health

How The Liver Affects Hormone Regulation And Cholesterol

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The liver metabolizes hormones, notably testosterone and estrogen. The nutrient status of the individual will largely determine if estrogen is properly metabolized or becomes excessive in the body. Poor liver function, coupled with a deficiency of “good” bacteria in the colon, results in hormonal imbalances in both men and women that can put them at risk for developing disease.

Certain B vitamins are needed by the liver to detoxify estrogen and excrete it in the bile. With today’s common vitamin B deficiencies, estrogen is not metabolized properly, and the result is increased levels of toxic estrogen metabolites. Excess estrogen plus toxic metabolites produce cholestasis (diminished bile flow), resulting in further reduction in estrogen detoxification.

Conditions such as PMS, fibrocystic breast disease, ovarian cysts, uterine fibroids and cancer of the breasts, ovaries and uterus have been associated with elevated estrogen.

Cholesterol, a “fat-like steroid alcohol”, and its role in heart disease is widely misunderstood. It is a substance found in all animal fat, and it serves many vital functions such as :

  • essential for cell wall construction
  • a building block for sex and adrenal hormones
  • needed for vitamin D synthesis
  • needed for producing bile salts
  • needed for proper function of the nervous system
  • antioxidant

Although some cholesterol is absorbed from food, the bulk of it is manufactured in the liver. The liver not only synthesizes cholesterol, it is also critical in controlling cholesterol levels in the blood.

The condition of the liver is far more important in determining cholesterol levels than the amount of animal fat we eat. If the liver is functioning optimally, and if the animal products consumed are high quality (grassfed, organic) and man-made fats (hydrogenated) are avoided, the risk of heart disease from the diet should be minimal.

A healthy liver converts dietary cholesterol into bile and temporarily slows its own production of cholesterol. Bile is reabsorbed in direct proportion to the amount of time it takes to pass from the digestive tract. Where there is slow transit time through the digestive tract (constipation), there is excessive reabsorption of bile, as well as the toxins in the bile. This will decrease the ability of the liver to function properly.

Up next, I’ll get into how the liver helps with blood sugar regulation so subscribe or follow us on social media so you don’t miss out!

health

Bile And Its Role For Fat Digestion, Cholesterol and Toxin Elimination

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Last time I talked about the various roles and processes that our liver has to do on a daily basis. I want to pick up where I left off and get into more detail on these processes starting with one of the liver’s most important function: bile secretion.

Every day the liver makes about one quart of bile. Bile consists of bile salts, bilirubin, cholesterol, lecithin, hormones and electrolytes. In addition, it will contain toxins that have been processed by chemical reactions in the liver to make them safer for elimination.

The bile is stored temporarily in the gallbladder, where water and minerals are reabsorbed, making the bile more concentrated, which improves its ability to digest fats. In addition to emulsifying fats, bile helps lubricate the intestines and gives the stool its normal brown color. Bile is released from the gallbladder and the liver as needed in response to the presence of fat in the intestines. In the gallbladder, the bile becomes a darker color. Good quality bile is reflected in a walnut brown color stool, but if there is insufficient bile, the stool is light in color.

Bile is important for good health. Not only does it break down fat, but it also assists in absorbing fat-soluble vitamins and in assimilating calcium. It also converts beta-carotene into vitamin A and promotes peristalsis, helping food move through the intestines preventing constipation.

Bile also serves as a carrier for the elimination of many toxic substances. The bile and the toxins it carries are absorbed by dietary fiber in the intestines and then excreted. If there is insufficient fiber, the toxins and bile are reabsorbed. The toxins are actually in a more dangerous state now that they have interacted with the bacteria in the intestine which is more damaging than just reabsorbing toxins.

Since bile is the carrier for toxins to be eliminated, diminished bile flow (cholestasis) is a large contributor to liver impairment. When bile flow is inhibited, toxins stay in the liver too long. The liver then stores these toxins in its fatty tissue. As it stores more toxins, its efficiency is compromised and bile flow decreases. The liver becomes constipated just like the colon. 

Another problem can occur when bile ducts become blocked by gallstones. Gallstone formation is thought to be due to an imbalance of bile salts and minerals, dehydration, toxins and excess cholesterol in the bile. In addition, a high fat, low fiber diet and pregnancy have been associated with gallstone production. Gallstones are a huge problem, blocking the flow of bile and sometimes obstructing the pancreas and intestines as well. These situations often cause a surgical emergency.

Another common problem is the excretion of toxic bile (bile that has not been chemically transformed adequately by the liver’s enzymes). Toxic bile can literally burn the bile ducts, gallbladder and intestines eventually leading to hepatitis, cholecystitis, pancreatitis, and duodenitis. Toxic bile could ultimately contribute to the development of cancer of the involved organs. An early sign of toxic bile is recurrent pain in the upper right abdomen.

Gallbladder problems can develop when the liver is so overloaded that it sends toxins to the gallbladder before for they are neutralized. Irritation from these toxins can cause the gallbladder to malfunction and irritate the pancreas and duodenum causing inflammation.

Next time I will talk about the liver’s role in hormones and cholesterol.

health

The Liver- How Does It Work and What Does It Do For Our Body?

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The word liver comes from the old English word for “life”. Our quality and length of life is dependent on how well the liver functions. The liver is the largest and most active internal organ but is also the most overworked and least cared for organ in our body. The liver:

  • manufactures 13,000 different chemicals
  • maintains 2,000 internal enzyme systems
  • filters 100 gallons of blood a day
  • produces 1 quart of bile daily

Weighing around 4 pounds, it performs more than 500 unique bodily functions that are critical to live. Six of the primary functions are:

  • makes bile for the emulsion of fats for digestion
  • makes and breaks down hormones (cholesterol, testosterone, estrogen)
  • controls regulation of blood sugar
  • filters all food, nutrients, drugs, alcohol and materials in the blood
  • detoxifies all endotoxins (internally produced toxins) and exotoxins (environmental toxins)
  • contains Kuppfer cells which are part of our immune system- they alert the body to the presence of pathogenic microbes and toxins

Today, our liver has to deal with totally different issues than our grandmother’s liver did. Environmental pollution, prescription drugs, chemical food additives, water chlorination, household chemicals, pesticides, certain bacteria and fungi are relatively new toxins that impact our lives and livers everyday. We abuse our livers on a daily basis, causing chronic fatigue, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, IBS, brain fog, indigestion and many other ailments. In many cases, the typical response to these symptoms is to take drugs that further limit the liver’s ability to function.

We live on fast foods, consume too much alcohol, abuse prescription drugs and live in a polluted world. In between drinking too much coffee and soft drinks, we occasionally drink a bottle of spring water thinking we are doing our bodies good.

So why do we not associate most health problems with the breakdown of the liver? Part of the reason is that liver dysfunction does not happen overnight. The liver can lose as much as 70% of its capability before liver disease is diagnosed. As the liver becomes overwhelmed with internal and external toxins, other organs and systems can also become overloaded with toxins. These toxins will affect those areas of the body that are genetically weak. For example, if the immune system is inherently weak, an overload of toxins may result in chronic fatigue or allergies. In this instance, the original cause of liver dysfunction may not be recognized.

While the liver plays a key role in most metabolic processes, one of its primary functions is to manage the detoxification process. It is one of the major organs of elimination in the body, along with the colon, kidneys, skin and lungs. Toxins in the liver are secreted mostly in a water-soluble form into the blood to be excreted through the kidneys, and into the bile, to be eliminated by the colon. If the toxic load is too high, the unfiltered toxins from the kidneys and colon return to the liver to be reabsorbed.

The liver is largely dependent upon smooth operation of the digestive and elimination organs. When the intestinal lining becomes too porous (leaky gut), toxins are rapidly absorbed, and the workload of the liver is increased. In addition, when the lungs, skin, kidneys and even the cells of the body are not correctly processing and eliminating toxins, there will be additional burden and stress placed on the liver. When the liver is overloaded, a domino effect is created, spreading toxicity throughout the body.

Next time I will get into more detail about some of the primary functions of our liver. But in the mean time, if you’d like a great liver cleansing recipe, look no further! This detox green juice tastes great and will help jump start liver cleansing and healing.

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DIY Indoor Mason Jar Herb Garden

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With just a few supplies and a few minutes, you can plant your favorite herbs in a jar. You’ll quickly grow a kitchen herb garden that’s as hardworking as it is pretty.

Supplies for Your DIY Herb Garden

You’ll need:

  • Mason jars/glass jars
  • Fresh herb plants or seeds
  • Potting mix
  • Pebbles
  • Chalkboard or other labels

Step 1

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Line the bottom of your jars with pebbles. This will ensure proper drainage and prevent the roots from becoming waterlogged.

Step 2

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Add potting mix to your jars, making sure you leave room for the plants.

Step 3

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Place your herbs into the jars, taking special care to ensure the herb plants aren’t overcrowding the container.

Step 4

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Using chalk labels or any other label, write down the name of each plant and affix. While this step isn’t essential, it may save you from grabbing cilantro instead of parsley!

Step 5

Display your jar herb garden! There’s no limit to the options—try mason jar hangers or a vintage milk carrier that lets you move seamlessly from windowsill to sink for easy watering.

Caring for Your Mason Jar Herb Garden

With a few simple tips, your DIY indoor herb garden will help you add flavor and interest to your recipes for seasons to come:

  • Don’t overwater. If the leaves begin to yellow, scale back. Frequent small waterings will help keep your herbs happy.
  • Prune regularly. Cutting leaves from the top of your herb plants on a regular basis will help promote a fuller, healthier plant, and keep limbs from becoming too leggy.
  • …but don’t cut too much at once. Aim to never remove more than a third of the plant at any given time, or it may struggle to rebound.
  • Cut correctly. When harvesting your herbs, be careful not to tear the stems. Use your fingers or a kitchen scissors to make a clean break.
  • Provide ample light. Most herbs love sun.
  • Keep it hot. If you live in a colder climate, don’t let your herbs touch a frozen window, and watch for signs of distress if they’re placed in a windowsill during the winter months.
  • Repot any bigger plants. If you’re doing it right, your herb plants will eventually outgrow their mason jar homes. When the roots reach the bottom and begin to become impacted, move the plant to a larger container on your porch or patio and replace.
recipes

Summer Detox Zucchini Lemon Thyme Soup

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Photo: Stocksy

Looking for a simple way to pack in some extra vitamins and fiber while giving your digestive system a little love? This soup has a spin on za’atar, a Middle Eastern spice blend, that is usually made with thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.

 

Zucchini, Lemon Thyme Soup

Serves 2

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 or 4 medium zucchini, cut into cubes
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • 1¼ cups hot chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds

Preparation

1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan. Add the zucchini and sauté for 3 minutes. Stir in the thyme and half the lemon zest. Add the hot stock, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer and cook gently until the zucchini is tender but not too soft.

2. In the meantime, heat a skillet and toast the pumpkin seeds with the remainder of the lemon zest until they just begin to pop a little—keep shaking the pan to prevent them from burning.

3. Remove the zucchini from the heat and let cool, then transfer half to a food processor with as much stock from the pan as necessary to achieve the desired consistency (you may prefer a smoother or chunkier soup).

4. Divide the remaining zucchini between two bowls. Ladle the blended soup on the zucchini and sprinkle with the toasted pumpkin seeds.

That’s it! I think you’ll enjoy this light and refreshing soup, perfect for summer!