Would you know if your liver is toxic?

Poor liver function may increase your chances of cardiovascular diseases such as atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, heart attacks and strokes. If the liver does not regulate fat metabolism efficiently, weight gain tends to occur around the abdominal area, and a protuberant abdomen (pot belly) will develop. – Sandra Cabot, MD. 

Proper liver function is critical to our overall health and well-being. Conversely, improper liver function can manifest in a myriad of symptoms, some of which are life-threatening. The responsibilities of the liver are multifaceted and include:

  • Production and excretion of bile
  • Excretion of cholesterol, drugs, and hormones
  • Activation of enzymes
  • Protein synthesis
  • Detoxification and purification of blood
  • Metabolism of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins

We’re going to focus on the last (certainly, not least) item on this list. Poor dietary/nutrition habits can cause the liver to become enveloped in fatty tissue. This development can adversely impact liver function, including effectively removing toxins.

When the toxin removal function of the liver is inhibited, mechanisms can be established to stimulate physiological responses promoting weight gain. Of course, this can result in several undesirable (and potentially dangerous) effects.

First, we will name and discuss some potential signs of suboptimal liver function. Second, we’ll review a few things you can do to promote a healthy liver.

Here are five signs that your liver is toxic and is making you gain weight:

1. “Brain fog”

Brain fog is a general term used to describe suboptimal cognitive function. Symptoms of “brain fog” often include: inability to concentrate, lack of awareness, memory problems, and slow response times.

Per the American Liver Foundation, toxins can accumulate in areas of the brain. When this happens, the abovementioned symptoms of brain fog often surface. Also, progressive mental confusion can be an underlying symptom of liver disease.

2. Chronic fatigue

Chronic fatigue – tiredness that is abnormally long in both duration and frequency – is one of the most common symptoms of liver toxicity. Physiologically, toxins in the liver often disrupt muscle metabolism. As a result, you’ll feel aches, pains, and physical tiredness.

In addition, chronic fatigue can often manifest into emotional and mental instability (ex: brain fog). Sometimes, the condition can lead to more severe mental health issues, such as depression.

3. Allergy symptoms

A healthy liver will produce antibodies that will, in turn, seek out and eradicate allergens within the liver.

However, an unhealthy liver will instead store allergic substances instead of eliminating them. This buildup of allergens causes the brain to initiate a defense mechanism against perceived threats, which it does via the creation of histamine. This response systematically loops, resulting in buildup of the chemical. When this occurs in someone with a fatty liver, allergic symptoms – headaches, itchiness, skin irritation, etc. – often surface.

4. Hypertension

Someone with a fatty liver is more likely to experience hypertension (i.e. high blood pressure). However, the real danger lies not only in the symptom, but its effect on the body. A liver covered by fatty tissue, combined with elevated blood pressure, can either: (1) promote liver disease, or (2) signify advanced states of a liver condition.

Compounding the problem is the fact that hypertension often accompanies high cholesterol. This can lead to blood clotting – a dangerous and potentially life-threatening condition.

processed foods

5. Profuse sweating and/or body odor

The liver is a disproportionally-large organ. When it becomes overworked, it naturally releases a large amount of heat. This is a common occurrence in someone with a fatty liver.

Of course, elevated heat transferred throughout the body results in sweating, as the body attempts to regulate its temperature and cool itself. Excessive sweating leads to unpleasant body odor…and the heat, sweat, stink cycle repeats.

What you can do…

Fortunately, the liver follows the trend of other organs in that it can self-heal to a degree. We will give you a few ideas on what can be done to initiate this healing response. Of course, these ideas are also beneficial for maintaining liver health.

  • Eat a balanced, nutritious diet. This point cannot be emphasized enough: dietary and nutritional habits greatly impact liver health. As such, try to prioritize a good balance to your diet: fiber sources, high-quality proteins, healthy fats, whole grains, etc.
  • Lay off the booze. Even moderate amounts of alcohol significantly damage the liver. In advanced stages, the liver becomes scarred and swollen (known as cirrhosis) – a condition that can be fatal.
  • Know your medicines and supplements. An array of drugs exist that include liver problems as a side effect. Many of them say so on the packaging! Supplements are unregulated, which necessitates caution as well. So before you make any big changes, research, research, research!

Editorial Note 08/22/2023: Added link to American Liver Foundation article.