We regularly discuss the importance of hormone balance, but what most people don't know is that your liver health can significantly affect your hormones. Below, we’ve outlined how your liver’s health can affect hormones, as well as how to support your liver to counteract negative effects.
What Does the Liver Do for Your Body?
The liver is responsible for over 200 functions in the human body. It is commonly known as the “filter” of the human body because the blood leaving the stomach and small intestines must pass through the liver. The liver processes all of the useful substances into our blood and excretes the “useless substances”, such as excess bacteria, through bile and urine. From the products we consume, the liver then creates proteins for blood plasma and cholesterol.
Other Primary Functions of the Liver
- Bile production and excretion
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, hormones, and drugs
- Metabolism of fats, proteins, and carbohydrates
- Enzyme activation
- Storage of glycogen, vitamins, and minerals
- Synthesis of plasma proteins, such as albumin, and clotting factors
- Blood detoxification and purification
How Does Your Liver Affect Your Hormones?
Phase I: Oxidation
Phase I of liver detox consists of chemically altering the toxin we consume for further processing. In this first phase, harmful substances are broken down to make them more water-soluble while also oxidizing them. This oxidation process is the creation of free radicals or unstable molecules. These free radicals are associated with aging, cell damage, and even some cancers. Most chemicals created in Phase I are actually more toxic than when they originally entered the body.
Phase II: Conjugation
Phase II is responsible for removing the harmful free radicals created in Phase I. The harmful toxins from Phase I are further neutralized and made into an even more water-soluble called conjugation. Conjugation utilizes the molecules glutathione, glycine, and sulfate. These molecules serve as necessary agents in creating antioxidants. There are six pathways responsible for converting substances:
- Amino Acid Conjugation Pathway
- Glutathione Pathway
- Sulphation (sulfation) Pathway
- Methylation Pathway
- Glucuronidation Pathway
- Acetylation Pathway
The Methylation pathway allows methyl groups to pass through the liver and out to your body. These include estrogen, dopamine, histamine, and heavy metals. The sulphation pathway detoxifies excess neurotransmitters, steroids, thyroid hormones, phenol, and excess bile acids. By-products from Phase I and Phase II are released into the bloodstream where the chemicals diffuse into the body’s cells and interstitial tissue.
This is an issue when a toxic substance isn't able to be broken down completely. When your liver dumps the waste by-product back into your body, it will cause an imbalance in your hormones. The lymphatic system will then take these toxic substances back into the bloodstream where they can be filtered and eliminated by the kidneys, gut, or sweated out through the skin.
How to Support Your Liver
Now that we understand how vital the organ is in obtaining optimal health, how do we support the liver? Here are four simple things that you can start doing right now to optimize your liver function to maintain a healthy hormone balance.
Drink Lemon Water
Lemon water enhances liver enzyme function, encourages healthy bile production, and is a good source of vitamin C. The Vitamin C in lemons helps neutralize free radicals linked to aging. Additionally, Vitamin C helps in working against colds. Studies show that lemons help the liver detoxify the body by regulating hormones like glucose and leptin.
Take Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle is an effective herb for detoxifying the liver, promoting the flow of bile and protecting hepatocytes (liver cells). Milk thistle protects the liver from exposure to toxins. Additionally, its derivative is an antioxidant that lowers the liver oxidative stress levels associated with toxin metabolism. Milk thistle stimulates liver cleansing by flushing excess hormones from the liver that could result in hormone imbalances.
Eat Dark Leafy Greens
Try to incorporate dark leafy greens into your diet. Kale, dandelion greens, rapini, collard greens, and broccoli are superfoods for your liver. These are rich in micronutrients important for liver function including folate, vitamin C, vitamin K, magnesium, calcium, and potassium. Leafy greens also have large amounts of fiber, which helps take the burden off the liver because they are low in fat. Having a diet rich in fiber will improve your hormone metabolism, assisting in normalizing estrogen and progesterone levels.
Drink Green Tea
Herbal Tea is widely considered to be beneficial for the liver. Green tea, specifically, contains epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG) that assists the liver with detoxification, weight loss, and reduces inflammation. Additionally, a 2015 study by the World Journal of Gastroenterology noted that green tea helps reduce overall fat content, fight against oxidative stress, and reduce other signs of nonalcoholic fatty disease. Having too much fat in your liver can cause it to be inflamed, resulting in liver damage, scarring, or in severe cases, liver failure.
Cut Back on Alcohol
Alcohol is well known for being highly damaging to your liver. But why is that the case? When you consume alcohol, it enters your bloodstream. Your liver works to remove the alcohol from your body; however, your liver can only remove a certain amount of alcohol at a time. Therefore, when you drink more alcohol than your liver can manage the excess alcohol begins to destroy your liver cells. Consequently, your liver will not be able to regulate the balance of your hormones.
Support Your Liver with Dr. Randolph
If you’re concerned that your liver may be burdened with an overabundance of toxins in your body, try our Liver Guard or Milk Thistle! Our supplements are high quality and pharmaceutical grade. Maintaining a healthy liver is crucial to your hormone balance. If you find yourself struggling with a sluggish liver, Dr. Randolph's natural approach could likely help you! If you have questions, feel free to give us a call. We wish you well!