This might seem like a bold statement but…it is practically impossible to maintain a state of hormone balance without a healthy liver.
In fact, it’s practically impossible to prevent estrogen dominance, weight gain, infertility, hot flashes and other symptoms, without a healthy liver.
In this post we will look at how liver function gets disrupted and what you can do to restore balance (including hormone balance!).
So let’s dive right in, shall we?!
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HOW LIVER FUNCTION IMPACTS HORMONE BALANCE
The liver is our largest internal organ and it is located in the upper right portion of the abdominal area.
It sits underneath the diaphragm and on top of the stomach.
Some of the liver’s main functions include:
- Making thyroid hormone (converts inactive T4 to active T3).
- Storing vitamins and minerals that the body can access as needed.
- Making bile which is used to breakdown fats from our diet.
- Breaking down alcohol.
- Detoxing the body.
That last piece piece – detoxing the body – is strongly linked to hormone balance!
Why? Well, here are two main reasons:
1) Many of the toxins that we are exposed to these days are estrogen-based.
This means that if the liver is not able to keep up with our detox needs, then those estrogen-based toxins stay in the body.
This eventually leads to a buildup of toxins AND artificial estrogen in the body
2) The liver is responsible for detoxing excess hormones.
If the liver isn’t healthy, then we can accumulate things like testosterone (which contributes to some PCOS symptoms) and estrogen in the body.
Overall, one of the hormonal imbalances that can result from an unhealthy liver is estrogen dominance.
This particular imbalance is becoming more widespread and it is linked to a TON of health issues like:
- Excessive weight gain and obesity
- Irregular periods
- Mood swings
- Memory problems
- Difficulty sleeping
- Thyroid problems
- Adrenal fatigue
- …and much more!
As you can see, many of the symptoms listed above can be debilitating!
So, in order to prevent or overcome any symptoms of hormone imbalance, we have to make choices that support liver health.
Now, let’s take a look at what you can do to boost your liver for hormone balance.
THE LIVER & HORMONES: 6 STEPS FOR HORMONE BALANCE
The 6 steps outlined in this section are a combination of dietary and lifestyle choices.
If these steps seem overwhelming at first, remember that hormone balance is achieved gradually.
By prioritizing your health, and developing habits that support hormone balance, you will see results.
1. Eat plenty of nutrient-rich, whole foods
In order to detox the body, the liver needs a wide variety of raw materials like vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients.
The best way to get these raw materials is to eat whole, unprocessed fruits, veggies and grains.
When choosing fruits and veggies, it’s a good idea to choose a wide variety of colors.
Why? Because there’s a strong connection between color and nutrient content.
For example, red foods like tomatoes and watermelon contain the antioxidant lycopene.
As for orange foods, like papaya, they contain immune-boosting beta-carotene.
Lycopene and beta-carotene are part of a family of compounds known as phytonutrients (or phytochemicals). Some reports state that there are anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 phytonutrients in our foods.
So, the more you mix up the colors of your food, the more good stuff you’re giving your body!
2. Consume liver-supporting herbs and foods
Herbs like milk thistle, oregon grape root, fennel seed and turmeric are excellent for nourishing and supporting the liver.
You can usually find all of these in the form of a supplement (capsules) and/or a tincture.
Turmeric is hands down my favorite daily liver herb, and that’s because of one simple reason: turmeric supports the liver while reducing inflammation in the entire body.
Talk about a multi-tasking herb!
Whether you use fresh or dried turmeric, it’s easy to incorporate into your life.
For example, you can add it soups, veggies dishes or your morning smoothie.
Or for real convenience, you can grab a turmeric supplement.
Gaia’s Turmeric Supreme happens to be my fave for 2 reasons:
1. It’s a whole herb supplement which means you get all the good stuff that’s naturally in the herb (not just one ingredient from the herb).
2. The herb is in a liquid solution and enveloped in soft capsules. This is is sooooo much easier for the body to absorb compared to hard capsules.
Healthy Fats and “Bitters”
Avocados, coconut oil, olive oil, fatty fish (salmon, mackerel and sardines), nuts and seeds are great ways to nourish the liver.
These foods all contain healthy fats that build up the body.
This is in stark contrast to processed fats which break down the body and can actually raise estrogen levels.
Another group of foods that benefits the liver is bitter foods.
So things like dandelion greens, endives and green tea…these are all great for liver health.
3. Minimize exposure to xenoestrogens
Aside from a lack of nutrients, one of the main things that can disrupt liver function is xenoestrogens.
These are foreign estrogens that mimic natural estrogen and as a result, interfere with normal estrogen function.
Some predominant sources of xenoestrogens are:
- Cosmetics and personal care products that contain ingredients like parabens or phthalates.
- Commercially raised meat and dairy products.
- Food additives.
- Tap water.
- Personal hygiene products like tampons (which release the byproduct dioxin).
- Food additives like MSG.
- Processed foods that use a lot of unfermented, soy-based additives.
The best way to minimize exposure to xenoestrogens? Follow these 7 basic guidelines:
- Eat more organic, non-GMO produce.
- Reduce the number of cosmetics and personal care products you use. Whenever possible, make your own beauty products or buy brands that don’t use toxic chemicals.
- Eat mainly wild-caught fish and game. When buying animal products, stick to organic, hormone-free and antibiotic-free varieties.
- Choose whole, homemade food over packaged/processed food.
- Use a water filter.
- Buy tampons and pads made from organic cotton.
- Eat mostly fermented soy products (tempeh, miso, fermented soy sauce).
4. Avoid alcohol
In small amounts, alcoholic drinks – like red wine – can provide some health benefits.
But long-term, excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks ultimately increases estrogen levels.
This is because the liver has to use up it stores of antioxidants, minerals and other nutrients to breakdown alcohol.
The more alcohol we consume, the more those liver stores are used up.
In the long run, the liver becomes nutrient-deficient (and so does the rest of the body).
Alcohol also disrupts blood sugar levels and this can worsen symptoms of hormone imbalance.
That’s because many women with hormone imbalance symptoms like PCOS tend to have insulin resistance.
So it’s best to avoid alcohol as much as possible if you want achieve a state of natural hormone balance.
5. Find ways to minimize (and manage) stress
When the body is stressed, blood flow to the liver reduces.
With less blood supply, the liver is not able to perform all of its functions optimally. This produces various negative effects for our hormones.
In addition, when the body is faced with stress, higher quantities of the stress hormone, cortisol, are released.
Now, this is where things get interesting!
Cortisol and progesterone are made from the same main hormone (pregnenolone).
This means whenever the body needs to make more cortisol, it will make less progesterone.
This is all good and well when we’re talking about short-term stress.
However, when we’re faced with long-term stress, that means we are permanently sacrificing progesterone production.
Ultimately, this sets us up for estrogen dominance!
So, it’s important to make lifestyle choices that reduce the impact of stress in our lives.
This means performing activities you enjoy (like walking, dancing, gardening, journaling, etc.). This also means surrounding yourself with people who bring out the best in you and prioritizing balance in all aspects of your life!
6. Detox the liver
When you hear the term “detox,” you might think that you have to eat nothing but rabbit food.
Have no worries because that’s not what I am talking about!
A liver detox can be as simple as spending a few days intentionally eating wholesome, tasty food that gently detoxes the body and gives the liver a chance to reset.
I do short, 3 – 5 day liver detoxes a few times a year. Each time I feel totally refreshed and re-energized!
So, why not try it out for yourself too?
While doing a liver detox, I focus on eating only whole, plant-based foods and staying hydrated (water, smoothies and juices).
In addition I use herbs, supplements and teas to support and nourish my body and get the most benefits out of the detox.
Here’s what I like to use for a liver detox:
- These easily absorbable turmeric capsules.
- A multi-herb liver tincture that combines several amazing herbs and foods: dandelion, milk thistle, artichokes, chanca piedra, angelica.
- This detox tea from Traditional Medicinals (it contains schisandra berries which are great for the liver and overall hormone health. The berries gives the tea a very unique, mild fruity flavor!).
That’s it! Just follow the manufacturer’s instructions for how to use the tinctures and capsules.
As for the tea I drink 2 cups a day. 2 cups is a good minimum with herbal teas so that you can be sure to get the medicinal benefits!
After 3 – 5 days I feel refreshed and balanced in more ways than one!
With these liver health tips, you can start seeing improvements in a wide variety of hormonal imbalance symptoms.
Whether it’s fatigue, weight gain, acne, sleep issues, hair loss…many symptoms can start turning around once you support your liver.
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Now over to you…do you pay attention to your liver and if so, what has helped you in your journey to hormone health?
Drop your comments below 🙂