When we talk about the health of our liver, for most people they immediately think about how much alcohol they do or don’t drink. Yes, the liver is responsible for processing any alcohol intake, but it does so much more than just that. Here’s why you want to be looking after yours.
As the largest organ in the body it plays a very important role in keeping us well and in doing so it has a very surprising 500 crucial functions. Let’s have a look at some of the more important ones. As mentioned above, the liver does manage the processing of our alcohol intake by breaking It down but it also processes drugs and poisons. When we start to see the function of the liver in this way we can make better informed decisions about taking medications. For example, migraines and headaches can often be attributed to an overloaded or toxic liver so taking pharmaceuticals for short term gain, which the liver has to process, is only going to add to the overall problem in the long term.
The liver extracts the nutrients we need from the food we digest and transfers it to where it is needed in the body and is also able to store nutrients, vitamins and minerals. For example, when there is an excess of glucose circulating in the body the liver stores this as glycogen, which can be utilised later for extra energy when the body is low on glucose. This is an important mechanism where the liver secretes glucose back into the blood stream to keep blood sugar levels constant. So the liver also plays a vital role in keeping blood sugar levels balanced, which in my opinion is the overall key to good health. Another key function the liver plays with regard to fats is in its production of bile. Bile is a dark green or yellowish liquid produced by the liver to aid in the digestion of fats in the small intestine. We can start to see why our energy levels and ability to use nutrients are directly attributable to our liver’s overall function.
Amongst its other many functions the liver is also responsible for making the stuff that stops you bleeding when you’re injured. It processes our blood and it also produces cells that help us fight off diseases, so plays a key role in our immune defence system. If you are the type of person that throws off illnesses quickly then you have a liver that performs this vital rôle well, but if you are someone who constantly succumbs to every bug and illness around and furthermore finds it hard to recover then this organ may need some support.
Fatty livers are a growing problem in westernised countries, not just from alcohol but from a highly processed diet. It is more prevalent in children than ever (where it cannot be blamed on alcohol). Fatty deposits build up in the liver causing massive inflammation. As ever, the medical system does have tests for liver disease but sadly a negative result does not mean a healthy liver. As with many medical tests, at the point of a positive diagnosis disease must be pretty established to be identified. There are more subtle signs you can look for and of course there are sensible choices you can also make when it comes to your diet and lifestyle to support this factory-like organ.
So what happens when this powerhouse goes wrong? How can we tell when the liver is struggling? With liver disease classed as the 5th largest cause of death in the UK it would be wise to know the warning signals. Here are some really good pointers:
How is your skin looking? As the major detoxer of the body it soon becomes evident when the liver is struggling. If waste is not being dealt with well by the liver then alternative routes have to be found and the skin is one of those. This can be any from of skin complaint you can think of including spots, acne, eczema, psoriasis, cold sores, or just plain itchy skin. More advanced signs will show up with yellowing of skin and eyes. Many a woman has been aware of spot breakouts at the start of her period and when we consider in Traditional Chinese Medicine that the liver is responsible for planning this monthly cycle then this starts to make sense. A liver that is already struggling will find the added role of menstruation taxing and so the skin becomes a route of elimination.
Are you suffering from fatigue? I’m not just talking about a busy lifestyle and general tiredness but constant lethargy, lack of energy and a weak constitution that means you have to be careful how much you plan without getting too tired. This can be a sign that the liver is struggling with all the functions it has to perform and is therefore not able to give you the best performance out of each day.
Do you bloat after eating and suffer from abdominal cramps? If you suffer with digestive issues then chances are your liver is suffering too. Anything from gassiness, abdominal pain, diarrhea or constipation can be the result of this major organ needing attention.
You’ll be pleased to know that the liver has an amazing capacity to heal and regenerate dead or damaged tissues, in fact the speed at which it can rejuvenate and grow new cells is as quickly as a cancerous tumour. There’s an incentive for you to start loving your liver!
Balancing and supporting the liver is a large part of my clinical practice and is almost always an area for treatment with any disease picture due to its huge rôle in maintaining the health of our bodies.
If you feel you need help with detoxing and supporting your liver, then you can book me for a free 20 minute Skype consultation to discuss. Here is a link to the form where you can contact me:
Alternatively you can book consultations by calling me 07786 687444 or you can email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
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