The silly season is over and as most of us overindulge over the holidays, it’s time to priorities your liver health. The extra alcohol, rich foods, fatty foods and sugar leaves less room for our healthy meals and our poor livers are left with a lot of work to do
Luckily the liver is a very resilient organ. The liver is the only organ in the body that is capable of regenerating itself. It plays a major role in digestion and detoxification. It produces bile to help us break down fats and alcohol. It stores some of our vitamins and minerals, such as iron, vitamin A, B12 and copper. The liver is responsible for cholesterol regulation. Most importantly, everything that is absorbed in the small intestine (including food, drinks, vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, food additives, chemicals etc.) is then transferred via the blood to the liver for further processing. Nutrients are made into products that can be more easily used by the body. Toxins are generally broken down into less toxic substances and flushed out of the body. This is known as ‘detoxification’. It is this detoxification process that reduces the toxic effects of a poor diet.
So how can you support and stimulate liver detoxification? Below is a list of suggestions to keep your liver functioning well.
- Start each morning with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar in around 30-50mls of room temperature water. ‘Shot’ the vinegar 5-25 minutes before breakfast to kick start liver function, detoxification and stimulate digestion for the day.
- Drink dandelion root tea. Research has found that 2 cups of dandelion root tea a day stimulates liver detoxification. Sometimes called ‘dandy coffee’, dandelion root is a great substitute for all the coffee drinkers out there as it does have quite a bitter, coffee like taste but is caffeine free. It tastes best with a splash of soy milk and honey. Drink between meals to support the liver and to help digest meals.
- Turmeric. Go crazy on turmeric! Turmeric supports liver detoxification (as well as being a fantastic anti-inflammatory, it low cholesterol, is anti-cancer and an antioxidant). Turmeric is a yellow Indian spice commonly used for colouring in curries. It has a mild taste so can be added into many different foods. You can find it raw (it looks like ginger) but it is just as beneficial to use the dried powder. Add ½ a tsp. of turmeric powder into marinates, soups, curries, stir frys. It can be mixed into rice, cous cous or quinoa after cooking. You can mix through smoothies or juices. Of course it turns all your foods bright yellow, but with such a mild taste it can be mixed into many different foods.
- Another spice that aids liver health is rosemary. It contains rosmarinic acid, which inhibits toxic damage to the liver. Add to marinates, soups, casseroles. You could also make a rosemary infused olive oil by adding a few sprigs and using as a dressing.
- Keep your vegetable intake high. Specifically, broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage, alfalfa and beetroot improve liver function. Try to include these veggies in your diet on a daily basis.
- Have a freshly squeezed vegetable juice most days. Fresh juicing is a great way to sneak more veggies into your day and make up for you what you may otherwise miss out on. Please find a detox juice recipe below!
- Supplement with Chlorella. Chlorella is a type of algae with a high nutrient level. It promotes alkalinity within the body, but most importantly is has the ability to bind to toxins such as heavy metals and chemicals and pull them out of the body. It is often prescribed as part of a detox regime and can be taken as an alternative to a multivitamin due to it vitamin and mineral levels.
- Drink green tea. Green tea is high in antioxidants and contains compounds that improve liver function, reduce fatty deposits in the liver and repair damaged liver cells. Aim for 1-2 cups per day for improved liver health
- Eat more bitter greens such as rocket leaves, chicory, radicchio, silverbeet or mustard greens. Bitter green veggies are loaded with compounds that protect your liver. They also stimulate the production and secretion of bile which helps your body to process fats and alcohol more efficiently.
Summer Detox Juice
- Optional extra- chlorella, spirulina, wheatgrass etc
Push all ingredients through the juicer, ensuring you mix the ginger, lemon, mint and leafy veggies between the more juicy ingredients
Written by Hayley Stockbridge – Naturopath