Feb 11, 2014



Our liver is one of the largest, busiest, most important organs in the body, and performs over 500 jobs within it. People generally give little thought to liver health.. thinking it only helps get rid of alcohol once we've ingested a little too much, but in fact our liver does a hell of a lot more.

In nutrition and naturopathic circles, it's common to hear, "If you aren’t sure what a patient needs, treat the liver first". Personally, I'd say the gut, but the liver would most often be next in line. However, this approach is in step with the great healing practices of Ayurvedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine, which emphasize the importance of a healthy liver for optimal wellness. And with good reason.

Our liver is needed for:

  • Digestion
  • Circulation
  • Detoxification
  • Immune Function
  • Hormone activity
  • And so much more (if those whoppers above weren't enough)

When the liver operates suboptimally, it is called "sluggish," meaning it cannot detoxify substances rapidly or thoroughly enough for them to be efficiently excreted. Consequently, lingering toxins exit the liver and migrate to other areas of the body, producing free radicals—unstable molecules that can damage body tissues. Eventually, the body tucks the toxins into fat tissue and cells of the brain and central nervous system. These toxins may be slowly released into the blood and contribute to many chronic health problems, including arthritis, chronic fatigue and poor memory. A sluggish liver also may affect blood flow—one possible reason why liver problems are linked to cold hands and feet, migraine and nearsightedness. 

How does a liver become sluggish?

  • A diet high in refined sugars and carbohydrates
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine
  • High consumption of alcohol and/or binge drinking
  • Tobacco and/or drug use
  • Poor intake of fresh organic fruits and vegetables
  • High stress levels
  • Insufficient fresh water drinking
  • Being exposed to too many toxins for a long period of time; drinking out of plastic bottles, wearing chemically-based skin care, perfumes, and hair care products, eating processed foods, city pollution, and all the above already mentioned

Poor liver function can lead to a wide range of physical and mental health problems—from allergies and bad breath to bloating and chronic fatigue, food sensitivities, memory problems and migraines, to name just a few.
Sluggish liver is not recognized in the world of conventional medicine, so it often goes undiagnosed and untreated. This is why it's so important to continually look after our liver, as it will only be noticed on a medical test when it is severely compromised. And as our liver is necessary for so many functions, processes and systems within our body, and very simple to look after, it seems silly not too.

Here are  8 simple ways to protect, detoxify and heal your liver daily:

Drink apple cider vinegar; this stuff enhances digestion (which is inextricably linked to your liver function), cleanses your blood, amps up your liver function, and tastes great (lemon works just as well). Start with a tablespoon in half a glass of warm water on waking, and if your digestion is really sluggish, have the same thing 10 minutes before every meal.

Eat cruciferous vegetables; broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, and cabbage all contain glucosinolates, indoles, isothiocyanates, and sulforaphane, which are the fancy names of a bunch of phytochemicals found in foods, that aid in detoxification. Add these to your morning omelet, your salad or use cabbage in place of noodles in a stir fry cook up.

Eat more vegetables, period; to get other detoxifying phytochemicals, fibre to aid elimination of the toxins, and antioxidants to mop up the oxidative damage. Carrots, capsicums, zucchini, celery, green beans, eggplants... the more colours of the rainbow the better.

Do a coffee enema; I'm a big fan of these and have been doing them on and off for years. Check out this video from Jess Ainscough for more visual learning and the how-to, but if you have gut issues, I'd suggest speaking to you nutritionist or naturopath about doing them first, as a few gut issues may be aggravated by enemas.

Cook with onion and garlic; this is probably one of the simplest ways to support your liver as most of us start cooking dinner with these two babies. Onion and garlic contain high amounts of sulphur which is a super duper liver loving substance. Want more bang for you buck? Cook the onion first, then the rest of your dish, and add the minced garlic (raw) at the very end.

Drink more water; to flush everything through, keep your bowels moving, hydrate your cells, and keep you alive!

Skip the java, grab a tea; caffeine puts stress on the liver through a process too long to explain here. In short, caffeine puts your body into 'fight or flight" mode, pumping adrenalin through your system, diverting blood supply to the arms and legs and away from your torso, setting off a whole cascade of hormonal events, and causing more harm than good (for most people, most of the time). Tea on the other hand does not. Green tea which has less caffeine is a better stepping stone to reducing your coffee intake, and with it's antioxidant content and ability to support the liver, it's a far better option.

Take a chill pill; meditate, read a novel you love, take a magnesium bath, sit down to a visualisation, whatever it is, by reducing your stress levels, you're helping your liver.

And it goes without saying that easing off the alcoholic beverages you drink will do you and your liver wonders as well.

What do you do to support your liver each day? I'd love to hear in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. Love how clealy you layout whats supports the liver to detox. Just finding out how many functions the body is doing to keep healthy. Right now have a sore throat bugging me.