What Is The Liver?
The liver is one the most important organs in the body. It is also one of the most over-worked, under-appreciated parts . Located in the upper-right quadrant of the abdomen, the liver spends its days performing hundreds of functions.
Because the liver is responsible for filtering everything that is consumed, it is really is the body's first line of defense. Every chemical, from artificial food coloring to cold medicine has to be processed by the liver before it goes anywhere else.
If the body is the King, then the liver is the poor food-taster that is constantly subjected to poison for the King's protection.
Because it does such a hard day's work, we should do our utmost to respect it's role in our health. Not only does it protect us from toxins, it is in charge of our metabolism, our insulin, our blood, our digestion, our hormones, and much more.
Food For Your Liver
A great way to show your liver a little love is by making it's tasks a bit easier. Start with adding some liver-friendly foods to your diet.
- High-fiber cereal
- Salmon and other fin fish (tuna, halibut)
- Sulfur-rich vegetables: Broccoli, cauliflower, onions, garlic, cabbage, etc.
- Grapefruit (any fruit high in Vitamin C helps to cleanse the liver
- Walnuts (help the liver rid the body of ammonia)
- Beets-assist in detoxification and repair of damaged cells.
- Egg yolks (contain choline, a compound that helps the liver flush toxins)
- Peanuts, beans, and lentils (also high in choline)
- Eat good fats such as those found in olive oil and nuts.
Things You Didn't Know About Your Liver
- The liver is ruled by the astrological sign of Sagittarius.
- Jupiter is the planet that rules over the liver.
- The Patron Saint of liver problems is St. Erasmus.
- Your liver is roughly the size of a football.
- The liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself.
Benefits of Liver Massage
Our internal body parts benefit from massage just like our external body parts. A gentle massage is thought to increase circulation to the liver, and to increase bile secretion, helping the liver to detoxify itself.
To massage your liver, all you need is your hands and a comfortable where you can lie flat.
To Perform A Liver Massage:
- Place the heel of your hand under your ribcage on the right hand side.
- Press in slightly, and massage by stroking along the curve of your ribs, from your sternum to your side
- You can also do a hands-free massage by standing with your feet apart and doing large hip circles. The natural motion will cause the muscles to massage the liver for you.
Vitamins and Minerals For Your Liver
Give your liver a boost by supplying it with supplements that help support daily functions. Foods rich in these vitamins and minerals are good choices to add to your diet as well.
- Vitamin A-Helps the liver combat free radicals.
- Calcium-helps with liver function and repairing damaged tissue.
- Zinc-Boosts liver function and helps with blood clotting.
- Vitamin E-Helps the liver with bile production.
- Vitamin K-along with calcium, zinc, and Vitamin A it works to promote blood clotting factors.
When taking supplements, remember that they can cause more harm than good if you abuse them. Take supplements according to label directions or per doctor's orders.
Herbs That Can Be Toxic To The Liver
Some herbs can harm the liver or cause the liver to shut down. Use these herbs with care:
- Black cohosh
Herbs That Promote a Healthy Liver
These herbs are thought to improve liver function. Be careful with herbs though...remember, your liver has to filter anything toxic.
- Green Tea-full of antioxidants that help cleanse the liver. Also inhibits fat growth on the liver.
- Milk Thistle-an antioxidant that helps protect liver cells.
- Turmeric-another antioxidant, turmeric not only cleanses but also protects the liver.
- Cayenne-cleanses the liver. Also contains vitamins C and E.
- Licorice root-contains antiviral properties. (Use sparingly, too much can cause high blood pressure.)
- Dandelion-helps with a multitude of liver complaints.
- Kudzu root-excellent herb for those with alcohol damage to their liver.
Always talk to a healthcare provider before taking any supplements, herbs, or other medications, especially if you are on certain prescription medications.
Things To Reduce or Eliminate
Caring for your liver isn't just about what you should do, but also about what you shouldn't do. Everyday you face the opportunity to prevent a little stress to your liver by NOT doing certain things.
- Think before you drink! Excessive alcohol drinking can kill liver cells and lead to cirrhosis.
- Reduce the amount of junk food you eat.
- Be careful with fast food. High fat foods can lead to fatty build up around the liver.
- Don't over-indulge in rich desserts or other sugary foods.
- Limit the consumption of liver to special occasions. Eating liver isn't good for your liver.
- Limit fried foods (make them treats instead of staples)
- Cook food properly.
- Be wary of raw shellfish.
- Reduce salt intake.
It is practically impossible to live a life with no exposure to unhealthy foods or chemicals. Moderating excessive exposure, however, can greatly improve your liver's health.
A Few Important Liver Functions
- Helps maintain electrolyte balance.
- Stores extra blood for emergencies.
- Creates bile that breaks down fats.
- Helps balance hormones.
- Helps regulate metabolism.
- Stores certain nutrients and vitamins.
- Breaks down any toxins that enter the body
- Constructs blood clotting factors
Protect Your Liver from Harsh Chemicals
The liver can be affected by substances that you inhale or absorb through your skin as well as what you swallow by mouth. Always take the time to read labels and wear safety gear when possible.
- Try natural cosmetics, deodorants, toothpaste and shampoos to cut back on the amount of chemicals absorbed through your skin.
- Wear a mask when using paint or chemicals with harsh fumes.
- Wear gloves when you have to put your hands in cleaners.
- Be mindful of plastic and vinyl in your environment. Allow new plastic and vinyl to off-gas before using, and be careful about microwaving food in plastic containers
- Follow dosage directions carefully when taking OTC medication, including supplements.
Some other hidden sources of chemicals include: nail polish and remover, laundry treatments, dishwasher soap, new cars, mineral and baby oil, candles, perfume, and some clothing.
Reflexology and Accupressure for Liver Health
You can use reflexology and acupressure to stimulate the liver and improve it's function. Both techniques are easy and safe.
Point 1: Find the place on the top of your foot where the bones to the first two toes join in a V. Press the skin firmly for a few seconds, then release. Do this once or several times.
Point 2: Another liver point is on the inside of the ankle, just in front of the ankle bone.
Point 1: For foot reflexology, you want to locate the liver point on the bottom of your foot. It is about one inch below your smallest toe. Press your thumb into this place and massage in a circular motion. You can also use a reflexology mat, or a rubber ball for pressure.
Point 2: For hand reflexology, find the liver point on your palm (see chart below). You can press it with your fingertips, roll it with your knuckles, or use a rubber ball with massage nubs. This feels very relaxing!
Lifestyle Changes That Benefit Your Liver
There are many lifestyle choices that you can make that will benefit your liver. You don't have to become a total health guru, just learn to do things in moderation.
- Maintain your proper weight. Check your Body Mass Index (BMI) and try to keep your weight within the healthy range for your height and weight.
- Meditate. Or at least take time out to de-stress as often as possible.
- Consider getting your hepatitis vaccinations.
- Exercise regularly to help regulate your metabolism and burn fat.
- Practice safe sex to prevent infections that could harm your liver.
- Practice good hygiene and grooming. The less illnesses you contract, the fewer medications your liver has to break down.
- Regardless of what else you like to drink, drink plenty of water along with it. Water helps to flush out toxins.
- Enjoy your coffee. At the moment, coffee is being promoted as liver-friendly!
- Get plenty of sleep. Lack of rest is thought to contribute to fatty deposits on the liver.
- Urinate frequently. This moves the toxins out of the body.
- Practice yoga. Many yoga poses are targeted toward liver health.
- Monitor and control diabetes and hypoglycemia to protect the liver.
Annual Deaths From Liver Diseases In The US
Deaths From Hepatitis C
Deaths From Hepatitis B
Deaths From Liver Cirrhosis
Take Care Of Your Liver, And It Will Take Care Of You
Its never too early or too late to show attention to your liver's health. Since the liver is capable of regenerating tissue, there is a good chance that moderate liver damage can be repaired as long as certain lifestyle changes are made.
Caring for your liver is easy. You don't have to sacrifice everything that tastes delicious, nor do you have to live completely isolated from all modern conveniences.
Loving this vital organ is as easy as moderating your intake of unhealthy foods, reducing your exposure to free radicals, getting regular exercise and detoxing your body regularly to flush impurities.
I am not a doctor, and advice in this hub is not meant to replace proper medical advice concerning liver health, disease or function. Always seek a physicians advice before implementing any health care changes.
Happy Milestone to Me! This is my 50th hub. It was inspired by my brother-in-law, who received a successful liver transplant one year ago after a long, painful battle with liver disease.
© 2012 Jayme Kinsey
beaver girl on October 20, 2013:
Thank you for this great article. I am massaging my liver with my Homedics Percussion massager that also heats up and it feels great.
I have PSC so I need to take extra care of my liver.
CraftytotheCore on June 24, 2013:
This article has so much valuable information! A sick liver can definitely wreak havoc on a person. Great article!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on January 16, 2013:
@sarahshuihan--Thanks. They feel good...but its weird at first!
Sarah from USA on January 03, 2013:
Never thought of a liver massage, I'll have to try that out!
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on December 08, 2012:
Very true, Lipnancy. People don't often pay attention to those side-effects on the commercials that say may cause liver damage" and "regular liver biopsies needed while taking this drug". For me, that is scarier than the disease they are treating most of the time!
Nancy Yager from Hamburg, New York on December 08, 2012:
Unfortunately some of our modern day miracle drugs destroy our livers. People do not realize how important the liver is to our everyday functioning.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on December 08, 2012:
Thanks Bethperry! I like turmeric too, but it is hard to find where I live. It tastes great with most of the liver-healthy vegetables and beans! :)
Beth Perry from Tennesee on December 07, 2012:
Excellent Hub, one of the most informative health ones I've read. And a liver massage, I'll definitely be trying that. Btw, I love Tumeric and eat it everyday.
Congratulations on #50 and I am also glad to hear of your brother-in-law's great news! Voted up.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on December 05, 2012:
Thank you very much shiningirisheyes and Farmer Rachel! I am so happy to reach number 50!
Rachel Koski Nielsen from PA, now homesteading in MN on December 05, 2012:
Congrats on your 50th hub! This is a great one, very well put together and informative.
Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on December 05, 2012:
This is a fantastic, well-researched informative hub to display for the impressive 50th Hub.
Great write and congratulations on the 50!
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 04, 2012:
I also like liver. Used to eat it occasionally until the health reports were revealed about the toxins stored in them. Ewww. Regardless this is a fantastic hub tribute to the liver.
Jayme Kinsey (author) from Oklahoma on December 04, 2012:
Thank you Linda! The only thing that disappointed me was learning that we shouldn't eat liver to improve our liver. I love liver, and was hoping it would be the miracle food!
Linda Bilyeu from Orlando, FL on December 04, 2012:
Jayme, Congrats on your 50th hub and way to go with your topic! Loving your liver is very important information. Kudos to your bro-in-law for his recovery. An excellent tribute to liver! :)