If your body was a football team, your liver would be the quarterback. Besides the fact that it’s shaped like a football, it performs over 500 different jobs for your body! Your team is only as good as your liver.
Your liver, in today’s day in age, takes quite the beating. This major player weighs in at 3 pounds and plays a major role on your detox team as it breaks down toxins, calls cellular function plays, and converts fats, proteins, and carbohydrates into usable forms.
Truth be told, I don’t know jack about football. When I’m in the stands, I am likely the one accidentally cheering for the other team and yelling, “Yeah, sports! Get the ball! Do the thing!”
But, let’s be real - all anyone talks about is the QB. According to the little I overheard from Sports Center, the QB controls the game more than any other player. Given that, I believe the liver gets the Heisman Trophy for your body.
Did I say that right? The Heisman Trophy is a QB award, right? Oh, I’m just mildly joking! After a quick google search, it seems like a hot topic in the football world as 17 of the last 21 winners were quarterbacks. Dang!
With that said, I don’t know that your body would disagree that the liver deserves the award. Here, we will breakdown the liver’s plays and help make the case for why it deserves the Heisman Trophy.
The Liver’s Job
Your detox system consists of the colon, liver, kidneys, lymph, lungs, and skin. The colon, liver and kidneys make up the heavy hitters of the detox team.
I realize that I just slipped over to a baseball analogy but please forgive me. I may dabble in bowling or cornhole puns, but I promise to circle it back around to the original football comparison.
As stated earlier, the liver performs over 500 jobs for the body. Some of which, we list below:
Stores, cleanses, and regulates blood for your system. We often give the kidneys and heart all the credit when it comes to the detoxification and flow of our blood, but our liver bears a good portion of the burden when it comes to this function.
Creates and regulates bile. Bile is largely used to convert fat into fatty acids, which allows the body to absorb and use the macronutrient. The liver passes bile over to the gallbladder for future use.
Ultimate storage tank. Not only does the liver store excess blood, but it also stores excess fat, cholesterol, and sugar.
Calls the plays and puts the ball in motion. The liver plays a key role in the growth factor signaling pathway. Meaning, the liver signals the glands responsible for secreting growth hormones to release said hormone to repair or remove damaged cells.
The liver’s impressive resume includes transmuting fat soluble toxins into water soluble, which allows the body to eliminate the toxin. I think you get the picture - the liver’s a pretty big darn deal! MVP status!
Athlete’s, Why Should You Care?
Unfortunately, conventional tests such as blood tests often cannot identify a troubled liver, and by the time a dysfunctional liver is discovered, the liver required attention many years prior. Dysfunction of the liver occurs when the toxic load is too much for the liver to bear. In which case, the liver kicks the toxins into the bloodstream giving toxins the opportunity to wreak havoc on other organs, tissues, and cells.
Liver dysfunction affects your connective tissues, energy production, and ability to remove metabolic waste. As we discussed many times in our blog posts to date, the signs of a toxic terrain come in many forms, and endurance athletes put their bodies under a significant amount of physical stress while encountering the same level of toxins as the rest of the world.
Diligence is key.
In order for your body to perform its physical best without breaking down, your liver must perform its best. Your liver must effectively and efficiently remove toxins, convert nutrients to energy, and light the bat signal to your endocrine glands for cellular repair.
Athletes not only achieve the benefit of more energy and a healthier terrain with a healthy liver, but they will also experience more emotional resiliency, stronger immune system, and improved food and supplement tolerance as a result.
Signs Your Liver is Thinking About Retirement
We see it all the time in the NFL (what little I watch) - a QB obtains too many injuries, and suddenly, retirement is on the table. You want a Tom Brady-level liver. Healthy, injury-free, and willing to end his marriage to a supermodel for the love of the game! You cannot afford a Jimmy Garopollo liver with his breaks and sprains.
Often, your skin, eyes, and nails outwardly show signs of liver dysfunction, but you may want to let the general manager know if you notice any of the following signs:
Brain fog and/or dizziness
Joint, neck, and/or back pain
Muscle cramps and/or spasms
Gas, bloating, and/or constipation
High blood pressure
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver houses emotions such as anger, frustration, irritation, and bitterness. These emotions may impede the liver, or a dysfunctional liver may create these emotions - classic chicken or the egg scenario.
Proper Cleaning and Care of Liver
First, we’d refer you to the Detox Like a Boss post for a general body detox. As we’ve previously mentioned, your body works as a system. Your organs do not work independent of each other - quite the opposite! The health of one organ either directly or inadvertently affects another.
The liver plays such a key role in the body’s system that reading the liver’s owner’s manual and implementing the instructions creates a cascade of improved functions throughout your body.
Avoid food that stresses out your liver such as fried foods, unhealthy fats, alcohol, and refined sugar.
Avoid genetically modified food, which studies indicate may damage liver cells.
Eat your greens and bananas! Your liver loves green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli, brussels sprouts, celery, green beans, and leafy greens. Your liver also loves potassium found in bananas, spinach, and sweet potatoes.
Eat small amounts of sour foods such as sauerkraut, lemons, limes, and grapefruit. Also, your liver benefits from regular consumption of berries and plums.
Drink raw veggie juice, which is not to be confused with fruit juice! An effective juice for the liver contains only vegetable juice and no fruit juice. The sugar concentration of fruit juice harms the liver.
Consume quality protein and Omega 3 fatty acids found in wild caught fish, bone broth, free-range, organic chicken, flaxseed and pumpkin seeds.
Vitamin C greatly supports the liver’s detox efforts.
Like supports like, so eating liver from other animals rich in Vitamins A and B, folic acid, choline, iron, copper, zinc, chromium, and CoQ10, supports your liver.
Incorporate emotion and stress management practices such as prayer and meditation, deep breathing exercises, and journaling.
Coffee enemas help flush the liver and escort toxins out the back door.
Castor oil packs are an ancient and effective method for detoxing the liver.
Saunas help sweat out toxins, which lessens the burden on the liver.
Herbs That Support Your Liver Function
Uh! I love herbs! You know who else loves herbs? Your liver!!
Herbs such as cardamom, cilantro, cumin, ginger, fennel, peppermint, turmeric, bupleurum, dandelion root, milk thistle, burdock root help tone, detox, and support the liver. You may take the herbs in capsule form, as a tincture, or decoct the herbs as a tea.
In addition, the antioxidant properties of green tea and the medicinal benefits of mushrooms such as shiitake promotes liver health. Essential oils such as lemon, rosemary, and turmeric are known to support the liver. For the use of other essential oils, you may consider applying the oils to the bottom of your feet to avoid the oils accumulating within the liver. Oils absorbed at the bottom of your feet will circumvent the liver and instead enter the bronchial capillaries.
And the Trophy Goes To…
Truly, your liver deserves a significant amount of your diligence and attention as it keeps your body in check. You cannot rely on lab tests alone to give you an A+ or F. By the time you fail the test, your entire franchise is compromised.
Hopefully, you now fully agree that the liver deserves the Heisman Trophy for its hard work and system leadership. Instead of popping the champagne bottle in celebration, we will chase some chicken liver and spinach down with cabbage juice and milk thistle tea!