Detox Your Liver | You may be tempted to think your liver can take care of you all on its own, but the truth of the matter is your liver needs your support. The environment in which we live, the American food system, and the level of harmful and unregulated chemicals in body care and skin care products all add up to a heavy heavy burden on the liver. This is in addition to the genetic hiccups (polymorphisms) that further complicate the liver detoxification capabilities. A registered dietitian recently said that “‘universally declaring you have a liver and kidneys so you are detoxifying perfectly,” is like telling someone with a cold, ‘you have a nose, so you are breathing just fine.’” And while that is a little tongue and cheek, it is also true. Too many, even in the medical field, do not understand the constant barrage of stress the liver is under on a day to day basis, and therefore the need for continued additional support.
This article will reveal more reasons your liver needs strategic support from your diet, supplements and lifestyle, and signs your liver may not be getting what it needs. Keep in mind, low dose toxins take their toll too. Toxic exposure is both quantity and duration. A little bit of stress on your liver that never ends takes its toll just like a big toxic event can.
Detox Your Liver | Top 3 Reasons Your Liver Needs You
1. Environmental toxins
You may think that if you do not work among huge amounts of toxic chemicals, heavy metals, pesticides, or herbicides that this does not apply to you. That couldn’t be further from the truth and actually the ongoing small exposures are just as harmful as a one time big exposure. The difference is we rarely recognize the ongoing small environmental toxin exposures. They are sometimes completely unavoidable. Research 1, 2 has clearly demonstrated the presence of chemicals from plastics, insecticides, chemicals from drinking water, fungicides, and more in the bloodstream in people of all ages and umbilical cord fluid of newborns. This means simply living your everyday life creates detectable levels of toxins. Additionally toxins can respond differently at lower doses than higher doses 3 which means we sometimes do not know the effects they are having on our bodies at different times. It is impossible to remove all environmental toxins, but lessening exposure when possible is essential. Since it is impossible to completely avoid exposure, supporting the liver’s ability to deal with the exposure is crucial.
If you live in an agriculture state (Kansas and Missouri!) and grew up around farms, there is a good chance you have higher levels and longer exposures of chemicals like glyphosate from RoundUp that is sprayed in fields and embedded in the actual seeds of GMO crops. This means your liver will need more support and your detoxification pathways are probably sluggish and tired (if not completely impaired).
2. Food additives/chemicals
Food additives and chemicals are a normal and accepted part of the processed food industry. Because children’s bodies are so much smaller than adults, the ongoing exposure of small amounts of chemicals from processed foods make a BIG impact on their small, susceptible systems. Children are needing liver support more and more frequently at younger ages. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) has long been a trusted resource for providing the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15 produce lists each year. This is the best way to prioritize what to purchase organic and what can be bought conventional. The EWG has gone a step further and protecting and advocating for your health by providing the Dirty Dozen Guide to Food Additives. This list highlights the failures of the regulatory system in continuing to allow unsafe food additives into the American food system. Many of the additives on this list, as well as many, many others are banned on other countries and still allowed in the US. All of the additives in the EWG guide are commonly found in foods marketed to children.
3. Personal care and cleaning products
Your skin is your largest organ, and it doesn’t have a built in detoxification system like the GI tract does. This means putting chemicals on your skin can be more harmful to your body than if you ate them! Yes, we’re serious. Your GI tract if it is healthy enough keeps many, many toxins out of your bloodstream, but what you put on your skin goes directly to your bloodstream! This includes face and body lotions, face wash and body wash/soap, make up, countertop cleaners, toilet bowl cleaners, shower/bathtub cleaners, dishwashing soap/detergent, and more. Choosing safe products to use on your skin, and that of your children is a crucial step in protecting and supporting your live.
This is incredibly important for young girls who become interested in nail polish, make up (even play makeup), and cosmetics. There is an abundance of shiny, cheap, and very dangerous cosmetics available and marketed to children, tweens, and teens that should be avoided. When it is time for your teenager to start wearing makeup, be sure you are educating them on the importance of high quality products and purchasing key items important to them from safe cosmetic companies.
Here is a great resource for more on environmental toxins
Signs and Symptoms Your Liver Needs More – Detox Your Liver
If any of the above discussion has you wondering if your liver has been affected by how you have used products in the past, or the environment in which you grew up, here are some tell tale signs your liver may need more from you:
- Bloating and gas
- Reflux and heartburn
- Inability to lose weight
- High blood pressure
- Anxiety and depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Excessive sweating
- Poor appetite
- Swelling in ankles and feet
- Bad breath
- Easy bruising
- Brown spots on skin
While each of these symptoms may also have other underlying causes, it is important to consider with your functional medicine practitioner the role your liver health may be playing. Coming up in Part 3 of this Liver Love series, we will give you practical everyday tips, food ideas, and nutritional supplements to easily support your liver each day. Stay tuned!