Love Your Liver

January is Love Your Liver Month and its aim is to bring awareness to the importance of liver health. Did you know, 9 out of 10 cases of liver disease are linked to alcohol, weight and viral hepatitis?

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasingly common especially in children and adolescence. NAFLD as the name suggests is a liver condition which affects people who drink little or no alcohol. People develop a fatty liver from eating too much fat (triglycerides) which build up in the liver mainly because of poor eating habits and lack of physical activity.

NAFLD usually doesn't cause symptoms. However, when it does, they may include:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain or discomfort in the right, upper abdomen

Possible signs and symptoms of advanced scarring (cirrhosis) include:

  • Abdominal swelling (ascites)
  • Enlarged blood vessels just beneath the skin's surface
  • Enlarged spleen
  • Red palms
  • Jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)

Too much refined food and alcohol over the Christmas holidays will not damage the liver but it can overload it causing the organ to not function efficiently. Our livers can manage the odd glass of wine or slice of cake, but when it’s on a daily basis over a prolonged period, the liver becomes overwhelmed and can’t keep up with all its jobs!

A healthy liver is important for overall health and well-being. It performs many important functions in the body, including:

  1. Filtering the blood: The liver filters the blood to remove toxins, waste products, and other substances that can be harmful to the body.
  2. Producing bile: The liver produces bile, which helps to digest fats and absorb fat-soluble vitamins.
  3. Regulating blood clotting: The liver produces proteins that help to regulate blood clotting.
  4. Producing and regulating hormones: The liver produces and regulates several hormones, including insulin, testosterone, and oestrogen.
  5. Metabolising and eliminating drugs and other substances: The liver helps to metabolise and eliminate drugs, alcohol, and other substances from the body.
  6. Regulates amino acids: Amino acids are the building blocks to make protein. The liver makes sure amino acid levels in the bloodstream remain healthy.
  7. Resists infections: The liver removes bacteria from the bloodstream as part of the filtering process.
  8. Stores vitamins and minerals: The liver stores copper and iron as well as significant amounts of vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12.
  9. Processes glucose: The liver removes excess glucose (sugar) from the bloodstream and stores it as glycogen. When the body needs glucose for energy, it converts glycogen back into glucose.

Why is good liver health important for hormones?

The liver plays an important role in maintaining hormonal balance in the body. It secretes several hormones; regulates hormones such as oestrogen and progesterone; converts hormones such as T4 thyroid hormone to the active form T3; and helps metabolise and eliminate excess hormones from the body.

Proper liver function is important for maintaining healthy levels of hormones in the body. When the liver is not functioning properly, it may not be able to effectively produce or regulate hormones, which can lead to hormonal imbalances and related health issues. For example, if the liver is not able to effectively metabolise and eliminate excess oestrogen because it’s dealing with an excess in toxins such as alcohol or sugar, it can lead to oestrogen dominance, where there is more oestrogen in the body than progesterone, causing symptoms such as weight gain, irregular periods, and breast tenderness.

Symptoms of oestrogen dominance may include:

  • Irregular periods
  • Heavy, painful or prolonged periods
  • Breast tenderness
  • Mood swings
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • PMS
  • Headaches
  • Decreased sex drive
  • Bloating
  • Anxiety or depression
  • Endometriosis
  • Fibroids

There are several foods and substances that can potentially harm the liver. Some of these include:

  1. Alcohol: Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to liver damage and increase the risk of liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cancer.
  2. Fried and processed foods: These types of foods are high in unhealthy fats and additives, which can contribute to liver inflammation and damage.
  3. Sugar: Consuming high amounts of sugar can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can cause the liver to become inflamed and scarred.
  4. Certain medications: Some medications, such as acetaminophen, can cause liver damage if taken in large doses or for long periods of time.

It is important to note that the liver is a resilient organ and can often repair itself if the damaging substance is removed. However, it is best to avoid substances and foods that are known to be harmful to the liver in order to protect this important organ.

Some ways to support liver health include eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and getting treated for conditions that can affect the liver. Below are a few examples to improve your liver health.

  1. Water: Staying hydrated is important for the liver to function properly. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water per day. It’s best to drink filtered water rather than straight from the tap otherwise your liver is acting as the filter.
  2. Fruits and vegetables: These are high in fibre, antioxidants, and other nutrients that can support liver health. Some examples include berries, apples, leafy greens such as spinach and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli and cabbage.
  3. Nuts and seeds: These are rich in healthy fats and antioxidants that may help support liver function.
  4. Whole grains: These are a good source of fibre, which can help support liver function by aiding in the removal of waste products from the body.
  5. Lean protein sources: These include foods such as chicken, turkey, fish, and plant-based proteins like beans and lentils. These can help support liver health by providing essential amino acids.
  6. Herbs and spices: Some herbs and spices, such as turmeric, milk thistle, and dandelion, have been traditionally used to support liver function. However, more research is needed to determine their effectiveness. Matcha Green Tea has also shown to alleviate non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
  7. Eating organic food reduces the amount of toxins the liver has to filter.

It's important to note that while these foods and drinks may support liver health, they cannot "detox" the liver or reverse liver damage that has already occurred. The best way to take care of your liver is to follow a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet, regular physical activity and staying hydrated.

Superfood Plus is an all in one food supplement, providing the body with all the nutrients, vitamins and minerals it needs to function efficiently. It contains certified organic nuts, seeds, fruit, veggies, sprouts, grasses, greens, fibre, antioxidants, digestive enzymes and 35+ billion dairy free probiotics. The antioxidants from the food supplement may help to support liver function. The ingredients are 100% certified organic which means the liver isn't put under stress with extra toxins from pesticides and fertilisers.

Our Organic Daily Greens supplement is a great way to add more alkalising greens to the diet. It is rich in cruciferous vegetables and contains Matcha Green Tea which are all beneficial for liver health. Organic Daily Greens contains Banana, Baobab (from the tree of life), Lucuma, Chlorella, Quinoa, Matcha Green tea, Apple, Kale, Spinach, Broccoli and Spirulina. (All ingredients are certified organic.)

Reflexology is a powerful treatment and helps the body to release tension, improve blood flow, calm the central nervous system, remove toxins as well as helping the organs and glands to work efficiently. Reflexology may help improve the liver function, resulting in balanced hormones and better overall health.

Foot reflexology is the most common form of therapy but reflexology can also be performed on the face, hands and ears.