Weight Loss and the Liver Part 4by Laura J Hieb, ND on September 14, 2022
So in this blog, I'll discuss things we inhale and/or put on our bodies that the liver has to break down, and which could be putting more of a burden on it.
Inhaling any chemicals can allow them into the bloodstream, after they get into our lungs. This can be dangerous and why we are directed to use certain chemicals like solvents and paints "in well-ventilated areas".
When you get new carpet, or new furniture, or a new car, or a newly built house, there is an odor. This odor comes from the chemicals in these items "off-gassing", and they add to the burden our livers have to deal with.
Not that you shouldn't buy these things, but be sure to leave some windows open, especially if you are sleeping near or on these things. Or put the furniture in a well-ventilated space for a week before bringing it into your house. Organic products are more expensive, but they are much more liver-friendly.
There are other inhalants, often thought to be safe, that add to the liver's burden.
Chief among these are air fresheners. Whether you spray them, plug them in or have a system that regularly sprays them for you, they contain chemicals that can be toxic. Many of these chemicals do not have to be listed--they can be found under the umbrella term "fragrance".
We also don't really know how chemicals affect us when they are all together, as opposed to how they affect us separately--and we may not even know this, as many chemicals in our environment have not been tested to see how they affect humans--unless they are toxic enough to kill us outright.
If your house is smelly, open the doors/windows and put some cinnamon and/or cloves in a pot of water and simmer it on the stove. Shake baking soda on your carpet, let sit for 10-15 minutes, then vacuum. Also you can put "real" essential oils--read labels--in a diffuser or on a light bulb. Lots more ideas on-line.
Other sources of toxic chemicals are household cleaners. You can make your own non-toxic cleaners with distilled white vinegar, baking soda, rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, natural soaps and essential oils, etc.
I make my own granite cleaner from 2 parts rubbing alcohol, a few drops of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and a few more of essential oils to 6 parts water in a spray bottle. It works great and is very inexpensive. Baking soda makes a great cleanser for sinks and tubs. One part hydrogen peroxide in 5 parts water is a great disinfectant--add some essential oils if you want it scented. Again, there are many, many recipes on-line.
Laundry detergents can be very odiferous. Again, these odors typically come from chemicals unless you are using organic detergents. These are a double whammy for the liver because you inhale the scent and then you absorb the chemicals into your skin when you wear clothes washed in the detergent.
Again, what we put on our skin gets into our blood stream
There is a commercial for the highly scented laundry detergent Gain, that I find very interesting. There is a woman in the detergent aisle of a grocery store looking for a more scented version of Gain and a grocery store employee shows it to her. Both of these actors look very unhealthy to me-- I have to wonder why they chose these particular actors--were they subliminally trying to tell us something?
Sadly many body and hair care products are not immune. Again, many of these are chemically scented and also contain toxic chemicals that get into our blood stream after they are applied to our skin, and again, the liver has to detoxify them. Using organic products are much safer, and again, you can make some of these yourself out of things like coconut oil, baking soda and essential oils. Coconut oil makes a great moisturizer. Massage it in well, and wait until it is absorbed into your skin before dressing or applying make-up.
As you can see, many of us are exposed to chemical after chemical after chemical and our overworked livers don't get a break.
So what can we do?
Well obviously number one is avoiding as many of these above- mentioned things as we can.
Stay hydrated. Drink 1/3 to 1/2 of your body weight in fluid ounces of water daily. For example, it you weigh 150 pounds, you would drink 50-75 ounces of water daily. Drinking a glass of warm water with lemon juice on rising is good for the liver.
Once the liver detoxifies something, it has to get it out of the body and plenty of water keeps our kidneys and GI tract working well.
Adding ginger and turmeric to your diet in teas, curries and, in their fresh forms, to foods and smoothies can also help the liver.
Include plenty of vegetables in your diet, especially artichokes, beets, carrots, leafy greens, all of the cabbage family plants (bok choy, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radishes, turnips, watercress, etc), garlic and onions. Not only are these full of vitamins and minerals and other nutraceuticals that are helpful for the liver, but they also contain fiber to make sure we can regularly excrete the products that have been detoxified.
Supplement-wise you can take 250mg of milk thistle daily with a meal. This is a very gentle, yet effective liver supportive herb.
And limit the alcohol. Like my organic chemistry professor used to remind us, alcohol (aka ethanol) is just 1 methyl group away from wood alcohol (aka methanol)--which is poisonous (but chemically very similar to the alcohol we drink).