The liver is an amazing gland. It is constantly detoxifying and metabolising hormones, chemicals and toxins we get exposed to on a daily basis. The liver helps manage your blood sugar levels and cholesterol. It produces bile which helps us break down and digest fats. The majority for the thyroid hormones are converted to the active form in the liver.
Insulin resistance, fatty liver, estrogen dominance or progesterone deficiency and thyroid issues are all associated with the function of the liver
Sign and symptoms associated with poor liver function
- Fatigue and muscle weakness
- Hormonal imbalances such as estrogen dominance and /or progesterone deficiency
- High cholesterol
- Intolerance to fatty foods
- Weight problems
- Multiple chemical sensitivities
- Headaches and migraines
- Loss of appetite or no appetite in the mornings
- Waking up between 2 and 3 am
- Digestive issues or bloating
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Skin issues such as itchiness, eczema or acne
What you must do to look after your liver
- Drink water! Your liver cannot function properly if you don’t drink adequate water.
- If you drink alcohol is a good idea to protect your liver. St. Mary’s thistle is a great herb which protects the liver and helps the cells of your liver regenerate.
- And have at least 2 days a week that are alcohol free
- Drink green tea which protects the liver and the gut bacteria
- Avoid toxins and chemicals in your environment and foods
- Avoid non- prescription medications as much as you can (there is always a natural alternative!)
- Take a probiotic and resolve any gut issues. You need to have a healthy gut for a healthy liver
- Make sure you are having at least one complete bowel motion a day
- Eat cleanly – avoid processed foods where possible and eat at least 3 cups of veggies per day and some fruit. Fibre helps bind to toxins to eliminate them more efficiently
- Eat regularly to balance your blood sugar levels.
- Drink dandelion root tea to increase your bile production. Bile breaks down fats but also helps with elimination of toxins from the body.
- Add beetroot to your diet regularly, apart from being high in the phytonutrient ‘anthocynanins’, they help the liver detoxify.
- Sulphur containing veggies such as onions, broccoli and garlic also support liver function.
- Get your thyroid checked, if its underactive then it will affect the liver function
- Resolve anger. Anger issues affect the liver!
Many of my clients who can’t budge their weight or are ‘stuck’ with their symptoms, often need to work on their liver or need a detox. If you decide to do a detox don’t jump into it alone- consult your naturopath and do it properly! You need to have a healthy gut and adrenals to be able to detox without unwanted symptoms. And there are ways to do it properly with plenty of nutrient and herbal support so the toxins don’t get stuck you don’t and up feeling worse!
AGEING, ANXIETY AND THE DREADED MIDDLE-AGED SPREAD
What happens to our hormones as we age? Your hormones can be chaotic and confusing to say the least. Too many changes can seem to happen overnight, which can leave you feeling fatigued, frustrated, fed up and anxious.
Cortisol, typically increases after age 40. It can also become ‘dysfunctional’ where it is lower during the day and higher at night time. This commonly is when poor sleep patterns develop or even hot flushes at night.
Cortisol is a hormone we produce in our adrenal glands. Its main function is to raise blood sugar levels, increase blood pressure and reduce inflammation.
Cortisol should be high during the day and lower at night, when we need to produce the hormone melatonin to sleep. Long term stress can cause an increase in cortisol and so can ageing!
If your adrenals are pumping out cortisol for long period of time it will inevitably affect your other hormones. Your skin can sag, muscles droop, become ‘stress intolerant’ and you end up with a lack of confidence.
Progesterone steal pathway and estrogen dominance
High cortisol over time reduces progesterone levels. This is because we produce cortisol and progesterone from the same hormonal precursor- pregnenolone. Progesterone is our anti-anxiety hormone and gives a feeling of contentment. And if you feel like you have constant PMT/PMS then you probably are low in progesterone! If this keeps dropping over time because of stress, lowered thyroid function or a sluggish liver, then you end up with estrogen dominance
Excess estrogens can slow down the thyroid function and contribute to an underactive thyroid. And when the thyroid function slows down, this slows the liver function down and it becomes a cycle.
Prolonged cortisol levels also can decrease the livers ability to clear excess estrogen from the blood.
A sluggish liver can mean you end up with insulin resistance and weight gain. Insulin is the hormone which ‘unlocks’ glucose from your food. If you are not unlocking the glucose for energy, it is stored as fat in your body, usually abdominal fat after age 40, which I known as the middle-aged spread…. Eeek! I know no-one really want this to happen!
Also, as we age we become more resistant to insulin, this can cause weight gain. Our body doesn’t utilise glucose from food as efficiently as it did when we were younger. The way around this is to exercise more and eat less sugar and carb’s.
The top health risks of having high cortisol
- Insulin resistance and diabetes
- Increased body fat/ weight gain
- Mood and brain problems including Alzheimer’s disease and depression
- Insomnia and sleep problems
- Delayed wound healing
- Bone loss in menopausal women
- Infertility and polycystic ovarian syndrome
We can normalise or control cortisol by
- Controlling stress
- Getting adequate sleep
- Doing yoga
- Practising ‘mindfulness’
- Having a positive attitude
- Taking magnesium and herbs to lower cortisol
- Supporting your adrenal health
- Take or balance melatonin at night (By the way, melatonin is very anti -ageing!)
- Increasing progesterone levels
And most importantly reducing the foods which increase cortisol- coffee, sugar, alcohol and too many processed foods and carbs. This will help to reduce the chance of insulin resistance and weight gain. The lower glycaemic diet is the way to go. Watch carbs and sugars in your food and opt for veggies, salad and proteins at meal times, reducing the carbs to 2 small serves a day.
Protein also reduces cortisol and can help keep up feeling calm. If you have sugar or carbs it can leave us feeling more anxious and even trigger hot flushes. So…. don’t go for the sugar or carbs when you feel anxious or tired, have some good quality protein!
Health Masters live- functional diagnostics lectures
The hormone cure _ Dr. Sarah Gottfried