By: Michelle Schoffro Cook
Your liver must perform over 500 functions, making it potentially one of the most overburdened organs in your body. Our modern lifestyle, replete with air pollution, food additives and high amounts of stress ensure that the liver has plenty to do.
So, it’s no surprise that the liver can become sluggish, making it a factor in many health conditions, including: allergies, arthritis, asthma, bad breath, chronic fatigue syndrome, cravings for sweets, depression, environmental illness/multiple chemical sensitivities, fatigue, fibromyalgia, headaches and migraines, hepatitis, high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, hypoglycemia, hormone imbalances, immune system disorders, irritable bowel syndrome, overweight or obesity, poor digestion, recurring nausea and/or vomiting, skin diseases, and ulcerative colitis. Of course there are other factors involved in these conditions so it is important to see a physician if you suffer from any of them.
Perhaps the most impressive thing about the liver is its ability to regenerate itself. When it is given the critical nutrients, a healthy whole foods diet, and herbs to help it function, it can be restored to health in most circumstances. Strengthening the liver is one of the ways to boost energy, balance weight, and strengthen overall health.
Here are 15 ways to give your liver a boost:
1. The liver requires high amounts of vitamins and minerals to perform its many functions. Your diet should be high in fruits and vegetables and fibrer-rich foods.
2. Your liver must filter food additives. Eliminate processed foods, artificial food additives, colors, and preservatives from your diet to give your liver a break.
3. Eat plenty of fresh carrots and beets, both of which are powerful liver cleansing and rebuilding foods. In addition, eat plenty of green foods. The chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color, helps cleanse the liver.
4. Try to eat two heaping tablespoons of ground flaxseeds. They bind to hormone receptor sites, preventing excess hormones including synthetic xenoestrogens from plastics and other chemicals, from floating around your bloodstream. One of the liver’s five hundred jobs is to filter excess hormones. By eating flaxseeds and flax oil you are helping it function more effectively. Flaxseeds can be sprinkled on cereal, toast, salads, or blended into smoothies.
Keep reading to learn about the best liver-boosting herbs and nutrients…
5. There are many great herbs that help strengthen the liver, including: milk thistle, dandelion root, globe artichoke, turmeric, slippery elm, greater celandine, balmony, barberry, black root, blue flag, boldo, fringetree bark, vervain, and wahoo. I regularly use turmeric and milk thistle to help strengthen the liver. If you are pregnant, have a serious health condition, or are taking medication, consult a qualified health practitioner before using herbs.
6. Significantly reduce refined sugar and avoid synthetic sweeteners altogether.
7. Lecithin helps the liver metabolize fats and reduce cholesterol. It contains a substance called phosphatidylcholine and essential fatty acids that help keep liver cells healthy and help prevent fatty deposits from building up in the liver. Lecithin also helps reduce high blood pressure by allowing the blood vessels to relax to allow better blood flow. You can get lecithin in organic soyfoods like soy milk, tofu, and miso, as well as organic eggs. Alternatively, take 4000 mg of lecithin in capsule form daily.
8. Take a high quality multivitamin and mineral supplement to avoid any deficiencies. The liver depends on many nutrients to detoxify properly. Even a single nutrient deficiency can be harmful.
9. In addition, take 1000 to 2000 mg of vitamin C daily, even if there is vitamin C in your multivitamin.
Keep reading to learn about the foods that ensure toxins are neutralized, not made more dangerous…
10. Eat lots of garlic, onions and broccoli since these foods contain sulfur that is required to increase enzyme activity that boosts liver cleansing. Without adequate levels of sulfur, the phase 2 of liver detoxification cannot keep pace with level 1, meaning that many toxins can become MORE dangerous in your body.
11. Avoid eating large meals. Instead, eat small meals made up of plenty easy-to-digest foods.
12. Eat steamed vegetables, raw salad greens, raw fruits, and bitter greens. The bitter greens, especially, help to cleanse the liver.
13. Eat whole, raw, unsalted nuts and seeds for their essential fatty acids as well as their usable protein.
14. Avoid eating heavy, fatty foods since they just create more work for the liver. Avoid margarine, shortening or commercial oils or any foods made with them.
15. Avoid eating for at least three hours before bedtime to allow the liver adequate time during the night to perform its many functions, unimpeded by other bodily processes like digestion.
Adapted with permission from The 4-Week Ultimate Body Detox Plan by Michelle Schoffro Cook, MSc, PhD, RNCP, ROHP.
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