Supporting Your Liver

With Stampede season coming to an end, one of the things that can be on people’s mind is their liver. Especially depending on how much drinking was involved. The liver works constantly to detoxify your body from everything from alcohol to hormones in your body. Though the liver does this by itself without any help from the outside, it can be often overburdened, especially in today’s urban environment with pollutants being rampant where ever you go. So how do you care for your liver?

Detoxification of the Liver

The liver has 2 phases of detoxification. Both of these phases require a number of various vitamins and minerals in order to have the pathway within the liver functioning and eventually have the metabolites excreted. The first phase metabolizes the various compounds or toxins that your body has been exposed to into an intermediate form that is somewhat broken down, but can still go through the body and cause damage. This is why some people turn red after they drink alcohol. It is because this phase is generally faster than the second phase or they may be missing an enzyme in this pathway to bind the alcohol properly. Phase 2 then binds these intermediate forms to become water soluble, so that they can be excreted in your sweat, urine, and feces. Below shows another diagram of the phases, and some of the compounds that each pathway needs to function.

Clean Your Diet

You can get a number of the compounds needed to support your liver through your foods. The first thing you can do, is to decrease the amount of processed foods you are eating. This actively decreases the burden you are introducing to your body. For example, eliminating alcohol automatically helps your liver function better by the sheer fact that your liver no longer has to metabolize another thing.

Increasing the amount of Brassica or cruciferous vegetables (eg. broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, daikon, etc) will support your liver by providing sulforaphane, which is a compound that is needed to create detoxifying compounds in your body like glutathione, and is very important in the detoxification process of the liver. It is also an antioxidant, protecting your body from oxidative damage (Kapusta-Duch J, et al).

Other herbs and vegetables you can add to your diet, include beets and turmeric. Beets contain a compound called betalains, that is used to support phase 2 of detoxification in the liver (Krajka-Kuźniak V, et al), while turmeric supports both phase 1 and 2 (Hodges and Minich).

Ensure You Are Eliminating

As seen in the diagrams above, you also need to be eliminating your metabolites through your sweat, urine, and bowel movements to be detoxifying properly. If you do not eliminate regularly through these routes, you are most likely reabsorbing a certain amount of those metabolites into your body, and that would defeat the purpose of detoxifying. So make you are you having a bowel movement every day, and that it is a substantial amount (eg. size of your forearm), if your stool looks like pebbles, you are most likely constipated, and that stool has probably been in your intestines for a few days. To help you go more regularly, drink more water, and eat more fibre. If you clean up your diet, and eat more vegetables, you should get enough fibre to start going more regularly, though supplementing a healthy fibre would also be helpful to ensure adequate fibre intake.

See a Naturopathic Doctor

If you feel like you would like to do more to help support your liver by using herbs and supplements, and you feel like the results you are getting isn’t what you want, find a licensed Naturopathic Doctor who can guide you. You can find your local Naturopathic Doctor here.

~ Dr. Charmagne

When Should I See a Naturopathic Doctor?

A Naturopathic Doctor (ND) is someone who has been trained and educated to become one. To become an ND, first one must have a Bachelors Degree, and meet the scientific prerequisites required to apply to an accredited Naturopathic College. Once accepted, one goes through a minimum of 4 years of rigorous academic studies, where they learn all about anatomy, biochemistry, pharmacology, physiology, etc. (like in Medical school), in addition to learning about alternative medicine (botanical medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, homeopathy, nutrition, etc.). After all of this education, they must become licensed, and write the NPLEX (Naturopathic Physician Licensing Exam), which is a 2-part licensing exam.

That being said, NDs are well equip in supporting you achieve your health and wellness goals. Don’t expect a magic pill that is a quick fix. With the different therapies at the disposal of an ND, these improvements to your health tend to take some time, because most of what is being addressed is lifestyle. This means that it tends to take a while to obtain the results you want; however, the changes are long-term, this benefits you and your life. NDs see more than just your symptoms and diagnosis, they see you for who you are, because you’re the one that is going to be implementing the changes, and if you have habits that get in the way of your goal, that needs to be addressed.

So, when should you see an ND? You should see an ND when you want to become healthier and achieve wellness, and you are ready to take responsibility and take action in becoming healthier. NDs are excellent with working with people with all types of concerns, ranging from chronic illness to preconception care, and everything in between: digestive issues, hormonal issues, stress management, sleep issues, etc. It is amazing to have someone in your corner, wanting you to experience wellness for yourself, so that you can live your life fuller, and really LIVE your life.

People who have talked to their medical doctors and have been told that there is nothing that they can do for them, or people who want to get better, and their doctors haven’t been able to help them also tend to seek out NDs for another perspective. Especially since we look at everything (NDs are somewhat notorious for having extensive intake forms) and have the time to be with you to see how different issues may be tied together.

“Before you heal someone, ask him if he's willing to give up the things that make him sick.” 
― Hippocrates

~Dr. Charmagne

Health Resolutions

Health and weight resolutions are the most common resolutions to start off the new year with. That’s one of the reasons why gyms do so well at the beginning of the year, and the reason they are so crowded. However, within the next month or sooner, the gyms are almost back to normal, and that huge rush of people aren’t there any more.

It’s awesome that people want to become healthier versions of themselves, that is something to be proud of - wanting to become a better version of yourself. But what is stopping you? When February comes rolling in, why do you stop going to the gym, or eating healthy, or drinking as much water as you should?

You obviously want this for yourself, otherwise, you wouldn’t have made it a resolution. It’s funny how we tend to be our own biggest obstacles when it comes to achieving goals. So get out of your way, and stop making up excuses as to why you have given up. Use some tough love on yourself - with love being the key word. You have to be your own cheerleader, and if you need a boost, look at all you have accomplished in your life. These accomplishments can be anything, from finishing high school, developing your talents, having your own business, building long lasting and strong relationships, having your own family, etc. Find and make evidence that you are an awesome person, and you are deserving of your goal.

Your self talk is extremely important when accomplishing your goals, and developing new habits. Start off small, and collect your evidence. If you make incremental changes in your life, everyday, and build them onto each other, you will change the trajectory of your life. And while going on your journey to accomplishing your goal, remember to be kind and gentle to yourself.

This is your life - you only have this one to experience and hold dear. So if you want to live a healthier life, then make conscious decisions to become a person who is healthy. For more inspiration, here is a list of amazing people, who can change your perspective about various things in your life, from habits, resolutions, and relationships:

  • James Clear

  • Brené Brown

  • Joe Dispenza

For further tips and tricks to accomplish your goal, check out last year’s blog: Another Year, Another Beginning.

~ Dr. Charmagne