Why Spring is the Best Time to Love Your Liver
Spring always makes me feel so energized. It’s like I’ve been hibernating and my mind and body wake up after months of bad weather. Although, I am not complaining- this past winter here in Ontario was milder than any I’ve seen in my life. The big caveat: no SUN! I’m no stranger to feeling the blues and extra lethargic during the winter.
This is why I love to clean out my liver after a long winter. We know that our livers are intricately connected to our hormones, especially if estrogen dominance and its symptoms are issues you deal with.
Does the time of year your clean your liver really matter? Yes!
Your liver is definitely an organ to love. Located in the upper right side of your abdomen, it is your body’s main detoxifier. Everything we eat, drink, breathe and absorb eventually ends up in the liver to be detoxified.
Liver + Hormones = ❤️
Symptoms of an Overloaded Liver
- bloating or gas
- weight gain or inability to reduce weight
- premenstrual mood swings
- irritable bowel syndrome
- anger or aggression
- low energy
- hypoglycemia or insulin resistance
- bad body odor
How it Works
The liver essentially acts like a sewage treatment plant in your body. Constantly bustling, the liver filters everything that we put into and on our bodies. Once our liver has separated out the nutrients and other compounds we need, it readies the waste to be removed from the body (through your pee and poo!).
Through 2 phases, this is how your liver detoxifies hormones:
Phase 1: During phase one, substances that come into the liver are either fully metabolized or converted into another form to be metabolized further in phase two. Phase one just so happens to be the phase in which estrogen is metabolized. The liver converts the main form of estrogen, estradiol, into another form known as estrone. Any excess is then excreted from your body.
The thing about phase one that makes phase two so important is that sometimes the conversions that take place create compounds that are actually harmful to your health. For example, when estradiol is being converted to estrone, it is first converted into a few other forms of estrogen, which have potentially harmful effects. If your liver doesn’t complete hormone metabolism properly, these harmful estrogens could contribute to hormonal imbalances like sore breasts, heavy periods, PCOS, Endometriosis and even breast cancer.
Phase 2: During phase two a process known as conjugation begins. During conjugation, amino acids (from protein) are combined with hormones and other substances in order to make them water soluble for easy excretion. It is important to support phase two of your liver as well as phase one so hormones are not built up in your system, or created into something potentially harmful. Many fat-soluble toxins like excess or harmful forms of estrogen require bile for proper excretion. If you do not have your gallbladder, are taking birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy you may have problems excreting built-up hormones.
Why Spring is Awesome For Your Liver
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), there is something called the 5 Element Theory. Within this theory, practitioners have broken down the seasons into 5 parts, with corresponding 5 major organs and 5 elements. In spring, the theory says that the liver and wind element are dominant.
What the fudge is this about?
According to TCM, the liver is very susceptible to the strong forces of wind in spring (and as I write this the trees in front of my house are being blown like crazy) and can create imbalances. So, strengthening the liver during this time is extremely beneficial to health.
If your liver is not strong, TCM says you may experience emotional turmoil, feel resentment, aggression, edginess and even compulsive behaviour. Who the hell wants this plus wacky hormones? Yeah. . .No.
Beyond Chinese Medicine, spring is when new foods are finally coming up. Even new weeds, like dandelion are extremely beneficial to the liver. Getting those first baby greens of the season helps to bind toxins (with their fibre), cleanse the liver and kidneys, and super-saturate your body with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and other phytochemicals to increase your energy.
Lastly, the increased levels of sunshine during the spring assists us to increase our Vitamin D supply, which tends to be lowest at the end of winter because our stores have been used up. Vitamin D isn’t just for your mood- is actually helps the liver as well. Vitamin D reduces the risk of liver-related disease like cirrhosis and NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). Not to mention that the happier and stronger your liver is, the happy and stronger your hormones will be as well.
Here’s a few simple ways to start loving your liver:
- Eliminate processed foods and trans fats – think fried foods and anything that comes in a bag, box or carton.
- Reduce your exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, herbicides and endocrine disruptors (i.e.: that freaky BPA stuff we’ve all heard about in plastics)
- Eat a wide variety of clean, whole foods- lots of fibre, protein and fat with every meal
- Drink plenty of water every day – aim to drink your body weight in ounces every day.
- Exercise and move your body regularly
- Participate in a detox 2-4 times per year to help your liver along
- Drink warm water with lemon and/or raw apple cider vinegar every morning before breakfast