Your liver is the second largest organ in your body and there is a good reason for it being so large. Blood from your digestive system is passed through the liver before it goes to your heart to be circulated. The liver ‘cleans’ this blood, ensuring it is safe for the rest of your body.
Functions of the liver
We all seem to think of the liver in terms of it only detoxifying alcohol and drugs, but it actually does so much more than this. Functions of the liver include:
- metabolising carbohydrates and regulating blood sugars
- metabolising and storing fats as well as producing cholesterol
- metabolising proteins
- removing and excreting alcohol, some drugs and some hormones
- storing iron and copper as well as vitamins A, B12, D, E and K.
- activating vitamin D
- producing bile which is necessary for both digestion and excretion.
No wonder it is so large!
In addition to being so large and integral to our health, the liver is also a fascinating organ in that it regenerates and heals itself. However, it can only regenerate if scarring or cirrhosis has not already occurred. So it is important that you take care of your liver while it is still healthy – you really do need to love your liver!
How to look after your liver
Because your liver is constantly regenerating itself it is important to be aware of how you are caring for it on a daily basis. Think about what you have eaten and drunk so far today – have you given your liver the chance to repair itself or have you ‘bombarded’ it with harmful substances? The most common harmful substances that we tend to take in daily are alcohol, toxins, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, medications, herbs and supplements. Try to follow the 5 steps below which will give your liver a bit of a chance to keep itself in top form and so keep you healthy.
5 Steps to a healthier liver
- Reduce your alcohol intake. If you do like a drink or two, try to have 2-3 alcohol-free days a week. Try to make these days consecutive so your liver gets a good chance to rest.
- Detox your diet, your home and your skincare products. You’ll be surprised as to just how many toxins and xenoestrogens we consume daily, as well as use in our cleaning and skincare products. Your liver has to process all of these toxins and the more you use the harder your liver has to work. It needs a little break once in a while!
- Cut back on your sugar and refined carbohydrates. You may be surprised to hear this, but it is not only fat that is now implicated in the increasingly common liver problem known as ‘fatty liver’ or NAFLD (Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease) – sugar, refined carbohydrates and even excess fruit are too.
- Steer clear of high fructose corn syrup. High fructose corn syrup is a cheaply produced sweetener found in so many processed foods it is frightening. It’s not just in sweets and sodas, it’s even in many breakfast cereals, flavoured yoghurts and even salad dressings! According to NIH Research Matters, once inside our digestive system, high fructose corn syrup disrupts our intestinal membranes, plays a role in the development of chronic inflammation and adds to fatty liver disease.
- Be aware of what the medications, herbs and even supplements you take are doing to your liver. According to the American College of Gastroenterology there are some commonly used medicines, herbs and supplements that can damage the liver. For example, acetaminophen (paracetamol), statins (used to lower cholesterol), iron and Vitamin A can all harm the liver if used in excess. Although supplements can help many health conditions, I like to do a hair mineral analysis test with my clients so we can see exactly which nutrients their bodies are lacking in and which nutrients they have an excess of.
How to manage liver disease
If you do have a liver disorder such as NAFLD, cirrhosis or chronic hepatitis then please get in touch and we can discuss the homoeopathic approach to liver disease.
Author: Ruth Hull. Ruth is a homoeopath and integrative health consultant with a special interest in working with people struggling with chronic fatigue, burnout or insomnia. She is author of Anatomy, Physiology & Pathology for Therapists and Healthcare Professionals as well as three other health-related textbooks. She is based in Perth, Australia, runs the online educational organisation, The Health Lounge, and also consults online: http://www.ruthhull.com/
Hull, R. Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology for Therapists and Healthcare Professionals. Lotus Publishing: Chichester