Why is your liver important for hormone health?

I’ve been taking a course as well as reading a few books to learn more about hormone health and I figured I’d share some of the information I’ve learned. It’s fascinating stuff (at least I think so) and it is so critical to our overall health as women – yet many of us are unaware of the facts or how our bodies actually work. Sad but true. Today’s macroview highlight is on our livers – what function do they play in hormone health and how we can support what it does.

You may ask – Shannon, what the hey does my liver have to do with my hormones? I suffer from severe PMS/irregular periods/acne/cramps/irritibility – insert your symptoms here. Suprisingly, our liver function, gut function, adrenals, insulin function and thyroid function are the foundations and keys to balancing our hormones and managing or eliminating these symptoms altogether. But, what does our liver have to do with this?

Well, our liver is one of THE major organs involved in our bodies detoxification processes. It is responsible for processing our excess hormones and packaging them up for elimination from the body. If we have excess hormones hanging around that shouldn’t – it really messes with our systems and our hormones will be imbalanced and running wild. Additionally, the liver plays key roles in metabolic function, blood sugar regulation and nutrient absorption – all of which impact the production and health of our hormones.

If we are talking specifically about estrogen (one of our sex hormones that plays a monster role around mood & your periods, and plays important roles in women’s bone, brain and heart health), the liver is responsible for handling any excess estrogen we may have. This is critical as these days we not only have the pill (which pumps loads of synthetic hormones into our bodies that the liver has to deal with), but we have thousands of chemicals we encounter everyday that cause excess estrogen to build up and wreak havoc on us (this is a whole other topic :)). The liver is responsible for handling all the excess estrogen.

The liver breaks down the estrogen and then uses a process called hydroxylation to safely remove it. This occurs in 2 phases, and if left stagnant at the end of Phase 1 (because the body didn’t have the proper nutrients to continue), all that estrogen gets pushed back out into the body and the problem grows. I won’t go into all the science in this article as to how this all works. Just know that there are nutrients and foods that we can and should eat that support the liver in its work.

How to support you liver

Food first:

You’ll want adequate fiber (minimum of 25g/day) and enough water to promote elimination every single day. This is how the excess estrogen that the liver processes is eliminated.

Cruciferous vegetables (like broccoli, kale, cauliflower & brussels sprouts)- nutrients within aid in the conversion of estrogen in the liver to proper metabolites that the body can then expel.

Beets, carrots, leafy greens, garlic, onions, grapefruit, dandelion root tea, green tea and turmeric all love your liver as well.

High-quality protein to help the liver in its detoxification process.

Hormone healthy fats – Omega 3s, avocados, cold-pressed olive oil, coconut oil.

You’ll want to stay away from foods that burden your liver. These include such things as sugar, alcohol, inflammatory fats and other hormone-disrupting foods (dairy, gluten, soy).

Supplements:

Glutathione – a powerful anti-oxidant that protects your cells and delivers nutrients effectively.

N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – precursor to glutathione. It improves mood, fertility and gut function.

Calcium-D-glucarate – aids in liver detoxification and the elimination of excess estrogen.

Milk thistle – supports the healthy regeneration of damaged liver cells.

DIM (diindolymethane) – helps your liver process the excess estrogen

Quercetin – anti-oxidant & anti-inflammatory (found in red oinions, blueberries, chili peppers)

Resveratrol – anit-oxidant aiding in liver detoxification. Note – red wine not the best source if we’re talking liver health here.

Other ways to support your liver:

Reduce your toxic burden from beauty, household and cleaning products. The less you liver has to process the better.

Move your body! Sweat helps move toxins out and gets your lymph moving.

In summary – Our liver is an amazing organ and, if we want to balance our hormones (which play key roles in our female health, our weight as well as our brain, bone and heart health), then we need to take care of it. It’s so important (especially if you are on the pill which depletes all the nutrients our liver needs and pumps in oodles of hormones that the liver has to deal with) to support our liver as a foundational step in our hormone health. Our livers are definately unsung heroes.