I’ve always been one to listen to my body and allow it to cue me towards good health and function. But lately, no matter how much I tried, eating healthy, fasting, drinking plenty water, moving more… you name it, my body was just not happy. I was feeling fatigued, moody and lethargic. The knock-on effects have also been low libido, anxiety and slow creative flow.
Being a creative, this was beginning to worry me.
This is not something new for me. I have experienced similar feelings when I was first diagnosed with post-partum depression in 2014 and this was after I had been hospitalised from exhaustion. I arrived at the emergency of the hospital unconscious and vomiting non-stop.
I literally get teary when I think about it and how in the past few weeks my body remembered that feeling and felt it slowly creep back. But this time, I wasn’t bingeing on McDonald’s and having Red Bull daily. This time I was sleeping a lot better (barring the few times I had pushed through a deadline). This time, I was more conscious about my sugar intake, so what could it be?
During the time I was hospitalised, at the age of 24, from exhaustion, I remember in between what the doctor that had come to see me, all I really caught was “You need to rest or you’ll get a stroke”… I thought, “Oh so dramatic. Hypochondriac.” And I think everyone I’ve told of my experience of how I almost got a stroke thinks: “What a hypochondriac!”
It’s funny now that I’ve read up on my problems and found myself on somewhat of a healing rabbit hole and finding my flow again, I discovered that before the medical community had better understanding of the mechanisms that cause disease, doctors believed certain ailments could originate from imbalances in the stomach. This was called hypochondriasis. (In Ancient Greek, hypochondrium refers to the upper part of the abdomen, the region between the breastbone and the navel.) This concept was rejected as science evolved and, for example, we could look under a microscope and see bacteria, parasites, and viruses. The meaning of the term changed, and for many years, doctors used the word “hypochondriac” to describe a person who has a persistent, often inexplicable fear of having a serious medical illness.
I feared going back to that place again and have been so much more conscious of the food and drink in our home.
But still… why am I exhausted and fatigued and feeling myself going back to that place again. Because I trust my gut (or so I thought), I knew there was some digging I needed to do.
Trusting My Gut
I discovered the relationship between our liver and gut and our general health. I found a book that is as intriguing in title as it is in content and mind-blowing information “Grow a New Body” by Alberto Villoldo and boy has my life been changed by implementing the principles laid out in the book.
We’re living in a time when our minds, our emotions, our relationships and our bodies are out of flow and harmony. We know it, we can feel it. We ignore it all until something massive happens. A diagnosis, a relationship break down, a mental break down or just the complete inability to think or function. Then we go to the doctor, they prescribe something, we go to the therapist and they hold space for us to offload, we read self-help books, we practice our affirmations.
But there lies your gut and liver, in tatters. Anxiety. Brain fog. Fatigue. They still persist.
Your Gut Health
Our gut health influences everything from our weight, to our mood, to our cognitive ability. It can be the reason for our back pain, the root of our depression, and of course, the cause of our digestive issues. 
The gut serves many essential roles in sustaining and protecting the overall health and wellness of our bodies, starting with the intake and absorption of nutrients and water.
Ever heard the saying “Trust your gut feeling” – trust that off feeling, or the good feeling.
The gut is essentially the communication centre for the brain, not only to ensure optimal digestion but also other important health functions. The gut provides information to the brain, while the brain helps us decide what, when, how much and how fast to eat and drink. The gut and brain work together in the digestive process ie. Say you have had a particularly fatty meal; the gut and brain will talk and decide to hold that food in the stomach a little longer than for a lighter meal.
Your Liver Health
Your liver represents the human body’s primary filtration system, converting toxins into waste products, cleansing your blood, and metabolising nutrients and medications to provide the body with some of its most important proteins. As such a fundamental part of the body’s overall regulation, it’s paramount to keep your liver healthy and to limit overindulgence.
Pretty much everything that goes through our bodies, from the food we eat, water we drink, medications we take and even the cosmetics we use are filtered through the liver.
Detoxification is the liver’s superpower but here are other duties the liver fulfills:
- Produces proteins that play a role in blood clotting
- Breaks down old or damaged blood cells
- Ensures that your blood sugar level stays consistent
- Converts the amino acids from protein into energy
- Converts ammonia from protein to a much less toxic substance called urea
- Helps fight infections
We also can’t talk about the work of the liver without also mentioning the gut. 
The Gut & Liver Relationship
The gut and liver are intricately connected in these ways:
- After the gut breaks down and absorbs what you eat, the liver converts food into energy and nutrients.
- Blood carries nutrients, medications and toxins from the digestive organs to the liver. The liver processes and eventually detoxifies these things, after which the liver releases them back into the blood or to the colon for elimination.
- The liver gets 70% of its blood supply from the intestine via the portal vein, the blood vessel that carries blood from the gut and other organs to the liver. Studies have shown a link between the health of your good gut flora and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- The liver produces bile, a fluid made and released in the liver that the gallbladder stores. Bile breaks down dietary fat and helps eliminate the toxins that are fat-soluble.
Even things you might consider healthy or safe can create problems for the liver. Most medications pass through the liver – over-the-counter (OTC) medications are often overused, which take their toll on the liver.
The liver also balances the hormones that your body produces. Whenever the numerous things we are exposed to everyday overload the liver and create stress on this hardworking organ, these hormones can continue to circulate throughout the body and create problems in hormonal balance, including:
- Eliminating excess hormones
- Regulating hormones
- Metabolizing some hormones, such as estrogen
- Creating proteins such as albumin that can act as hormone carriers
When the liver can’t effectively remove some of these excess hormones, disruption in the body’s delicate hormone balance can happen.
For example – cortisol, the body’s stress hormone. While cortisol can serve the body in the short term, when this hormone accumulates it can create problems such as blood sugar imbalances.
The Art of Trusting Your Gut
This month as we honour World Liver Day on the 19th of April, with the messaging: Keep Your Liver Healthy & Disease Free, one of the ways in which we can raise the awareness and protect this hardworking organ is by being aware of the common signs and making better decisions for our liver and gut health.
Join us on the journey of The Art of Trusting Your Gut with information, tips and challenges every Wednesday for the month of April to get our gut and liver health back into flow.
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