The weather is warming up and summer is within reach! Now is a great time to be thinking about removing the sludge that has accumulated over the winter months and start to revitalize the body! A great way to do it is through a liver cleanse.
Our health and well-being depend on how well our bodies remove toxins. We are constantly exposed to toxins in the environment, our foods, our body care products and more. We can all use a detox, including myself! Our liver is our second largest organ, (next to the skin - yes, it's an organ). It works everyday all day to detoxify our blood, produce bile (helps us break down fat), store vitamins, (including the all important iron) and helps break down hormones. If the liver is struggling due to too many toxins, (easy to happen) then the body becomes toxic and digestion suffers which impacts the entire body.
Your liver will tell you it's not happy in many different ways. One objective way is to get a Liver function blood test and see if your enzymes are elevated. Here are a few other signs and signals the body gives that your liver would love some nurture: bloating, gas, acid reflux, heartburn, inability to lose weight, elevated blood pressure, constipation, yellow eyes or skin, yellow coated tongue, skin issues such as rosacea, fatigue, no appetite in the morning and waking up between 2-3 am.
Ok, let's get into the action steps for this liver cleanse. Step one is to remove the toxic foods from you diet. If you eat a lot of foods that have labels and come in packaging there is a good chance you're eating a lot of food that has been processed. If you can't pronounce the ingredients then your body won't be able to recognize them either. If foods aren't able to be broken down, then it can produce inflammation. These foods work against your liver as your liver tries to process them but can't. Chances are these foods also have hydrogenated oils, refined sugars, msg and are over-loaded with sugars and salt. Many convenience foods also have nitrates and nitrites, (especially processed meats). These are chemicals used to preserve the food, so they have a longer shelf life. They also inhibit bacterial growth and preserve the presentable colour of the food. So, ditch the processed foods and choice food as nature intended (FANI) - whole unprocessed foods from the earth.
Step two in a simple liver cleanse is to 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.
Step three is to start taking some liver loving supplements that will slowly start to detoxify the liver. 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. You can also now take Cucumin in a capsule form. There are many out there, so make sure you invest in a good quality one.
My last step in a gentle liver cleanse is to get enough potassium. Potassium helps to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and cleanse your liver. It is suggested one get about 4500 mg daily! Kumara is a great source of potassium and contains about 800 mg of potassium in one average sized. Tomatoes are another great source of potassium and especially if you get them chopped or pureed. Approximately one cup can contain up to 1000 mg of potassium. Everyone knows bananas are high in potassium with about 500 mg per banana. They also help release toxins, including heavy metals, (which can accumulate easily in the body due to mercury fillings) which is important during a liver cleanse. Lastly, lots of greens and spinach. Spinach contains about 800 mg per cup.
I also want to mention that your liver loves water. After all, it is your largest filtration organ. Ensure you're getting 30 mls of water per kilo of body weight. So, if you weight 70 kilos you need about 2.5 liters of water daily.
Now's a great time to get started on your liver cleanse. You may have some headaches to start as that can be a sign toxins are leaving the body, but I promise it will be worth it to reset the body and rid it of accumulated toxins. Good luck!