Your first line of defense against toxins is your liver. It acts like a filter in preventing toxic substances (ie: food, medications, excess hormones, toxic minerals) from passing into your blood stream. In a nutshell, take special care of it!
Your liver is the largest solid organ in your body, and as an adult, it’s about the size of a football. It sits on the right side of your belly, weighs about 3 pounds, is reddish-brown in color, and feels rubbery to the touch. Normally you can't feel the liver because it's protected by the rib cage.
The liver has two large sections, called the right and the left lobes. The gallbladder sits under the liver, along with parts of the pancreas and intestines. The liver and these organs work together to digest, absorb, and process food.
The liver has numerous jobs, a few which include:
#1) Filter and clean the blood that comes from the digestive tract before passing it to the rest of the body.
#2) Detoxify heavy metals, hormones, chemicals and drugs.
#3) Produce bile, an important digestive liquid, which ends up back in the intestines.
Read more about the 3 phases of liver detoxification.
There are numerous things the liver does to naturally detox, and the process works quite well.
Here are some examples:
1) As a result of eating and digesting your food, your blood is enriched with vitamins and minerals. Before going out to the rest of the body, the nutrient-rich blood makes a stop at the liver. The liver processes the good stuff into forms the rest of the body can use. Waste or stuff your body doesn't need is carried by bile back into the intestine and out of the body when you go #2. This is a huge reason to have daily bowel movements. If not, the waste trapped in your bowel gets reabsorbed back into your intestines. Other waste processed by the liver goes through your blood to your kidneys and out in your urine.
2) The liver and kidneys do a good job processing chemicals and harmful substances and eliminating them in sweat, urine, and feces. Examples of harmful substances include: medications, drugs, hormone enhancers, food additives, preservatives, food colorings, sweeteners, flavor enhancers, chemicals used in agriculture, alcohols, volatile organic compounds, fumes, air pollution and many other factors.
3) The liver makes bile, which is a digestive juice responsible for helping absorb fat into the bloodstream. If you want a healthy liver, your bile matters.
4) Many of the toxins that enter the body are fat-soluble which means they dissolve only in fatty or oily solutions and not in water. To handle this, the liver has to convert fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances your kidneys can excrete in urine.
5) Red blood cells and Kupffer cells are produced in the liver. The Kupffer cells help to eliminate harmful micro-organisms by traveling through the blood to help fight infection.
Living healthy is the best way to care for your liver. The liver can be damaged if a person is very overweight or drinks too much alcohol. So be active, eat right, and your liver will keep on loving you back! These simple detox tips are a great place to start.
I love incorporating this liver-cleansing drink, along with these other nutrients, to show my liver some extra love.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods