Does your liver get the credit it deserves for keeping you detoxified? Most of us barely give the body’s biggest organ a second thought. But, as your primary detoxifier, the liver plays more than a passing role in your overall health.
You can think of the liver as your body’s sewage treatment system. Everything you breathe, ingest, and absorb will most likely eventually pass through the liver. The liver filters out the nutrients that you need from the substances that you don’t, including toxins and metabolic waste products.
In fact, your liver is actually responsible for more than 500 vital functions, including:
- Detoxifying the blood
- Producing bile to break down fats and remove fat-soluble toxins
- Converting fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy
- Breaking down alcohol and other potentially toxic substances
- Storing vitamins and minerals and sugar (glycogen) for future use
- Maintaining fluid and electrolyte balance
- Breaking down hormones that have served their function
The liver’s role in processing hormones is perhaps its most underrated ability. This function alone makes a major difference in your daily health.
Your Liver & Your Hormones
Hormones are chemical messengers that influence your bodily functions, your behavior, and your emotions. They affect your sleep, appetite, stress response, sexual and reproductive health, and more. When your hormones are imbalanced, it can cause disruptions in all of these areas.
Many people don’t realize that the liver plays a crucial role in regulating your hormones. It promotes hormone production, directs hormone functioning, and breaks down hormones that have served their purpose, in order to keep things balanced. This process goes on 24/7 without your awareness.
However, like any filter, your liver can get backed up if it’s processing too many toxins and other substances from your blood. A sluggish liver struggles to properly filter out excess hormones, particularly estrogen.
This can potentially trigger a hormone imbalance, leading to symptoms like sleep issues, mood swings, heavy and irregular periods, fibroids in the breast or uterus, or reproductive problems.
Estrogen and the Liver
The liver has a two-step process for eliminating toxins and hormones from the bloodstream:
- It converts unwanted materials into toxic free radicals.
- It turns these into a water-soluble form that the body expels through waste.
Lifestyle factors such as an unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, chronic stress, or medications can overwhelm the liver’s detoxification process. Essentially, the liver gets stuck in step one, and step two gets delayed.
When this happens, toxic free radicals and excess estrogen can build up in the body, and you might begin to experience health problems. Excessive hormone buildup is linked with the following health conditions:
- Autoimmune diseases such as arthritis, multiple sclerosis, or ulcerative colitis
- Leaky gut disease
- Thyroid issues
- Gallbladder disease
How to Restore Liver Health for Your Hormones
Maintaining a healthy liver is crucial for hormonal balance, so follow these tips to keep yours working as it should.
- Fill up on fiber. Liver bile sweeps out excess hormones by packaging them together with fiber, so eat more fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to support the elimination process.
- Avoid processed & fatty foods. Processed ingredients tax the liver’s toxin filter, making it harder for it to stay on top of filtering out unwanted hormones.
- Drink moderately. It’s no secret that processing alcohol from a night out becomes a full-time job for your liver. Spare it the effort by drinking only in moderation.
- Stamp out that cigarette. Intentionally breathing in carcinogens is terrible for your health, so spare your lungs and your liver by snuffing out your smokes.
- Stay away from environmental toxins. Breathing in synthetic pesticides and other pollutants trigger your body’s poison filter, potentially overtaxing the liver.
- Monitor your prescription drug use. Certain medications can promote hormone production, potentially leading to excessive levels if you aren’t careful.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Body fat is a prime storage space for hormones your system can’t eliminate, so losing weight will lower your concentration.
Your liver affects your health and well-being more than you realize. Take good care of your liver, and you’ll be surprised at the difference it can make in your life.