Valentine’s day is all about celebrating love. Honestly, I use to be a hopeless romantic thinking up grand gestures for this day. However now being married and having a toddler to chase after, I find that today is pretty much like any other day. Or maybe I can say we celebrate our love for one another every day!
Just like Valentine’s day represents love, the heart also symbolizes love. There is so much attention on taking care of our cardiovascular health. Today, I would like to bring self-care awareness to our liver. When our liver is being cared for, our heart is most likely to be healthy too. Our liver is just as important, however there is not much attention on caring for this beloved organ when compared to the heart.
The liver is one of the most complex organs with countless functions from digestion, detoxification to the regulation of important substances to be released or removed in the blood’s circulation. The heart’s only vital purpose is pure and simple to pump blood delivering essential material throughout the body.
Have you heard of these tips for maintaining cardiovascular health? Read below to see how the liver plays a major role behind the scenes in keeping your heart healthy and on ways how you can Heart your Liver.
- Limit trans fat, saturated fat and cholesterol consumption and eat more unsaturated fats to help keep arteries clean for the heart.
The responsibility for the digestion of any fat goes to our liver. The liver produces bile to be stored and released from the gallbladder for the emulsification and break down of all fatty foods. If the liver is not working optimally, the metabolism of bad fats, good fats and even fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K may be compromised.
The liver is also responsible for producing and removing proteins from circulation such as LDL and HDL, lipoproteins that deliver fats through the blood. It is significant to remember the liver is able to synthesize its own cholesterol for other components in the body like bile, hormones and cell membranes. An unhealthy liver can create large quantities of cholesterol more than the amount that can be consumed from a high fat diet.
Heart your Liver: Avoid over indulging in meals including consuming large quantities of good fats. This will help your liver metabolize everything adequately.
- Follow a Mediterranean diet for a healthy heart.
A Mediterranean diet focuses on eating fatty fish and plant-based foods consisting of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, whole grains and olive oil. All these foods are dense in nutrients for aiding in the liver’s duties. The liver not only plays a role in digesting fat as previously noted, but also metabolizes carbohydrates, protein, minerals and vitamins.
Heart your Liver: Emphasize on eating liver supportive vegetables like beets, dandelion leaves, onions, garlic, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts and cabbage. These are packed full of sulfur compounds, antioxidants, glutathione and other nutrients that the liver thrives on.
- Practice regular physical activity to exercise the heart.
Exercise not only strengthens the heart but the entire body. Bones fortify, muscles build, toxins release and the heart trains to become more efficient. Without being active our liver may become sluggish in its work. Exercise stimulates the production of new red blood cells while our liver removes the old blood cells along with their waste content. That means more oxygen, more energy and less toxins. Moving the body may result in a faster metabolism thanks to the liver.
Heart your Liver: The simple act of a lengthy leisurely walk is enough to get things moving in the liver. Of course, the higher the intensity exercise the more benefits the body gains over all especially for the liver’s job of removing toxins.
- Drinking red wine in moderation is good for the heart.
Resveratrol is well known to be abundant in red wine with its antioxidant effects. However, it is the liver’s task to filter through the alcohol and sulfites present in the wine. If the liver gets overburdened from its other duties or from too much red wine, it can become backed up in filtering out these substances. When it comes to the tasks of each individual’s liver, the definition of drinking in moderation and drinking too much wine can vary greatly.
Heart your Liver: There are tasty antioxidant alternatives that do not risk overloading the liver and goes straight to helping it in the detoxification process. Examples of these would be dark chocolate, berries and raw nuts.
- Learn to manage stress levels.
Stress leads to a heavier workload for the heart which can be good for the organ in intervals such as exercising. Chronic stress results in prolonged flight or fight characteristics with rises in heart rate, blood pressure, hormone levels, blood sugar and oxidative stress damage. Long term stress in the body can be due to habits of eating unhealthy food, holding onto negative feelings and overuse of toxins like alcohol, drugs or nicotine. These all can contribute to free radical formation in the body.
The stress hormone cortisol is derived from the liver’s production of cholesterol. The liver has the important job of producing cortisol and removing it along with all other hormones from circulation. The liver is also responsible for storing glycogen and releasing it in the form of glucose for an energy boost in stressful conditions. This extra glucose along with excess sugars from a poor diet can add to the spike of blood sugar levels if energy is not expended.
Heart Your Liver: Changing your perception of a situation can keep stress away. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the liver is known as the site of suppressed anger. Holding onto any type of tension for long periods of time is unnecessary stress that can have negative effects on this organ.
My husband would agree, the way to his heart is through his belly. I would say, the way to a healthy heart is through a healthy liver. On this Valentine’s day don’t forget to love yourself and practice self-care. Aside from our skin, the liver is the only other organ that is able to regenerate new cells, so it’s never too late to Heart your Liver. Happy Valentine’s Day!
Diana Angeles // Certified Holistic Nutritional Consultant™