Liver Health by Dr. Christie Smirl

The liver one of the most important organs in the body responsible for a wide range of functions including:

  • Regulating the composition of blood, including the amounts of glucose (sugar), protein, and fat in the bloodstream.
  • Removing bilirubin and other toxins from the blood. Bilirubin is a by-product of the breakdown of red blood cells.
  • Processing nutrients absorbed by the intestines during digestion and converts those nutrients into forms that can be used by the body.
  • Storing vitamin A, iron, and other minerals.
  • Making cholesterol, vitamin A, substances that help blood clot, and certain proteins.
  • Removing toxins from the blood
  • Converting lactate into energy
  • Metabolizing of alcohol
  • Producing and excreting bile
  • Destroying old blood cells
  • Activating enzymes
  • Breaking down substances that could harm or poison the body.

Symptoms of Impaired Liver Function

  • Acne, rashes, rosacea, itchy skin
  • Red burning eyes
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal enlargement
  • High blood pressure
  • Acid reflux, heartburn
  • Dark urine
  • Yellowing of skin and whites of eyes
  • Grey colored stools

Ensuring that the liver is functioning well is worth your time. First, avoid lifestyles that damage or slow down liver function such as excessive alcohol consumption, excessive Tylenol/acetaminophen use, tobacco abuse, sedentary lifestyle, consuming excessive greasy foods and saturated fats, sugars (the liver becomes overburdened converting sugar to fat). If you take prescribed pharmaceuticals, be sure to have your liver function tests checked periodically since many prescription medications can alter the function of your liver.

Improving the health and proper function of your liver can be initiated through a good diet that is rich in nutrients that help in fighting inflammation and cell damage. Taking small steps in substituting foods to change your eating habits can go a long way. Below, are ways to take care of your liver. All health and dietary modifications should be discussed with your family doctor first. This article is for educational purposes only, not to treat or diagnose any conditions.

  • Maintain proper body weight for your height and frame. Consider intermittent fasting to reduce the workload burden to the liver and allow faster cellular regeneration.
  • Get at least 20 minutes of exercise daily
  • Eat liver supportive vegetables brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, cucumber, beets, carrots and other bitter greens. Juicing vegetables gives added benefit of easier digestion, absorption and assimilation. Eating your vegetables steamed, roasted, chopped or in blender maintains the fiber content which increases the elimination of toxins in the body.
  • Evaluate your consumption of iron. Iron is a key nutrient in the development of red blood cells. The liver stores iron and if your diet is deficient in iron, this can cause the liver to reduce its stores. However, excessive amounts of iron can be deadly so have your blood levels checked first.
  • Avoid processed foods, refined sugars and excessive calories.
  • Increase your Intake of B vitamins which help cells process energy and assisting the breakdown of fats and sugars by cells in the liver.
  • Increase your intake of vitamin C. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps fight inflammation and protects your liver from toxins and free radicals. Grapefruit, lemon, lime and oranges are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants to support the natural cleansing abilities of the liver.
  • Drink Lemon water each morning. Lemon water supports the liver and has been shown to reduce inflammation, DNA fragmentation, brain lipid peroxidation, and liver damage.
  • Eat more garlic. Just a small amount of this pungent herb has the ability to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also contains allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver clearing.
  • Beets and carrots are high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene to stimulate and support overall liver function.
  • Green tea is full of plant-based antioxidants known as catechins and assist liver function. Just note that green tea offers the benefits, but green tea extract may have a negative effect on liver health.
  • Leafy green vegetables eaten raw, cooked, or juiced provide high levels of chlorophyll to cleanse toxins from the blood, neutralize heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides and protect the liver. Leafy greens include bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory.
  • Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are rich in glucosinolate, which supports enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes reduce carcinogens and other toxins from the body, and may significantly lower risks associated with cancer.

Caring for each organ system is crucial for overall health, well being and longevity. Start today by caring for yourself. Take small steps to start. Remember, all health and dietary modifications should be discussed with your family doctor first. This article is for educational purposes only, not to treat or diagnose any conditions.

Dr. Christie Smirl has over 25 years of medical experience. She completed a Doctorate of Ayurvedic Medicine from American University of Complimentary Medicine as well as Nurse Practitioner and Master of Science from Loma Linda University. Dr. Christie is also an E-RYT 500 Yoga Teacher Trainer YACEP, Reiki Master/Teacher, Tantric Energy Healer and Musician.

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