2018 SPCNM Graduate Practitioner
The liver is an amazing organ. It does so much for us, taking on the hefty responsibility of over 500 different jobs in the body, including detoxification, bile production, storage of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), metabolism of carbohydrates and fats, and it plays an important role in immune function. And as if that isn’t amazing enough, it is our only organ capable of regenerating itself, boasting the ability to restore itself even when over 50% of the organ has been damaged.
Most of us would agree the Christmas/new year season is a time of overindulgence, and this can easily leave our liver a little on the sluggish side at this time of the year due to the increased burden it has been trying to cope.
I therefore declare January the perfect time to say ‘thank you’ to our liver by giving it some extra love! Below are 5 simple ways you can give your liver some love, that don’t require huge commitments of time or money, but rather just some simple modifications to your daily routines…
5 Simple ways to love your liver:
- Start your morning with an herbal tea!
Herbal teas are a simple yet effective way to support your liver. There are some great pre-mixed herbal teas available in health food shops and here at Paua Clinic, specifically designed to support liver function, and your liver will thank you if you choose to replace your morning coffee with one for the next couple of weeks. Look for blends that include a combination of one or more of the below liver loving herbs:
- Dandelion root (Taraxacum officinale) – known to support the liver’s detoxification pathways and has a bitter taste that enhances digestive function. Bonus – many people find it to be a fantastic coffee alternative when trying to cut down their coffee intake!
- Milk Thistle (Silybum marianum) – well known for its proven liver loving actions, research highlights its ability to offer protection to the liver against the damaging effects of toxic chemicals and medications, promote regeneration of liver cells when the liver has been damaged, and promote enhanced liver detoxification.
- Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) – this wonderful herb has been shown to protect the liver from damage, and to support liver detoxification pathways by promoting healthy bile flow.
- Aim to add some ‘bitter’ foods into your daily diet.
Bitter foods play an important role in supporting liver health as they help promote increased bile flow. This in turn is vital for supporting the liver’s detoxification pathways by promoting effective removal of fat-soluble toxins via the bowel. Bile is also important for optimal digestive function, supporting healthy microbiome and acts as a natural laxative.
So, by adding bitter foods to your main meals, you will enhance your liver function and increase your liver’s detoxifying capacity.
Some great bitter food options to consider adding to your meals include:
- bitter greens, including rocket, dandelion greens and kale
- vegetables such as radish, broccoli and cauliflower
- fruits such as lemon, grapefruit and lime
- bitter herbs, including as thyme, rosemary, marjoram and bay leaves
- Reduce sugar consumption, and fructose in particular….
Excess dietary sugar isn’t just bad news for your waistline, it’s also bad news for your liver. So committing to reducing or limiting foods that contain added sugar is a wonderful way of saying ‘I love you’ to your liver. High fructose consumption in particular has been shown to be damaging to your liver, as excess fructose is converted into fat, and either stored in the liver (leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver) or released into the bloodstream (also bad news).
Therefore, aim to reduce your intake of foods and beverages containing added sugar, and instead get your sweet-fix from fresh fruits which have their natural sugars bundled up with beneficial fiber, vitamins and phytonutrients, all of which offer some serious health benefits.
- Aim to add sulphur-rich foods to your daily diet…
Sulfur is a mineral that plays a number of important roles in your body and is key to healthy liver function, contributing to efficient detoxification in particular. So, aiming to include sulfur-rich foods in your daily diet is an easy and simple way to give your liver some love.
Sulfur-rich foods include:
- allium vegetables such as onion, garlic, onions and leeks
- cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower
- protein-rich foods such as eggs, fish, chicken, red meats, legumes and nuts
- Aim to reduce your alcohol consumption & commit to at least 2 alcohol free days per week…
Your liver is responsible for the break down or metabolism of alcohol. It does this via an enzymatic process which eventually results in excretion of the alcohol from your body in the form of water and carbon dioxide. Regular and excessive drinking can over burden the liver however, leading to inflammation, compromised liver function and alcoholic liver disease. The new year is the perfect time to commit to reducing your alcohol consumption and/or ensuring you keep at least 2 days alcohol free each week.
So there you have it. 5 cost effective and simple ways to say ‘I love you’ to your liver. Whether you start with one, or work towards implementing all 5, your liver will thank you for it, and your overall health and wellbeing will be enhanced!
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