We all know the liver does a lot to keep us healthy every day, but did you know the liver performs about 500 vital functions constantly? I’m sure you enjoy having things like red blood cells, hormones and the ability to convert beta-carotene into Vitamin A? Well, you have your liver to thank for that and you just wouldn’t be the same without those things. Those are all processes that the liver helps to make into a reality. How was that sandwich you had for lunch today? That food wouldn’t be able to be converted into usable human proteins… or YOU, technically, without the work of that extraordinary organ. Everything that we consume goes through the gate-keeper; you guessed it, our friend the liver and here are some facts about seasonal liver health and wellness..
The MVP of Immunity
Seasonal liver health plays a big part in keeping us well during the fall and winter months, aiding the immune system, which is a complex series of defenses.
Innate immunity is half of the equation. It is a non-specific defense strategy that helps your body through a set of barriers. Mucous, tears, saliva, body temperature, PH of the blood, breathing, excretion of waste products through digestion, all of these are physical barriers that help keep us healthy.
The other half of our defense is Adaptive Immunity. This is where it gets really cool. Adaptive immunity is a very specialized and specific strategy of defense. It’s partially a game of memory, and partially a sneaky disguise our cells can use to trick the opponent to take himself out of the game.
What does this have to do with the seasonal liver health?
The Liver’s role in Innate Immunity:
Channels in the liver contain cells called Kupffer cells, which breakdown used red blood cells so new ones can deliver oxygen to our tissues.
The liver produces NK (natural killer) cells which induce apoptosis to cells that have outlived their function.
The Liver’s role in Adaptive Immunity:
The liver manufactures antigen presenting cells. These cells hold up pieces (antigens) as if to say “Hey! Do you recognize this guy? Get a good look and don’t let him get through next time!”
Certain blood supply channels in the liver can take the Antigen presenting cells and present them to the T cells to make copies for recognition through the whole body.
Liver T cells do their job to take out targeted cells.
The more you learn about your liver and its dedication to your health, the more you want to take care of it. Just like having a set of challenges and obstacles, offense and preparation is an important part of the winning equation as well. Being actively involved in your seasonal liver health starts with supporting the liver on a daily basis. Here’s a few ways to keep you in the game.
Tactics and Maneuvers: The Strategy of Defense
To have a strong set of obstacles, you need the proper tools to build them. Here are some great building blocks from a nutrition standpoint to help your liver’s defense strategy to keep you well:
I know what you’re thinking…everyone knows water is necessary for life. It makes up about 60% of the adult human body. So, you really need it. As far as the liver’s role in immunity is concerned, water plays big parts in the grand scheme of the game. First, it helps with making stronger barriers. Remember the innate immune system? Physical barriers are strengthened by adequate amounts of water in our bodies. Mucous membranes are much more reliable when they are moist and hydrated. So buckle down and drink that water!
I’m sure this comes as no surprise either. Kale, broccoli, spinach, parsley, cucumbers (with some silica-rich skin intact) all have an abundance of vitamins C and A, minerals like potassium and iron and tons of antioxidants. Broccoli has Sulphur compounds that support normal detox in the liver. Get these nutrients on a daily basis.
There is a delicate balance in the body’s normal rhythms. According to Ayurveda, the peak time for liver function at night arrives at 10pm and lasts through 2am. It’s best to be sleeping within that time so the liver can assemble its intricate matrix of defenses. Going to sleep earlier and on a schedule promotes wellness on every level. Turn off the TV, put down the phone and let your liver work for you. You’ll thank it all season long.
Here’s a class of nutrition that is icing on the cake…or maybe the ultimate vertical wall. For thousands of years we have found support in the environment around us. Herbs are foods. They lend antioxidants that you can’t find enough of every day. When is the last time you ate Chicory for lunch? Probably never. That’s too bad, because Chicory supports normal production of bile in the liver. One look at that yellow green digestive goo might be enough to scare anyone but it actually plays an immense role in alkalizing the small intestines and make digestion possible. Normal bile secretion = quick exit stage left. Arjuna also supports your liver’s fighting capacity. Revered as THE herb for cardiovascular support in Ayurveda, it has a rich history of stories, one especially famous depicting a warrior named Arjuna who faced the epic battle of a lifetime. As an herb, arjuna has been used for thousands of years to promote normal circulation of the blood and was historically used to support liver and cleansing functions.
Now you know the many functions that the liver performs every day to keep you in tip top defense mode. Use these tips every day to support that important organ and maintain seasonal liver health and wellness.