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Liver Health

Liver Health Brunswick NaturopathyIf you have nausea, headaches, fatigue, chronic skin conditions, sluggish digestion or fat intolerance, abdominal discomfort or constipation, you might have a sluggish liver.

It’s surprising how much work the liver has to do and a poorly functioning liver can have wide ranging effects on your health.

Functions of the Liver

The liver plays an important role in metabolic processes of the body including:

  • Detoxification of potentially toxic chemicals from both inside and outside of the body including drugs, alcohol and toxins.
  • Making cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body.
  • Regulating blood sugar levels and carbohydrate metabolism – converting excess glucose into glycogen for storage.
  • Energy management. When the body needs energy, your liver converts glycogen to glucose for energy.
  • Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.
  • Protein Metabolism – production and storage of proteins as well as the regulation of many substances involved in protein metabolism.
  • Bile, produced by the liver, is stored in the gall bladder and used to help break down dietary fats. Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K need bile in order to be absorbed by the body.
  • Production of blood proteins, clotting factors and substances important to the production of red blood cells.
  • Storage of blood – the liver stores and regulates blood volume.
  • Regulation of a number of hormones.
  • Antioxidant defence – neutralises ‘free-radicals’.
  • Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.
  • Vitamin store – storage of vitamins, mainly A, D and B.

As if that’s not enough, the workload of our livers has increased significantly in recent times due to the explosion of environmental toxins.  A vast amount of chemicals now in everyday use must be broken down and neutralised by the liver, such as medications, household cleaning products, plastics, pesticides, herbicides, cosmetic and personal care products and many more.

Symptoms of Liver Problems

Symptoms of liver disease depend on your condition, but may include:

  • Jaundice (yellowing of skin or whites of the eyes)
  • Dark urine
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss or gain
  • High Cholesterol
  • Bloated abdomen
  • Swollen ankles
  • Abdominal pain in the upper right side
  • Anaemia
  • Black stools (due to altered blood)
  • Mental health changes such as sleep disturbances, confusion, mood effects.

Conditions that need Liver Support

Improve Liver HealthA healthy liver is vital to our total health.  I always consider your liver function in your health assessment.  As well as supporting any identified liver diseases, there are other health conditions that require specific liver treatment including:

  • Chronic fatigue syndrome
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Chronic inflammatory disorders
  • Digestive problems (IBS, IBD, Constipation, Diarrhoea)
  • Hormonal issues – particularly where there is excess oestrogen
  • Leaky gut
  • Most chronic diseases
  • Migraine

Some Disorders of the liver

  • Fatty liver
    This may or may not be related to alcohol and is also seen in overweight, obese or diabetic people. Fat accumulates inside the liver cells, causing cell enlargement and sometimes cell damage and can lead to cirrhosis. The liver becomes enlarged, causing discomfort on the upper right side of the abdomen.
  • Hepatitis
    This is inflammation of the liver or viral infections (hepatitis A to E).
  • Haemochromatosis
    This inherited disease makes the body absorb and store higher than normal amounts of iron. This damages many organs including the liver, pancreas and heart.
  • Cirrhosis
    This has many causes, but is commonly due to hepatitis infection or excessive alcohol intake. The cells of the liver are progressively replaced by scar tissue, which seriously impairs liver functioning.
  • Wilson’s disease
    This is a condition where the liver can’t excrete copper. Various organs of the body, including the liver and brain, are affected by the excessively high copper levels.

Causes of liver disease

Some of the causes of liver disease include:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (‘fatty liver’)
  • Poor diet – excess sugar or the wrong fats
  • Hepatitis – viral infections
  • Alcohol-related liver disease
  • Toxic effect of medications
  • Poor Detoxification – your liver may not be functioning effectively
  • Congenital or inherited abnormalities of the liver

What Can I do?

At Brunswick Naturopathy I can help:

  • Assess and remove any contributing factors or triggers from your diet and lifestyle.
  • Design a specific diet for you that supports liver healing and improved function.
  • Ensure adequate nutrients for your liver to accomplish its many tasks effectively.
  • Support natural detoxification processes can help improve liver and digestive function which may facilitate healthy weight loss, improved energy and reduced pain.
  • Prescribe specific herbs, nutritional supplements and homeopathic remedies that can help to reduce inflammation and improve liver function and regeneration.
  • Support you to reduce your cholesterol levels naturally if needed.

What Else Can Help?

  • Weight reduction where appropriate. Make sure it is a safe plan that suits your particular needs.  There are many reasons why weight loss can be difficult especially if your liver is struggling.  When you lose weight, toxins are removed from fat stores and circulate in the body causing extra burden on the liver.  Seeking professional help may be the best way to go.
  • Implement dietary changes. This will depend on your particular symptoms.  However you might start with:
    • Plenty of fresh fruits & vegetables, whole grains, fish, olive oil and garlic are beneficial in managing high cholesterol and triglyceride levels. Include vitamin E rich foods and omega-3 fatty acids from cold water fish.
    • If blood sugar or insulin levels are a problem, a diet low in carbohydrates, sugar and processed foods, rich in good fats, protein, and plenty of vegetables is beneficial.
    • Increase dietary fibre. Adequate fibre helps prevent cholesterol absorption and helps to eliminate cholesterol from the body.
  • Stress reduction is important for all aspects of good health and will help sleep, blood pressure and cardiovascular risks.
  • Exercise regularly: Aim for at least ½ hour day exercise.
  • Avoid alcohol and any drugs that might damage the liver.
  • Quit smoking.
If you are ready to take control of your own health, call me at Brunswick Naturopathy (0403755584) or book an online appointment.