Ahhh, the liver! What an underappreciated organ. This wonderful organ keeps our bodies humming away every day, but we often take it for granted and even forget its role in our wellness. Today I want to share 10 facts about your liver, and also give you some easy ways to show it some tender love and care.
The liver has MANY roles in the body, but one of the most well-known roles is detoxification of our bodies. We are bombarded every single day with all sorts of things that must be detoxified from the body. The numbers are actually really scary.
Of the 85,000 new chemicals developed in the last 60 years, a whopping 90% of them have never been tested for their effects on human health. More than 9,000 of these chemicals are food additives. Scientists currently estimate that humans carry at least 700 toxic chemicals in our bodies that have not been studied (source).
So, as you can imagine, our poor livers have the odds stacked against them every day! Here are some interesting (and important) liver facts that you may or may not know.
10 Facts About Your Liver
- The liver is the largest internal organ (and the most metabolically complex).
- The liver is responsible for 500+ functions in the human body.
- The liver helps fight infection, control blood sugar, create proteins and hormones, neutralize and remove toxins, and much more.
- The liver is the only organ in the human body that is able to regenerate.
- The liver contains about 10% of your body’s blood at any one time.
- The liver pumps close to 1.5 quarts of blood through it per minute.
- The liver is responsible for producing bile which helps with digestion and also with removing toxins.
- The liver weighs around 3 pounds.
- The liver is a warehouse for iron, plus extra minerals and vitamins that helps us function every day.
- For the ancient Greeks, the liver was considered the “seat of emotions” and viewed the liver as the organ in closest contact with the divine.
What Can You Do to Support Your Liver?
Our poor livers take a beating every day thanks to the toxic world that we live in. We are constantly bombarded by toxins and chemicals in our food, water, air, and soil. Our livers keep our body humming away, yet we always forget to give them some tender love and care. Here are some simple ways to care for our livers (all of which go a long way in keeping the liver happy):
Avoid processed and refined foods. Keep sugar intake to a minimum. Eat organic whenever you can. Increase the amount of vegetables you eat every day. Take time to enjoy your food by setting aside plenty of time to eat in a relaxed state. This helps proper digestive function (in which the liver is quite involved). If you need help with real food and eating clean, check out my ebook, Real Food 101.
Drink Lots of Water
Purified or spring water preferably as most city water is going to be loaded with gross stuff like chlorine, fluoride, bacteria, parasites, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and even dissolved pharmaceutical and illicit drugs. Ick! If you want to start filtering your own water at home, I love the Berkey water filtration systems (read my review here). Here is a great article on easy ways to stay hydrated.
Get Quality Sleep
Nighttime when we are sleeping is when our body rejuvenates and detoxifies. This is a critical time for our liver and other organs as they work to heal the body and remove toxins. Read this article for more information about the importance of sleep and how to get enough of it.
Moving our bodies regularly is critical to our overall health and also helps the liver function better. The key is to find movement that makes you happy and doesn’t overly stress the body. If you are dealing with chronic illness, moving mindfully is even more important so consider things like walking, yoga, tai chi, q’gong, pilates, and simple body weight exercises. Check out this article about mindful movement. Here’s another one about mindful movement with chronic illness.
Avoid Drugs and Pharmaceuticals
I’m assuming if you are reading this then you are avoiding illegal drugs, but pharmaceutical drugs like aspirin, tylenol, and prescription medications also place a heavy burden on the liver. I know that at times drugs are needed and I am not condemning anyone who uses them (I have to use a couple myself right now), but try to avoid anything that is not 100% necessary right now and your liver will thank you.
Avoid or Limit Alcohol
This is generally common knowledge, but the liver is required to metabolize and filter the alcohol from the body. Overconsumption of alcoholic beverages can really tax the liver and can lead to problems down the road. Some people prefer to avoid alcohol completely, while others choose to mindfully indulge from time to time. Find what works for you and always accompany your drinks with lots of water and perhaps some herbal support as well (more on that below).
Manage Your Stress
Ahhhh stress. What DOESN’T stress affect in the body? We are all going to have stress in our lives. There’s just no avoiding it. But, how we manage it is key. Finding ways to work through our stress and channel that negative energy is going to be important at keeping the liver (and our other organs healthy). A 10 year study found that high levels of stress and anxiety led to an increased risk of death from liver disease (source). I’ve written about stress A LOT on this site, so here are a few articles to get you started:
- Top 30 Foods to Naturally Fight Feelings of Stress & Anxiety
- 9 Ways to Reduce Stress & Make Life Easier
- Let’s Get Personal: How HTMA is Helping Me Manage Stress
- 50 Tips for Improving Adrenal Health and Managing Stress
- How To Combat the Long Term Effects of Stress (and avoid it wreaking havoc on your health)
- 11 Tips for Balance, Eating Well, and Minimizing Stress
How Can You Benefit From Detoxifying Your Liver?
All of the items above can go a long way to keeping that liver of yours healthy and happy. It’s pretty much impossible to completely avoid chemicals and toxins. So, we need to help support our normal biological functions with a little extra. That’s where we call in some herbs! Herbs can help give us a little extra support, especially if we are struggling with chronic illness.
Some of the most common liver supporting herbs are:
- Milk Thistle
- Artichoke Leaf
- Burdock Root
I am a big fan of all of these herbs and while they each can help a lot on their own, when combined together, they become a liver support powerhouse.
Supporting Your Liver & Detoxification System Through Herbs
When it comes to supporting your body’s natural detoxification pathways, caffeine may not be your best friend. While those with sluggish adrenal glands and a slow thyroid tend to feel run down and in need of a regular pick-me-up (like coffee and other caffeinated beverages), in the long run, caffeine can do more harm than good while you are healing. Typically those who suffer from dysfunction in the endocrine system are also doing to deal with issues in their detoxification pathways as well (i.e. a sluggish liver, slow moving lymph, etc.).
I go into the “whys” around caffeine and its effects on the body in this detailed post here. In addition to the caffeine, there are other constituents, molds, and mycotoxins that can show up in coffee that some people find they react to and can put an extra burden on the liver to clear out of the body.
When I was diagnosed with autoimmune disease and adrenal fatigue (and sluggish detox ability), one of the first things that had to go was coffee. To be honest, I never drank coffee because of the caffeine. I drank coffee for the taste and aroma, as well as the emotional experience I felt to my morning cup of joe. For me, it was a ritual that I looked forward to every day (and sometimes multiple times a day). Whether I was brewing it at home or going to my local coffee shops, the experience was one that I clung to tightly.
But, when I was faced with new health struggles, I knew I had to do whatever I could to support my body and give it the tools it needed to heal. Giving up coffee and caffeine was one step in this direction.
And it sucked.
I turned to the coffee substitutes on the market in a desperate attempt to recreate the ritual I had grown so fond of, but nothing ever tasted the way I wanted it to. Nothing ever gave me that same experience that my cup of “real” coffee did. I knew there had to be something better, but I simply could not find it on my health food store’s shelves.
Necessity is the mother of invention so that is why I created my own coffee substitutes. They were made with organic, sustainably harvested herbs with zero grains, zero gluten, and zero caffeine. Just herbs. Herbs that not only tasted delicious but supported my body’s function, like liver detox, bile production, digestion, etc. In my mind, if I can get something to not only taste amazing but do amazing things for my body, then it’s a no brainer!
I sold these pre-made blends on Etsy for awhile and the demand was more than I could keep up with. People literally LOVED these blends and were stunned at how much like coffee they actually tasted. Customers who had been dealing with a variety of chronic illnesses had given up coffee to heal their bodies, but like me were deeply missing their morning cup of joe ritual.
After careful consideration and work with some highly experienced advisors, I decided to stop selling the pre-made blends and instead share my proprietary recipes in the form of an eBook. That way I could arm people with the knowledge and recipes they needed to make their own caffeine-free, gluten-free, grain-free blends in the comfort of their own home.
That is why I created the best-selling DIY Herbal Coffees eBook: A Complete Guide To Making Delicious Herbal Coffees to Support Healing & Stress Relief. Now in its second edition, this ebook features all of my proprietary herbal blend recipes to you can craft a homemade herbal cup of “coffee” at home.
In addition, you get a ton of researched information about coffee’s impact on the health of those dealing with issues like adrenal fatigue, blood sugar dysregulation, autoimmune disease, thyroid disease, and any other chronic illness.
Lastly, you get access to your own personal coffee shop. I show you how to recreate your favorite coffee shop drinks and pastries with wholesome, nourishing real food ingredients. No junk here.
This book truly is a comprehensive guide to supporting your health, reducing your stress, and bringing a little something special back into your healing journey.