetylcysteine (NAC) helps the body replenish its glutathione stores and has powerful antioxidant powers of its own. Glutathione is a key nutrient in the liver detox process, and while the body it capable of making it, production decreases with age and health status. NAC sparks the production process and has been seen to reverse some types of liver damage.
Turmeric and Curcumin: The vibrant golden powder of turmeric root is a well-known antioxidant and anti-inflammatory thanks to the naturally occurring compound called curcumin. Turmeric prevents some toxins from morphing into more dangerous compounds that cause liver damage. It also nurtures the bile duct, which you want running smoothly when you do a liver flush protocol. Both whole-herb turmeric and curcumin extract supplements are readily available.
Dandelion Root: The same weed that is the scourge of many gardeners turns out to be a good thing for liver health. Thought to be a liver tonic in folk medicine, dandelion encourages better flow of bile for improved digestion and liver cleansing. It also protects liver tissue form oxidative stress and may help the liver shed excess stored fat.
There are, of course, other liver health supplement with vitamins, minerals, and herbs that support liver cleansing and overall liver health. You can also follow a regimented liver cleanse or liver flush protocol to clear out accumulated toxins and restore liver function.
You can’t leave your liver defenseless because the reduced function is likely to affect the performance of other important organs as well. Make it a priority to take care of your liver so that it can take care of you. Remember that you can control your exposure to some toxins that can potentially damage your liver. Good habits that include a balanced diet and the additional of liver health supplements go hand in hand with optimal liver function.