Do you really know your liver? Do you care about your liver in the same way your liver cares about you?
The liver is a giant organ that weighs about three pounds in an adult’s body. It is also a gland that produces some of the most important enzymes for your body. That is why it is called a glandular organ! It acts like a hot engine and constantly works when your body needs it. Your liver is located on the right side of your abdominal cavity under the diaphragm and next to the stomach. It does so many critical functions including digestion, metabolism, filtration, detoxification, and recycling. It is impossible for anyone to survive without a healthy liver. The good news is that a liver has a great ability to regenerate itself provided it gets the care it needs. In general, it is a very sensitive, loving, and caring mass made of two different kinds of cells which got together to protect and support you and your life. Let’s give it a little care right now! Put your hands below your rib cage on the right side of your abdomen. Close your eyes and feel your liver energy. Breathe deep and give some love to your liver. Let it feel your appreciation and let it know that you care for it.
Now, think about these questions:
- Do you feel heavy or tired when you wake up in the morning?
- Do you sometimes see a yellowish color in your eyes?
- Do you experience hives, rashes, or dark spots on your skin?
- Has your energy declined?
- Do you deal with irritation and anger?
- Has your vision declined?
- Do you deal with a lack of vitamins or minerals?
Well, if your answer to any of these is yes, then you should pay more attention to your liver as any of these signs can be the liver telling you that it needs your help. But even if you don’t have any of these symptoms, it’s still a good idea to pay more attention to your liver! Why?
- Liver filters the blood and stores nutrients. The oxygen-rich blood from the heart and nutrient-rich blood from the digestive organs will end up in the liver for processing and filtration. Every minute it filters more than a liter of your blood. Meanwhile it identifies what is food and what is not.
- Liver then removes harmful substances such as chemicals, artificial dyes, toxins, plastics, pesticides, heavy metals, nicotine, and so forth. It stores nutrients such as vitamins and minerals to release when your body needs them.
- Liver controls the level of blood sugar in your body. It converts glucose into glycogen and stores it in the muscles for future need. When glucose levels drop, the liver liquidates its assets, sending the stored glucose back into the blood to keep your body nourished.
- Liver helps with the production of new red blood cells, destructs the old ones, and recycles them to substances that your body needs! Isn’t it great? It creates, destructs, and recycles for your betterment! When blood cells get old, they go to the liver to die. Liver separates the hemoglobin from them and utilizes it to produce bile and other vital enzymes. Bile is a greenish fluid and is necessary to digest fats and proteins—it is vital to our health.
- Liver is a hot organ and the seat of pitta. It relates to pitta-type emotions such as anger, jealousy, hate, frustration, and envy. Unprocessed emotions can easily affect it. On the contrary, liver is associated with the positive characteristic of pitta dosha and a healthy liver promotes courage, confidence, enthusiasm, cooperation, and leadership. When you have a balanced and strong liver you can more easily experience positivity and the courage to be happier in life.
Food and Eating Habits Can Make Your Liver Healthier
- Do you love hot and spicy foods and use lots of hot sauce and ketchup?
- Do you love deep fried foods?
- Do you use frozen foods that are sometimes cooked in a microwave?
- Do you snack too much?
- Do you eat emotionally?
- Do you eat any time you want and have no set times for taking meals?
These kinds of habits can be harmful to your liver. Ayurveda explains ahara, or food, as anything we take in to nourish our body and mind. It gives great importance to when you eat, using fresh foods, proper spices, and good oils or fats. It does not recommend frozen, deep fried, canned, microwaved, or processed and over-cooked foods.
Tips for a Healthy Liver
- Avoid alcohol, drugs, chemicals, refined sugar, fructose, deep fried foods, processed foods, and overeating.
- Don’t eat when you are emotional—wait until you can relax.
- Cool down your liver by eating a pitta-balancing diet and limiting hot spices.
- Start your day with a squeeze of a fresh lemon in a glass of room temperature water.
- Let lunch be your main meal of the day.
- Eat a light dinner and go to bed early. Liver needs to rest after 10 or 11 p.m. to re-energize.
- Add bitter tastes to your daily food, such as dandelion greens, aloe vera, bitter melon, and leafy greens.
- Use turmeric and coriander powder in your food.
- Consume good oils and fats such as olive oil and ghee.
- Do a natural liver detox with a practitioner, or an at-home Ayurvedic cleanse.
- Drink enough water during the day to stay hydrated.
- Perform Sheetali pranayama, which has a cooling effect.
- Incorporate daily meditation, relax, and forgive.
Caring for your liver is especially important if you are a pitta predominant person and during the hottest pitta-provoking times of year (typically summer). If you want to learn more about the Ayurvedic perspective on this incredible organ, check out the Love Your Liver guide for more information.