Maintaining good “Liver Health” is an on-going component of everyday life, but its importance is often overlooked. The liver weighs approximately 3 pounds and is the body’s second largest organ; its skin is the largest and heaviest. Performing an estimated 500 daily tasks, the kidney is responsible for bodily functions ranging from digestion, to metabolism, immunity, and the storage of nutrients within the body. The liver’s most vital duty is being able to filter toxins and waste from the blood. The liver filters the blood. Once filtered, the toxins are converted into urea (a primary waste product, flushed from the body in urine) also bile, allowing them to flow into the digestive system and out the body in feces.
Denying the liver the proper nutrients to do its job of filtering the blood, and changing toxins into urea and bile to be released through the body, can cause it to get backed up and sluggish, just like the engine in a car would, when there is oil build up. At this point, toxins are not able to be released from the body, and are stored in fat tissues, until liver health improves, allowing them to then be released.
This forever working organ is also responsible for aiding in digestion. It is through the process of creating bile that the liver helps to break down fat and absorb it, in addition to water-soluble vitamins and minerals. The liver also has a role in the regulating of glucose, blood pressure, blood sugar, insulin, estrogen, testosterone, immunity, and blood cholesterol production and removal. When poorly cared for, toxins may build up resulting in inflammation, commonly associated with obesity. A feeble liver also causes fat to build up. This is especially true around the stomach area. Here are a few signs that your liver may be overworked:
Yellow Tinge of the Skin and Eyes- One of the most common signs of an unhealthy liver is jaundice. This is a yellowish discoloration of the skin, ‘whites’ of the eyes and sometimes even the inside of the mouth.
Pale Stool and/or Dark Urine- Pale stools are another sign of liver dysfunction. Bilirubin that is broken down in the digestive system is responsible for the tan to dark brown color of stool.
Itchy Skin throughout the Body- Pruritus is the medical term for itchy skin. It is usually associated with allergies, skin irritation and skin diseases. However, it can occur even if the skin is otherwise healthy. Itchiness is common in liver dysfunction even without any skin rash.
Abdominal Pain with Swelling- Another common symptom is abdominal pain although it usually arises late in liver disease. It is often accompanied by abdominal swelling which may precede the abdominal pain.
Nausea And Weight Loss- Nausea is another symptom on an unhealthy liver and is usually accompanied by a loss of appetite. The severity of nausea can vary, from mild nausea to intense nausea with vomiting especially a short while after eating a meal. Another common digestive symptom that is also seen is diarrhea. The loss of appetite and diarrhea eventually leads to weight loss.
There is no single reason why fatigue occurs with liver problems, but it is a common symptom. The fatigue is usually ongoing and even adequate rest does not completely overcome it.
A few things you can do to help your liver would be get enough minerals. Don’t overburden your liver. It works hard enough without having to constantly process things such as alcohol and over-the-counter painkillers, which are very hard on this organ. Drink plenty of lemon water. Water is important to the natural detox system; it’s one of the methods by which our bodies remove toxins. The citric acid in lemon juice encourages the liver to produce bile, which is another vehicle that our bodies use to excrete toxins. Take liver-support supplements. Turmeric, milk thistle and dandelion are all known to be helpful at cleansing and protecting the liver. Try 50 milligrams of turmeric, 500 milligrams of dandelion extract, or 500 milligrams of milk thistle daily. Eat your veggies! Broccoli, cabbage, kale, arugula, collard greens and other cruciferous vegetables are recommended foods when doing a liver detox. Be sure to eat at least one serving a day.