Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body, but do you actually know why? We grow up learning most of our vital organs and their roles in our health with a lot of detail, but most of the focus is on the “biggies,” like our hearts, our brains, and our lungs. While most of us are totally aware that the liver IS important and that it helps us break down toxins we ingest, we don’t really understand the full SCOPE of what the liver really does and what makes it so remarkable.
Fascinating Facts about the Liver
You probably knew that your skin is your largest organ, but did you know that the liver is the second largest (making it your largest internal organ)? It’s bigger than your brain! Additionally, the Liver is one of the only organs that every single vertebrate on earth has. It’s so necessary that literally every organism with a backbone needs one to survive! On top of that, your liver has this amazing ability to regenerate itself. You can donate half of your liver, and in 30 days, both you AND the person who received your donation will have a whole liver again!
On top of that, the liver does so much more than just help you break down toxins. Did you know your liver has over 500 different functions?
Other Cool Functions the Liver Performs
Neutralizing toxins is one of the most common liver functions that people know about, and, in fact, many people don’t realize it plays any other role BUT that. However, there are over 500 things the liver plays a part in to help keep you running happy and healthy! Here are some of the biggies you probably NEVER realized:
Fighting Off Infection: Without going too far into medical terms, the liver mobilises your body’s macrophage system, which is used to destroy bacterial infections in your body.
Storing Vitamins and Nutrients: Since the liver breaks down your food, it stores most of the vitamins and nutrients! Most importantly, the liver keeps a stock of iron and provides your body a consistent supply of it throughout the day.
Supplying Glucose To the Brain: Your liver is one of the primary areas in your body that stores glycogen. When you need a quick boost of energy, your liver is the organ supplying it!
Creating Proteins that Helping With Blood Clotting: Outside of the extreme cases where blood clots lead to heart attack, pulmonary embolisms, or strokes, clots are first and foremost our body’s way of preventing us from bleeding out. Using vitamin K, the liver produces protiens that are vital to our body’s ability to clot!
Processing Hormones: Our body takes hormones and either redirects them to where they need to go or breaks them down in order to keep our hormone levels balanced and healthy.
Converting Medicine to Usable Forms: Most medications we take are not provided to us in a form that our body can already use. Instead, medications make their way down to the liver, where they are transformed into a more easily accessible form in order to do what they’re supposed to do.
If it wasn’t obvious before that you should really make sure your liver is in tip-top shape, it should be now! The liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body, so maintaining a healthy liver is not only important for short-term comfort, but long-term health.
Awesome. So, what kind of things can damage your liver?
While the liver is pretty amazing and its regenerative ability makes it one of the hardier organs in your body, there are some pretty huge factors that can make it harder for your liver to heal or, worse, lead to long term liver damage called cirrhosis, liver diseases, or even liver failure.
Being Overweight or Obese: Extra weight, especially that hard-to-fight stomach fat, can put a huge strain on your liver and even lead to a condition called “fatty liver disease,” where your liver has too much fat in it to function properly.
Heavy Alcohol or Tobacco Use: Breaking down alcohol and other toxins can damage your liver cells, especially when you’re consuming a LOT of it. Your liver can become inflamed and even permanently scarred.
High Exposure to Chemicals: Alcohol and tobacco aren’t the only things your liver can be worn out by breaking down. If you’re constantly exposed to chemicals like pesticides and herbicides, it can affect your liver’s ability to regenerate itself.
Hormone Therapy or Prescription Drugs: As I mentioned above, your liver plays a big role in breaking down and balancing hormones, as well as turning your medicines into something your body can actually use. This can fatigue the liver and make it struggle to keep up and repair.
Overindulgence in Sugar: A little bit of sugar isn’t a big deal, but too many people eat way too much sugar today. Particularly refined sugar and high fructose corn syrup, sugar can cause fatty buildup that can also lead to fatty liver disease. In fact, some studies have shown sugar to be just as damaging as alcohol!
Wow, there are a lot of things that can damage your liver. So what are some of the signs that your liver is already suffering?
Luckily, there are a lot of signs that your liver is struggling to keep up with all the work it’s been doing. Unfortunately, many of these signs are extremely easy to misinterpret as another problem altogether. Here are some of the bigger signs that you should be looking at managing your liver health:
You have digestive problems: Bloating, constipation, and indigestion can be signs that your liver is pretty stressed. That basically means your liver is not producing enough bile to properly break down food and keep your intestines well lubricated.
You’re achy: Your liver purifies and produces blood. When your liver is overworked, it’s pretty common that you can’t get enough blood to your muscles and tendons. That can make you feel rigid and painful, especially in your back.
You’re fatigued: If you’re chronically fatigued, your body may be working overtime to repair a stressed liver. This can put your other systems into hyperdrive and overload them, too, making you feel exhausted.
You have mood swings: There are a lot of emotions associated with liver stress, from depression and anger, impatience to irritability. Your brain can be foggy and you may not make the best judgement calls. You may also be rigid, aggressive, and more prone to violent outbursts.
Your skin color has changed: This is one of the most obvious signs of liver fatigue. Your skin may change to look a little yellow or blue-tinged pale. Your fingertips and fingernails may change, too. This is basically because your liver can’t get rid of all the toxins in your body so instead they’re accumulating up to create bilirubin under your skin.
And those are just a few of the signs that your liver is overworked! On top of that, many people experience blurred vision, ringing in their ears, dizziness, insomnia, worsened PMS symptoms, a lower sex drive, spider veins, and more.
Yikes! So what can you do to manage your liver health?
Okay, so having a healthy liver is important, but how do you go about making sure your liver is in good, working order? There are the DO’s and the DON’Ts. With liver health, it’s way more important that you focus on the DON’TS first:
It’s vital to keep in mind that your liver is most likely struggling to keep up with the volume of toxins and other substances it is having to sift through from what you’re eating. The first thing you should do is cut down (or completely remove) the amount of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs you’re introducing into your system.
After that, check out the other things in your diet that can be a big problem. Eliminate as much sugar as you can, as well as all the extremely harmful trans fats in your diet. On top of that, get rid of processed foods. Almost anything that comes in a microwavable package likely has added chemicals to keep it shelf-stable (just read the ingredients panel to get an idea!). Additionally, try to remove non-organic fruits and vegetables that may have pesticides on or inside of them, as well as meats that have been treated with antibiotics or hormones.
A huge part of helping your liver stay healthy is to make sure it doesn’t have to work too hard in the first place. After eliminating the foods above, also try to fill your body with healthy foods that will provide your liver with a boost of nutrients, both to use in repairs and to store for later use! That means use as many whole foods as possible, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, as well as hormone-free meats. The best sources of protein for liver health are legumes, beans, and lentils!
On top of that, make sure you exercise to help manage your weight and prevent things like obesity and diabetes, which can both lead to fatty liver disease.
Finally, you may also want to start taking a liver support supplement. Liver support supplements provide your liver with healthy vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to help it repair more quickly and keep it on top of all the toxins and substances it has to deal with on a daily basis.
The best liver support supplements will help your liver and immune system function, as well as provide antioxidants to boost your liver function even further. Look for supplements with the following potent ingredients:
- Milk Thistle Seed Extract
- Artichoke Leaf Extract
- Dandelion Leaf Extract
- Turmeric Root Extract
- Vitamin B12
FlexNaturals’ Liver Support Supplement is one of the best on the market, using only all-natural ingredients. You can find FlexNaturals Liver Support on Amazon.
Keep Your Liver Healthy Today to Avoid Liver Damage
One of the most important things to keep in mind with liver health is that it’s way easier to keep your liver functioning well from the beginning than to try to reverse years of damage down the line. By keeping your body happy and healthy and your liver running optimally and efficiently, you’re taking control of your health and helping guarantee a long, healthy, happy future.