Have you ever woken up in the morning so tired that you wondered if you got any rest at all over night? As you stumble into the bathroom and squint into the mirror at your reflection, you see that the answer is written all over your face. Dark circles under your eyes shine back at you under puffy eyelids. What the heck happened? Don’t remember getting popped in the eyes? Perhaps you remember tossing and turning. Maybe you got up to pee; and maybe you couldn’t go back to sleep. Maybe while you were up, you realized that your stomach was growling at you and that you were starving. What did you eat? I bet it was the most horrible junk food you could find in the house! Chips, cookies, cakes, and ice cream are high on the list of midnight munchies.
So you jump in the shower and try to wake up. You grab your version of caffeine (coffee or soda), apply a little concealer under those normally bright eyes, and hope that no one wonders if you had been out drinking all night. Sound familiar?
What is going on here? How can you wake up in the morning feeling, and looking, like you were the life of the party without having even a single drink of alcohol? Are you also feeling bloated, gassy, and lethargic?
The answer is simpler than you would think and centers on your liver. Most of us have heard that drinking alcohol can have an adverse effect on your liver. Consuming large amounts of alcohol can lead to liver disease and eventually death. The liver is one of the most important organs in your body because every drop of blood you have goes through your liver. Aside from your brain, your liver is probably the busiest organ in your body. It is so important that it can actually repair itself.
Some of the functions of your liver include removing toxins and waste material from your blood, producing bile to help food break down in your stomach, it produces cholesterol to protect your cells, and helps to regulate your blood sugar. The liver also helps to keep thyroid hormone levels correct by turning T4 into T3. This all has a direct effect on your energy level.
When you drink alcohol, your liver has to work extra hard to break it down into sugars so that it can be properly handled. Unfortunately, the liver converts sugar into cholesterol. Cholesterol is critical for life because every cell in your body uses cholesterol in the cell wall as a kind of a barrier of protection. When you have more cholesterol in your blood than your body needs, it ends up clogging arteries and the liver itself.
The liver is resilient and each night, when you are fast asleep, it goes about cleaning itself. Most of the functions the liver performs are things that are critical to your body’s function while you are awake. However, once you are asleep, your liver can repair and clean itself. Following me so far?
The key is that you must be asleep between 10pm and 6am. If you stay up late or get up in the middle of the night, your liver can’t take care of itself; especially if you eat after 6pm or in the middle of the night. The same goes for drinking alcohol. If your liver has to deal with food in your stomach or alcohol in your blood, it won’t have time to get all the toxins and waste out of your body.
The effects of an overworked and overwhelmed liver are visible under your eyes where the skin is very thin. Those dark circles indicate that your liver is congested and not functioning properly. There could be many underlying reasons including liver disease, high levels of environmental toxins, medications, and poor digestion.
The liver works synergistically along with the organs in your digestive system as well as with your lymph system. Your stomach must be producing the right amounts of acid and your liver must be producing good quality bile to break down what you consume. Then, your pancreas must produce adequate enzymes to neutralize the stomach acid so that the food can pass into the intestines where it is further broken down by beneficial bacteria (friendly flora). From there, nutrients enter the blood stream and waste is deposited in the colon for removal later.
If any part of that process is not functioning well, then the toxins stay in your blood, get deposited in your fat, and the result is unhealthy looking skin and dark circles under your eyes. Prolonged periods of your digestive system not working properly can have serious effects on your health, including developing a fatty liver, a variety of digestive disorders/diseases, and even cancer.
If you consistently have trouble going to sleep, staying asleep, or are eating in the middle of the night, your liver is becoming congested with fat and toxins. The most important thing you can do for yourself is to reset your digestive system, get the junk food out of your diet (including alcohol), and go to bed early enough so that you are asleep before 10pm.
Additionally, increasing the amount of fiber you get by increasing the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit will help your body to remove waste and toxins; and you will feel less bloated as well. Certain vegetables are known to be cleansing to your liver such as red beets, and a class of cruciferous vegetables in the Brassicaceae family which includes cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, bok choy, cauliflower and broccoli. However, if you have been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, it is best to lightly cook cruciferous vegetables.
If you combine these steps with a good detox designed to reset your digestion, you will begin to feel and look amazing in no time.