I’m a member of some Facebook communities for health and wellness professionals and one of the top things we chat about is the controversy over liver detoxification programs. Some of these coaches have been yelled at by people who believe liver detoxes are not necessary because the liver is designed to detox naturally! While that is true, the liver, especially in the past few decades, has become so overburdened by so many new toxins, chemicals, stress hormones, and other baddies that it does require some extra help once in a while.
Whether you agree with me or not, there are some definitive signs that your liver may be overburdened; if you experience any (or all) of these symptoms, perhaps it’s time to show that liver some extra love!
The liver is your first detoxification organ in a long line of organs that help it out. If the liver becomes sluggish due to a garbage overload, your skin is one of the next organs that helps rid the body of junk. So, if you experience any type of skin issue – acne, slow healing times, rosacea, etc. – your slow liver could be the underlying cause. Sometimes the immune system is overworked too but the immune system relies strongly on the health of the liver.
One obvious sign that your liver needs some help is if you get acne on your forehead.
Low Thyroid / Hypothyroidism
Your hormones are controlled through a bunch of chemical feedback systems so a low thyroid doesn’t strictly mean your liver is overworked. However, all blood is first cleansed by the liver and all hormones are supposed to be deconjugated here, so if the liver isn’t fully doing its job, your endocrine glands do become affected. Hormones circulate throughout your body via the blood so old thyroid hormones not neutralized by the liver will make your thyroid believe it doesn’t need to work as hard.
Unexplained Weight Gain
Nothing is more frustrating than extra fat that you can’t explain AND you can’t seem to get rid of through regular exercise and healthy eating, right? You’re doing it all correctly, yet this layer of fat won’t disappear. Well, this is often a sign that your liver is overtaxed because, while the thyroid is the main regulator of metabolism, if the thyroid isn’t getting what it needs from the liver, your weight will be affected. Clean up the liver to boost metabolism – it’s often that simple. (Well, it’s not THAT simple, but that’s the goal.)
PMS / PCOS / Menstrual Discomforts
A lot of women’s reproductive health issues can be avoided with a healthy liver. Fertility can be improved, bloating and cramps can be eliminated, and the cycle can be regulated all with a little more liver support. (I have seen this first-hand – after a few months of a dedicated, gentle liver cleansing protocol, women no longer experience PMS and their periods are almost discomfort-free. It’s amazing!)
Gas and/or Bloating
If you consistently have gas and/or bloating after a meal, especially after eating garlic, onions or radishes, this is a good indication that your liver is under duress. It could also mean your gut bacteria is imbalanced but, if that’s the case, your liver will be working extra hard to deal with the added toxins created by bad bacteria and additional bad stuff that’s able to get into the blood from the intestines.
What Can You Do Now?
A healthy liver is really the keystone to overall good health. Liver cleansing protocols can take months or even years, depending on your health and lifestyle. However, there are a few things you can start doing today to give your liver some love.
- Start your day with a glass of warm or room temperature water with the juice of half a lemon squeezed into it.
- Eat 1 organic leafy green salad each day (if you can’t afford to eat everything organic, start with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and any other veggies your like in your salad).
- Eat smaller meals and finish when you’re 75-80% full (so, not stuffed).
- Consume 10-12 servings of fresh or frozen (not canned) vegetables and fruit every day (cooking some is fine, but raw are a lot healthier).
- Wait at least 12 hours between your last meal of the day and your first to give your liver a daily break.
Of course, if you feel like you’d love a more prescriptive liver cleansing program, you can check out my 21-Day Total Body Detox for a quick, foods-based cleanse designed to get the bad out of your diet and replace it with a lot of good. After all, we can’t control our environments or our genes, but we CAN control what we put into our mouths (and onto our skin)!