Surprising functions of the liver

Image: Jeremy Kai via Unsplash

Image: Jeremy Kai via Unsplash

March is liver health month, so I’m on a mission to educate my patients, social media followers and blog-readers about just how important this little organ is to our overall health.

Lately the liver has been tied to the “detox” trend in the health & wellness world - and with good reason. Our liver is our body’s natural detoxification centre. It works hard to rid the body of toxins, filters the blood of harmful substances, and eliminates cancer-causing free radicals in our system.

But that’s not all.

Chances are you’re not aware of even a fraction of the good deeds the liver does for the body every day. Below you’ll find my top four list of liver functions beyond detoxification - further proof that we should be treating our liver with lots of loving care.

1. Hormone Regulation

Did you know that your liver is responsible for breaking down a group called the steroid hormones, which include:

Aldosterone, which controls the balance of sodium, potassium and water in the body
The sex hormones mentioned above, which control our sex drive and body shape
Cortisone, which controls the immune system

When the liver is not functioning optimally, it’s also not breaking down these hormones optimally. This can result in hormonal imbalance, and a very wide array of symptoms: everything from excess water retention and puffiness, to a weak immune system and frequent illness, to weight gain and a decrease in sex drive! 

Taking good care of your liver, however, can have a massive impact on how your hormones are regulated, and how you feel overall.

2. Reduction of Inflammation

More and more research is showing that inflammation is a significant culprit in many health problems. 

While inflammation itself is the body’s natural response to infection and illness, the environmental stresses our bodies encounter on a day-to-day basis in modern society have most of us dealing with low-grade inflammation around the clock.

Your liver is crucial in the fight against this low-grade inflammation: it filters out the harmful environmental toxins that cause the inflammation in the first place. 

3. Allergy Reduction and Management

The liver’s detoxifying and filtering functions apply to allergens, too.

Our allergic responses, be they anything from hay fever (sneezing, runny nose, itchy, watery eyes), to food allergies (IBS, leaky gut, etc.) can be mitigated by a healthy liver, which will naturally filter out allergens from our bodies.

4. Healthy Skin

Want a healthy glow on your cheeks? Start taking care of your liver!

“Problem” skin (blotchiness, acne, dryness, etc.) is often just a byproduct of what we’re putting into (as opposed to on to) our bodies. When your liver is healthy, it will flush toxins from your system. When it gets overloaded, those toxins stick around - causing a change in the equilibrium that creates health, wellness, and beautiful skin.

So there you have it - so much more than a detoxifier, and so essential to our overall health and well-being, the liver is worthy of your attention - and support!

Steph Bowen