Not many people realize that a healthy liver is the key to weight loss. Most people know that the liver plays a pivotal role in good health and longevity but they do not know that the liver is a remarkable machine for keeping weight under control, being both a fat-burning organ and a fat pumping organ.

The liver is the major fat-burning organ in the body and also pumps excess fat out of the body through the bile into the small intestines. If you eat plenty of vegetables this provides the fiber to carry this fat out of your body through the bowel actions. The fiber in vegetables can reduce the reabsorption and recirculation of fat and toxins from the intestines that goes back to the liver. This is called the entero-hepatic circulation and if this recirculated fluid is high in fat and/or toxins this will contribute to unwanted weight gain and poor health. Good sources of fiber and antioxidants include green vegetables, green beans, parsley, beetroot, carrots, artichoke, cabbage, avocado, chia and hemp seeds.

Most people who struggle with excessive weight, especially in the abdominal area, have a fatty liver which has stopped burning fat and is storing fat. This is unhealthy and can lead to cellulite, high cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and immune dysfunction. People with a fatty liver often have a roll of fat around the upper abdomen which we call “a liver roll” and it is impossible to shrink this unless you first improve the function of the liver. Once you improve your liver function things really start to change and you turn from a fat storer to a fat burner; however, if you do not do this you will struggle.

What causes a fatty liver?

  • A diet high in carbohydrates and in patients with fatty liver I recommend removing all grains and sugar from the diet.
  • Excess alcohol
  • Some medications such as cholesterol lowering drugs, immunosuppressant drugs, excess doses of synthetic hormones and pain killers. People taking multiple medications may put on weight because the liver must break down all these drugs and there is less energy in the liver cells to burn fat – we call this collateral weight gain (it’s like a form of collateral damage)
  • A build up of environmental toxins in the liver such as plastics, solvents, pesticides and heavy metals. A fatty liver is not efficient at breaking down these types of chemicals and toxins. Some of these toxins get stored in the liver and other fatty parts of the body and slow down the metabolism of fat. This is why they have been referred to as “obesogens” or substances that cause weight gain.

Your liver and hormones that influence weight

If your liver is sluggish or fatty you may develop hormonal problems such as estrogen dominance because your liver is not breaking down the estrogens made by your own fat tissue and ovaries. Men produce estrogen from their fat tissue so they can develop enlarged breasts (man boobs) if their liver is not working well. Women with estrogen dominance can gain excess weight around the hips and buttocks and also develop gynecological problems such as endometriosis, painful heavy menstrual bleeding and fibroids. Excess estrogen promotes weight gain, cellulite, fluid retention and bloating in the lower body.

The liver is also extremely important for healthy thyroid function and thus weight control. This is because the right balance of thyroid hormones is essential for an efficient metabolic rate. The main thyroid hormone, called Thyroxine or T 4, is made in the thyroid gland and is secreted into the blood stream and goes to the liver and intestines to be converted into an active form known as Triiodothyronine or T 3. People with a fatty, inflamed or sluggish liver do not convert the thyroid hormone into the active T 3 form very well. This causes their metabolic rate to slow down and they gain weight more easily. They also have other signs of thyroid dysfunction such as bloating, fluid retention and may get cellulite.

If you find it impossible to lose weight you need to focus on improving your liver function and here are some excellent strategies.

Livatone Plus is a liver formula that improves the liver’s ability to detoxify your body from chemicals and metabolize fat

Berberine is an herb that has substantial evidence to reduce insulin resistance that causes fatty liver, and helps many people to lose weight

N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a type of specialized amino acid that can reduce liver inflammation and increase detoxification from many toxic substances. NAC increases the production of the powerful liver protector and repairer glutathione.

Check your dietary intake of carbohydrate – you can download free apps which count the carbohydrate content of foods. Some people need to reduce carbohydrates down to 30 to 50 grams daily to initiate fat burning in their liver

Check your dietary intake of protein and healthy fats as you may not be getting enough of these nutrients. Your liver can convert protein and fat into glucose and you really do not need to rely on carbohydrates for energy

References:
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Singal AK, Antioxidants as therapeutic agents for liver disease. Liver Int 2011; 31:1432-48
Dey A. The role of antioxidants and other agents in alleviating hyperglycemia mediated oxidative stress and liver injury in liver. Food Funct. 2013; 4:1148-84
Hassan HA, Evaluation of silymarin and/or ginger effect on induced hepatotoxicity by carbon tetrachloride in male rats. Egypt J Hosp Medic 2003; 12:101-12