Welcome to the new year! It’s the first day of 2016 and it somehow seemed appropriate to begin with giving some love to our fabulous liver (especially after weeks of holiday revelry).

livertouchYour liver is one of your vital organs. It is located in the right upper quadrant of your abdomen, behind the ribcage and just below your diaphragm. If you place your right hand on your ribs, just below your breast you will be covering your liver. If you’re doing that now, it might be nice to just give it a little pat and say “hello” and thank you for doing such a great job of filtering your blood, managing your glucose levels, maintaining hormone balance, and contributing to your immune strength.
Your liver is a gland, which means it helps with metabolism and detoxifying the body and blood. It weighs roughly 3.5 to 4 pounds in an adult and at any given time holds about 13% of your blood supply. It can multitask like nobody’s business and is responsible for about 500 different tasks in the body. AMAZING!

Did you know that liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself? That’s right, treat your liver with love and it will pretty much maintain itself along with the rest of your body. It can regrow, repair, and rebuild itself so long as you provide it with the right “tools”.
Wondering what the “right tools” are? Great question, especially since there’s some really confusing information out there. Chances are, if you are on social media, or the internet, or TV you will have been told that you need to “detoxify” your liver! I’ve seen any number of diet schemes and supplement programs designed to help you maintain a healthier you by virtue of a healthier liver. So what’s the fact and what’s the fiction?

liverloveFact: The liver does a great job maintaining itself. It is, in its own right a detoxifying agent so really to promote the idea that it needs to be detoxed is kind of a misnomer. There are foods you can eat that will help stimulate the production of liver enzymes and contribute to more optimal function so it is possible to help out in that way but really that’s all there is to it. Your liver will handle the rest.
Foods that are known as bitters like kale, chicory, burdock, and arugula help stimulate liver enzymes and encourage balanced function. Other liver maintaining foods are: Garlic, Beets, Carrots, almost all green leafy veggies, and herbs like Cilantro. Between eating good, quality whole foods, and drinking clean, fresh water you are pretty much doing the best that you can for your amazing liver.

Fiction: Because of toxins in the environment you need to engage in extreme measures to “detoxify” and “cleanse” your liver regularly. Yes, there are indeed toxins in the environment and the liver does work to remove them from our body. Eating low or no quality foods, drinking chemical or sugar laden drinks, and excessive pharmaceuticals definitely takes a toll on your liver. However, the truth is there is no clinical evidence, either through human trials or from a petri dish, that suggests or supports the need to “cleanse” your liver. There is a small body of evidence that demonstrates that certain foods and herbs can stimulate production of enzymes and other biochemical processes that will help the liver maintain balance or even repair itself, however, the idea that the liver must be “purged” of bad stuff doesn’t have any scientific basis. In fact, often the “detoxification” programs can lead to nutrient deficiency, dehydration, decreased metabolic function and other imbalances in the body.

When the liver does become damaged or when it quits functioning normally it is typically due to chronic abuse or a pathogen of some kind. Things that really damage your liver? Eating food that is high in calorie and low in nutrient density and filled with things like trans-fats; being overweight and under-exercised; chronic use of drugs and alcohol (including pharmaceuticals).
In fact, Alcoholic and Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease are quickly becoming an epidemic in industrialized cultures because of sedentary lifestyles, fast food, and overuse of things like ibuprofen and other over-the-counter medicines.

Ways to Love Your Liver:

Breathe Easy: Diaphragmatic breathing before a meal helps boost liver function; which in turn helps regulate blood glucose and digestive processes. It also helps the liver deal with free radicals and oxidative stress. A simple breathing exercise like inhaling for the count of 4, resting for the count of 2 and exhaling for the count of 8 will work wonders towards helping out your liver. (click here for an article and short video on breathwork)

restorativeyogaMove your Body: Your liver helps with metabolic function and vice versa... so get your body moving. Healthy circulation of both blood and lymph can help your liver function more smoothly. If you are highly stressed then doing things like restorative yoga and walking are your best options, less stress makes for a happier liver.

  • Eat and Drink Well: Eat good quality, nutrient dense whole foods focusing on minimal processing and pesticide and additive free. Try things like:
    Cucumber with skin
    Broccoli and other cruciferous veggies

Olive Oil
Coconut Oil
Sesame Oil

If you are suffering from liver disease, then there is a small body of evidence suggests that things like Milk Thistle can be moderately helpful for some people.