This week I want to talk about giving your liver the love it needs. As you may have heard me mention before, our liver is our hardest working organ and I believe it needs all the support we can give it in our increasingly toxic world. The healthier our liver is, the healthier the rest of our body is!
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is on the increase, and it is now estimated that 1 in 3 people in the UK have the early stages of NAFLD which can lead to serious damage to the liver and to the rest of your health including diabetes, high blood pressure and kidney disease.
So just to recap what this amazing organ does for us!
- Detoxifies our blood of toxins, alcohol, medical drugs.
- Produces the bile that we need to digest fat and fat-soluble vitamins.
- Breaks down hormones such as excess oestrogen and aldosterone.
- Stores nutrients such as vitamins A, D, K, B6 and B12, iron, copper, folate.
- Maintains our blood sugar levels by converting the stored form of carbohydrates, glycogen, into glucose when our blood sugar is low, and converting glucose into glycogen and triglycerides when our blood sugar is high.
- Produces cholesterol for use in the manufacture of steroid hormones such as cortisol and sex hormones.
- Converts vitamin D into its active form.
- All cholesterol is transported to the liver to be disposed of.
Your health depends on your liver’s ability to detoxify and eliminate toxins which would otherwise accumulate in your body, preventing your cells from functioning properly. When this happens you might start to experience the following:
• Concentration, memory and learning issues
• Suffering from chronic headaches
• Feeling depressed or anxious
• Feeling irritable
• Feeling fatigued due to poor mitochondrial function
• Suffering from insomnia
• Recurrent or chronic infections, including candida
• Feeling constipated
• Skin issues such as acne, psoriasis, eczema
• Yellow tint of your cornea (the transparent part of your eye that covers the pupil and the coloured area)
• Yellow-coated tongue
• Bad breath or bitter taste in your mouth
• Being overweight
• Fatty stools
• Signs of oestrogen dominance: PMS, bloating, swelling or tender breasts, irregular menstrual periods, mood swings, headaches, anxiety or panic attacks, weight gain, hair loss, cold hands or feet, trouble sleeping, sleepiness or fatigue, memory problems, fibrocystic breasts, thyroid dysfunction, foggy thinking and memory loss.
Detoxes should be carried out properly, if you detox your liver but you don’t support the elimination of toxins out of your bowels, you can end up with circulating toxins which cause the undesired side effects of detox such as tiredness, headaches and nausea.
So here are 12 foods that you can eat to help support your liver to do its work, meaning that the rest of your body will naturally feel healthier!
- Shiitake mushrooms have anti-inflammatory properties helping to protect the liver from damage.
- Artichokes boost the liver’s detoxification pathways, protect against oxidative stress and protect the liver from damage.
- Beetroots help to activate liver enzymes and increase production of bile, supporting the liver’s detoxification function.
- Carrots are high in antioxidants which help protect the liver from damage.
- Dark leaf greens (spinach, kale, chard, rocket, watercress) are high in antioxidants helping to reduce oxidative damage.
- Cruciferous vegetables contain indole, a compound which supports liver function and helps to reduce the risk of NAFLD.
- Garlic is a strong antioxidant helping to protect against toxic damage. Make sure you crush your garlic and let it sit for 10 minutes and add towards the end of cooking so that the air activates the allicin and the heat doesn’t damage it!
- Wheatgrass and spirulina both act as antioxidants and help to remove toxins and heavy metals from the body, reducing the burden on the liver (see below!)
- Lemon peel helps to neutralise toxins in the liver so that they can be properly eliminated from the body.
- Grapefruit is high in antioxidants which help to reduce inflammation and protect against oxidative damage. It also helps to protect against the damaging effects of alcohol.
- Blueberries help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.
- Nuts contain vitamin E, an antioxidant which helps to protect the liver against oxidative damage.
Coffee (yay!) in moderation! Always make sure your coffee is organic, as it is so intensively farmed with the recent rise in demand that it is subject to being sprayed with harmful chemicals (which really isn’t good for your liver).
Green matcha tea is also wonderful for liver health, helping to boost levels of liver enzymes, protect against oxidative stress and prevent fat deposits in the liver.
For those of you who don’t enjoy the taste of spirulina (like me!) Terra Nova have a spirulina and chlorella capsule which I love! I can never get my head around people who add spirulina to smoothies and energy balls – why ruin the taste of something nice..?!! (That’s just my opinion anyway!)
So I hope you will be inspired to try these yummy foods and give your liver some TLC!
Miso soup for the liver
You can easily make a miso broth:
Chop enough carrots, broccoli and shiitake mushrooms for the number of people you are cooking for.
Chop some garlic and allow to sit for 10 minutes.
Bring some filtered water to the boil (around 250ml per person) then simmer.
Add the vegetables and garlic and allow to cook through gently (around 5 to 10 minutes).
Add 1 tbsp of miso paste per person (towards the end of cooking so that the healthy bacteria survive the cooking process!).
You can also add some chopped green leaves if you like.
Serve once cooked through, so simple yet delicious! You could add some shredded chicken, tempeh or salmon too!