Have you done everything possible to lose weight, yet the “spare tire” remains? It may be time to look at your liver health. The liver, along with its partner, the gallbladder, has much to do with your ability to metabolize fat. When it’s not working well, the fatty acids may hang around longer than they should. The result? A slow accumulation of extra fat… around the middle, on the thighs, and in other places. Healthy weight loss means supporting your liver.
What Does The Liver Do?
The liver is involved in the breakdown or metabolism of all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
It breaks complex carbohydrates down into glucose to use as energy. What isn’t needed immediately is converted into the storage form, glycogen. If more sugar and carbs come in than the liver can handle, they are converted into body fat and triglycerides. The excess triglycerides can give you an undesirable cholesterol panel.
The liver breaks down proteins from the diet into its building blocks, amino acids. It then helps build these amino acids into the proteins needed for growth, repair, transport of nutrients, and supporting the immune response. If protein metabolism is dysfunctional, you can have bleeding disorders, abnormal bruising, reduced immune function, and more.
The liver also plays a crucial role in many aspects of fat metabolism. It’s involved in producing and regulating many fat-based compounds in the body, including triglycerides, cholesterol, and phospholipids. These are important for energy production, healing, cell structure, and more.
Leads The Way on Detoxification
The liver is also the main detoxification organ. It’s responsible for eliminating several types of natural and synthetic toxins, including:
- Heavy metals
- Biotoxins (mold)
- Steroid hormones (cortisol and sex hormones, like estrogens)
- Non-steroid hormones (insulin, thyroid hormones, growth hormone)
Keeping the body free of toxins is crucial for a balanced immune response.
Supports The Immune Response
As mentioned, a third function of the liver is supporting the immune response. In particular, the liver regulates innate immunity, both in the liver and throughout the body. It does this through specialized liver cells. The liver also plays a role in the adaptive immune response, as it keeps the immune system from over-responding to food toxins and appropriately responding to viruses and bacteria.
According to researchers who published a paper in the Annual Review of Immunology, “the liver is a key, frontline immune tissue.” They explain that the liver detects pathogens in the gut and helps to clear them from the body.
The liver’s critical role in vitamin D production also impacts immunity. Vitamin D is considered the “modulator of the immune system.” A deficiency in this hormone precursor can lead to chronic infections and autoimmune conditions. Check out this video to learn more about the importance of vitamin D.
Signs & Symptoms That The Liver Needs Help
Here are some indicators that the liver needs help:
- Itchy skin
- Fatigue/Sluggish energy
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High blood glucose
- High triglycerides
- Elevated liver enzymes on a blood test
- Nutrient deficiencies – especially fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K
- Weight gain/obesity – a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 30 or greater.
In cases of extreme liver toxicity, the skin can turn yellow, a condition known as jaundice. The abdomen may also swell up with fluid, causing ascites. These are all signs your liver has a buildup of toxins and needs support.
Conditions Associated with Liver Toxicity
Here are just a few conditions outside the liver indicating that it may need help:
- Insulin resistance
- Metabolic syndrome
- Type 2 diabetes
- Cardiovascular disease
- Autoimmune disease
Of course, these conditions are all related to metabolism, toxins, and inflammation (the immune response).
What Can Go Wrong with The Liver?
Many things can go wrong when the liver is deprived of oxygen or overburdened with toxins, infections, or metabolic waste. Here are some liver conditions that can lead to liver dysfunction, leading to excess fat accumulation and difficulty losing weight:
- Fibrosis – Scar tissue in the liver. This usually shows up on imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound.
- Alcoholic Liver Disease – Toxicity due to excessive alcohol consumption.
- Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or Non-alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) – Liver fat accumulates and creates inflammation and damage.
- Autoimmune hepatitis – Inflammation from the immune system attacking the liver cells.
- Viral infections – Especially, Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C.
- Cirrhosis – Late-stage liver disease.
- Liver cancer – When the liver becomes excessively toxic or oxygen-deprived, it can cause the liver cells (“hepatocytes”) to change and then multiply. The result is cancer. A cancerous liver cannot do its regular job very well. As a result, the entire body suffers.
Some of these conditions can get so bad they lead to liver failure. Then a liver transplant may be necessary. But that is a worst-case scenario.
Risk Factors for Liver Dis-ease
Most people know excess alcohol consumption causes liver damage. However, it’s not the only diet or lifestyle factor leading to liver dis-ease and excess weight. Here are some of the contributors:
- Exposure to household chemicals
- Use of toxic personal care products
- Off-gassing from building materials
- Exposure to chemicals through your occupation
- Mold toxicity
- Heavy metal toxicity
- Certain medications and drugs (over 900 have been shown to cause liver injury)
- Excess sugar intake –especially fructose
- Infections, including viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic.
Chronic liver disease doesn’t happen overnight. It develops little by little over time. Each day you make choices that either support your liver health or detract from it.
How Does Your Liver Health Impact Weight Loss?
The liver can impact your ability to lose weight through several mechanisms, including the following:
One of the liver’s roles is to break down and eliminate used-up estrogens. The estrogens may not get broken down properly if the liver becomes overwhelmed with toxins. Instead, they can recirculate, increasing the body’s overall estrogen level and leading to estrogen dominance. Estrogens, when out of balance with progesterone levels, may cause weight gain.
Thyroid Hormone Metabolism
The liver is also responsible for metabolizing thyroid hormones. If the liver becomes dysfunctional, it may not be able to convert the thyroid hormone T4 into its active form, T3. That can lead to symptoms of hypothyroidism (low thyroid). Low thyroid usually causes the metabolism to slow, making weight loss exceedingly difficult.
The body may also hold on to fat as method of self-preservation. Fat cells tend to store toxins. When you lose weight, the toxins are released along with the fat. If the body senses its detoxification pathways aren’t prepared to handle that flood of toxins, it may hold onto the extra pounds.
What Can You Do to Support Your Liver and Lose Weight?
As mentioned above, many things can go wrong with the liver. The first thing will always be to find out what’s happening behind the scenes. We’ll only know through comprehensive testing. Chronic inflammation from food allergies, blood sugar imbalance, gut dysbiosis, and more can impact liver health.
Take Liver-Supporting Supplements as Recommended
Many supplements and herbs have been shown to have beneficial effects. Your Wellness Way practitioner will determine which are best for you based on what else you have going on. Some of these liver-supporting supplements include:
Vitamin C – Vitamin C is an antioxidant that serves as a precursor for the “master antioxidant,” glutathione. Glutathione reduces cell damage in fatty liver disease. Most people think of orange juice as the best dietary source of vitamin C. However, orange juice is high in sugar, especially fructose. Camu Camu is a great superfruit that’s rich in vitamin C, as is Amla from Ayurvedic medicine. Adrenal glands in animals are also a great source of vitamin C. That’s why we offer them in supplement form as freeze-dried Adrenal Glandular.
Dandelion root – Dandelion root stimulates bile flow in the liver. Bile helps bind used-up estrogens and carry them out of the body. As mentioned, excess estrogens (as in estrogen dominance) can lead to weight gain.
Milk thistle – Milk thistle is one of the top liver-supporting herbs. Its active compounds lower inflammation, fight free radicals, protect the liver against fibrosis, and reduce injuries from toxins.
Liver glandular – This freeze-dried liver supplement has all the constituents needed for a healthy liver, including amino acids, B vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, and CoQ10.
These supplements can go a long way toward supporting liver health. But not apart from making appropriate dietary and lifestyles changes.
Make Dietary Changes
The first thing is to follow an overall healthy diet. That doesn’t mean low-fat or necessarily low-calorie. A Mediterranean diet (fresh produce, grass-fed/wild-caught proteins, and plenty of healthy fats, is an excellent place to start. After getting your food allergy results, be sure to follow your list to the letter. Lowering your overall inflammation will go a long way toward improving your liver health.
Do you eat organ meats regularly? Incorporating beef liver (or chicken liver, cod liver, etc.) into your diet may help your liver function better. Organ meats contain all the constituents needed for healing that organ. If you cannot stomach the idea of eating liver, you can take it as a liver glandular supplement!
Make Lifestyle Changes
If you have liver problems, the alcohol binges must go. As mentioned, alcohol is toxic to the liver. If you want to improve liver health to support weight loss, it’s crucial to significantly limit your exposure to toxins of all kinds. That may mean upgrading your household and personal care products, detoxing heavy metals, mitigating environmental mold, and even lowering stress. Catching up on sleep and regular physical activity can also support liver health and weight loss.
The Wellness Way Can Help!
At The Wellness Way, we think and act differently to solve the health challenges others can’t. We know weight issues aren’t always due to what you’re eating or how often you exercise. We see the body systems as a finely tuned Swiss watch. Dysfunction in one organ or system impacts all the others. A poorly functioning liver can have a far-reaching impact. Is your liver holding you back from achieving a healthy weight? The only way to know for sure is to test! Reach out to a Wellness Way clinic today to get started on your health journey.
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