The Livers role in Fertility
You might be thinking what’s the liver got to do with my fertility?
The answer’s actually a great deal. The liver acts just like the post office in the body, everything that goes in or on the body has to be processed by the liver. Even the mosituriser you put on your skin. In fact everything that goes onto your skin goes directly into your bloodstream and has to be processed by the liver.
As you can imagine this means your liver is very busy indeed! It’s also the largest organ in the body and the only organ that can regenerate itself.
What does your liver actually do?
Your liver performs about two hundred vital functions, most of which are key for overall health and hormone balance. We all know that the liver has to metabolise alcohol and drugs but it also assimulates and stores fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E and K) and minerals such as Iron.
The liver converts many hormones into more usable forms and it eliminates fat-soluble toxins such as pesticides, preservatives, food additives, heavy metals, pollutants, plastics, and other environmental chemicals. When it’s not working properly we can feel it in the body.
The liver produces bile, which is critical to fat digestion (good fats and cholesterol are the precursors for steroid hormones); the bile also helps evacuate steroid hormones such as oestrogen metabolites, progesterone and testosterone.
A sluggish liver can be a big contributor to oestrogen dominance because of a build-up of harmful estrogenic metabolites.
Your liver needs to eliminate metabolised or used up hormones to make space for new ones. When it doesn’t do it quick enough, these bad hormones circulate in the body causing havoc, ie: growing things that shouldn’t be there like Fibroids, Polyps, and cysts etc…
The livers detoxification happens in two phases. Phase 1, known as “oxidation” breaks the toxins up into less harmful compounds. In phase 2, known as “conjugation,” the toxins are combined with another compound that will safely evacuate them by six detoxification pathways. If either of the detoxification phases is not working well, you will experience hormonal imbalances and this is what we are concerned about when it comes to Fertility.
In Chinese Medicine, the season of Spring is associated with the Liver network so right now is a good time to pay attention to it.
Symptoms of Liver imbalance
These are some of the most common symptoms that indicate an imbalance in the Liver:
- Anger or Irritation
- Digestive disorder (IBS and indigestion)
- Menstrual disorders (PMS, irregular or painful menses)
- Shoulder and Neck tension
- Headaches and Dizziness
Here are my top 10 tips for boosting your liver health
- There are nasty chemicals in skincare products, non-organic foods and cleaning products. These create an additional load on the liver. Try swapping for more natural alternatives ie: Neals Yard skin care products, Method cleaning products and organic food where possible especially meat and dairy products.
- Add the following to your diet:
- fresh lemon juice in warm water first thing in the morning to aid liver function and enzyme production
- Add 2-3 tablespoons of ground flaxseeds, chia seeds or psyllium husks to your food as it aids the liver in moving toxins out of the body
- Eat plenty of cruciferous vegetables ie: Broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, and bok choi as they are rich in diindolylmethane (DIM) which helps detoxification pathways.
- Include B vitamin-rich foods ie: Chicken, beef, lamb liver or take a good quality B vitamin supplement (I like B supreme)
- Eat plenty of eggs and avocados as they contain Choline which supports the methylation process in the liver
- Include Vitamin C rich foods ie: Kiwi’s, oranges etc… try sprinkling goji berries on your porridge in the morning for an extra vitamin C boost
- Selenium – helps break toxins down. Found in Brazil nuts, sardines, anchovies, herring, chicken breast, turkey meat, mustard of all types, curry powder and turmeric
- While exercise is important all year round, the connection between spring, the Liver, and anger and depression makes this time of year especially important to have a good exercise routine. Feeling more irritable, depressed or stressed? Sooth your Liver by walking in nature for 20-30 minutes 3-4x/ week.
- Take Epsom salt baths, Epsom salt is magnesium sulfate. It opens up the detoxification pathways. Put 1-2 mugs full into the bath and soak for at least 20mins (make sure the water is not too hot).
- Try steam and infrared saunas two times a week to help with detoxification
- Be in bed by 10pm. Liver detoxification happens between 1-3am during deep sleep so you need to have been asleep for a few hours beforehand ideally.
- Eat your Greens. The Liver is associated with the colour green. Take advantage of the new spring growth and increase your consumption of kale, sprouts, watercress, and other green vegetables.
- Avoid fried foods, coffee, alcohol, cigarettes and marijuana as they take a lot of liver resources to clear out, putting additional pressure on the body.
- Avoid late night snacking. This causes an additional load on the liver and its detoxification work, which happens late at night
- Relax and de-stress. While the tendency in the spring is to get even busier, remember to schedule in downtime. This will help your energy gradually build. Exerting too much energy in spring will leave you feeling depleted come Autumn and winter. Allow yourself plenty of time for rest, schedule ‘doing nothing’ in your diary.