Episode 164: Weight Loss and Your Liver... The Connection You Never Knew About
This podcast/blog is alllll about getting to the actual root of stubborn weight.
Because far too many people are gaslit and shamed about their weight struggles.
They're made to feel like they need to starve themselves to get results.
Or like their body is simply broken and they'll never be able to have the body they want.
Or like they're just plain stupid and don't know how to count calories.
Well the buck stops here.
If you've truly put in the effort to not just follow diets, but to change your habits, to make healthy choices daily, to move your body, get better sleep, and manage your stress... then at that point, stubborn weight is a symptom.
A message your body is trying to send to you. And I want to help you decode what that message is.
And today we're talking about the liver.
I'm sure you're familiar with the liver's role in processing alcohol, right? But it does so much more than that.
Your liver releases vitamins when your body needs them, helps stabilize blood sugar, is responsible for absorbing vitamin D, cleanses the blood, discharges waste, neutralizes poisons, manufactures new body proteins, aids in digestion of fats via the production of bile, stores vitamins and minerals, maintains hormone balance, and you guessed it... regulates fat storage.
How does the liver affect fat storage?
- We often talk about the importance of maintaining steady blood sugar levels in order to stabilize weight (spikes and crashes in the fat storage hormone insulin is a big culprit in weight gain). The liver helps create balanced blood sugar by breaking down glycogen reserves to be released when blood sugar gets too low, while it helps remove sugar from the blood when blood sugar gets too high.
- Many toxins are fat soluble. Which means when they begin to accumulate, your body protects you by taking them out of the blood and storing them in fat. This is yet another reason that slow weight loss is the way to go. If you lose weight quickly, your body also releases those toxins quickly and overburdens your detox organs.
- The brain and endocrine glands are fatty organs, so these are common places for toxic accumulation which is why toxic build up can cause hormonal imbalances, exhausted adrenals, and brain dysfunction which all can have an impact on weight.
- If our liver is unable to effectively detoxify synthetic chemicals, they can disrupt our metabolism, disrupt the body's appetite regulation, and even reduce the desire to exercise.
How do you know if your liver is struggling? Some signs and symptoms can show up as...
- High LDL levels. This can indicate that the liver is a bit overburdened because cholesterol from food mostly ends up in the liver and the more fat in the liver, the harder it is for the liver to function well.
- Digestive troubles (particularly with fat).
- Low energy
- Hay fever
- Hormonal imbalances (the liver removes and recycles circulating hormones like epinephrine, norepinephrine, insulin, thyroid hormone, estrogen, progesterone, and testosterone)
- Tenderness under the ribs on the right side
- Light tan stools
- Lack of appetite
- Rashes on the back
Are you convinced yet? If so, here are the best practices for supporting the health of your liver going forward...
- Unhealthy, inflammatory fats like canola oil, vegetable oil, peanut oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, and peanut oil.
- Fried foods which likely not only use the above oils, but because they use such high heats and reuse those oils, they become oxidized and produce carcinogens. In fact, eating one serving of fries can increase your inflammation for 2 days!
- Toxins like heavy metals, pesticides, BPA's and more. Do this by buying organic food as much as possible (research shows only 1% of pesticides sprayed on produce actually kill pests, the other 99% just infuse the produce with chemicals that we then have to detoxify), drink filtered water, use glass containers instead of plastic, and look for less toxic beauty products (EWG has an app that rates the cleanness of different products).
- Too much sugar and simple carbs. The body converts excess sugar into triglycerides which are stored in the liver as fat (this is a major indicator for heart disease which is why sugar is a greater factor than fat is in heart disease).
- Overeating. Too much food is taxing to the liver.
- Alcohol which causes inflammation in the liver making it more difficult to perform its job.
- A sedentary lifestyle. Exercise helps with toxin elimination via the lungs and skin.
- Late night snacking. The liver's regenerative cycle is between 11 pm and 3 am. Don't give it work to do while it's trying to recover.
- Fiber! Soluble fiber binds to toxins and helps carry them out of the body. Some great options are chia seeds, flax seeds, fruits, veggies, beans and oats.
- Herbs like dandelion root, ginger, cloves, burdock, horsetail, wormwood, black walnut, garlic, and in particular milk thistle. Milk thistle contains antioxidants, helps reduce inflammation, and helps the liver repair itself. (Always consult your healthcare provider before trying any new supplements.)
- Lemon zest has a phytonutrient that promotes enzymes that help with liver detoxification. I recently tried a lemonade recipe that was delicious! Cut up a WHOLE lemon and put it in a high-power blender with 20 oz water, ice, and a bit of stevia or honey. It is shockingly good!
- Cruciferous veggies which support the liver detoxification pathway that helps remove excess estrogens (particularly important since we use so many plastics which contain synthetic estrogens). Examples include broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, and bok choy.
- Balanced protein. So many people talk about getting enough protein in your diet. But too much can actually put a strain on your liver. So have a palm-sized portion at each meal and reach for high quality protein from things like wild fish, grass-fed and organic meats, organic eggs, and collagen powder.
- Greens! Cilantro, parsley, mustard greens, dandelion, and arugula are all very good friends with your liver. Add them to soups, salads, and smoothies!
- Beets. They help the liver cells clear toxins and protects it from damage. I like adding a couple of pieces to my smoothie or roasting them and then adding a drizzle of lemon juice (grate some lemon zest over it for an extra liver-supporting boost).
- Skin brushing. Your skin is a major detox organ so if you support it, you also support the liver.
- A dash of turmeric. Curcumin helps to protect the liver, promote bile flow, and is a well known anti-inflammatory. I love mixing up a warm, healing cup of bone broth, turmeric, salt, pepper, lemon, and apple cider vinegar.
- A castor oil pack. By rubbing castor oil over your liver area (on the right side of your body under your rib cage) and covering it with a cloth for 20-30 minutes you promote blood flow to the area, and therefore aid in detoxification.
- Eggs and avocados. They both are a good source of choline which helps transport triglycerides from the liver.
- B vitamins. These are essential to help your liver detoxify heavy metals, histamines, and bacterial toxins that could be the root of immune and/or neurological issues. You can get B vitamins from whole grains, meat, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes, dark leafy greens, and fruit.
- A dash of chlorophyl which helps clear toxins (particularly heavy metals) from the body. You can find chlorophyl in chlorella, spirulina, leafy greens, seaweed, and matcha green tea.
Now you might be excited to jump right in and start giving your liver a whole lot of love!
But hold on just one second, because if you have detoxification issues or constipation where your body isn't able to expel toxins effectively, doing liver work may be premature and cause toxins to be released into your bloodstream unable to escape.
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The information shared in this blog and podcast are intended for informational purposes only. They are not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any health conditions and you should always consult your healthcare provider before making any changes to your diet or exercise routine.