Show your liver some love: Reduce your toxic load
The other day I was walking with a good friend of mine who abruptly declared, obviously out of frustration, “it shouldn’t be so stressful to try to be healthy!” I knew exactly what she meant, as I often feel that same frustration. I suppose it’s because we’re “blessed” with an endless stream of information “… Dr. Oz recommends ….,” “I read a book that said …,” “I saw a commercial that warned of … ” You probably get the picture.
I love technology, but there are definitely a few universal problems with the information age in which we live. For one, not all of the loudest voices out there are those of qualified experts; two, there is a lot of information dispersed by people trying to sell us something and making all kinds of claims to do just that; and lastly, the huge volume of valid information available to us can be overwhelming in its own right! In this last case, it can be tempting to assume that being healthy requires popping handfuls of supplements each day and eating … well, whatever is considered “good for you” at the time!
Not to worry. I believe that there is ONE (no, that was not a typo!) simple thing that we can all do to maintain optimal health without relying on the latest health fad: Reduce our toxic load.
What is "toxic load"?
It is simply the amount of toxins (poisons) to which your body is exposed. Okay, you may be thinking “not another lecture on avoiding household chemicals!” Well, that’s not exactly what this is. I mean, yes, that is definitely part of it, but there is more to it which I’ll explain in a bit. I’d first like to preface with the fact that I don’t know of any condition, at any level of seriousness, that can’t be altogether avoided or improved upon by lessening toxic load. Yes, this includes high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases ranging from allergies to lupus, diabetes, obesity, fibromyalgia, digestive issues, arthritis, etc.
How does "toxic load" affect health?
Well, the problem is that we’ve sort of adopted the attitude that our body can handle just about anything we throw at it. It may certainly seem that way, especially if you consider all that the body must do just to keep us alive each day. However today we tend to overload our bodies with toxins and stressors, many times without thinking twice or realizing that we are doing it. Since these substances all must be filtered through the liver and kidneys so that they don’t build up in our bodies and cause damage (disease), the more toxins to which we are exposed, the more work these organs must endure. And stress can be included in that, as the body goes through certain chemical reactions in response to stress that actually result in toxic waste products. So you can imagine that, over time, if not cared for properly, the liver and kidneys become less efficient in what they do, which is what allows the junk to build up inside of us, ultimately causing the disease and chronic conditions so prevalent today.
So, the liver is the front line defense against all this “junk”. It is the body’s main filter through which wastes and poisons are removed from the bloodstream. However, that’s not all the liver does. It’s also responsible or partially responsible for the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins, hormone production and processing, storage of vitamins, immune functions … the list continues and is long and complex. Simply put, the liver supports every organ in the body, both directly and indirectly, and is necessary for survival.
To reduce "toxic load" means to ease the stress placed on the liver, at least as much as we can.
That way it not only will continue to filter our blood efficiently, but it will also be at the top of its game to complete the other, extremely important functions, as necessary. I was tempted to include a detailed list of everything that creates a burden to the liver, but as an attempt to make this simple, I’ll instead provide a basic list of the things that I believe to be most critical to optimal health.
Sources of stress for the liver:
1. Household Cleaning Agents (excellent options in organic section of grocery stores – beware of the word “natural” in the non-organic section)
2. Air Freshening Products (give essential oils a try … here’s a great source for those)
3. Bath and Beauty Products including bath soap, cosmetics and lotions. (Our skin is our largest organ and everything we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream < had to get that in!).
4. Food. Go organic with meats, eggs, dairy and certain fruits and vegetables. Say “no” to hormones, antibiotics, artificial flavors, colors, preservatives.
5. Beverages. Filtered water and herbal teas are the way to go! Say no to sodas, diet sodas and sports drinks. (Coconut water is an EXCELLENT substitute for sports drinks. ) Oh, and if a beverage has “Vitamin” in its name, don’t be fooled. Check the sugar content.
6. Emotional stress. Practice deep breathing, which is so simple yet offers amazing benefits to your body and is a major contributor to optimal health.
7. Over-exercise. It is true! There is such a thing as overdoing your exercise regime. Incorporating alternating days of walking, yoga and weight training of some kind will provide a whole-body workout without exhausting you and your liver! And if you feel like you are doing too much, listen to your body and tone it down a bit.
8. Lack of Sleep. At night when we sleep, our body goes into detoxification mode. It needs this time to clean house and rejuvenate. If you have a difficult time waking in the morning, or just plain feel like you haven’t slept a wink through the night, it’s a sign of toxic buildup. There are a bunch of simple tricks that you can do to improve your sleep habits and, as a result have plenty of energy to face each day!
9. Illness. It’s not surprising that illness stresses the liver, as it stresses the entire body!
10. Medications. Our liver is responsible for breaking down the medications that we ingest. You’ve probably heard of the many reports of liver damage caused by Tylenol and similar medications. Keep in mind that the negative effects tend to be cumulative.
11. Menstruation. Can’t help this, right? It happens to be one of the most stressful things for a woman’s body to endure. Headaches? Cramps? Moodiness? If these symptoms are familiar to you, lessen your toxic load so that when your body undergoes this additional stress, it is able to process the excess hormones more efficiently and save you a lot of misery!
12. Mold and Pollen. Again, an overly stressed system can’t process these substances effectively, resulting in seasonal allergies. It’s all interrelated!
Okay, this list isn’t even complete, but I hope the message is clear. There is no magic pill that will guarantee us lifelong health. It’s up to us to take control of what we put into our bodies. Remember, the results are cumulative! It’s a shame that’s the case, in a way. I mean, it sure would be easy if every time you were exposed to a toxin, whether in food or in the environment, you would get violently ill right then and there! What a deterrent, and potential life-saver, that would be. Oh, one last thing …. Don’t stress out over it! Just keep it clean!
Thanks for visiting my blog and best of health to you!
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