I can hardly believe that we’re already moving towards Christmas again, this year seems to have gone in a flash! I was going to save this article on the liver for later in the year, perhaps next month as the long evenings invite us to drink another glass of wine, as the cold nipping at our noses might suggest a warming shot of whiskey or perhaps in December when the Christmas parties are in full swing. Instead, I have decided to go with this today so that we can (perhaps) work on prevention rather than recovery! Learn to love your liver now and discover why it’s critical to overall health wellness and your optimal weight.
Why your liver might be having a hard time…
The liver is an incredibly complex organ with over 500 functions and is involved in all the bodies’ major processes. It’s for this reason that it’s so critical to overall health and wellness. If the liver gets fatty, stressed and blocked up, the ramifications to our overall experience of life are not good and can certainly lead to weight gain that can be stubborn to shift.
Love your liver and lose weight
The primary function of the liver is in the processes of digestion, including break down of food, extraction of nutrients and dealing with harmful drugs, toxins (yes that includes alcohol). Other key functions are in energy release and immune response.
It’s the liver's critical role in so many systems that can leave it vulnerable to disease and dysfunction given the environment it can be exposed to in our modern way of living. It has to deal with all the inhaled, ingested and absorbed chemicals from the atmosphere around us, our food and water, and from products we might put on our skin. It will also have to deal with chemicals or drugs that we might consume whether they be pharmaceutical or recreational, some have far more severe effects that others however as alcohol is so accepted and often consumed daily it can be very dangerous to the liver.
So considering the next few months to come what do we think might be the major pressures on the liver? What could that mean for us if we don’t look after it and perhaps make better choices?
The keys to unlocking the potential of your liver
The major pressures on the liver over the Christmas period are usually too much sugar, too much fat, too much alcohol and in many cases to much stress. That’s about all the key ways you can stress a liver! The outcomes of this can be very varied however generally speaking we could expect less than normal energy levels (feeling lethargic), increased body fat percentage and reduced immune function. So flip this equation and imagine how great it would be to come into the New Year with stacks of energy, little excess fat and an immune system that could fight off the plague!
Rather than hitting the New Year and doing a ‘detox’ or starving yourself to lose weight on the latest diet, why not start loving you liver a little bit now and start to make a few key changes to your lifestyle that you can carry on through the next few months and beyond. Health is not best attacked now and again in a guilt ridden rush but by slowly and gently making changes over a period of years.
Food is one of the ultimate keys to liver health and so to optimal weight loss and maintenance of lean muscle mass. To support optimal liver health and so ideal full body wellbeing we can try these key strategies:
Reduce you sugar intake
An excess of sugar can cause fatty liver disease, this can lead to many problems including weight gain. Too much sugar can also lead to hormonal imbalance that can have far reaching effects including acne, infertility and cardiovascular disease. If you really feel you need a little sweetness take a look at stevia and coconut sugar (to name but a few) or other natural sweeteners.
Eat plenty of green leafy veggies
Green leafy veggies are incredible, not only are they very tasty but they contain so many of the amazing nutrients that we’re looking for when focusing on liver health. Nutrients such as lipoic acid which is great for improving liver function is found in both spinach and broccoli.
Whole foods over refined foods
Whole foods always rule over their refined counterparts. They contain so much that is essential for optimal liver function and so weight loss. Fiber is critical for bowel health and often we don’t consume enough. The fibre found in brown rice is packed with tocotrienols (from the Vitamin E family) that help reduce the risk of a fatty liver. Whole foods are also packed full of a multitude of vitamins and minerals not usually found in refined foods.
Avoid poisons such as alcohol
We should do our best to either not drink alcohol or to limit our consumption. If you are going to drink make sure you support your liver in every way possible. The NHS recommends that men should drink no more than 3 units a day and women no more than 2 units a day. We recommend you drink no alcohol at all at least 4 days a week.
Staying hydrated is such an easy way to add to your life and a really ‘quick win’ to boost your energy and enhance your liver health. Most of us seriously under consume water and as a result are chronically dehydrated. This has a severe effect on the digestive system that in turn loads more pressure on the liver. To find out how much is right for you take your body weight in kilograms and multiply it by 0.022 this will give you the number of litres to drink each day. I weigh 88 kilograms so should aim to drink 1.9 litres per day.
Try to drink as much filtered clean water as possible. I really do not think that tap water, generally speaking, is going to support optimal health. Take a look at these great solutions for mobile and in home water filtration.
Supplements that will boost liver response
It’s important to remember that food comes first and supplements are supplemental. Imagine that someone has a fatty liver from toxic overload, too much sugar, too much fat and too much alcohol. Their liver is struggling to cope and now it’s being bombarded with vitamins that it has to process. This can be just another stress. Eating plenty of organic whole foods, green vegetables and staying hydrated will give your liver the basic health it needs for supplements to be of great benefit.
- Adding some extra fibre such as whole husk psyllium can be a real help when cleansing the system, it will not only add bulk for gut health but can also help remove toxins. Or Pukka’s Fibre Plus (psyllium husk, linseed & aloe vera juice).
- DHA in Krill or fish oil can support liver health and optimal weight loss. Such as blue ice fish oils or perhaps the Eskimo 3 range.
- A healthy gut leads to a healthy liver so friendly flora can be a great boost. Dr Mercola’s Probiotic or Bio Kult are great options.
- Digestive enzymes can be very useful if you have trouble with acid reflux of digesting you food fully. Again this will reduce pressure on the liver.
- A good source of B vitamins for fat and toxin processing.
- Milk Thistle has been used for 1000 years as a herbal remedy for liver detox and repair.
There are many nutrients that will be of great benefit to optimal liver health and detoxification so I took a look at all our products to see if I could make one recommendation that covers the all the basis. The answer is Living Fuel Super Greens and/or Super Berry. It contains almost everything you need for optimal liver health. It has the high quality rice based protein, rice bran and fiber, digestive enzymes and probiotic bacteria for optimal gut health. It has milk thistle, tocotrienols, vitamin D, Lipoic acid, green tea and almost anything else that you could think of for optimal liver health. The only thing you need to add to Living Fuel is good quality Krill or Fish oil and you have a complete supplemental solution for a very healthy liver.
Exercise to burn fat
Anything will help. If you’re really inactive then simply try to increase the number of steps you take per day. Try tackling the stairs at every opportunity and walk as much as you can.
If you’re into your training then my strongest recommendation for rapid shape change along with a whole list of other benefits are weight training circuits using big functional movements. High intensity exercise offers the greatest result if you’re well enough to do it. Choose (or have a trainer choose) between 5 – 7 big exercises that balance leg training with pushing, pulling and perhaps a little integrated abdominal training and run them back to back with each exercise being performed at a load that really challenges you. If you do this twice per week for 45 minutes you will lose weight fast when combined with the other dietary and lifestyle elements listed above.
Please make sure you have done appropriate conditioning before undertaking an exercise circuit such as this. If you’re not ready for it, it will break you as fast as it can build you an incredible physique, so this is only for those that are ready for it.
Relax and lose weight
As with exercise I have written about relaxation and mediation in some detail in other posts. There is a clear link between the stress response and an inability to lose weight. There is a connection between cortisol (stress hormone) and the inability for the liver to break down fat. For optimal response in this programme of liver loving take some time out to relax and find peace. It could be the part of the health equation that helps you really achieve your goals.
Eat well, sleep well, take time to relax and find peace, and drink enough fresh clean water daily for optimal hydration. High intensity exercise and increase in physical work is a step in the right direction. Supplements can take your health to the next level as long as you’re healthy enough to absorb and assimilate them. Remember to enjoy the journey of health and wellness.
In health and happiness