Love your Liver

Our liver performs over 200 jobs in the body so, when it gets overloaded/burdened it can wreak havoc in the entire body, including our brain.  The liver is the filter for our blood and has the important job of screening for, and detoxifying, every toxin we absorb/ingest.  Toxins include: any alcohol, drug, medication, sugar, coffee, processed, refined foods laden with pesticides, chemicals, preservatives and all the other unnatural additives found in our food today.

Signs of a toxic and overburdened liver include: 

  • Issues/concerns with the eyes, skin and mouth
  • Hormonal issues; PMS, menopause
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Environmental and food sensitivities
  • Recurrent infections & illnesses
  • Signs of inflammation; tonsillitis, appendicitis, sinusitis, canker sores, etc.
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Depression, emotional instability, irritability, decreased concentration/memory
  • Hypoglycemia, Type II diabetes
  • Indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, acid reflux, hemorrhoids
  • Gall stones and gallbladder disease
  • Weight gain, cellulite, inability to lose weight or keep it off

We know that a diet lacking in certain nutrients can impair the liver’s ability to natural detoxify chemicals and this can lead to a buildup of toxins in the body.   This seriously impairs our ability to remain healthy.  So, how can we support our liver naturally and ensure it can function as close to optimally as possible?  The goal is to eat as clean as possible with organic whole foods and limit, or ideally avoid completely, refined or processed foods.  This will help reduce the burden on your liver. 

Top 6 tips to show your liver some love:

1)  Eat your vegetables -  Dark leafy greens and Cruciferous vegetables are a great support for the liver.  Veggies like broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, collard greens and bok choy activate enzymes required for liver detoxification.   Other great vegetables for the liver include: asparagus, artichoke, onions, fennel, shallots, leeks, beets, seaweed and carrots.

2)  Eat your fruits -  Citrus fruits like lemon, lime and grapefruit are great liver detoxifiers.  Consider adding freshly squeezed lemon juice to your water to gently cleanse your liver. Apples, avocados and berries are also liver friendly.

3) Choose fats and oils wisely – when you are cooking opt for an oil that stays stable at high heat (coconut oil, camelina oil, ghee, butter or avocado oil).   Vegetable oil, including olive oil, breaks down in high heat producing free radicals that your liver and body have to try and neutralize.   Olive oil is excellent for the liver but, save it for salad dressing.    And remember to avoid margarines – they are FULL of hydrogenated fat.  Not only do these raise bad cholesterol levels but they also introduce more free radicals in to the body adding more stress to the liver. 

4 ) Add herbs – ginger, cayenne, cilantro, fennel seeds, cumin, turmeric, cardamom & cinnamon top the list of spices to clear the liver detox pathways naturally.  Yum!

5) Probiotics – if you are not taking a probiotic supplement yet – get started!  Probiotics are critical to your overall health and well being and they provide tremendous support to the liver.  Don’t forget to eat cultured, probiotic rich foods like, plain organic yogurt, kefir, raw sauerkraut, kimchi, miso – these will all help kick the liver in to high gear.   Prebiotics are food for the probiotics so don’t forget to feed your good gut bacteria.   Foods like jicama, asparagus, leeks, cruciferous vegetables, burdock, chicory, Jerusalem artichoke are chock full of prebiotics.   

6) Hydrate – drinking lots of pure water will help to flush toxins from the body and alleviate stress on the liver.  Green tea, kefir and kombucha are also great liver loving beverages.   Avoid caffeine and alcohol as these have to be filtered and increase the burden on the liver.

Aside from probiotics, other top liver detox supplements include:  B complex, Vitamins A, C, E & selenium, Vitamin D, magnesium and dandelion root tea.

Other good liver tips:

·       Chew food really well – at least 25 chews per mouthful. 

·       Limit fluid intake while eating as this decreases digestive function.  Avoid eating when stressed as this will also decreases digestive function. 

·       Avoid chemicals, not just in your food but, in your household cleaners and body products.  These are all absorbed through the skin and/or through your nasal passages and must be filtered by the liver.   

·       Reduce exposure to aluminum and plastics – these are also full of chemicals, toxins, heavy metals, etc.   Opt for glass or stainless steel containers, utensils, cooking vessels, etc.  Replace aluminum foil with parchment paper.

·       The lymphatic system supports the liver to filter our blood.  We can stimulate the lymph by rubbing/massaging vigorously  certain areas where the lymph is concentrated.   Specifically, the chest is connected to the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, stomach.  You can also massage inner thighs (small intestine) and outer thighs (large intestine).