In case you don’t drink (alcohol) and you get a restful sleep before 11:30 pm every night, you may think your liver should be in a healthy state. Do you know you may be overloading your liver on a daily basis? And slowing down its rejuvenation?

Liver is Indispensable yet Regenerative

The liver is your largest organ, and it’s so important that your liver can regenerate itself – I believe this is nature’s gift to everyone to enable the most important organ to have a second chance to support your health. Your liver is working hard all the time to help you to be healthy. Its primary functions include:

·       Excretion of bile

·       Enzyme activation

·       Metabolism of nutrients and storage

·       Blood detoxification and purification

·       Breakdown and excretion of cholesterol, hormone, drugs, and chemicals

For the rest of the article, I want to focus on its role and interaction with your hormones and in particular, estrogen.

Estrogen keeps us Young and Cherished

Estrogen is one class of hormone that get a lot of attention in recent years. Estrogen keeps us young with healthy with supple skin, healthy bones and it also interacts with other hormones. Overdominance of estrogen can have negative implications on your body (eg., estrogen-sensitive cancer, endometriosis and even benign prostate hyperplasia can be related to estrogen dominance).

Hormones are that are produced by various glands in our body (e.g., thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland, estrogen produced by ovaries and testes, etc.). Your liver is not involved in the production process but rather the balancing role in metabolizing the hormones – it breakdowns the hormones and enables excretion once their job is done. Most people are well aware of the estrogen rich foods (e.g., poultry due to the raising method). Few people are aware of the xenoestrogens that you are exposed to that overloads your liver.

Xenoestrogens is the Enemy of Your Liver

Your body has a natural mechanism and metabolism for estrogen and other hormones. Xenoestrogens mean they are “foreign” chemical estrogen that is found in food and your environment. Guess what, xenoestrogens are more powerful than your estrogen and are considered primary endocrine disruptors (implications include reproductive challenges, estrogen sensitive benign growth tissue which covers prostate, breast, ovaries, etc.). Xenoestrogens are also harder for your liver to break down which means they get reabsorbed and recirculated in your body adding to the “toxic load” to your liver.

Dangerous Sources of Xenoestrogens that you can avoid

My Top watch list of Xenoestrogens include:

  • Plastics – the convenient water bottles that you buy and use contain BPA and phthalates. This can be worse when they are exposed to heat (e.g., sitting in the car for hours) I always recommend using your stainless steel or glass water bottle. Install the “WaterforFree” app on your smartphone to find out where you can get them refill in Hong Kong. Reheating your food in plastic container are also highly contaminated so use glassware for reheating whenever possible.
  • Pesticides & Herbicides – Common pesticides and herbicides can be endocrine disrupting (e.g., atrazine, endosulfans, glyphosate, etc.). Apart from the damages to our endocrine system by each of these chemicals, there is the cumulative and synergistic effect of them that are yet to be well studied, and hence, I recommend buying from trusted organic sources.
  • Skincare & Personal Hygiene products – Lotions, shampoos, makeups, soaps/gel is another category that contains xenoestrogens like paraben, phthalates, etc.. The rule of thumb, here, is to go with the shortest list of ingredients that you can tell what they are. Nowadays, there is the natural soaps/gel made from herbal infused oil, and they can be on your shopping list. Remember that when you think your skin is absorbing the “moisturizing” attribute of the chemical-loaded skincare products, the xenoestrogens that are in the product are being absorbed into your body as well.

By minimizing xenoestrogens consumption (internal, indirect or topical), you are already offloading your liver and on the path to a healthier and younger liver! Plant sources of estrogen (commonly known as phytoestrogen or the correct term Selective Estrogen Regulating Modulator) are beneficial to your body in regulating the estrogen activity. I will talk about this in a future blog. 

Leave a comment if you are interested in other aspects of the liver function.