Interesting facts you may not know about your liver
Another article that may interest you – especially if you are having problems with your energy levels, belly fat, too much Xmas alcohol, have been taking pain killers or anti-biotics for a while, have hi cholesterol or you’re taking statins, you have blood sugar level worries like pre-diabetes or a family history of Diabetes.
Your liver is the second largest organ in your body (after your skin) and it sits in your right, upper abdominal area. We regularly tell you how important your liver is to your overall health, and that if you look after it, you should live a longer and healthier life.
Two of the best known functions of the liver are fat burning and detoxification. Your liver has a major influence over how efficient your metabolism is, and helps you maintain a healthy body weight. Your liver also detoxifies and purifies your bloodstream, all toxic substances that enter your body are eventually processed by your liver. If your liver is good at this job, you will feel energetic, find it easy to think clearly and have a happy, stable mood. If your liver is a poor detoxifier you will feel quite the opposite.
Apart from fat burning and detoxifying, your liver performs several other important functions that you are probably not aware of. This helps to explain why an unhealthy liver can produce such a wide range of health problems.
Less well known jobs your liver performs
· Carbohydrate metabolism
Your liver helps to control your blood sugar level. This is why people with a fatty liver are so prone to developing type 2 diabetes. Your liver converts the glucose you have consumed from carbohydrate rich foods into glycogen, which is stored in the liver and released between meals to keep your energy levels high. People with a fatty liver are not able to store glycogen in their liver well, therefore their blood sugars can rise to unhealthy levels. If you cannot store glycogen well, you will be prone to hypoglycaemia. You may get sugar cravings and feel tired, weak, jittery or moody if you haven’t eaten for several hours. You may also experience poor quality sleep because your blood sugar is unstable throughout the night. You can help by choosing foods that are low or moderate on the Glycemic Load scale to keep your blood sugar stable and balanced and reducing the symptoms of hypoglycaemia.
· Hormone metabolism
Your liver is the major site of hormone breakdown. Your liver breaks down estrogen and secretes it into bile, which then enters your intestines for excretion. If your liver is overworked, you won’t excrete estrogen well and may get symptoms of estrogen dominance such as PMS, sore, lumpy breasts, fluid retention and menstrual cramps. If your liver doesn’t break male hormones (androgens) down well, you may get symptoms such as acne, scalp hair loss and facial hair (in women). One of the best ways a woman can fix her hormone problems is by fixing her liver. You may not realise that your cholesterol level is largely determined by the health of your liver. If you have a fatty liver, inflamed liver or sluggish liver, you will have higher levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Having a high blood triglyceride reading is very dangerous because these fats make the bloodstream thick and sticky and prone to clots. If your gallbladder is healthy, it will excrete cholesterol into your intestines and it will then be removed from your body in the stool. If your gallbladder is unhealthy, the cholesterol can form stones or sludge. It is ironic that most cholesterol lowering drugs (statins) can actually cause raised liver enzymes, meaning they damage liver cells. This means your liver will end up in even worse shape long term.
· Thyroid hormone metabolism
There are two main thyroid hormones in your body: T4 and T3. Your thyroid gland manufactures T4 but it is an inactive hormone. In order to be activated, it must be converted into T3. The majority of that conversion occurs in your liver. T3 is necessary for efficient metabolism in every cell of your body. If you do not have sufficient levels, you can feel tired, bloated, depressed and you will likely gain weight. You can have a perfectly healthy thyroid gland, but if your liver is sluggish you may still have a thyroid hormone deficiency.
· Storage of vitamins and minerals
Vitamins A, D, B12, K and E are stored in the liver, along with copper and iron. Most of these nutrients can be stored in the liver for several months and keep you going if your diet becomes inadequate. Your liver is also responsible for converting vitamin D into its active form. If your liver is unhealthy it will have difficulty with this function.
You will know my thoughts on how Iodine supplementation will help too!!