For most people living in today’s world, wanting to “be healthier” is a constant thought. From wanting to look better, feel better, have more energy, or fix other persistent problems, almost everyone has an area (or several) of their life they want to improve — and, most of us are aware that these underlying problems have something to do with our health and lifestyle choices. However, most of us aren’t aware that our liver plays a bigger role in almost all areas of our health than we realize. While imbalances (think things like pollution, chemicals, and stress) contribute to our overall health, all of these directly imbalance the liver, which is why caring for this essential organ needs to be top priority.

And, of course, the food we eat and what we drink directly impacts our liver, too.

When your liver becomes overtaxed from all of these imbalances, your overall health starts to decline, leaving you feeling (and looking) less than your best. The more you’re able to give your liver a break (like with a specific liver detox, for example), the more you’ll be able to start notice major differences in your health, both physically and subtly.

Below are just some of the factors that lead to harmful imbalances to your body and, in turn, an overworked liver…

  • Pollutants play a major role in the health of your liver. They include pollution found in your environment, but also heavy metals and chemicals found in water and food and radiation produced by tech gadgets.
  • The health of your relationships also influence how well your liver functions. The more stressed out you are mentally and emotionally, the more difficult it is for your liver to do its job.
  • Constant stress also impacts the health of your liver. If you’re constantly on the go and give yourself little time to relax, then your liver will have a difficult time to try to keep up.

When your liver becomes overworked and stressed, your body can’t absorb the nutrients it needs. And, because your liver is essential for detoxification, a tired liver leaves your body toxic and sluggish. On top of just not feeling great, an overworked liver can directly lead to things like fatigue, depression, and hormone imbalances, according to experts.

While there are several different ways to approach a liver cleanse, the main focus should be to get your liver functioning properly again, which means eating “simple” foods, ones that haven’t been over processed and that are also easy for your body to process. Look for foods that have a lot of nutrients and minerals, like leafy greens, vegetables, and, especially, beets. Your liver is also impacted by how you prepare the foods you eat, which means any liver detox should exclude foods that are fried or heavily sautéed. Instead, prep your healthy foods by steaming or roasting, which is much easier for your body to digest. When it comes to your liver, eating raw foods isn’t necessarily a good idea.

Whether you choose to follow a specific liver cleanse protocol or choose to simply pay more attention to your environment and your diet in order to support your liver, the key to success is being conscious. Before you eat, slow down and really consider what you’re eating and why. Before you get upset or angry or anxious, slow down and breathe. Is there any way you can respond differently?

At the end of the day, your liver, when it’s allowed to do its job properly, is designed to nourish and heal your body. Recognizing this role, you can start to become aware as to why tending to the health of your liver is so important — and how having a healthy liver is the key to living a truly healthy life.