If I asked you what the most important organ was for women’s health, what would you say? The uterus? Maybe the ovaries?
It may come as a surprise, but according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s the liver.
And when you consider that the liver is actually our largest internal organ and it’s involved in over 500 metabolic processes, it starts to make sense why. Most of you have probably heard of the liver’s role in detoxification, (or at the very least thought about it while having one too many glasses of wine), but it actually plays a key role in everything from maintaining blood sugar levels to regulating hormones. Because it’s responsible for so much, it can get a bit sluggish if we don’t take care of it (and chances are we’ll feel a bit sluggish ourselves too!)
Here are some of the things that start popping up when our livers aren’t living their best lives:
- Bouts of general depression, headaches, or body aches
- Poor digestion, including nausea after eating foods high in fat
- Skin issues like acne and eczema (not to mention under-eye bags and dark circles)
- Feeling tired and fatigued
- Reduced fertility
- PMS and heavy periods
You might be wondering what the heck your liver has to do with PMS. But since that’s something none of us want or need to experience, I’ll let you know that it all comes down to estrogen dominance. When our liver is functioning at top speed, it’s able to break down the estrogen our body no longer needs and send it along to the colon where it should be eliminated by our morning bowel movement. The only problem is, if it’s already overwhelmed by things like toxins, xenoestrogens, heavy metals, and constant stress, that effective system I just mentioned starts to go a little wonky. Since all of that excess estrogen can’t be broken down and eliminated, it gets reabsorbed by the body. Yep. Reabsorbed. Say hello to decreased sex drive, bloat, acne, irritability, and weight gain (just to name a few). Aside from these inconveniences, estrogen dominance has also been implicated in breast cancer, fibroids, endometriosis, and yes, infertility.
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If you just read all of that and are wondering what does the liver the most harm, here are some of the usual suspects:
- Eating a low-fiber diet
- Overindulging when it comes to dairy, refined sugar, and fatty meat
- Continual use of NSAIDs and antibiotics
- Use of conventional personal care products and cosmetics
- Pesticides, such as those used on conventional produce
- Heavy metals like mercury and lead
- Air pollution
As with most things, the best way to keep your liver happy is through diet and lifestyle. I know, I know. It’s quite the shocker.
In terms of diet, some of the best foods that you can eat for you liver are:
- Cruciferous vegetables: broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, Brussels sprouts
- Bitter vegetables: radishes, beets, artichokes
- Fruits: Organic apples, organic berries, and lemons
- Sulphur-rich foods: free-range eggs, onions, and garlic
- Leafy greens: spinach, Swiss chard, arugula, kale
- Healthy fats: avocado, coconut oil, olive oil
- Fermented foods: kefir, kombucha, and fermented vegetables like sauerkraut
- Chlorophyll rich foods: spirulina and chlorella
- Nuts and seeds
- Spices: turmeric, ginger, cayenne pepper, and cinnamon.
And of course, two liters a day of clean filtered water. But, after reading my last post you should already be doing that, right?
As you can imagine, the usual list of foods to reduce or just flat out avoid is the same as usual.
- Refined sugar
- Refined grains
- Fried foods
In terms of lifestyle, moving your body and getting adequate exercise is key because your liver depends on oxygen coming into the lungs to function at top speed. Anything you can do to reduce your stress levels is also super important because they’ve found that stress can actually contribute to liver cell death! So in addition to all of those healthy foods, make sure to also include practices like:
- Regularly expressing your feelings
Funnily enough, all of the things I just recommended are part of any basic preconception plan which only reaffirms that your fertility is your health and your health is your fertility. What changes are you willing to make to support your liver this week?