How to Keep Your Liver Happy and Healthy

Your liver is about the size of a football and sits under your lower ribcage on the right side. It has several important things to do. It helps clean your blood by getting rid of harmful chemicals that your body makes. It makes liquid called bile, which helps you break down fat from food. And it also stores sugar called glucose, which gives you a quick energy boost when you need it. It fights off viruses and infections, regulates sex hormones, cholesterol levels and vitamin and mineral supplies in your body. And that’s only some of its 500+ functions!

Your liver is not something you probably think much about, but it’s a key player in your body's digestive system. Everything you eat or drink, including medicine, passes through it. You need to treat it right so it can stay healthy and do its job. It's an organ you could easily trash if you don't take good care of it. And once you trash it, it's gone.

Here are some things you can do to safeguard your liver health:

Drink Up
Drink at least 8 glasses or 2 liters of filtered water daily. This helps to flush toxins out through the bladder and bowels, preventing them from being re-circulated in the bloodstream.

Don't Drink a Lot of Alcohol
It can damage liver cells and lead to the swelling or scarring that becomes cirrhosis, which can be deadly. How much alcohol is too much? U.S. government guidelines say men should drink no more than two drinks a day and women only one.

Drink Coffee
Research shows that it can lower your risk of getting liver disease. Coffee drinking has been shown to protect the liver by optimizing the flow of bile. No one knows why this is so, but it's worth keeping an eye on as more research is done.

Watch Out For Certain Medicines
Some cholesterol drugs can occasionally have a side effect that causes liver problems. The painkiller acetaminophen (Tylenol) can hurt your liver if you take too much. 

Eat a Healthy Diet
Eat organic foods where possible, especially fresh produce, meats and dairy products.  Non-organic foods can be laden with pesticides, herbicides, hormones and antibiotics, all of which are toxins the liver must tackle. Avoid foods which you are allergic or sensitive to, as these weaken liver function and stress the immune system.

Get Regular Exercise
Because the liver stores and processes your blood, circulation is important for allowing its cleansing effects to unfold. The body can become stagnant and more susceptible to disease when blood isn’t flowing, but during physical activities, the heart pumps more blood. The liver is then better able to release blood to your brain, organs, tendons, joints and muscles.

Reduce Stress and Practice Forgiveness
Research shows that changes in the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis caused by stress promotes inflammatory response and worsens liver damage, even contributing to liver diseases. The more stress your under, the more dysfunction in the liver can result. So it’s important to let go of built-up anger and keep positive energy moving by avoiding conflict and stressing over the small things.

Lose weight
Keep your weight under control, which helps prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a condition that leads to cirrhosis.

Detox
Help lighten your liver’s toxic load by using natural cosmetics and household products and avoiding processed foods with unpronounceable ingredients. Additionally, opt for organic produce and animal products, which are less laden with manmade chemicals.

Take Probiotics
A strong link has been discovered between disordered intestinal microbial balance (dysbiosis) and fatty liver. Some studies suggest that a bad intestinal environment fosters “leaky gut syndrome,” which allows GI toxins to flood the liver via the portal circulation. Probiotics help to normalize intestinal flora.

Eat Less Carbs
Carbohydrates generate fat deposits in the liver. The worst culprit by far is high fructose corn syrup, which is used to sweeten just about everything these days, especially soda drinks. Refined and processed carbohydrates such as foods made from white flour i.e. white bread, pasta, pastries, muffins and cakes etc. are best avoided.

Take Liver Supportive Herbs
Liver supportive herbs such as milk thistle, dandelion root, globe artichoke, greater celandine, turmeric and schisandra are some of the many herbs that have many beneficial properties for optimal liver health and function. They are protective and restorative to liver cells, they provide protection from free-radical damage, they help to stimulate liver bile production for healthy fat digestion and they target inflammation in the liver.

photo: davidwolfe.com

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