We all need to treat our livers with a bit of TLC after the Christmas indulgences. Here are a few tips:
The liver is a complex organ that plays a key role in most metabolic processes, especially detoxification. The liver is constantly bombarded with toxic chemicals, both those produced internally and those coming from the environment. The metabolic processes that make our bodies run normally produce a wide range of toxins for which the liver has evolved efficient neutralising mechanisms. However, the level and type of internally produced toxins increase greatly when processes go awry, typically as a result of nutritional deficiencies.
The liver is the greatest multi-tasking organ, and as a result its function or dysfunction has an incredibly important impact on our health. The following are the liver’s main functions:
- Breaking down and eliminating toxins. The liver is the organ of detoxification. When it is not working properly, toxins from both inside and outside the body remain in the system and can cause your immune system to treat them as if they were invading organisms. This can lead to many health problems including inflammation, increased likelihood of infections, food allergies and sensitivities and for your case it wouldn’t be good for thyroid function.
- Balancing blood sugar. When our blood-sugar levels are high (for example just after consuming sugary foods, drinks and alcohol), the hormone insulin triggers the liver to store the excess as glycogen. When blood-sugar levels fall, the liver releases glycogen to be turned into glucose. If the liver fails in this task, the result is chronic fatigue, sugar cravings, weight gain and, ultimately diabetes.
- Producing bile. This vital substance helps digestion, by breaking down fat and removing excess cholesterol. Without it, cholesterol levels rise and many digestive disorders can result, including bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, nausea, food allergies and the malabsorption of nutrients, especially the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.
- Breaking down and eliminating excess hormones. When this function is not working optimally, all kinds of hormonal imbalances can occur. Oestrogen and progesterone have a certain lifecycle and once finished the liver should eliminate them but if the liver has to deal with other toxins then the hormones get thrown back into the blood stream. This can cause imbalance and confusion for the body.
- Storing nutrients. The liver stores many essential vitamins and minerals, including iron, copper, vitamins A, B12, D, E and K.
As well as all the above functions the proper functioning of the liver’s detoxification systems is especially important for the prevention of cancer. Up to ninety percent of all cancers are thought to be due to the effects of environmental carcinogens such as cigarette smoke, food, water, and air, combined with deficiencies of the nutrients the body needs for proper functioning the liver and the immune system.
Six Golden Rules for a Healthy Liver
1. Drink eight glasses of water or fluid every day.
This is equal to 1.5 litres of fluid a day. Drinks can be cold or hot or as non-caffeine teas. A great aid for the liver is to have half a lemon squeezed into a mug of hot water once or twice a day. First thing in the morning is a great time for this or 15 minutes before one of your other meals. It’s best to use filtered water if possible.
2. Have a tablespoon of ground seeds every day.
Seeds are incredibly rich in essential fats, minerals, vitamin E, protein and fibre. Add to your porridge and adding them to a natural yogurt is great also.
3. Have a serving of a super green vegetable every day.
Have a cup of baby spinach or kale every day and add either a handful of parsley or basil to your meals.
4. Have a serving of cruciferous vegetables every day.
Eat a cup full of broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage or cauliflower every day. Lightly steam them so that a many nutrients as possible are protected.
5. Have either a garlic clove, a small onion, shallot or two spring onions every day.
These are all rich in sulphur. Sulphur is a very important mineral for proper liver detoxification.
6. Have one serving of a superfruit every day.
Have a handful of blueberries/ raspberries/ strawberries or either a plum, apples or pear.
Extracts taken from Patrick Holford’s Book “The Holford 9-Day Liver Detox”
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