Do you care about your liver?
Seems a silly question, but how much thought do you actually give it? Besides the heart, your liver is probably the single hardest working organ in your body and like your heart; you only have one of them….ever. I pay my heart plenty of heed; I mean you can feel it chugging away. While many of us monitor our heart rate during exercise or at times of illness, we ignore the liver as it just continues to do its stuff, quietly and more often than not, very efficiently.
Our liver performs 100s of different functions; it stores sugar and minerals as fuel, and helps the body to break down fats. It also filters toxins from your body such as alcohol, environmental pollutants and tobacco as well as food additives. It is clear that a properly functioning liver is vital to our physical well- being, so how do you recognize that your poor liver is crying out for help? What are the signs and what actions should we be taking to make sure our liver is healthy?
6 signs that your liver is overworked:
Fatigue and loss of energy is one of the main indicators that your liver is stressed and overworked. There are many possible reasons for feeling tired but chronic fatigue coupled with any of the other signs is likely to mean your liver is unwell. Fatigue is a result of your body working overtime to repair the stress on your liver.
- Change in skin color
When your liver is not working efficiently it is not able to effectively remove the toxins in your system. This can lead to a build-up of toxins in your body causing a yellow pigment called bilirubin to develop. If your skin or nail color changes from its normal appearance to sallow, sickly looking yellow color, then it is a strong indicator that your liver is overworked. It is also a sign that some clean eating and a liver detox are in order.
- Aches and pains
One of the many functions of the liver is to cleanse and create new blood. If your liver is already being overburdened then your body won’t be able to supply sufficient amounts of blood to your muscles, tendons and other tissue. The result of this inadequate blood flow is joint and limb pain, lack of flexibility and possibly even dry eyes.
- Problems with digestion and weight issues
Digestive issues are another firm indicator of a stressed liver. Symptoms might include indigestion, constipation and abdominal bloating. You might also experience weight gain or be unable to lose any pounds even when you are counting the calories. When your liver is overworked, it is unable to effectively break down your food and properly lubricate your intestines which results in the digestive issues mentioned above.
- Mood swings
When your liver is being overworked, you might find that your emotions take a severe hit. Symptoms include anger, frequent irritability and even bouts of depression. Decision making can become more difficult and you might find yourself becoming less rational especially in combination with fatigue.
- Darker than usual urine
If your urine takes on a darker than normal color, it can be a strong indicator that your liver needs a break. Dark urine is a sign that your body is not taking on sufficient water.
How to Detox your Liver
So, you have established that your liver is overworked and stressed out. What next? How can you get it back into tip top working order?
While today the market is full of detox tips and diets, there is nothing new about the idea of detoxification. Many religions have used fasting as a means of purifying the mind and body for centuries. Hippocrates, as ever before his times, advocated fasting as a way to improve health over two thousand years ago. In today’s modern world, where we are prone to burning the candle on more than one end as well as encountering a multitude of toxins, what is the best way to ensure our liver is healthy?
Ten Tips to Detoxify your Liver
1. Go on the wagon
I know that for many of us it is easier said than done but there is no getting around one simple fact. Booze is bad for your liver. You might like it but your poor little overworked liver certainly does not. Drinking too much for too long can result in very serious liver dam
When you drink alcohol, your liver will be working overtime and using a huge amount of its energy simply trying to get rid of the alcohol when it could be doing something more productive instead. It is one of the reasons that you will find it near impossible to lose weight unless you make a firm commitment to kick the booze. Alcohol also has a high calorie count with no nutritional value. Drinking too much for too long can result in very serious liver damage and may eventually lead to serious disease like cirrhosis.
2. Cut the Caffeine
Like alcohol, caffeine is known to be one of the liver’s biggest enemies. The toxins in caffeine are deposited in your liver causing the liver to work especially hard just to excrete them. Try to replace your morning cup of Joe with a refreshing lemon water or a healthy cup of herbal tea instead. teas like green tea and oolong are full of healthy antioxidants that can help to detox your liver.
3. Stay hydrated with lemon water
Drinking plenty of pure filtered water every day will reduce the risk of dehydration and help to detoxify your liver. Aim to drink between 2 and 3 liters daily to ensure that the toxins are flushed away.
You will fill better and your liver will be delighted with you. For a really refreshing drink, add the juice of a freshly squeezed lemon. Lemons juice is a well-known antioxidant and as well as being genuinely thirst quenching is credited with a variety of health benefits.
Click on the following link for a detailed look at the health benefits of lemon water http://healthyfocus.org/the-real-benefits-of-lemon-water/
4. Drink plenty of green tea
It is difficult to imagine a drink that is better for your health than green tea. Green tea has been drunk in Asian cultures for centuries for a number of medicinal purposes. Green tea is a great alternative to your morning cup of coffee, especially if you want to give your liver a break. Green tea is a rich source of catechins which are a natural antioxidant. Drinking 3 to 5 cups of green tea a day will help flush the toxins from your system and boost your liver’s ability to operate efficiently.
There is a more thorough look at the green tea diet here http://healthyfocus.org/green-tea-diet/
5. Avoid damaging food
Watching what you eat is very important when it comes to your liver’s health. Try to cut out processed foods as well as food that is high in preservative content. Fatty food is also damaging to your liver and will result in it becoming clogged. Help your liver to cleanse itself by cutting out fast food, deep fried fats and other food which contains a lot of preservatives. Try to also avoid food that contain artificial sweeteners and food coloring …. no more M&M’S.
6. Eat the Right Stuff
As well as avoiding the wrong food, make sure that you add plenty of clean, fresh produce to your diet. Many vegetables are a rich source of nutrients such as beta carotene which help to regenerate the liver and help it to flush toxins. Dark, leafy greens like spinach, chicory and cabbage are filled with vitamins and nutrients that help to stimulate proper liver function.
Try to buy organic food if possible because herbicides and pesticides contained in non-organic fruit and vegetables are toxins damaging to your liver. Raw vegetables are even better as they are more nutrient and mineral rich. Food that is high in vitamins A and C and that your liver will be grateful you chose includes:
Broccoli, garlic, grapefruit, squash, kale, Brussel sprouts, avocados, apples and onions.
As well as detoxing your liver, eating well will also help you to control your weight and benefit your health in many, many ways..
7. Herbal supplements
Certain herbal supplements such as milk thistle, artichoke and dandelion and burdock root are known to help the liver rid itself of toxins. An herbal supplement is not necessary but might help as part of a liver cleansing regime.
8. Magnesium supplements
You might consider taking magnesium supplements to improve your liver’s well-being. Magnesium is known to promote bile production which helps cleanse the liver and gallbladder. Epsom salts are rich in magnesium; if you have some to hand, you could simply dissolve a tablespoon of salts into a warm glass of water and drinking it once or twice a month.
In addition to being a beautifully colored, fragrant spice, turmeric is great for your liver. It promotes good liver function helping you to get rid of those unwanted toxins. Turmeric gets most of its benefits from its main active compound – curcumin. If you don’t use turmeric in your cooking, you can take a turmeric or curcumin supplements for equally effective healing benefits.
In addition to all of its other health benefits, regular exercise helps to promote liver enzyme function. It should also ensure that you retain a decent body weight and protect against fatty liver.
You may feel headaches or gas and bloating while detoxing. This is temporary, make sure you check your diet and are getting proper nutrition and eating enough calories. A vitamin supplement can help ensure you are not missing key nutrients.
There is no magic pill to detox your liver. However, if you make a few lifestyle changes and follow some of the tips and advice above, then your liver will be back in full working order quickly. I’m sure that you will soon notice the benefits and start to feel more alert, less miserable and overall healthier in yourself.