How To Improve Liver Health In 5 Easy Steps
How’s your relationship with your liver? Have you ever asked yourself how to improve liver health? Not many people pay much attention to their organs—meanwhile, they work day and night keeping us alive and healthy. Amongst all of our organs, the liver is perhaps the most important one we have. The liver has a dual role actually: it is the main detoxification organ—constantly filtering everything we come into contact with—as well as a digestive organ. These days many, many people have overburdened livers that are speaking up.
If we pay close enough attention, we can hear the liver communicating with us. Here are just a few ways your liver lets us know when it is in trouble:
- Abdominal distention/bloating
- Pain or discomfort in the liver meridian (right upper abdominal area under the rib cage)
- Excessive belly fat (or beer belly).
- Trouble digesting fatty foods
- Gallbladder issues
- Digestive problems (acid reflux/heartburn, etc.)
- Skin problems (acne, eczema, dark spots on the skin)
- Inflammation, excessive sweating, overheating of the body
- Weight issues (trouble putting on weight or losing it)
- Mood imbalances (particularly overly aggressive, angry, or depressed)
Because the liver is such a central organ when it comes to the health of our bodies, it’s fair to say that just about any other signs of dis-ease could be related back to a troubled liver. Some other common dis-stress signals from the liver may include, high blood pressure, fatigue, high cholesterol, sleeping problems, problems with vision and even snoring.
Instead of trying to cover these things up, recognize that symptoms are a good thing, they are communication signals and if we listen up we can take action before things get too bad.
These are all signs that your liver is blocked or congested with toxicity—in extreme cases this is called fatty liver disease. When the liver is congested, the cells that would normally filter the blood become inflamed and are not able to help the liver clean the substances that pass through it.
Remember, the primary function of the liver is to clean out used blood circulating through the body on its way back to the heart. If the liver is not able to do its job, we end up recycling toxic blood back into the body. This can cause many severe imbalances, like skin problems, autoimmune issues and accelerated aging.
What weakens the liver?
Heavy alcohol consumption isn’t the only thing that weakens the liver. Remember, the liver filters everything we take into our bodies. That means the liver can essentially become weak by getting just about anything in an unhealthy excess. However, there are specific things and habits that can dramatically weaken the liver.
For example, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), is directly associated to a high carbohydrate diet and the consumption of processed foods (and also foods high in sugar). No wonder this disease is so prevalent in the U.S. These are the staples of most of America!
Additionally, today in our modern world we are heavily exposed to many toxins that weaken the liver. Just to name a few, we have:
- Pesticides & Herbicides
- Water contaminants
- Food preservatives
- Processed & Refined foods
- Heavy metals
- Electromagnetic radiation
- Drugs & Medications
It’s also important to know that aside from our food, water, and external environment, that our hormones are also filtered through the liver. Chronic stress, poor sleep and negative emotions can damage the liver just as badly as toxic food and drugs! Also, because the liver is working non-stop, habits of excess (such as overeating, binge eating and splurging on food) can weaken the liver greatly.
Once the body ingests a great deal of toxins, the liver has to manage it all. When its workload becomes too much the toxic build-up inhibits many functions in the body. For example, the liver is also a digestive organ so when it is weak we experience many problems such as:
- Digestive issues (gas, bloating, digestive disease)
- Inability to digest, assimilate, and utilize nutrients
- Decreased oxygen uptake
- Acidic conditions
- Hormone problems
- Skin problems
- Low sex-drive
- Weight issues (trouble losing weight or putting it on)
- Decreased immunity (prone to disease)
Cultivating vibrant liver health
The best time to cleanse the liver and cultivate new energy is during the spring. The spring is a time of cleansing in nature and as a major cleansing organ, the liver will want to naturally purge the body for its own spring cleansing. However, we can support the liver any time of the year.
As we discussed, it is certain (toxic) lifestyle choices that contribute to an unhealthy liver. An unhappy liver can cause many issues, it can even manifest in emotional frequencies like anger, depression or irritability. If these emotions become chronic and continue long-term, they can lead to liver disease. It’s best to be able to freely move throughout an emotional scale. It’s not necessarily bad to feel negative emotions; it’s only harmful when they are chronic or persistent.
On the other hand, if the liver is healthy then energy flows and we will find pleasant emotions more reachable and will find ourselves to be very constructive, creative, and decisive.
How to improve liver health: Our tips
In order to keep the liver healthy of course the first step will be to stop overburdening it with the lifestyle choices we mentioned. From there, let’s look at a few ways we can support the optimal health and functionality of our liver.
1. Eat your greens
First up in our tips for how to improve liver health is to eat more green vegetables. Green foods are supreme nutrition for the liver. Not only do they contain chlorophyll, which cleanses the blood and liver, they contain many other bitter compounds that stimulate the cleansing of the liver. Good examples of greens include arugula, dandelion, parsley, cilantro, collard greens, watercress, and especially any cruciferous veggies like kale, broccoli, and brussel sprouts.
These foods contain naturally occurring isothiocyanates and their metabolites have been found to inhibit the development of chemically-induced cancers of the liver. Avocados are also green foods to assist with liver detoxification. They contain glutathione and sulfur, which detox the liver. Ideally, 80% of everyone’s diet would be made up of these medicinal foods!
2. Drink a glass of warm lemon water with MSM
Second-most important in our list of how to improve liver health is not just drinking water, but water with a twist! Water isn’t just hydrating, it is nature’s solvent. Equally as important as consuming enough water is consuming the right kind of water—quality matters! To enhance the quality of your water, be sure to seek out spring water from wild sources.
You can also improve the detoxification abilities of water with a few simple additives. Adding lemon stimulates the liver to flush toxins by stimulating the release of bile. MSM (methylsulfonylmethane) is important for detoxification because it makes cell walls more elastic, making it easier for the cells to release toxins.
Adding vitamin C (lemon juice) to MSM makes the MSM more effective. Doses can range from 500-6000 mg daily. Start off slow and increase dosage gradually as you feel comfortable.
3. Avoid inflammatory foods
Next up for how to improve liver health is to watch what you eat in the first place. Give your liver less to do in advance. That can go a long way. Along with the obvious toxic and inflammatory substances that damage the liver (like drugs, medications and alcohol), there are some foods that are highly inflammatory foods as well. These are what I call “non-foods” they are the heavily-processed and refined foods, or what people call junk foods.
However this is an inappropriate term because there is usually no food in them, they are simply junk! Then there are what many people consider to be comfort foods, they are usually rich in such sugar, flour, and inflammatory oils such as vegetable oil, canola oil and trans fats.
Other inflammatory foods would include pasteurized dairy, high-heated meat, overly-cooked food in general and any food you might be intolerant too. It’s best to minimize those options and choose fresh, whole foods like vegetables, berries, and properly prepared whole grains, and moderate amounts of healthy animal products (that, again, are also prepared correctly).
4. Move daily
Move it or lose it! Exercise is tip 4, in our answers to the question of how to improve liver health. A sedentary life, especially one with a lot of sitting down has been directly associated with nearly every disease, especially diabetes. Without adequate movement the body will suffer. Movement does not need to be strenuous physical activity, it can be as simple as walking, yoga, gardening or going for a bike ride.
However, get a variety of movement to move lymphatic fluid, stimulate digestion, massage the organs, get the blood circulating and aid the detoxification process. At the very least, stretch daily! Especially between long periods of sitting.
5. Try Chinese herbs
And finally, the last in our tips for how to improve liver health is to take a virtual trip to the Orient! Maybe not on an airplane, but at least in your diet. Jing Herbs are especially helpful for aiding the liver. While there are many different types of herbs to support liver detoxification there are a few exceptional herbs I’d recommend experimenting with. To name a few there are Milk Thistle, Bupleurum, and Schisandra. All of these actually help cleanse all the detoxification organs; the liver, lungs, kidneys, intestines and skin, with special emphasis on the liver.
Amongst the many, many herbs for liver health perhaps the best is, reishi. This mushroom is often referred to as the “mushroom of immortality.” It is both a liver detoxification herb rich in SOD (superoxide dismutase)—a powerful antioxidant necessary for liver detoxification—and also an adaptogen herb, which helps support and regulate immune function and protects the liver.