Updated: May 29, 2021
From: Dr. Ruth Anne Baron
The liver is an often overlooked organ, but is central to the healthy function of the whole body. The primary job of the liver is detoxification, breaking down everything we eat, drink, breath in and even apply to our skin. Unfortunately, the liver’s work today is much different than it was for our great grandparents. While people were exposed to very few environmental toxins as little as 75 years ago, the same cannot be said today. We are overloaded by external toxins, while being undernourished by diets that may not supply enough nutrients to keep our natural detox processes charged up and optimized.
In addition to breaking down toxins, the liver is key for processing our food, activation of vitamins and minerals, metabolism of our hormones, and keeping our blood sugar in balance. It also produces cholesterol, which has a “bad rap” these days, but is in fact a critical substance that makes up cell membranes, protects our nervous system, and is the backbone of hormone production.
The liver is a blood reservoir and filters more than 1.4 liters of blood per minute. All of the blood flow from your intestinal tract goes to the liver first, so it can perform its vital filtering functions. In addition, the liver manufactures at least one liter of bile per day, which helps us absorb nutrients, digest fats, and carry out toxic substances.
In traditional Chinese medicine, the liver is seen as being strongly affected by stress. Anger and depression are the emotions most often associated with problems with the liver. When the liver is functioning well, we feel calmer and more resilient. The Chinese sages also said that blocked liver energy can create “heat”, which we usually translate to mean inflammation. People often report feeling more relaxed and less inflamed after a liver detox program, with better energy, less irritability and deeper sleep. And who doesn’t want more of all that?
What contributes to congested liver energy? Dietary factors, like processed fats, too much sugar, artificial sweeteners, alcohol and tobacco Bacterial toxins from unfriendly gut microbes, hitting the liver directly from all that blood flow from the GI tract Drugs of all kinds; and hormones, both the ones our bodies make and the additional ones we may use as treatments Diabetes, which is an inflammatory process throughout the whole body Environmental chemicals in our food, water, and air What can you do to assist your liver in all these essential processes?
Dietary: cut out the things listed above, and consume more beets, lemon, turmeric, and the whole cabbage and broccoli family of vegetables
Lifestyle: more fresh air and exercise, (which is good for everything!) and plenty of rest
Intermittent fasting: Give the liver time to do its jobs by not eating for at least twelve hours after dinner (no late night snacking) and leaving at least five hours between each meal (no daytime snacking either!)
If you would like more direction in the use of herbal medicine, nutritional support, or if you would like to have a functional assessment of your liver, please plan an appointment. You can reach me by email or call the office at 416-385-9277. The office is open, with all cleaning precautions in place, and I am also available for virtual consults.
Dr. Ruth Anne Baron, ND