health

How The Liver Affects Hormone Regulation And Cholesterol

Hormones-and-Behavior

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!

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

Bad-vs-Good-Cholesterol

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?

liverfunctionbackground

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.

health

10 Ways To Beat Stress

stress

In a previous post I talked about stress being the most dangerous toxin to our bodies. If you really knew what was happening to you when you are stressed, you would freak out. It’s not pretty. Chronic stress has become an epidemic in our society, where faster seems better and we pack more obligations into our ever-expanding schedules.

Chronic stress has been linked to-

  • lowered immunity
  • raised blood sugar
  • belly fat
  • weight gain
  • diabetes
  • increased blood pressure

And that’s just a tiny percentage of what stress can cause!

So what do you do to start reducing stress? For starters, change your diet.

Food is something I talk a lot about because it’s important. The right diet can do wonders to reduce stress’s impact. When you eat whole, real foods, you restore balance to insulin, cortisol, and other hormones.

Eliminating mind-robbing molecules like caffeine, alcohol, and refined sugars and eating regularly can help you avoid the short-term stress of starvation on your body. You maintain an even-keeled mindset throughout the day, even when things get hectic.

You’ll replace those foods with clean protein, healthy fats, leafy and cruciferous vegetables, berries and non-gluten grains. Food is information that controls your gene expression, hormones and metabolism. When you eat the right foods, you balance blood sugar, restore hormonal balance and reduce stress’s damaging impact.

Change your mindset

Stress is a thought, a perception of a threat, even if it isn’t real. That’s it. No more, no less. If that’s true, then we have complete control over stress, because it’s not something that happens to us but something that happens in us.

Here’s where it become interesting. Stressors can be real or perceived. You might imagine your spouse is angry with you. Whether or not they are, you raise stress levels. Real or imagined, when you perceive something as stressful, it creates the same response in the body.

Fortunately, a wide variety of techniques and tools can help effectively manage stress. Among them, these 10 are most beneficial:

1. Address the underlying biological causes of stress.

Find the biological causes of problems with the mind including mercury toxicity, magnesium and vitamin B12 deficiencies, and gluten allergies. Changing your body can change your mind.

2. Begin actively relaxing.

Humans remain primed to always do something. Even when we’re not working, our mind is on work. To engage the powerful forces of the mind on the body, you must do something relaxing. You can’t just sit there watching television or drinking beer. Whether that means deep breathing or a simple leisurely walk, find active relaxation that works for you and do it.

3. Learn new skills.

Try learning new skills such as yoga or muscle relaxation, or take a hot bath, get a massage, watch a sunset, or walk in the woods or on the beach.

4. Make movement your drug.

Exercise is a powerful, well-studied way to burn off stress chemicals and heal the mind. Studies show exercise works better than or equal to pharmaceutical drugs for treating depression. Try interval training if you’re short on time but want a powerful, intense workout.

5. Supplement.

Take a multivitamin and nutrients to help balance the stress response, such as vitamin C; the B-complex vitamins, including B6 and B5 or pantothenic acid; zinc; and most important, magnesium, the relaxation mineral.

6. Reframe your point of view.

Challenge your beliefs, attitudes, and responses to common situations and reframe your point of view to reduce stress.

7. Find a community.

Consciously build your network of friends, family and community. They’re your most powerful allies in achieving long-term health.

8. Take care of your vagus nerve by using deep breaths.

Most of us hold our breath often or breathe swallow, anxious breaths. Deep, slow, full breaths have a profound affect on resetting the stress response, because the relaxation nerve (or vagus nerve) goes through your diaphragm and is activated with every deep breath. Take five deep breaths now. See how differently you feel?

9. Meditate.

No matter how much or little time you have to commit, find a practice that works for you.

10. Sleep.

Lack of sleep increases stress hormones. Get your eight hours no matter what. Take a nap if you missed sleep. Prioritize it, and if you feel like you’re not getting high-quality shut-eye, find strategies to improve it.

What one technique or strategy would you add to this list to manage stress levels?

health

Don’t Eat These 8 Inflammation Causing Foods

food

I’ve talked quite a few times in the past about inflammation and the damage it can do to our bodies; from diabetes, heart disease, cancer and aging, inflammation is the underlying factor in almost every disease. What you may not know is that apart from stress and other environmental factors, food has a lot to do with inflammation. Here’s a list of some common pro-inflammatory foods-

1. Sugar.

You already know that sugar is bad for your teeth and your waistline—but did you know that it fans the flames of inflammation as well? When you eat sugar, it triggers the release of pro-inflammatory molecules called cytokines that rev up the fire inside you.

2. Artificial sweeteners.

A diet high in these sweeteners can lead to inflammation that puts you at risk for glucose intolerance and metabolic disease—steps on the path to diabetes. Researchers believe that some of the bacteria in your gut react to artificial sweeteners by secreting chemicals that provoke an inflammatory response, making it harder for your body to handle sugar. What’s more, a new study reports that in addition to hiking your risk for diabetes, these sweeteners can increase your risk for obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease.

3. Glutenous grains.

I know that lots of people pooh-pooh the idea that gluten sensitivity is common. But I speak from experience. Eliminating gluten can help people get control over inflammatory diseases from arthritis to psoriasis to inflammatory bowel disease. It’s actually smart to reduce or eliminate all grains because of their pro-inflammatory effects, but at a minimum, give gluten the boot.

4. Seed oils.

Oils like canola, corn, sunflower, safflower, and soybean—as well as margarine and vegetable fats—are highly processed and contain an unhealthy ratio of inflammatory omega-6 to anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids. Instead, I recommend reaching for healthy substitutes like avocado and olive oil.

5. Dairy.

Most people don’t tolerate dairy foods well. Frequently, they don’t even know this is a problem until they eliminate dairy from their diet. When they do, symptoms like headaches, skin breakouts, bloating, and a stuffy nose clear up—and that tells me that their internal inflammation is dropping as well. If you’re not sure whether dairy bothers you, I recommend eliminating dairy foods, carefully reintroducing them, and then discontinuing them if you experience a bad reaction. There’s so many great non-dairy alternatives out there so I recommend just avoiding dairy all together if you can.

6. Foods packed in BPA-lined cans or packages.

Bisphenol A, or BPA, is already linked to many scary problems ranging from birth defects to obesity. In addition, research now links BPA to increased inflammation in post-menopausal women. Luckily, more and more manufacturers are offering their products in BPA-free packaging; read labels carefully, and reach for BPA-free products whenever you can.

7. Commercial condiments (with exceptions).

Most grocery-store mayos, ketchups, and salad dressings are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup, artificial flavors, harmful emulsifiers, seed oils, and other junk. I make a lot of my own condiments but you can find some great additive and sugar free options at health food stores for ketchup, mustard, mayo and all that other good stuff.

8. Soy “Frankenfoods.”

I know you hear all the time that soy is good for you. However, the heavy processing of foods like soy burgers and soy hot dogs can lead to the formation of lysinoalanine and nitrosamines—toxins that can damage your cells, leading to inflammation.

If inflammation is a problem for you, try kicking these eight pro-inflammatory foods out of your diet and see what happens. It may take a few weeks (or even a few months), but I’m betting that you’ll feel healthier and look younger all over!