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Why you need to love your liver

27 Jun 2013 3:08 PM - and signs and symptoms of an overworked liver


Your liver is a vital but often unappreciated organ.  You are probably aware of your heart when it starts pounding as you run up a hill or run for the train.  Or you might pay attention to your lungs when you observe your breath, practice relaxation or if you suffer from asthma but I’m guessing you spend most of your days completely oblivious to the critical role your liver plays in your health.  And the thing is, we often put our livers under enormous pressure (without realising it) when they already have such an important function in our health.

Among its functions, your liver plays an important role in the safe digestion of everything you consume.  This includes all food and drink (including caffeine, soft drinks and alcohol).   Our digestion is responsible for breaking our foods down into glucose, amino acids, essential fats, vitamins and minerals. The by-products of all these complex chemical processes then need to be made safe for excretion.  This detoxifying activity is one of the main jobs of the liver.  

In addition, the liver is also responsible for protecting you from any external "toxins" you may take in.  These could include chemicals, food additives, pollution, pharmaceutical drugs, alcohol and a diet of highly processed foods.  

Furthermore, the liver is involved in the processing and regulation of your hormones, filtering the blood, production of bile to assist in fat digestion and storage of certain vitamins and minerals.

The liver is a very busy organ and as you can imagine a healthy working liver is extremely important to maintenance of your good health.

The signs and symptoms of a liver under pressure are numerous and it can often be difficult to distinguish them as problems of liver function as opposed to some other health condition. 

A liver struggling to cope with the demands of your lifestyle and diet may produce signs and symptoms such as:

  • constipation,

  • flatulence and bloating,

  • nausea,

  • bad breath,

  • migraines and headaches,

  • dark circles under the eyes or a yellow coating on the tongue,

  • fatigue,

  • loss of appetite,

  • skin problems,

  • immunity issues (including auto-immune conditions),

  • arthritis,

  • difficulty digesting fatty/rich foods

  • food intolerances. 

It can also result in hormone imbalances which can then lead to further symptoms such as poor libido, PMS, menstrual irregularities and problems with thyroid function for example.  Even anger can be a sign of an unhappy liver (ever heard the expression…”he is a bit liverish”?).

A liver that is struggling to perform its duties because of inadequate nutrients in the diet or simply because it can't cope with the amount of work required of it, may resort to prioritising its duties.  Often, removal of toxins from the body gets pushed down the list and those toxins will circulate in the blood stream or be stored in the body, until such time as the liver has the capacity to deal with them.  (Often these toxins are stored in fat cells and consequently sometimes difficulty losing weight can be exacerbated by poor liver function because the body needs that fat to safeguard toxins).

So, when was the last time you gave your liver a second thought and showed it a bit of love? 

If you suffer from any of the above signs and symptoms, perhaps it’s time you did.  In my next blog, I will give you some tips for how to love your liver, but if you would like some more personalised advice, call for a naturopathy appointment and we will tailor a plan just for you.

In good health,

 

Kaye Wright
Naturopath
Melbourne CBD

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