Liver Cleanse 101

Ok, so it may be a bit early for a liver cleanse, but January is right around the corner, so why not be prepared? You may be asking yourself – why do a liver cleanse? Well, our health and well-being depends on how well our bodies remove toxins.  We are exposed daily to toxins in the way of our personal care products, environmental toxins, processed foods, and guess what…your liver has to help rid the body of all these toxins!  That’s a big job for one organ, so sometimes it needs a little love.

Fact - your liver is one of the hardest working organs in your body.  It works daily to detoxify your blood of impurities; produces something called bile to help you break down fats; break down hormones; it stores vital vitamins and minerals such as iron and SO much more.  If the liver is sluggish because it’s ‘backed up’ with too much to process there can be a number of side effects. One such effect is we don’t digest our food properly and that means we don’t get all the nutrients extracted from our food to feed our cells, hello lower energy!  We also can gain weight as hormones can get recirculated, (I’m talking oestrogen here) and excess toxins in the body have to go somewhere so the body protects you from those unwanted wastes by creating fat stores for the toxins to live – yikes!

So how do you know if your liver isn’t functional optimally? Well, here are some signs to look out for:

  • Bloating and gas
  • Acid reflux and heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Skin and/or eyes that are yellowish (a symptom of jaundice), a yellow coated tongue
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Waking up around 2-3 am nightly
  • Moodiness, anxiety or depression
  • Brown spots around the jaw line
  • Fatigue
  • Excessive sweating
  • Poor appetite (especially not hungry for breakfast)

There is good news!  A liver cleanse can do wonders for your liver! Here are some simple steps you can take that I suggest doing for one to two weeks:

Remove Toxic/Processed foods from your Diet
A diet high in processed foods will make your liver work harder as there will be more to filter.  Most processed foods are high in refined sugar, hydrogenated oils, additives, preservatives, colourings and pretty much food “ingredients” that are foreign to the body.  One food in particular is processed meats. 

These meats have added nitrates and nitrites, which are chemicals used to preserve food to give them a longer shelf life, by inhibiting bacteria growth.  Ditch the packaged meats and buy fresh meat or use leftovers from a roast.  Learn to replace certain foods with healthier versions like chips and lollies with vegetable sticks, bliss balls and homemade granola bars.

Drink Vegetable Juices
It’s hard to get your 4-5 servings of vegetables in daily sometimes, but your liver LOVES vegetables! High sulphur vegetables in particular which include: broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussels sprouts. Juicing vegetables can disguise those veggies you’re not so fond of with the added benefit of making them easier to digest and absorb. Some of my favourite veggies to juice include: carrots, cucumber, beetroot, celery and lemon (ok, not a vegetable but your liver loves lemons)!  These vegetables are very alkalizing in the body, (the opposite of acidic which is what you want).  To make the juices tasty, toss in one fruit such as an orange, apple or even ginger. The anti-inflammatory compounds of these veggies help support a healthy digestive tract, and hasten the elimination of toxins from the body.

Take Liver-Loving Supplements
The number one detoxifying herb for the liver is Milk Thistle.  Milk Thistle helps eliminate the buildup of any pollutants, medications, heavy metals and alcohol in the liver (top liver loaders). You can find Milk Thistle in many liver cleansing products. Two of my favourites are: Good Health Liver Tonic and Liver Detox Tea by Artemis.

The second supplement is the almighty Turmeric! Turmeric is actually a flowering plant of the ginger family, but when you take the root and use it in cooking it becomes a very powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant! Curcumin is the main active ingredient in turmeric that helps reduce joint pain, aid digestion, restore blood sugar balance and of course supports healthy liver tissue. Add turmeric to smoothies, lattes (now readily available in cafes and stores), stir fry and soups.

Lastly, the simple dandelion that populates yards is actually packed with vitamins and minerals that your liver loves.  This flower and it’s root act as a natural diuretic, which allows your liver to more efficiently eliminate toxins.

If two weeks seems like too long, then try a simple 24 hour liver cleanse by eating only the liver friendly foods and juicing. Of course, drinking plenty of water is good for the liver too.  Maybe after all the holiday celebrations die down, you may want to nurture your liver for all the hard work it had to go through.  I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and happy 2019, and remember to enjoy the time!