What’s your Liver have to do with your Weight?
Weight loss can be frustrating and arduous task for many people, mainly when it seems like people are doing everything right but not seeing the benefits. The days of approaching weight loss as simply calories in, calories out are now long behind us as researchers and clinicians are finding many new correlations and connections to body composition and biochemistry. With these new relationships and deeper understanding of the body, clinicians have a much better idea reasons for weight loss resistance as well as plateaus in weight loss. One of the sources for this is the body’s ability to detoxify and burden of toxins our bodies care from environmental exposure.
Losing more than Fat
Whenever our bodies are exposed to chemicals, exogenous sources of hormones or any other foreign substance, it has two options: detoxify it and clear it from the body, or else stow it away in the least harmful places in the body. Because many chemicals are fat soluble, researchers have found the body often stores excess chemicals in our body fat. Samples in one study of human fat samples revealed over 210 chemicals stored in human fat. The study also revealed that:
- 76 chemicals linked to cancer in humans or animals,
- 94 chemicals that are toxic to the brain and nervous
- 86 chemicals that interfere with the hormone system,
- 79 chemicals associated with birth defects or abnormal development,
- 77 chemicals toxic to the reproductive system, and
- 77 chemicals toxic to the immune system.
Weight loss becomes a much bigger endeavor when considering not only does one have to increase activity and decrease caloric intake, but also clear the substances stored away in our body fat as it becomes liberated. Another way to look at this information is that weight loss can have a profound impact on our health, by reducing build of toxic substances in our fat tissue. Essentially, reducing body fat can reduce toxin storage and the body’s total toxic burden. Weight loss and more importantly fat loss also means toxin removal, which can be demanding for the body.
The Liver’s Role
The body does have the ability to remove these toxins from it, using a series of pathways and enzymes to help package up unwanted chemicals and passage them into the colon and bladder for waste removal. The liver is the body’s packaging center and it requires numerous nutrients including many vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids as well as an adequate intake of calories. With proper amounts of these tools, the liver is able to not only process the daily burden of chemical exposure, but also remove excess toxins that are liberated with fat loss.
Detox as Supportive Weight loss
Damage to the liver has long been medically tied with obesity, and subsequently weight loss has been shown to improve stress on the liver and overall liver function. New medicine is now taking the approach that the reverse is true as well: liver support can help with weight loss. If the body feels able to process and clear excess chemicals, it feels more capable of liberating more fat and toxins for clearance. Looking at detoxification from this approach, it becomes an excellent tool for weight loss, especially weight loss that is resistant to the basic dietary changes and increase in exercise. Nutrient deficiencies and other underlying weakness in the liver’s ability to detoxify may need to be address to ensure that the toxin packaging center is working properly.
Detoxification from this perspective has nothing to do with harsh laxatives, fasts or even calorie restriction. Frequently removing inflammatory foods, nourishing the body with proper nutrients and giving the liver support with either botanicals or foods will not only improve liver function but also kick start weight loss.
Healthy weight has a myriad of health benefits associated with it, from cardiovascular to immune function. Part of these associated may be due to a secondary association with a healthy liver. We do know that not all livers are created equal, and while some people may not require much liver support, others may need more. Individual assessment of nutritional needs and deficiencies as well as liver function test can be done with routine blood work.
Healthy diet and exercise are certainly a great start for weight loss, but looking at the liver may enhance efforts or reduce weight loss plateaus from occurring.
Dr. Lauren Young is a board certified naturopathic physician with a family practice at 135 Center St, Manchester. She is currently accepting new patients and is in network with most insurance companies. To make an appointment, call (860)533-0179 or visit www.ctnaturalhealth.com.