While you sleep tonight, your liver will be quietly working, very efficiently and effectively, to filter and clean your blood from toxins that circulate in your body.
Your liver is also responsible for processing the fats that you eat, by producing enzymes and bile that break them down and allow them to be used in your body.
The Liver – The Internal Detoxifier
Many people talk about detoxifying without understanding that our bodies are in a constant state of detoxification. We’re subject to a steady stream of toxins, coming from the healthiest organic kale, and even from the natural by-products of our body’s metabolic system.
Our livers are custom-built to neutralize those normal toxins and process a moderate level of fat in our diet.
Despite all that, your liver may be in need of some serious support. In modern societies, we tend to eat too much, too often, have too much fat and sugar and salt, and are exposed to a huge level of environmental toxins every single day.
If our metabolism is out of balance for any reason (like when cutting carbohydrates or when we have a nutrient deficiency), the level of toxins produced in your metabolism increases. When we’re under stress, our glands produce hormones that need to be processed by our liver.
All of those things put a heavy workload on your liver, asking it to do more than it was designed to do. And just like when there’s too much paperwork on your desk, at a certain point it gets to be overwhelming.
If your liver can’t keep up, it starts falling further and further behind. As we age, the production of enzymes and the blood flow through your liver decreases, making the situation even worse.
Without making some significant changes, your liver’s ability to process toxins gets so far behind it just won’t be able to catch up without your help.
Not only that, but since most of us are overfed and undernourished (meaning we get a significant amount of our calories from foods that don’t have much for vitamins and minerals), our immune system and digestive organs aren’t getting the nutrients they need to function effectively.
So it’s a double-edged sword: we’re overloading our liver with work, and not giving our bodies the nourishment they need to function. How can we possibly expect it to work under those conditions? There is no union for livers, fighting to have their rights recognized, and their plight is not as obvious to our brains as our tastebuds’ desires.
If left for too long without proper cleansing and balanced nourishment, our livers may wind up metaphorically going on strike: a condition called hepatic steatosis, or fatty liver.
High-Fat Diet Could Be Ruining Your Liver
Recent studies and personal experiments (like the documentaries Super-Size Me and Fat vs. Sugar) have shown us that our livers are not only damaged by alcohol abuse, but have a surprisingly serious amount of damage (which can be permanent) from a high-fat diet.
Up to 90% of cancers are thought to be due to the effects of environmental toxins plus deficiencies of nutrients the body needs to function properly for detoxification and immune systems.
But how do you know if your liver is crying out for help?
Look Out For These 15 Signs
Here are some signs to watch for:
- More than 20 lbs overweight, especially around abdomen
- Extreme fatigue
- Weakness and/or nausea
- Headaches, particularly after eating fatty foods
- Bloating or gas from onions, cabbage, radishes, or cucumbers
- Acne, psoriasis, or eczema
- Yellow or pale fingernails
- Irritable or easily angered
- Poor concentration
- History of heavy alcohol use
- Natural or synthetic hormone use
- High exposure to chemicals or drugs
- History of viral hepatitis
What we need to do for our livers is to both nourish and cleanse, simultaneously and consistently.
If we detox without nourishing, we deplete our bodies energy and nutrient stores. People may feel a short-term boost from a detox, but then quickly start feeling weak and drained. If we nourish without cleansing, our livers will never fully catch up from under the backlog of toxins (think mountains of paperwork) we’ve left it to process over the years.
The solution is to go on a simple 3-7 day cleanse at the change of seasons. My definition of cleanse is a bit different from most, though. It’s about eating healthy whole foods, and releasing the things that are dragging us down – not about starving ourselves. It’s not usually necessary to go to the extreme.
Cleansing means getting out of the way, and allowing our livers room to catch up and do their jobs the way they were designed to do them.
There are different styles of nourishing cleanses you could do, and for a liver imbalance I usually recommend a lower-fat smoothie cleanse to lighten the workload, while still getting all the nutrients and fiber your body needs to function as well as purge toxins that need to be released. Incorporating specific natural supplements can help to re-balance and catch up from nutritional imbalances or deficiencies.