by Sun Warrior
The liver is a vital organ that serves a multitude of functions. It cleans the blood of toxins and poisons, synthesizes proteins, stores energy, creates cholesterol, processes hemoglobin, aides the immune system, and helps digestion along. This small, three pound organ wears many hats and works constantly to keep us healthy.
Blood flows into the liver from two sources, from the heart as oxygenated blood and from the intestines as nutrient rich blood. These are combined in the liver, filtered, and regulated. Poisons and harmful toxins are absorbed by liver cells and transformed into safer compounds. These are then sent either back into the blood stream to the kidneys or back to the intestines to be removed as waste. Drugs are also processed by the liver, broken down into what the body can use and then packaged for removal.
The liver cells combine the amino acids they find in our blood stream to make different types of proteins that we need, releasing them back into the blood so they can make their way to where they’re needed. Fats and sugars from digestion are also turned into cholesterol by the liver to help carry energy and certain vitamins throughout the body. The liver stores iron and glycogen for use carrying oxygen and for extra energy. The liver also releases bile that goes to the intestines, aiding in the digestion of fats.
The liver holds about thirteen percent of the body’s blood supply at any given time and performs over 5,000 biochemical functions each day. Working constantly, not tirelessly, the liver often needs a break from its labors to focus on cleaning itself, especially since our modern diet can be overwhelming. Pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, other chemicals, refined sugar, and high amounts of fat flood the liver from the food we eat. This vital organ can’t always keep up. Environmental pollutants and chronic stress don’t help it out either.
Give your liver a break so it can catch up on its important work, rest, and detoxify. Doing a liver cleanse is easy, just avoid processed foods, fats, animal proteins, and refined sugars for a few days while eating good, fresh, and a good amount of raw fruits and vegetables that help the liver clean itself faster. You can also do many fresh juices to give your digestive system a short break at the same time. Choose organic food that’s free of pesticides and chemicals.
Alliums (Garlic, Onions, Leeks) – These contain allium and selenium, both of which help the liver rid itself of toxins and excess fats. They also boost the immune system, helping to clear out bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
Apples – Apples contain pectin, a fiber that binds to heavy metals in digestion. This helps remove them from the body during digestion, before they even enter the blood stream so you put less of a load on the liver to do the usual clean up.
Artichoke – Artichoke increases the production of bile. Bile helps digest fats, but also flushes toxins, excess fat, and waste from the liver.
Avocados – Avocados are filled with healthy fats and micronutrients. They also help the body produce glutathione, a compound that helps the liver remove heavy metals, environmental pollutants, and toxins produced by stress.
Beets – These bright roots are filled with beta carotene and other antioxidants that combat toxins and free radicals. They also contain betaine, which encourages liver cells to release toxins, and pectin, which binds to toxins in the intestines so the body doesn’t absorb or reabsorb them.
Broccoli and Cauliflower – These and other cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and brussel sprouts, contain compounds that neutralize many toxins. They also contain glucosinolates, which increase the enzyme production of the liver, aiding in the flushing of carcinogens and toxins.
Carrots – Like beets, carrots are rich in antioxidants like beta carotene that mop up many toxins and prevent damage to liver cells.
Citrus (Grapefruit, Lime, Lemon) – These are rich sources of vitamin C, which helps the body turn toxins into substances that can be dissolved in water for easy removal. They also stimulate bile production to flush more toxins and excess fat from the system.
Leafy Greens – Greens are packed with a host of nutrients and antioxidants. Chlorophyll lessens the toxic load on the liver by counteracting the toxins during digestion. The more bitter greens, like dandelion, mustard, endive, rocket, and kale, also increase the production of bile.
Olive Oil – Cold-pressed organic oils, like olive oil, coconut oil, or hempseed oil, can help remove toxins that dissolve in fat instead of water, but these should be used in moderation as they are high in calories and make the liver work to use them.
Turmeric – This spice found in curry stimulates enzymes in the liver that remove toxins. It lowers cholesterol levels and is also a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes carcinogens and other toxins.
Walnuts – Another food rich in healthy fats, like the avocado, walnuts help the liver flush fat soluble toxins. They are also a good source of arginine, which the liver uses to remove ammonia, and glutathione, which also assists the liver remove many toxins.
Whole Grains – Whole grains are rich in B vitamins which improve liver function and fat metabolism. Choose healthy whole grains, soaked, sprouted, or fermented to get the most out of them, like groats and brown rice. White flour, pasta, rice, and potatoes shouldn’t be eaten when you are cleansing. They are processed and high in sugars without the natural aid of fiber to slow absorption and protect the liver.
Water – Good, clean water is essential to all body functions. Water is especially important in the removal of wastes from the body. Water assists the kidneys in removing all toxins that the liver has broken down and packaged for them. It’s always a good idea to support the other organs that detoxify the body, like the kidneys and the skin, with clean water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh juices. Avoid processed juices and sodas.