We’ve officially said goodbye to the festive season, so now it’s time to give the liver, the body’s detoxifier, a little love. We explore the role the liver plays in our health and wellbeing, some indicators of a congested liver, as well as a how-to guide to cleanse the liver.
Role the liver plays in health
The liver is the largest internal organ in the body, weighing around 1.5kg in an average adult. It’s responsible for up to 500 bodily functions and processes almost everything we ingest, breathe or absorb through our skin.
Playing a variety of essential roles for us, the liver:
• Regulates the production, storage, and release of sugar, fat and cholesterol.
• Produces enzymes, hormones, blood proteins, clotting and immune factors.
• Removes toxins from the body.
• Filters infectious organisms, alcohol, medications, drugs, poisons and heavy metals from the blood.
• Processes food nutrients and helping to regulate body metabolism.
• Produces bile that is necessary to break down dietary fats.
• Converts carbohydrates to glucose.
• Stores iron, copper and certain vitamins (A,D, E, K and B12).
One of the liver’s principal functions is to detoxify the body. It’s our internal cleanser. If we indulge in alcohol, junk food, drugs and smoking, the liver becomes congested. It can even become blocked, fatty or bloated resulting in high cholesterol, poor synthesis of nutrients and the inability to clean up the blood. Chemicals and toxins then accumulate which in turn affects our health and mental state.
A congested liver can produce the following symptoms:
• Mood swings/ depression
• Poor concentration
• Trouble digesting fatty foods
• Overheating of the body and excessive perspiration
• Unexplained weight gain and inability to lose weight, even with calorie restriction
• Acne, rosacea or itchy, blotchy skin
• Feeling overwhelmed and overly sensitive
How to cleanse your liver
The key to a health liver is maintaining harmony and balance in your life. One of the easiest ways to help detoxify your liver is to drink two litres of water a day. This ensures your liver is always well hydrated, allowing cells to regenerate more easily and filter out the majority of toxic substances.
Do a detox. There are lots of options but they can be challenging, depending on how seriously you approach the opportunity. The good news is that a thorough detox will really deliver rewards and you can expect to feel healthier, happier and more energetic.
Here are some detox options:
1. A two to eight week program where you eliminate certain things from your diet such as refined, processed and packaged foods, red meats and shellfish, peanuts and roasted nuts, canned, frozen or dehydrated vegetables, canned and dried fruits, dairy products, some grains, some oils, alcohol, tea, coffee and sweet drinks.
2. Totally eliminate meat of all forms.
3. Undertake a juice or water fast but make sure you have professional support. There is more information specific to this option here.
Ongoing liver care
Keep your diet relatively low in fat, consuming five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day, include plenty of pure water and exclude alcohol and caffeine.
Improve eating habits to boost liver function. Food should be as natural, whole, pure and as fresh as possible.
Include foods that support the liver such as beetroot, carrots, dark green leafy vegetables, garlic and ginger.
Hopewood recommends you consume 60% of your food raw.
Consuming lemon juice frequently can help with the regeneration and production of bile. Bile can assist with the removal of toxic substances from the body and break down dietary fats. Try your best to include at least a half glass of lemon juice with warm water added every day. Lemons also cleanse gallbladder, kidneys, digestive tract and lungs.
Drink herb teas such as dandelion, mint, milk thistle and chicory root which all support your liver.
Avoid unnecessary chemical exposure, check your cleaning products and eliminate any products that will place a burden on your internal and external environment.
Review your personal care products. Many ingredients can be absorbed through the skin so it’s important to assess the products you are using and opt for more natural ones. Avoid products with aluminium, mineral oils, parabens, propylene glycol and sodium lauryl sulphate.
Make 2020 the year your liver be healthier than ever!