Published on March 1st, 2013 | by Brenda Cobb0
Be Kind to Your Liver
Many health problems begin and end with the liver. The word “liver” is derived from the Old English word for “life,” and the liver is truly a life-sustaining organ. Maintaining a healthy liver is vital, because it performs more than 300 processes daily to keep us alive and well. A liver that is unhealthy or deteriorated can actually regenerate itself with the correct environment and nutrients, but the process can take up to two years.
Stress, poor diet, nutrient depletion and many medications negatively affect the liver. One of its most important functions is breaking down everything that enters your body, from the healthiest organic food to poisonous pesticides. It is the liver’s job to distinguish between the nutrients you need to absorb and the toxins that must be filtered out of your bloodstream.
Some of the signs of a stressed liver are elevated liver enzymes; depression, particularly if unassociated with life events; a tendency to wake up between 1 and 3 a.m.; loss of appetite; pain under the right shoulder blade; excessive, unexplained or sudden bursts of anger, irritability or rage; hemorrhoids or varicose veins; and acne, blemishes or itchy rashes.
The first thing to do on the road to supporting a healthy liver is to get the junk out and allow the liver to detoxify the body. Things to eliminate from any diet include excess fat such as hydrogenated oils and margarines; sugar and all of its relatives, including honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, fructose and dextrose; artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose; and sugar alcohols.
Other things to avoid are refined carbohydrates, including white rice and products made with white flour; gluten; soy protein; alcohol; over- the-counter drugs; caffeine; and chocolate. Also, watch out for the mold found on ripe tropical fruits such as mangos, bananas, and melons.
All of these foods either lower enzyme activity; interrupting the liver’s ability to transform toxins into nontoxic metabolites or contribute to decreased absorption of the nutrients the liver needs in order to do its job.
The best liver-healthy foods include high cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli sprouts, leafy greens like kale, watercress, chard, beet greens, collards, escarole, dandelion and mustard greens. Sulfur-rich foods like garlic, onions and daikon radish are fabulous for the liver, as are artichokes, asparagus, beets and celery.
Keeping a food journal to track the liver-healthy foods we eat can be very helpful. We all have times when we stray away from motivation to keep our diets clean, particularly around holidays, when temptations abound. The good news is that your body is always ready to continue its work when you are. If you’re feeling a bit sluggish, it may be time to give your liver a little extra loving with a targeted diet to create optimal liver health.
Liver Cleanse Smoothie
1 cup broccoli
1 cup broccoli sprouts
2 cups green chard
1 clove garlic
½ cup beets
1 cup celery
¼ cup onions
½ cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup alkaline water (add more water to taste)
Combine all the ingredients in the Vita-Mix and blend until smooth and creamy.