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