The human body looks simple from the outside. We have arms and legs to help us move around and eyes, ears, and mouth to help us make sense of the things around us. But truth is our body is not as simple as it may seem. It is very complex. Underneath the skin, we have five vital organs that are working harmoniously so we can walk, talk, appreciate things with our eyes, hold our loved ones among many others. They are the vital organs like the brain, heart, kidneys, liver and lungs. All these organs have their unique structures and functions. And it is our responsibility to take care of them.
In this article, we will specifically focus on looking at ways to improve liver function naturally.
While the human brain is the body’s control center, our liver is essential to the body’s metabolic functions and immune system.
What Does The Liver Do?
The liver is the largest solid organ in the body and it sits on the right-hand side of your abdomen, just below your diaphragm, behind your ribs. It shaped like a football that is flat on one side and weighs about three pounds (1). It regulates most chemical levels in the blood and excretes a product called bile which carries away waste products from the liver and all the blood leaving the stomach and intestines passes through the liver where it processes this blood and breaks down, balances, and creates the nutrients and also metabolizes drugs into forms that are easier to use for the rest of the body or that are nontoxic (2). More than 500 vital functions have been identified with the liver (3). When the liver fails to function, we cannot survive.
How To Keep Your Liver Healthy
- Avoid alcohol and drug use – Alcohol is primarily processed in the liver, so a night of heavy drinking means the liver must work overtime to bring the body back to balance (4). It can damage or destroy liver cells which can lead to the buildup of fat in your liver (fatty liver), inflammation or swelling of your liver (alcohol-related hepatitis), and/or scarring of your liver (cirrhosis) (5). A small amount of alcohol can make an existing liver disease worse. Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the most common causes of chronic liver failure (6). It is advised to drink in moderation if not totally avoid it. Medicines can help you get better, but can be hard to manage and, if misused, potentially dangerous especially to your liver. Talk to your doctor about alternative options like dosage and types of medicines to take. Another “risky behavior” to avoid is unprotected sex, especially with multiple partners, since this increases your risk for catching hepatitis and other viruses or infections (7).
- Have healthy diet – Because the liver breaks down fats, converts protein and sugar and removes substances from the blood, it can become overwhelmed when it has too much to handle (8). It is important that we watch our diet to ensure that the liver can properly break down fats and remove excess cholesterol and toxins. Always keep things balanced by eating organic food and avoiding fried foods including fast food restaurant meals and even undercooked shellfish such as oysters and clams (9). Organic, high-antioxidant foods fight the negative effects of stress, pollution and a poor diet on the health of your liver, while increasing natural liver detoxification and the ability to flush toxins out through urine (10). Foods in high fat, sugar and salt must be avoided. Eat food rich in fiber like fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, rice and cereals. Fiber helps your liver work at an optimal level (11).
- Take liver-boosting supplements – Natural herbs have been used for centuries to help the liver metabolize chemicals found in prescriptions, antibiotics, hormones and nutrients like proteins and fats (12). A few powerful herbs which can be used to give the liver a boost in converting nutrients and removing toxins include milk thistle, an excellent source of the antioxidant called silymarin, which prevents depletion of glutathione in the liver and also fights liver disease; holy basil contains essential oils that help combat bacteria, heavy metals and even strains of fungus; dandelion root helps balance fluid levels and boosts the liver’s efforts to quickly eliminate toxins, strengthening the immune system, helping with blood sugar balance and relieving indigestion; licorice root helps soothe gastrointestinal problems; and bupleurum used for fighting infections and improving digestion problems like acid reflux, diarrhea and constipation (13).
- Stay happy and positive – Historically, holistic practitioners tied emotional troubles to liver damage and, therefore, overall poor health (14). A lot of negative stress can lead to mental, emotional and physical exhaustion which have a negative impact on both mind and body. Getting angry and keeping in negative emotions will harm your liver. It all comes down to your hormones. High amounts of chronic stress all have an impact on your endocrine, reproductive, digestive and immune systems (15). Research reveals that changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis caused by stress promotes inflammatory response and worsens liver damage, even contributing to liver diseases (16). Since the liver is closely tied to functions of the uterus, involved in regulating reproductive hormones, a woman’s menstrual cycle and libido, it’s important to let go of built-up anger and keep positive energy moving by avoiding conflict and stressing over the small things (17). The more stress you’re under, the more dysfunction in the liver can result. So avoid stress at all cost. Forgive people who have wronged you and forget unpleasant memories.
- Exercise regularly – A study reveals that exercise training benefits the management of obesity-related liver diseases independent of detectable weight reduction (18). Another study shows that higher physical activity levels seemed to protect chronic alcohol study group against the metabolic dysfunction that eventually leads to irreversible liver damage (19). During physical activities like walking, running and others, the heart to pumps more blood. This will assist the liver to process your blood efficiently and permits its cleansing effects to take place. The liver is then better able to release blood to your brain, organs, tendons, joints and muscles (20). Therefore, exercise also helps blood and nutrients reach reproductive or digestive organs, which is helpful for managing liver-related symptoms.
The liver is a vital organ that performs functions essential to the health and well-being. But it cannot function on its own. It is interconnected with other organs in the body. Hence, all body organs are important. They are indispensable for our survival. These organs, along with their associated structures, work together and become component parts of a body system. It is our responsibility to give equal care and attention to them for us to have a healthy and happy life.