Diary / Wellness / Sep 26, 2022
How to Take Care of Your Most Important Organ
Written by: Lauren Slayton
Many of us joke “my poor liver,” but I’m not sure most people know what their liver really does or even exactly where it’s located in your body or how to show your liver some love beyond skipping alcohol. Between COVID-19 and the summer season, we thought it was a good topic to review.
Without revisiting high school biology, your liver is your largest internal organ. It’s located on the right side of your belly, protected by your ribs. I’m a nutritionist, not a physician so that’s as specific as I can get. Your liver is large, approximately three pounds — for an unappetizing visual, think about three pounds of chicken — so yeah, it’s big.
In terms of what your liver does, it acts like a giant filter. The liver helps remove excess hormones and toxins. When you hear the word “detox,” often what that really means is liver detox. The liver detoxifies chemicals and if it’s unhealthy, it doesn’t function as well.
It’s not just booze that harms your liver, there are many things from medications to foods. Signs your liver isn’t humming along are your weight increasing, while eating as you always have, exhaustion and sleep disturbances. Once you heal your liver you can improve your metabolism and other symptoms.
What’s not so great for your liver?
Sugar: We hear the term fatty liver, but it’s sugar and not fat that increases fat production in your liver.
Bad oils: There are certain fats that are inflammatory and toxic. Oils such as canola, corn and safflower are not good for liver health.
Alcohol: Yes, it is a toxin, yes it might be a popular toxin, but we know it’s not healthy.
Birth Control Pills: Birth control is metabolized in the liver and like alcohol, the pill reduces nutrients the liver needs.
What helps your liver?
B Vitamins: B Vitamins are depleted by regular alcohol consumption. And these vitamins are what help you breakdown alcohol, so you have less of what you need. If you drink, a good B-complex vitamin or a supplement called chlorella is a good idea.
N-acetylcysteine: Also known as NAC, this is one of my favorite supplements for liver health and it also has weight loss benefits. NAC helps you clear alcohol more quickly.
Curcumin: The active ingredient in turmeric is a good substitute for aspirin or Advil, the morning after drinking. Advil and other NSAIDS are actually bad for your liver.
Tea: Green tea and matcha are liver loving foods. These help with enzyme production in the liver.
Dandelion: Dandelion greens, bitters and tea are excellent for your liver and also debloating — a win-win if there ever was one.
Everything from pollution to plastic water bottles taxes your liver. So, give a little thought to how you can cut back on sugar or alcohol or, at the very least, add in some liver loving foods and supplements. Cheers!
Lauren Slayton is a nutritionist and the founder of Foodtrainers.