For reasons unknown to me (and my doctors) this lady has NAFLD — aka non alcoholic fatty liver disease. I’ve always been slim, I grew up eating normal 90’s foods but not in a crazy all consuming way, I don’t drink that much, and I have I’m on my exercise game. All of this doesn’t equate. For now, this is a chronic condition that is out of my control that I just have to adapt to. I’m happy I know about it because it grants me the ability to understand my body a little bit better and brings clarity to the reason some things just don’t work for me.
Since I found out about my fatty liver at the beginning of 2017, I’ve been working with my functional medicine doctor to bring down my liver marker levels (AST and ALT). For reference, when we started they were both over 160 and they are now both down to the high 30s, low 40s, on a pretty regular basis. These markers can be detected through a simple blood test. The western medicine “normal scale” is about 10-40 units/liters, however, the “optimal” functional scale is a bit below that — meaning we’re still actively trying to lower mine. To achieve that, I take both a milk thistle supplement and NAC daily. Let’s be clear, I work with my practitioner on these supplements and am not recommending them for you!
Interestingly enough, I learned from my acupuncturist that when we’re going through emotional things and//or grieving, our liver takes a big hit. For that reason, when I went through my break up in the summer, I upped my milk thistle amounts. I will also up my milk thistle in the evening if I’m drinking, as well as the day after.
In addition to those two supplements, I like to incorporate lots of algae in my diets — spirulina and chlorella are particularly good for detox. I don’t always make a smoothie, and have actually been really off the cold smoothie train lately, so I’ve been taking these chlorella tablets. I swallow them, not chew them (not into the taste), but they’re totally chewable if that’s your thing.
I used to also drink A LOT of dandelion tea when I first found out about the condition. The thing about dandelion tea? It has a really potent flavor…meaning you can get really sick of the taste. I took a break from it — over the warmer months — but now that it’s cold again and I can feel that my liver needs some extra love, I’m bringing it back. I just drink it plain, but it’s lovely if you do it up with some almond milk and cinnamon — I could even see it with some gelatin blended in if you wanted to cream it up and kill to birds with one stone and incorporate some gut health action in there.
Now onto the lifestyle stuff. Sweating is KEY! This is extremely hard for me in SF. It never gets very hot here, I’m not a high intensity workout kind of girl, and if we’re being honest, I just don’t get that sweaty (I know that sounds like a good thing, but it’s bitter sweat). Sweating is so important when it comes to removing toxins from your body. For this reason, I like to run in a sweater, and hit up an infrared sauna or a hot yoga class. Important note about the hot yoga though, you want it to be a nice heat — like 85-90. Anymore than that and you are putting unnecessary extra stress on your body and actually not helping your liver…and that would be a bummer.
In addition to all of that, I see an acupuncturist whom I LOVE. The first time I tried acupuncture, I hated it. I went to a place with great yelp reviews, but didn’t feel comfortable with the practitioner. Between that and my fear of needles, it was a recipe for disaster. Fast forward a few years and I found my current practitioner. She gets me, has a super cozy office, and also does belly massage, cupping, and concentrates on hormone and reproductive health. The belly massage was something I had never experienced before, and I will admit takes some serious getting used to, but it stimulates the liver and bile flow — and I’ll do anything for that! I have yet to try cupping, as great as that is for toxin removal, I have a very sensitive system which she can feel, so I have a feeling that’s in our future and we’re working towards it.
What I do to support my liver function:
Supplement daily with milk thistle and NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) under the guidance of my functional practitioner + up my milk thistle when I’m under stress, duress, or have been drinking.
Incorporate algae into my day-to-day diet - mainly chlorella and spirulina.
Drink lots of water!
Get my sweat on (jogging, warm but not too hot yoga class, and infrared saunas are my go-tos).
Go to acupuncture at least 1x per month (if I’m on my a-game, it’s every other week, and if i’m in need of a severe tune up like I am right now post-SF smoke out from the fires, it’s once a week)
The liver is so important when it comes to our overall health. The good news is, it regenerates, so we can work to help it out naturally. If you have NAFLD or some other liver disorder like me, I encourage you to be empowered by it, not scared or nervous about it. Our systems talk to us and we just have to listen. If that means blissing out in a sauna a few times a week more than the average person, this lady isn’t mad about it.
P.S. I truly believe my lack of prime liver function is part of the reason I had secondary amenorrhea after going off the pill and why my cycle is still so irregular to this day. Our liver processes hormones and I think mine had a tough time eliminating the hormones I was feeding my body via the pill for so many years. More to come on this in a future post.
OH and my favorite non toxic clarifying masks?? These are them:
Tulsi Soothing Tri Clay Mask by Sonage
Clarifying Mask by Tata Harper
Love + Charcoal Masque by One Love Organics