Love Your Liver: A Spring Cleanup Initiative
The air is getting warmer and the season of hibernation and the winter blues is finally coming to an end. You want to step into spring feeling light and energized. The fact of the matter is, many of us may not be feeling 100% yet. Maybe you feel sluggish or tired, or just a little off. This could be because your liver is still feeling the effects of holiday indulgence or just general excess. In Chinese medicine, most organs are connected to an emotion, and your liver is the organ associated with anger. The state of your liver is said to determine how you feel anger. When your liver is toxic, you may feel anger more intensely and for a longer period of time, and have a difficult time letting things go. Does this sound like you? Then it may be time to give your liver an extra bit of loving this spring.
The liver is our second-largest organ (the skin is the biggest) and one of the most important. Did you know that the liver is the only organ in the body that has the ability to regenerate itself by creating new tissue? It can still function even if a significant part of the organ (up to 75 percent) is diseased or removed. It is responsible for over 500 functions in the body, playing a vital role in regulating fat and balancing our hormones, digestion and circulation. Our liver’s main function, however, is to naturally detox the body. Everything we eat, breathe in and absorb gets filtered through the liver. Indulging in alcohol or junk food may seem like fun at the time, but it will make your liver work extra hard. This is why it’s important to do periodic cleanups of this very crucial organ, to ease the stress that is placed on it every day.
Signs of a stressed liver:
• brain fog
• chronic joint or muscle pain
• digestive issues: gas, heartburn, bloating, diarrhea or constipation
• autoimmune diseases
• hormonal imbalances like PMS or menopausal symptoms
• acne or skin rashes
• anxiety or depression
• chemical sensitivities
• chronic bad breath
• weight gain
Are you experiencing any of these symptoms? Then your liver could be in need of a little spring cleaning. Don’t worry, it doesn’t have to be hard and you don’t need to do a full-fledged detox. A few simple tweaks to your diet and lifestyle can make a huge difference in the way you feel and how your body processes everyday toxins.
Lemons cleanse not only the liver, but also the gallbladder, kidneys, digestive tract and lungs. In the morning, squeeze half a lemon into warm water on an empty stomach. Water is important in detoxification; it helps our bodies remove toxins. The citric acid in lemon juice encourages the liver to produce bile, which also helps in the removal of toxins.
Cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower are high in sulfur and protect the liver from damage while improving its ability to eliminate toxins and excess hormones.
Garlic helps strengthen and cleanse the blood, while cleaning the liver and kidneys.
Beets and beetroot juice contain a chemical called betaine that stimulates the liver cells and protects the liver and bile ducts.
Turmeric has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage and help regenerate damaged liver cells. This anti-inflammatory spice also promotes the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder.
Herbs like milk thistle, dandelion root, and burdock root all promote liver detoxification. You can brew them up, either a combination or pick your favorite, and sip the tea throughout the day.
Green tea is rich in catechins, a type of antioxidant that helps eliminate liver fat accumulation and promote proper liver function. Substitute your daily coffee for a green tea and you’ll notice a great improvement in your energy level and stress response.
Love Your Liver Herbal Coffee Substitute
1 tbsp ground roasted dandelion root
1 tbsp ground milk thistle seeds
1 tbsp ground dried burdock root
2 tbsp ground roasted chicory root
1 tsp ground vanilla
6 cups of filtered water
1. In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil.
2. Add in ground herbs, cover and reduce heat to low.
3. Simmer for 20 min and then turn off heat
4. Let coffee cool to room temperature
5. Using a milk bag, strain off the herbs.
6. Store in a glass jar for up to 2 weeks.
Serve hot or cold; add coconut or almond milk, sweeten with raw honey or a couple drops of liquid stevia.
Makes 6 servings
Other ways to keep your liver healthy:
Minimize exposure to chemicals. This includes processed foods and preservatives, tap water, cosmetics, and cleaning products. Remember that the liver needs to break down every chemical entering the body. Choose organic produce whenever possible, filter your water, and buy cosmetics and cleaning products with natural ingredients. Read the labels and don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s your body and your health.
Exercise regularly. Oxygenate your blood and liver with gentle yoga, deep breathing and brisk walks. This helps with the detoxification process and keeps you young and energized.
Eat at least 25 grams of fiber per day. It’s easy when your diet consists of whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables. Fiber binds to bile and eliminates fat-soluble toxins from the body.
Get plenty of sleep. This is the time when your liver and the rest of your body heals. Increase melatonin production (our natural sleep hormone) by keeping your room dark. Eat foods rich in melatonin such as, tart cherries, raw walnuts, orange bell peppers, tomatoes and ground flaxseeds and avoid stimulants such as, caffeine, preservatives and sugar. Melatonin helps neutralize free radicals and regenerate your system.
De-stress. Stress can aggravate liver congestion. Take time to breathe deeply, relax, meditate, or go for a massage. While lying flat on your back, you can gently massage the liver/gallbladder area yourself to help improve circulation to that area.
Coffee enemas are powerful detoxifiers due to some amazing compounds within the coffee that stimulate the liver to produce Glutathione S transferase. This natural chemical binds to toxins which are then released out of the body along with the coffee. When doing an enema, make sure the coffee you use is organic enema coffee and the water is filtered or distilled.
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