When we think about our hormonal health, it’s easy to think of it as a factor in and of itself.
But just like every other process in the body, hormonal health is intricately connected with the other processes of the body, and many of the other organs.
The liver in particular plays an important role in the maintenance of hormonal health and to properly balance our hormone’s we can’t neglect this important organ.
How the Liver Balances Hormones
The liver is where things go to be filtered. Anything circulating that is in excess (like too much estrogen or testosterone, for example), anything that is toxic, and waste products are processed through the liver and excreted from the body.
In a healthy liver, this means that the onslaughts of daily life in the form of toxins and old hormones get processed out and everything functions in balance.
But sometimes, other conditions like PCOS mean that for myriad reasons too many hormones are cycling around the body.
If the liver can’t process them because it’s already overwhelmed with toxin load or poor diet, these excess hormones can reak havoc and cause things like estrogen dominance or exacerbate PCOS symptoms.
Other negative things can occur if the liver get overloaded, including the production of free radicals that the liver can’t then contain and excrete.
That’s why it’s so important to not only think about balancing our hormones, but about supporting our liver.
Supporting the Liver
A properly supported liver can make the difference between chronic hormonal imbalance and the ability to heal.
The liver goes through 2 stages of detoxification , called Phase I and Phase II which are each equally important. Several processes happen during these two phases that break down waste products into less harmful or weaker versions of themselves and eventually excrete them through urine or fecal matter.
If any of these processes gets thwarted along the way, it can cause any of the problems mentioned above.
(If digestion is too slow (constipation) or the gut flora balance is off, it’s possible for some hormones to be re-absorbed. That’s why it’s also important to work to improve our digestion, making sure to drink enough water and eat enough fiber as well as improve gut health. Fortunately, many of the steps to take to support the liver are also great for digestion!)
The most important thing to do to support the liver is to avoid foods and toxins that burden the liver.
Don’t tax the liver with toxic substances like alcohol. As much as it’s fun to have a drink now and then, alcohol is a poison which primarily burdens the liver. Alcohol in particular steals glutathione which increases estrogen levels in the blood.
Other things to avoid include:
- Chemicals like BPA (Find my BPA-free products post here)
- Processed foods, especially those fried in rancid seed oils
To support the liver, several foods should be a major part of the diet. These foods include the following:
- Leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Cruciferous and sufur containing vegetables like brocolli and onions
- Grass-fed organic meats, especially red meat, and eggs
- Pure, filtered water
If you struggle already with a slugglish liver or have a condition like estrogen dominance or PCOS, the following supplements help support the liver through Phase I and Phase II detoxification and can be really helpful:
- Methylated forms of B12 (find it here), B6 (find it here), and Folic Acid (find it here): important for the passing of methyl groups which helps with the excretion of hormones like estrogen and is sometimes difficult in women with PCOS.
- DIM (I like this one): contains the strongest components of cruciferous vegetables known to help break down excess hormones.
- Calcium D Glucarate (I like this brand) supports the glucuronidation of the liver and prevents excess estrogen from being re-absorbed in the bowels.
- Glutathione (find it here): important for the detoxification of alcohol. Smoking, chronic stress, and infections or inflammatory disorders also deplete this important nutrient.
Doing a liver “detox” that you might find on Pinterest of drinking some kind of miserable lemon-water concoction for 3 days with no solid food is not necessary.
How do you like to support the liver?