In my practice, I talk to my clients quite a lot about the liver. Pretty much all of our problems ends and begins with the liver. It’s no surprise, as this organ performs over 300 metabolic processes to keep us alive each day! The word “liver” comes from the ancient English word for “life”, and it’s no wonder because the liver seems to be the key to life. It is even able to regenerate itself given the right nutrients and circumstances! But did you know it can take up to 2 years to fully rebuild your liver? By sticking to the right diet and detoxification protocols, you will provide your liver the best possible circumstances in which to regenerate and renew. And we all know the affects that stress, exogenous hormone use, poor diets, and nutrient depletion do for our livers (if you don’t, I’ll bring you up to speed in future posts!).
This article is for you to look back at when you need a reason to continue eating healthy, even if you’re not seeing the health results you hope for. It’s for when you are wondering “why am I bothering?” So how does the Nutritional Balancing diet I customly design through NW Holistic Nutrition address the concerns of your liver? Not only is your targeted supplement plan providing you with vital nutrients to rebuild the liver and support its detoxification processes, but the foods we recommend most (lightly cooked veggies!) contain numerous compounds that nourish the liver.
According to Dr. Ann-Louise Gittleman, “One of your liver’s most important functions, and the one most crucial to your weight loss, is breaking down everything that enters your body, from the healthiest bite of organic food to the poisonous pesticides that linger on your salad….it is your liver’s job to distinguish between the nutrients you need to absorb and the toxins that must be filtered out of your bloodstream.” She goes on to mention that any kind of medication produces extra stress on the liver.
What are some signs of liver stress?
*elevated liver enzymes
*depression, particularly unassociated with life events
*tendency to wake up between 1 am and 3 am
*loss of appetite
*pain under the right shoulder blade
*excessive, unexplained, or sudden bursts of anger, irritability, or rage
*hemorrhoids or varicose veins
*acne, blemishes, or itchy rashes
The list goes on, but that is a short list of the various signs of liver stress. If you have been on a what you consider a healthy diet for a while and still continue to experience these symptoms, please consider how closely you are following the recommended diet (including eating organic as much as possible)?, taking prescription drugs?, consuming caffeine and/or alcohol? Taking measures to reduce stress (including environmental toxins such as cosmetics, etc.)? Those are the first things to self-assess.
It’s also important to keep in mind that it can take a long time for full liver regeneration to occur, and that being patient with yourself and loving to your liver is very important!
Thankfully, diet is one of the things we usually can control the easiest. The first thing to do is to get the junk out! Throw away the indiscretions and realize that they are hindering your body’s ability to detoxify. It’s not that I want to deprive you of your coffee or your banana, it’s that these things inhibit the body’s ability to detoxify. Other detox “detractors” include:
- excess fat such as hydrogenated oils, margerines, etc.
- sugar and all of its relatives including honey, maple syrup, agave nectar, fructose, dextrose, etc.
- artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, sucralose, and sugar alcohols
- refined carbohydrates including white rice and products made with white flour
- soy protein isolates
- alcohol, OTC drugs, caffeine, and chocolate
- mold as found on ripe tropical fruits such as mangos, bananas, and melons.
All of the above foods either lower enzyme activity during phase 1 and phase 2 detox (thus interrupting the liver’s ability to transform toxins into nontoxic metabolites) or they contribute to decreased absorption of the nutrients your liver needs in order to do its job.
So what are the best foods for loving your liver?
Group 1: The Crucifers: Strive to eat at least one large cooked serving of these foods each day:
Cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or broccoli sprouts
Group 2: Leafy Greens: Strive to eat at least one large cooked serving of these very nutritious foods per day:
Kale, watercress, chard, beet greens, collards, escarole, dandelion, or mustard greens
Group 3: Sulfur-Rich Foods: Strive for at least one serving of each per day:
garlic (at least 1 clove), onions (1/2 cup cooked), eggs (2 per day), daikon radish (1/4 cup sliced)
Group 4: The Liver Healers: Strive to include at least 1 serving of these foods per day:
Artichoke (1 small or 4 hearts, cooked), asparagus (1/2 cup cooked), beets (1/2 cup cooked), celery (2 medium stalks), dandelion root tea (1-2 cups), a good-quality whey (I can only recommend one commercial brand, and that is the Fat Flush whey because it is 100% grass-fed and low-temperature dried), and Lewis Labs nutritional yeast powder (1-2 teaspoons).
Group 5: Foods Super-Rich In Nutrients: Strive to include it at least every second day:
Chia seeds (15-20 g per day). Now, chia seeds have a great deal of benefits and is easy to include in your diet, why everyone should try to do so, spinach (a bowl a day), wheatgrass (1 ounce every second day)
Slowfoodnation writes about chia seeds and has a review of this aztec superfood. Other fabulous foods for the liver include flesh protein from sardines (skin and bones and all are the absolute best, and canned is fine), grass-fed beef, lamb, vension, chicken, or turkey, and organic, raw, grass-fed dairy.
Keeping a food journal to track which liver-loving foods you are eating can be very helpful as well. Your weekly shopping list can even be broken up into the groups of foods mentioned above!If you would like some help in creating a personalized meal plans that include the therapeutic, liver-healing foods listed above that are also kid-friendly, I offer personalized meal planning services that fit your life! Please inquire by writing to me at carriethienes [at] nwholisticnutrition [dot] com.
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! So if you are feeling a bit “sluggish”, it might be a sign that your liver needs a little more attention and intention! Besides, what could be more organic and thrifty than taking care of the most important organ in your body? I see it every day in my practice: healthy livers, healthy bodies!