If your hormones are out of kilter, it’s likely your liver function is not so great.
In celebration of Love Your Liver Month, you’ll discover one of your liver’s frequently overlooked roles – balancing your hormones.
It’s tempting to think of your liver simply as a tireless garbage removal system for your body. It performs this role admirably, but works hard every day on a host of other tasks. One of these is to act as a processing centre for hormones and to detoxify them when they’re no longer needed.
Hormones are your body’s messenger service carrying instructions for your cells and tissues. So your liver health will influence every single cell in your body.
To regulate hormones, your liver produces proteins transporting them around your body. These proteins affect whether the hormone can activate the receptors on your cells because hormones are only active when they unlatch from the protein.
Certain hormones, for example oestrogen, exist in different forms, some stronger than others. During processing your liver makes these various types of oestrogens, deciding for itself the proportions produced. If you’re generating a lot of strong oestrogens relative to weak ones, their overall effect will be higher.
Finally if your liver function isn’t great, you won’t convert thyroid hormone to its active form – cue tiredness, brain fog and low libido.
Hormones must be detoxified when they’re no longer needed, and this is your liver’s job too. If it’s not done well, hormones can remain in your body when they’re no longer needed. This often happens with oestrogen, and especially affects women during the peri-menopause. If you’re at this stage in your life you might find your hormones go haywire, causing symptoms like heavy, painful, irregular periods, painful breasts and bloating.
If this sounds like you, your oestrogen levels are probably climbing too high, a situation known as oestrogen dominance and linked with oestrogen-dependent cancers such as breast and ovarian cancer. Men can suffer from oestrogen dominance, too.
If you support your liver, it won’t just show up in better hormone balance, because every other system in your body relies on your liver functioning at its best. Fortunately, your liver is very forgiving and it responds well to nurturing.
Your liver needs B vitamins and vitamin C to function well. Avocados, eggs and wild-caught salmon are especially useful as they contain a B vitamin-like nutrient called choline, essential for hormone detoxification.
Vitamin C can’t be stored in your body, so it’s best to eat sources of vitamin C throughout the day. Especially rich in vitamin C are berry fruits, red and yellow peppers, kiwi fruits and broccoli.
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, cabbage, broccoli and cauliflower contain compounds helping the liver break down used oestrogen.
Your liver likes garlic, onions and turmeric too. Ever tried dandelion greens? They’re a great liver cleanser. Or sip dandelion tea instead of coffee.
Meanwhile, keep alcohol to a minimum to lift the load on your liver.
Every toxin you ingest or inhale must be processed by your liver. If it’s bogged down removing toxins, it won’t have the time and energy to deal with your hormones.
It’s impossible to avoid toxins altogether, but by switching to natural personal care products and household cleaners, investing in a water filter and eating organic produce where possible you’ll avoid unnecessary toxin exposure, meaning you’re being kinder to your liver.
Unwanted hormones are excreted via your intestines, so if their contents are moving too slowly, used hormones are reabsorbed into your bloodstream, travelling straight back to your liver to be processed again. Ensuring your bowels are moving regularly will avoid your liver having to do double duty.
Prevent sluggish intestines by drinking plenty of water and consuming a tablespoon of ground flax seeds per day, in juice or smoothies, or sprinkled on cereal or yoghurt. As a bonus, if you eat plenty of plant-based foods you’ll be automatically boosting your fibre intake and your liver and gut will be grateful.
You might not realise your liver is struggling because a sluggish liver can produce a myriad of different symptoms. Your GP may have even told you your liver function is fine, but it can still be operating sub optimally, often unsuspected for years.
If you’re concerned about the impact poor liver function or hormone imbalance is having on your health, or you simply want to give your liver a fresh start, I can help. You are unique so the best approach will be personalised to you. I will examine your nutrient status, health history and lifestyle in detail, recommending appropriate functional tests when needed. This means I can then provide you with the most effective liver support plan for your circumstances.
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