With the countdown to Christmas and party season on its way, don’t wait for January to start the detox. This year, give your liver a boost and a little love before the festivities begin.
The heaviest and one of the hardest working organs in the body, the liver, performs vital functions including dietary protein, fat and carbohydrate metabolism, nutrient storage, glycogen storage and manufacture of bile. Yet the liver’s best known function is probably detoxification, which is not just important for processing the booze. It also de-activates used hormones, neurotransmitters and processes medicines and everyday environmental toxins such as traffic pollution and cleaning chemicals.
Though you may drink sensibly throughout the year, avoiding alcohol in December can be a tough feat. Add to this the rich, fatty foods on our festive laden tables and it should come as no surprise that our liver struggles to keep up!
To ease the burden, here are some simple strategies to incorporate into your daily routine:
Start the day with warm water and lemon. (Just remember to swish out with plain water after to protect teeth enamel) Yes, you’ve heard it before but do give it a go over the next few weeks, especially if you reach for the caffeine first thing! This helps to stimulate digestive juices and hydrates so much better than coffee. The vitamin C from the lemon juice provides antioxidants and citric acid to help flush out waste accumulated overnight.
Include some protein with every meal, especially breakfast, to help keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day. Good quality protein such as eggs, nuts and seeds, lean meat, fish, chicken are rich in sulphur amino acids for liver phase 2 detoxification pathways and for glutathione synthesis (alcohol depletes glutathione stores in the liver). They also provide B vitamins which are essential cofactors in the detoxification process.
Ensure you provide your body with the right nutrients by eating lots of bright and deeply coloured veg – dark leafy greens, carrots, beetroot, tomatoes, turnip, squash, sweet potato are all high in flavonoids and beta-carotene to support the liver’s detoxification process.
Have at least one portion cruciferous veg on a daily basis: broccoli, cauliflower, rocket, watercress, cabbage and Christmas Brussel’s sprouts are all rich in isothiocyanates which support the liver’s detoxification pathways.
Other key foods to support liver health are:
Artichoke which contains cynarin to promote the flow of bile (essential for digesting fats.
Garlic contains allicin and selenium to aid detoxification. To get the most benefit chop or crush garlic to activate allicin and leave for at least 6 minutes before use.
Avocado and walnuts are both high in glutathione, a key enzyme in the detoxification process. They are also high in omega 3 fatty acids to protect and repair cell membranes.
It is important to remember to consume plenty of fibre rich foods. Wholegrains, lentils and beans are all rich in fibre to keep the bowels moving. Raw and lightly cooked vegetables are similarly excellent sources of both soluble and insoluble fibre and are quick and easy additions to your daily diet.
Make time for exercise. This doesn’t mean you must run a distance or hit the gym. Aim to walk just 3-5 miles a day - take the stairs, walk to work or even park the car far from supermarket entrance. Get out of breath, get a sweat on, and just get moving!! Sweating promotes toxin elimination through the skin, easing the load on the liver and exercise will release endorphins to help de-stress.
Try dry skin brushing using a natural bristle brush on dry skin before a bath or shower. This helps the lymph system to clear metabolic wastes and promotes elimination of toxins through the skin.
Ensure sufficient hydration by drinking at least 11/2- 2 litres of fluid daily - water, vegetable juices, soups and herbal teas. Green tea is also a good choice as it contains catechins to help activate detoxification enzymes.
By keeping in mind these suggestions, you might skip the January blues and start this New Year with a spring in your step!