10 Simple Ways to Support Your Liver Health, Boost Detoxification and Support Hormones
The liver is a powerhouse organ. It does everything—and more. In many ways, it operates similarly to the engine of a car. The liver is the body’s primary filtration system, converts toxins into waste (very helpful for hormone health!), cleanses the blood, metabolizes nutrients, and adjusts cholesterol levels. Additionally, the liver provides the body with some of its most important proteins. As such a fundamental piece of the body’s overall structure, supporting the liver is key. Without further ado, let’s dive into practical diet and lifestyle tips to keep your liver functioning well.
Lifestyle Habits That Support The Liver
While your liver may not always be top of mind, a malfunctioning liver is less than ideal. In fact, if your liver stops working, toxins would accumulate, you wouldn’t be able to digest your food, and medications would never leave your body. In fact, you can’t live a week without your liver Yikes. So, below are a few ways to support your liver health and minimize the risk of liver disease.
Be mindful of alcohol consumption.
For women, just two ounces a day of hard liquor can begin to scar the liver.And, did you know that women are more susceptible than men to alcohol’s repercussions? In part, we can thank physiological differences in our chemistry and body structure. In comparison to men, women’s bodies contain proportionately less water and more fat. Because water dilutes alcohol and fat retains it, women’s organs are exposed to higher concentrations of alcohol—for longer periods of time.
Eat to balance blood sugar.
When it comes to avoiding nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, blood sugar balance is key. The liver both stores and manufactures glucose, but consuming too much glucose—in the form of refined carbohydrates and sugar—can disrupt the liver’s ability to naturally regulate blood sugar levels. When in doubt, pair complex carbs (sweet potatoes, bananas, apples, rice, etc.) with protein (hard boiled eggs, cottage cheese, deli turkey, tempeh, etc.) and / or fat (avocado, olives, full-fat cheese, etc.). Fiber is also crucial for liver health!
Move your body.
A combination of both aerobic exercise (think: jogging, cycling, swimming, etc.) and anaerobic movement (weight training) is best for liver function. Aerobic exercise focuses on your cardiovascular system, speeding up the delivery of oxygen to your liver. And anaerobic exercise improves overall strength in bones and muscles. This is important because liver disease often leaves bones susceptible to osteoporosis. Exercise is key for balanced hormones, too!
How Does Liver Health Impact Female Hormones?
If your liver is not functioning optimally—or if you have a liver condition—then your liver may not be able to properly remove estrogen at its normal rate. That means estrogen can be poorly metabolized and can get reabsorbed in the body, leading to a hormonal imbalance. Hello, estrogen dominance. Furthermore, a woman with a sluggish liver can experience other hormone-related woes: heavy or clotted periods, irregular periods, fibroids, hot flashes, and more.
Seed Cycling For Liver Health
If you’re new to seed cycling, welcome! See here for our beginner’s guide. When it comes to liver health, seed cycle can be a supportive dietary practice. Particularly during the second phase of your cycle (luteal phase), sesame seeds and sunflower seeds (foods rich in selenium!) help boost progesterone help detox the liver of excess estrogen.
5 Foods To Keep Your Liver Healthy
Fatty Fish: Oily or fatty fish, such as salmon and trout, is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids. In certain cases, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with diets that are too high in omega-6 fats and too low in omega-3 fats. So, eating more oily fish can help adjust this balance. Omega-3 fats may slow the progression of NAFLD..
Red grapes: Currently in season, grapes contain fiber and antioxidants. Specifically, grapes contain an antioxidant called resveratrol, which may help prevent further liver damage in people with NAFLD. Studies show that people with NAFLD who take resveratrol supplements made from grape extract may have less inflammation.
Cruciferous veggies: Cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts may help increase the liver’s natural detoxification enzymes and protect it from damage. Cruciferous vegetables may also improve blood levels of liver enzymes. Plus, they contain antioxidants and phytochemicals that may help prevent liver cancer.
Beans: To support the liver, the American Liver Foundation recommends reducing saturated fat and red meat. One way to do this is to occasionally replace red meat with beans, lentils, and chickpeas. These legumes are low in saturated fat and are a source of fiber, which is a winning combination that protects liver health.
Coffee: Although coffee often gets a bad rap, it can support liver health! To simultaneously support hormone health, it’s best to drink high quality coffee after breakfast. Coffee has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, and both decaf and caffeinated coffee seem to be beneficial. Studies show that diterpenes in coffee may help with detoxifying actions, which can be beneficial for people with liver fibrosis and cirrhosis.