I’m sure it’s no coincidence that Love Your Liver month falls at the same time many people are trying Dry January. Most people know that drinking too much alcohol damages your liver. But do you know why this matters?

From a Chinese Medicine perspective, the liver regulates the flow of Qi or energy around the body. It stores blood which carries the Qi around the body and supports the functioning of our organs, limbs and tissues. And it helps regulate our emotions so we are calm and not irritable or quick to anger.

The ancient Chinese understanding of the liver translates remarkably well into our modern biological understanding.

Regulating the smooth flow of qi/energy:

The liver is responsible for storing carbohydrates and converting them into sugar to be released into the bloodstream to maintain normal blood sugar/energy levels.

Storing the blood:

Haemoglobin (part of our red blood cells) is broken down by the bile in the liver and the iron it releases is stored in the liver (and bone marrow) ready to help create the next lot of red blood cells you need. The liver also supports blood clotting by producing bile that helps absorb vitamin K, essential for proper clotting.

The liver supports the functioning of our organs and limbs: bile produced in the liver supports our digestion by helping break down proteins we eat. Bile helps our small intestine absorb fats and vitamins. Our liver stores vitamins A, D, E, K and B12 as well as iron. The liver produces albumin which helps transport the chemicals needed to support the correct pressure in the blood vessels. It helps regulate our blood pressure by synthesising a hormone called angiotensin.

The liver regulates our emotions:

The liver also filters our blood, removing toxins from alcohol, drugs, and any excess hormones we don’t need. If it doesn’t do this properly we become irritable, or “liverish” and are more prone to temper outbursts anger.

There are 500 functions carries out by the liver, it really is a crucial organ. If we damage it through excess alcohol, or a diet laden with sugars, we run the risk of major health problems. Look after your liver by minimising alcohol, eating a low sugar diet and having a healthy lifestyle. Love your liver and it will love you back.

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