It’s January – are you sick of hearing about detox diets yet?? To be honest, I think it’s a bit overwhelming how many programs are being offered, some great, some not so great. I have my own 10-day Total Body Reset program here if you’re interested in checking out another one, too! But, seriously, detoxification is an important topic because each year hundreds more chemicals are identified in the list of those humans are exposed to. It’s no surprise that the number of chemicals found correlates linearly with the number of people diagnosed with the deadlier of diseases.
You may be overwhelmed with detox talk but I want to tell you more about detoxification and how this affects your weight and your hormones because all these things are linked quite heavily. If your detox system isn’t working right, you’ll have trouble losing weight and your hormones will get out of whack; if your hormones are out of whack, you’ll gain weight and put extra burden on your liver. Excess weight messes with your hormones, which then places stress on the liver. Such a vicious circle!
Our livers play a HUGE role in our health – they are the detoxification powerhouse in our body and all toxins (toxic substances, hormones, chemicals and foreign or unwanted particles) go there for neutralization or conjugation before heading out for elimination. The liver is the main regulator of over 500 bodily processes, including hormonal balance, keeping cholesterol levels in check and, of course, breaking down the bad stuff! That’s a lot of responsibility for one organ!
We are exposed to toxins every day. Toxins are formed from metabolic processes in the body; toxins are ingested through food and water; toxins are in the air we breathe; we even get toxic exposure from electronics in our environments. And, the average woman is exposed to 126 different toxins by the time she’s done sprucing up to head out for the day!
Detoxification is a natural process that happens all day long. Problems arise when the toxic load on the liver is way higher than the resources needed to do its job. Toxins not broken down and neutralized are sent to fat cells in order to keep them away from our precious organs – it’s a protective mechanism. Fat cells get bigger AND they really don’t like to let go of these toxins once they have them because that will create a toxic shock to the system. If you’ve ever done a detox diet and felt awful after the first few days, this is usually because those fat cells are starting to release the bad stuff into your system.
Hormones are secreted as needed when other organs or cells signal it. Any excess are sent to the liver for breakdown (aka conjugation) and elimination. Healthy hormone levels indicate a healthy liver and a person generally doesn’t have any associated health issues. This is where we all want to be!
Poor liver detoxification impacts leptin balance too. This hormone is secreted when you’ve had enough food and helps control appetite. When it’s out of balance, you are hungry ALL THE TIME! I recently finished the 10-Day detox program I’m offering and hunger regulation is one major change I’ve noticed – I used to be hungry within an hour of eating but now I feel full longer.
An overburdened liver cannot properly breakdown hormones, so they continue to circulate throughout the body, leading to hormonal imbalances and symptoms of PMS, infertility, cancer and inflammation. Chemicals in the body disrupt the endocrine system and lead to problems like estrogen dominance and low thyroid hormone production. Alcohol interferes with estrogen breakdown because alcohol competes for the same nutrients needed for detoxification of both toxins. When we have too much estrogen in our bodies, we prematurely age and we are at greater risk of breast, ovarian and uterine cancers.
Chronic stress means stress hormones are continuously being released, which overburden the liver. Elevated cortisol is known to promote fat cell growth (weight gain) and it interferes with normal estrogen and progesterone levels.
What Can You Do
We need to help our poor livers out. Most people should do a targeted and effective liver detox protocol from time to time, ideally up to 4 times per year. This doesn’t need to be difficult or painful – a good, foods-based 7- to 10-day liver detox program can be very effective at resetting the liver. (And avoid any program that involves fasting because fasting elevates cortisol, placing more stress on the liver. Plus, your liver NEEDS nutrients to do its job; starving it will get you nowhere.)
Daily, you can ensure you’re getting enough fiber because fiber helps eliminate neutralized free radicals and other waste from the body quickly. Regularly consume green foods – green smoothies, green juices, green soups, or leafy green salads. Chlorophyll is a wonderful nutrient for liver health.
Eat a variety of healthy, whole foods, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, all the time! The liver needs specific nutrients to maintain adequate function so if these nutrients are in short supply, the liver really can’t do its job. Vitamin C, B vitamins and sulfur are much needed nutrients for the liver.
Foods like whole grains, legumes, broccoli, cabbage, egg yolks, garlic, lemon, onions, avocado, walnuts, leafy greens, and asparagus are wonderful for liver health.
Try to reduce the toxic load on your body. Try swapping out a commercial body lotion for an all-natural one (or make your own!); use vinegar and water to clean your house; choose organic foods once in a while. There is a lot you can do to help keep your liver functioning optimally!
Even if your liver is working great, toxins that it does handle need a way to be eliminated, so you need to ensure your ‘channels of elimination’ are clear. Drink 2-3 liters of pure, filtered water daily. Dry brush your skin before showering to move lymphatic fluids around. Exercise to sweat daily. Try a weekly Epsom salt bath. Promote good healthy gut bacteria through the use of probiotics and fermented foods. Often simply ensuring these channels are working well can help autocorrect hormonal imbalances too!