Your liver is the largest organ in your body weighing approximately 1.5kg and it performs around 200 vital functions in the body. It is important therefore to look after your liver if you want to maintain optimal health (not just in January when we have maybe overindulged?!) but actually throughout the year.
Your liver processes everything that enters your bloodstream from food, nutrients, toxins, alcohol, medication and xenoestrogens (more on these below). It functions rather like a pool filter functions in a pool, detoxifying our bodies from harmful chemicals found in our food and environment, removing excess hormones including oestrogen, testosterone and cholesterol and reducing our toxic load so that we can enjoy vitality and health.
Why is liver function vital to good health?
If our liver becomes sluggish due to an excessive intake of toxins and not enough of the vitamins and minerals to function effectively this increases our toxic load. The higher our toxic load the higher our health risks such as allergic, auto-immune (e.g. psoriasis, hashimoto’s, rheumatoid arthritis) and neurological disorders as well as hormonal imbalances which can lead to a whole host of symptoms including low energy, PMS and menopausal symptoms and gynaecomastia (man boobs).
The good news is that your liver is the only organ that can regenerate itself given the right support and that if we eat the appropriate foods to support its’ detoxification pathways we can reduce our toxic load and optimise our health.
So which foods can help detox the liver?
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower
- Anti-oxidant rich foods- wide variety of colourful vegetables and fruit
- Bitter foods such as rocket, endive, watercress and endive
- Sulfur rich foods such as eggs, onions and garlic
- Fresh herbs including coriander and parsley or spices including turmeric and ginger
- Green tea
What are some of the lifestyle steps I can take to support my liver?
- Reduce your alcohol intake
- Limit your caffeine (enjoy 1 maybe 2 but no more really good coffees daily)
- Eat organically where possible (or avoid “Dirty Fifteen”)
- Reduce your exposure to Xenoestogens : these are synthetic chemicals that mimic oestrogen and are found in plastics and lots of other everyday products especially skincare and beauty products). You can eat all the kale in the world but cancelling out the benefits with your skin care products!
This article is a snapshot of what your liver does and how you can best support it through foods and lifestyle but if you want to know more come along to our Mind, Body, Gut Workshop at CoActive on Thursday 24th January at 7.30pm where I will be discussing “Food your Liver Loves” and about the integral role your liver plays in your health.