Signs Your Liver Needs Some Lovin' And What To Do
The liver is a very important filtering system and main detoxification organ in the body. It is also the second largest organ of the body coming second to the skin. The livers main job is the handle the toxins we are exposed to on the daily, as it filters through all the fluid in your body, and has many layers and functions it needs to go through to be able to work efficiently. Just like a car engine needs a service to run smoothly so too does the liver, as it can easily become stagnant with the 'toxic load'. The toxic load includes exposures to toxins via the skin, our digestive system, excessive alcohol, pollutants in the air, pesticides and chemicals in our food, the medication, and all forms of other toxins in our environments. All of this overexposure to toxins can result in a build-up of stagnant waste that is accumulated in the body, and predominantly in the liver.
The liver is one of the main organs in our body that supports the foundation of our health. Look at it this way: The functionality of a swimming pool, or even a fish tank. Both have filters, and the main filter will collect debris that is constantly sucking in water from the fish tank or pool, then it recycles clean water back so that they are sparkling clean. The filter will work perfectly and very well, but if you go away for a couple of weeks without any pool maintenance or someone to clean the fish tank, the filter will soon become full, and there will be no one to empty the filter. Day in and day out, the filter will keep running.. But it's extremely clogged. The pool water is green and full of bacteria, the fish in the tank are becoming sick. You get home from some time away, and you put chemicals and chlorine in the pool, and you remove the fish from the tank to give it a thorough clean. But, you've forgotten to clean and check the filter and filter box. Days go by, nothing has worked and the pool and fish tank are quickly becoming dirty again. Then, you finally realise that the filters are still clogged with leaves, debris, bacteria and gunk, so you clean it out, rinse it, and suddenly your pool and fish tank are both back to being crystal clear again.
You can look at it the same way as your liver. It's important to look at and clean your bodies filter box first and foremost. I once had a very stagnant, stressed, and toxic liver from my past alcohol addictions and dietary habits. Sometimes, it was so inflamed that it was so painful to touch from the outside. Now, I take extra care of my liver through my lifestyle, and I haven't had an alcohol beverage in over 5 years (I'm not saying you need to do this), but if you think your liver is stressed, then this is something that may be helpful for a short period of time.
Read on for signs that your liver may need some lovin' and extra TLC, and what you can do to take care of your liver and show it some L.O.V.E.
8 Signs And Symptoms Your Liver May Be Sluggish1. Acne and Skin Rashes
3. Abdominal Weight Gain
4. Cravings and Blood Sugar Issues
5. Poor Digestion
7. Stomach pains (on the right side)
8. Nausea after fatty meals
How The Liver Becomes Sluggish
- Poor dietary habits, and a diet high in processed foods, fatty foods, and refined sugars
- Alcohol and drugs (recreational or pharmaceutical)
- Chemical exposure and heavy metals
- Lack of exercise or movement
- A genetic medical condition or Autoimmune Disease
Things That Can Help Your LiverFar-Infrared Sauna
Far-Infrared saunas can help you to gently sweat while detoxing and making sure that your detoxification organs are all running at their highest level, and especially by improving your liver function. Sweating in an Infrared Sauna is one of the best ways to release toxins and to take the pressure off your liver.
Shop our Kiva Wellness Infrared Sauna range here.
Optimise Your Sleep
During sleep, this is the best time for the liver to cleanse and filter the bodies fluid, extracting viruses, particles, chemicals, pathogens, allergens and toxins to be secreted via the gallbladder to produce bile. This is also the time that the liver makes cholesterol. This is why sleep is so important when improving your liver health. I talk about sleep and sleep tips in two of my other blogs 'Things I Did To Beat Insomnia And Get A Deeper Sleep' and '6 Bedtime Teas To Help With Sleep', but I'll list a few of my best sleep tips here:
- Make sure your sheets are clean. Did you know that beds can carry many different bugs (bed bugs, dust mites, eggs etc.), bacteria and viruses, along with a lot of dead skin, hair and sweat? This can make you ill and cause skin issues, as well as uncomfortable sleep. Keep your bed and sheets clean by regularly cleaning your mattress, and washing your sheets with a natural and non-toxic laundry soap
- Read a book before bed, this helps me every time!
- Diffuse essential oils in your room such as Lavender
- Expose yourself to sunlight soon after waking, this sets your circadian rhythm and body clock
- Limit your screen and phone time 1-2 hours before bedtime
- Sleep scientists say that a room temperature of
around 18 degrees Celsius (or 63 Fahrenheit) is best to reach optimal resting body temperature. Use a well suited blanket, or sleep naked if you have too
- Make your bedroom or sleeping area as dark as possible, or use an eye mask
Regular exercise and physical activity is key to a healthy and well functioning liver, as exercise can decrease stress on the liver. Exercising and moving your body regularly also prevents unwanted weight gain and obesity, which can be a major risk factor for liver disease and fatty liver. Take up a physical activity or exercise routine that you love and enjoy so you can feel motivated to move your body daily such as weight training, walking, running, cycling, dancing, HIIT, pilates, yoga, tennis, surfing, or swimming.
Reduce Stress, Assess Stressors In Your Life
Studies have shown that increased stress has a direct impact on hepatic inflammatory response. So, when you are mentally stressed, then so too is your liver. The first time I heard this it made complete sense, as the liver ends up dealing with hormones and taking the hit for any hormone dysregulation, and cortisol is usually the driving force of hormonal imbalances, particularly in women.
When the body is in a stressed state, then the liver may not be able to function at it’s best. It’s only once we are a relaxed, parasympathetic state that the body will be able to cleanse all the junk.
Try simply taking a few minutes out of your day to do some deep belly breathing, start a yoga or meditation practice, journal your thoughts and emotions on to paper, take a walk in nature, try some EFT (Emotional Freedom Tapping), or find other ways that can help you get into a more relaxed state and become aware of your stress triggers.
Reduce or Eliminate Alcohol Intake
An association between liver disease and heavy alcohol consumption was recognised more than 200 years ago, and long-term heavy alcohol use is the most prevalent single cause of illness and even death from liver disease in the United States (reference; Smart and Mann 1992).
Acetaldehyde is a neurotoxin that comes from alcohol and is also sometimes produced within the gut and digestive system. Regular exposure to this neurotoxin can cause inflammation which can in turn cause the cells within the liver to be replaced by scar tissue. Scarred liver cells cannot function properly, which means your liver can’t either. This condition is otherwise known as cirrhosis of the liver.
Alcohol was a catalyst for my drop in health during my early twenties, and particularly having a major effect on my liver health and liver function. I would drink alcohol almost everyday, and it became an addiction for me. My liver was so inflamed from the high alcohol consumption, some days it would even be too sore to touch from the outside. I have now been sober for over 5 years, and the health of my liver has drastically improved. This is not to say that you need to reduce alcohol entirely long-term, but to help support your liver you may find it useful to reduce or eliminate alcohol completely for the short-term.Stay Hydrated, Drink High Quality Filtered Water
When the body is dehydrated, the liver can become affected. This is because water and proper hydration is essential for the liver’s detoxification, as water removes toxins from the liver, and flushes the liver tissues.
Staying hydrated will make the blood thinner, therefore making it easier for the liver to filter waste.
Make sure that the water you are drinking is of high quality and filtered. I also love adding some lemon juice to my water for extra cleansing and detoxification properties.
Reduce Consumption of High Processed Foods
Assessing your diet and reducing your consumption of refined, highly processed foods, and refined sugars is key to a healthy liver. Include lot’s of fruits, vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and where possible, choose non-GMO and organic foods.
Things to limit or avoid if you want to look out for the state of your liver and show it some extra love:
- Avoid added sugars, processed meats, and refined grains
- Limit salt and sugar
- Reduce alcohol consumption
- Avoid sodas and sugary beverages
- Avoid sweet baked goods and too many desserts (cakes, pastries, pies, ice cream etc)
- Limit saturated fats from animal products. Try to avoid bacon, cured meats or fatty meats (these are high in saturated fats)
- Avoid fried foods
Reduce Chemical Exposure and Toxic Load
Reducing your 'toxic load' means:
- Evaluating your drinking water (install a water filter in your home)
- Looking at what personal care products you are using, and the ingredients that they contain, and making the switch to natural alternatives
- Your environment (air pollutants, mould, chemicals etc)
- The food you are eating (GMO's, pesticides and herbicides, high processed foods etc) and consuming organic meats and products where possible
- The medications and supplements you consume
- The cookware that you use and the containers that you store your food in
- Limiting exposure to air pollution
There are particular liver supporting herbs that can be brewed and made into a herbal tea to support healthy liver function, particularly if the tea is consumed in the evening (as the liver cleanses itself between approximately 11pm until 1am every night). Herbal teas may also assist in liver detoxification and can help protect the liver from various toxins.
Some herbal teas that can help to restore, support and keep your liver healthy:
- Dandelion Root
- Milk Thistle
I absolutely LOVE Dandy Chai. I brew some of a morning, add a splash of plant based milk, and sprinkle some cinnamon and chai spices on top. It’s a beautiful warming drink and I love knowing that I’m supporting my liver whilst drinking it.
Liver Supporting Supplements
There are certain liver supplements that some people may choose to take to support healthy liver function and the livers natural detoxification processes (phase I and phase II liver detoxification processes).
You can purchase liver tonic supplements over the counter at herbal stores, health food stores, or even at pharmacies.
Most often you will find liver supplements as a blend of liver supporting herbs, but other times you may find the single herb available as a supplement. Usually the liver supplements are taken orally, but as mentioned in this blog post, you can also consume them as herbal teas.
You should always speak to a health professional (such as a Doctor, Naturopath, or herbalist) to guide you in which liver supporting supplements are best for you.
Some of the most popular ingredients/herbs used in liver supporting supplements are:
- Milk Thistle
- Artichoke Leaf
- Turmeric Root
- Dandelion Root
- Yellow Dock Root
- Burdock Root
- Chicory Extract
- Calcium D-Glucarate
- Diindolylmethane or DIM (a compound derived from the digestion of indole-3-carbinol, found in cruciferous vegetables)
- Reishi Mushroom
We have a range of liver supporting herbs and supplements in our online store which you can browse in our vitamins and supplements section of our website here.
Castor Oil Packs
Castor oil is an ancient practice that has been used for hundreds of years - in Chinese medicine, Ancient Egyptian cultures, and Ayurvedic practices. It’s a great way to improve the lymphatic system, reduce inflammation, and support certain organs such as the liver. When castor oil is absorbed directly through the skin, it can speed up the removal of certain toxins from your tissues.
You can use the oil anywhere on your body that needs focus and love (ovaries, kidneys, liver etc). Castor oil has also been known to have quite a gentle and calming effect on the nervous system. I love to put castor oils directly on to my liver when I can feel it needs some extra lovin’. However, I must note that the castor oil itself can be rather sticky and the first time I did a castor oil pack I found it was a little messy. To do a castor oil pack, you can drizzle the oil on a piece of flannel and strap it to your body so that the oil can slowly seep into your skin, or you can use plastic wrap or purchase a castor oil pack like this one. There are loads of videos to watch on Youtube showing you in detail how to do a castor oil pack for beginners. Try doing a castor oil pack 1-2 times per week.
Foods To Support The Liver
- Wild Blueberries
- Green Juices
- Leafy greens
- Citrus fruits
- Cruciferous Vegetables
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