Your liver is your body’s key detox organ and is essential to feeling well. Rockpool Publishing author and holistic GP Dr Cris Beer explains how to look after it without giving up everything on the menu
As well as removing toxins from the body, the liver processes nutrients from food and helps regulate metabolism. When it’s functioning well, you feel good. However, feeling sluggish, bloated and under the weather are signs your liver may be compromised. Even minor liver damage can cause accumulation of harmful toxins, inefficient processing of nutrients and a slowed metabolism.
The liver has amazing potential for regeneration, and detoxing provides an environment that allows this to happen, so follow these key steps or get off to an extra-clean start with my 7-day detox (see below).
Cut booze and painkillers
Alcohol and medications such as paracetamol are toxins that damage the liver, so start reducing these to safe limits. For paracetamol, never take more than two every four hours and not for longer than three days at a time.
The safe limit for alcohol is one standard drink (100ml wine, one mid-strength beer or 30ml spirits) a day for women and two for men, with two alcohol-free days per week. Abstaining from alcohol can allow your liver to regenerate.
Ditch processed food and drinks
Removing these from your diet will really help clear out your liver. Processed food products are often high in toxic fats (such as trans fats) and sugars – both equally damaging to the liver.
Cakes, sweets, soft drinks and energy drinks also contain preservatives, additives and artificial colourings. They have no nutritional value and are also treated as toxins in the body, so the liver has to work extra hard to eliminate them.
Remember fresh is always best when it comes to food, and try to get used to drinking plain water.
Eat your sprouts
Some foods and natural medicines support liver function. These include vegetables from the brassica family (see the detox plan, over page), which have a protective effect due to their sulphur-containing chemicals called glucosinolates.
Once chewed and digested, these are converted into highly reactive compounds, that work as powerful stimulants of the liver’s detoxification pathways.
Try to eat at least three, but ideally five, serves of this type of vegetable each week to give your liver a boost. You can also buy brassica extract in tablet form. Nothing is a substitute for the real thing when it comes to food items, but this is an option for those with significant liver damage or who don’t eat enough of these vegies.
Silybum marianum, also known as St Mary’s Thistle or milk thistle, is a natural medicine that’s been shown to support the liver. In Australia, it’s available from health food stores and pharmacies and can be taken in capsule or powder form.
Taking a daily probiotic or eating fermented foods such as yoghurt, sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir makes for a happy digestive system, which is intrinsically linked to liver health – if you’re not absorbing, digesting or eliminating food properly, your liver can suffer and, vice versa, you can have digestion issues if your liver isn’t well.
You can also support optimal gut function by eating enough fibre and drinking plenty of water to flush your body.
To read more about this detox, including Dr Cris' 7 day detox go Body + Soul
This blog was extracted from Body + Soul 6th
Dr Cris - Body + Soul – 07 September, 2015