The liver performs over 400 functions, but one of the most important jobs being to filter toxins and waste from your blood. After your liver filters your blood, it transforms any toxins found into substances to be excreted out of your body via your kidneys (urine) or dumps them in your bile duct to flow into your digestive system and out your body in feces (in a healthy liver with good bile flow).
If your liver does not have the proper nutrients to do its' job of filtering the blood and transforming toxins into safe substances to send out of your body, it gets backed up and sluggish.
Toxins are NOT able to leave your body, and they are stored in your adipose tissue (fat tissue) where they will stay until your liver function improves, and they can be released safely!
Another common problem is sluggish/stagnant bile flow. The liver dumps toxins into the bile (bile duct is a river for toxins to move out of the body) and when it gets too thick, the toxic matter can't flow out of the body quick enough (leading to fatigue, low energy, constipation, PMS, toxicity & disease)!
How does your liver function measure up?
Is your liver function supporting your body's fat burning abilities? If you suffer from any of the following, your liver and gallbladder might be trying to tell you something!
- Unexplained weight gain
- History of alcohol/drug use or hepatitis
- Long term prescription drug use (especially antibiotics, accutane, birth control pills, and pain medications that are associated with liver injury)
- Heavy supplement use (especially Vitamin A, copper, iron and select herbs strongly associated with liver injury)
- Sensitive to chemicals (tobacco smoke, fumes, perfume, cleaning agents, etc.)
- Pain between the shoulder blades
- Stomach upset by greasy foods
- Greasy or shiny stools
- History of nausea, motion sickness, or morning sickness
- Light or pale colored stools
- Headache over the eyes
- Gallbladder attacks
- Bitter taste in the mouth (especially after meals)
- Become sick or easily intoxicated if drinking wine
- Easily hung over
- Pain under right side of rib cage
- Hemorrhoids or varicose veins
- NutraSweet (aspartame) consumption
- Chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia
Most often, liver stress is the consequence of a liver injury (often from Rx meds), protein deficiency, poor digestion, a low nutrient diet and/or nutrient excess (especially copper, iron and vitamin A) that allows an increased toxic burden to build up.
Fat burning is not a priority for a liver under stress. That's why you must "get healthy to lose weight" not "lose weight to get healthy."
Trying to go about it another way is a waste of time (dieting, cleansing, fasting, etc) and works against your body. You must strengthen your liver to support your body's fat burning abilities!
This is in part because 'dilution is the solution to pollution', meaning extra fat can help a toxic burden making your body feel more 'safe'. This is because toxins can be fat soluble and are stored in fat cells.
Cellular 'pollution' and the health of your liver is always a factor in chronic conditions as well as weight loss resistance.
What to do about liver-related weight gain?
The following are essential steps to reduce your liver's workload:
- Identify and address mineral deficiencies (I use hair tissue mineral analysis and blood labs with my clients)
- Address protein deficiency
- Reduce supplement workload (only take things you've identified are needed through testing!)
- Identify and correct nutrient excess (be sure to test for vitamin A, copper, an iron — you can inquire how to do this with me here)
- Titrate the right kinds of fiber or binders in your diet as tolerated
Want to learn more about how to strengthen your liver? Consider the following next steps:
- Testing: find out nutrient levels that can impact liver health so you can influence them for better liver health. Key testing includes Hair Tissue Mineral Analysis and Blood Labs for Zinc, Copper, Vitamin A and Iron.
- Masterclass: The Drain Detox Method Discover how to give your liver 'less work to do' and the right support with a food-based plan!
- Article: Is your gut issue really a liver issue? Learn the links between the gut and the liver/biliary axis.
- Article: Do you need to detox: Understand how detoxification works, and what YOU can add into your diet to support it!
Weatherby, Dicken. "Liver and Gallbladder." Signs and Symptoms Analysis from a Functional Perspective. Nutritional Therapy Association, 2004. Print.
Photo Credits: Liver Clipart: Altered and used with permission from Microsoft.