For most of us it is back to work today after the bank holiday, but some may not be feeling it. Maybe you are one of those that overdid it a bit? Possibly you drank too much, ate too much and even had an extra late night over the weekend. But have you ever thought to consider your liver health?
Our liver can be considered one of the hardest working organs in the body. It has a few roles but perhaps the liver’s most important role is to detoxify toxins - substances that can cause the body harm when they enter the body. Toxins can come from air pollutants, food, water, pesticides, medications and even when the body performs its normal metabolic processes.
Most toxins need to be detoxified in order to be excreted safely by the body so this is where the liver comes into play. Think of the liver as a filter separated into two parts. Some toxins can go through the first part and then are safe for the body to excrete. Some need to go through the second part of the filter to be rendered safe. Keeping a balance of harmony between the two phases is important as if not, then toxins can accumulate and store in the body, possibly resulting in ill health.
So what can we do to help balance this detoxification process?
- Aim to get your 5 a day of fruit and vegetables. This will support the liver by supplying the necessary vitamins needed for detox. Consider watercress in your salads, broccoli in your evening meal or roasted kale for a snack (all help the detox phases keep balance)
- Keep your diet rich in protein. Protein contains amino acids that help the liver detoxify.
- Increase levels of fibre in your diet. E.G. wholegrains such as oats, brown rice and wholemeal bread as well as beans and pulses. This improves elimination of the toxins.
- Choose organic where possible to minimise environmental toxins. Drink filtered water
- Eggs, onions and garlic are sulphur-rich foods that assist the liver to detox.
- Use turmeric in your food. Perhaps make curry. This helps keep phase 1 and 2 in balance, act as an anti-inflammatory and stimulate bile flow, which helps carry the toxins out of the liver for excretion.
- Reduce alcohol & caffeine. Tea, coffee and coke all place burden on the liver. Most caffeine- free coffee and tea are chemically treated to remove the caffeine. Look for water processed coffee or even with tea, place the teabag in the cup for 10 seconds, remove and throw away the water & place back in and fill up. Caffeine is water-soluble so by doing this, the theory is that most of caffeine will be removed. Try considering herbal teas such as Pukka Detox tea. White tea, peppermint tea and green tea are lower in caffeine and also high in anti-oxidants.
- Look for natural & organic skin products where possible. What goes on the skin goes in the body, remember to read the labels as some products can be deceiving.
If you have any questions about helping your liver please comment or tweet me @NkdNutrition
- Liska DJ (2002) The role of detoxification in the prevention of chronic degenerative diseases. Applied Science Reports.
- Nutri (2012) Patient Guide: Don’t you know that you’re toxic. Nutri-Online
Images: proteome.biochem.mpg.de, guardian.co.uk