When we think of important organs in our body, chances are we immediately consider the heart, the lungs, and the brain as vital to living. We might even consider the stomach or kidneys… but what about the liver? When you have questions regarding your overall health, it may be time to ask if your liver is to blame.
The liver is actually one of the most important organs we have. It performs over 500 tasks every day, just to keep our bodies functioning. How do we keep this powerhouse healthy and what are some signs to look for that may point to an issue with our liver?
The Liver’s Basic Job Description
The most basic explanation of the liver’s function within our body is to call it a filtration system. Everything that we eat and drink, regardless of what, is filtered through the liver. Essentially, the liver acts as a sieve that removes any toxins from the blood before these substances reach other organs.
The liver is then responsible for ensuring that these toxins exit the body through urine or stool. Regarding blood, the liver filters the blood, recycles old red blood cells, and manufactures the proteins needed for clotting.
Additionally, our liver breaks down the fats we consume and extracts any needed nutrients for the body before disposing of the rest. Fat also helps the liver make bile.
This organ is also in charge of breaking down carbohydrates and proteins, and converting sugar into glucose. Our body’s metabolism is dependent on a healthy liver. Without our liver, we wouldn’t have any energy and would not be able to function.
Warning Signs to Look For
Given everything that the liver does for our body, we do not need to neglect care for this very important organ. When any part of the body is hurt or damaged, warning signals are sent to let us know that something is wrong. The liver is no different and we need to know what to look for:
- Confusion/mental fog
- Unexplained bruising
- Fluid Retention
- Pale Stool
- Itchy Skin
- Yellowing Skin
- Weight Fluctuations (up and down)
Fatigue is more than feeling tired, because you may not have had enough rest or expended a lot of energy. If the liver is not functioning correctly, there may be more toxins than usual in the blood. The added stress to the body may be the cause of this extreme tiredness. Similar to confusion and lack of concentration, the liver is not extracting toxins out of the blood and our brain is feeling the negative effects.
Fluid retention is a very common sign of liver damage, particularly in the areas of the abdomen and legs. This can also be a sign of high blood pressure, but there may be a connection between that and an unhealthy liver. Sudden weight gain can be a symptom of cirrhosis, while rapid weight loss (in addition with other symptoms) may point to Hepatitis C.
Unexplained itchy skin could be the cause of bile backing up in the bloodstream. Yellowing of the skin (aka jaundice) is another common sign of liver damage, which means bile is building up in the body. Pale stools are caused by a lack of bile, which can point to problems with the liver.
Cleanse & Rejuvenate
Even if our liver is not functioning correctly, the good news here are the potential steps we can take to detoxify this organ and get things back on track. Many times, the simplest and most effective way to rejuvenate the liver is to make changes in our diet and get more rest.
- Drink less alcohol – the liver processes 90% of the alcohol we consume. We can ease the burden by not drinking as much.
- Drink more water and coffee – Increasing the amount of water we drink can help the liver flush toxins out of the body. According to US News, regular coffee has been shown to reduce the risk of liver disease by as much as 70%.
- Get more rest – sleep allows your body to repair itself. The less we sleep, the less the body can reset.
- Limit sugar and processed foods – eating less sugar and other high-carbohydrate foods reduces the workload on the liver.
Our liver is important to the daily, successful operation of our body. If the liver is not healthy, our whole body suffers. We need to take daily steps to ensure the continued, positive health of this very necessary and often overlooked organ.