Last week we looked at what can make food toxic. This week are going to look more specifically at the repercussions of toxic food on our wellbeing.

It’s all in the liver

The biggest factor involved when we talk about toxicity and our bodies is the liver. Not only does the liver produce the bile required to break down the food we eat, but it also has to detoxify our bodies from everything we put into it.

The liver is the largest internal organ in the body. It has many roles, including removing toxins and processing foods into nutrients, as well as energy and hormone production. That’s why when we talk about the effects of toxins we often go back to the liver.

Insufficient nutrient intake prevents the liver from doing its job. Detoxification requires numerous vitamins and minerals. Some of these include B vitamins, magnesium and antioxidants. Last week we talked about how many vitamins and minerals are destroyed during food processing. We saw how eating processed foods not only add to the toxins in our bodies, but we aren’t getting the nutrients we need to get rid of them.

Food and your hormones.

The liver deactivates old or excess oestrogen and excretes it in bile. When the liver is not functioning correctly it puts the old oestrogen back into the blood. This is called oestrogen dominance.

During perimenopause, progesterone drops more rapidly than oestrogen. If there is already too much oestrogen circulating in our system, the ratio of progesterone to oestrogen becomes even greater.

Symptoms experienced from oestrogen dominance include decreased sex drive, fatigue, fibrocystic breasts, headaches, hypoglycaemia, increased blood clotting (increasing risk of strokes), irritability, memory loss, osteoporosis, PMS, thyroid dysfunction mimicking hypothyroidism, uterine cancer, uterine fibroids, and fat gain, especially around the abdomen, hips and thighs.

Obesity and then some

Besides the lack of nutrients, a diet high in processed foods is often lower in protein and higher in carbohydrates, sugar and trans fats. Without enough protein, people tend to overeat and become hungry sooner which leads to eating more often.

Therefore, eating a diet high in processed foods increases your risk of obesity and metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is the collective name for a number of conditions including blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. These conditions combine to increase your risk of heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.

And back to the liver

Last week we mentioned non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). All of the above increases the risk of developing NAFLD. Fat accumulation on the liver affects DNA synthesis and leads to oxidative inflammation. If the body isn’t getting enough antioxidants, oxidative stress increases, as does the ability of the liver to overcome the fat accumulation. And so the cascade continues, further decreasing the liver’s ability to cope.

Increased oxidative damage increases the risk of cancer, heart disease, atherosclerosis, or the hardening of the blood vessels, and neurodegenerative diseases, such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.

The good news is the liver has the remarkable ability to regenerate. Liver damage, if not left too long, can be reversed.

Come back next week when we will look at what foods can not only benefit your liver but your overall toxic burden.

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