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How To Look After Your Liver All Year

January is traditionally seen as the month to “detox” and undo all the indulgence of the festive season. However, the truth is that our bodies are continually detoxifying – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Quick fixes, restrictive diets and “cleanses” often have little scientific evidence to support them and can leave you feeling tired, hungry and prone to falling off the proverbial wagon when temptation strikes.

Your body is constantly exposed to substances which require effective elimination such as pollutants, pesticides, synthetic chemicals, processed foods, alcohol and heavy metals. Therefore it is important to focus on sustainable daily habits which can support your body’s ability to perform this vital process throughout the year, not just in the short term. Central to this is helping your liver – the body’s inbuilt detox system – function at its best.

Rather than take an “all or nothing” approach this year, try incorporating some (or all!) of the practices below into your daily life to support the health of your liver all year round.

 

  • Drink 1.5 to 2 litres of filtered or bottled water a day – adequate hydration is vital for flushing toxins and unwanted metabolic by products through your system.
  • Start the day with a mug of hot water and some fresh lemon or ginger. This is a great way to gently wake up your body’s detoxification system.
  • Stock up on liver-friendly herbs and spices such as parsley, dill, rosemary, mint, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, milk thistle and turmeric.
  • Aim for at least five portions of vegetables per day (ideally ten!), with a maximum of two portions of fruit on top of this. Dark green leafy veggies such as spinach, kale, chard and watercress are great for the health of your liver.
  • Increase your intake of phytochemicals such as dark coloured berries (blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), green tea, onions, garlic, beetroot and any other brightly coloured vegetable. These foods act as antioxidants which help to disable free radicals produced during the first phase of detoxification.
  • Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower are important foods for the second phase of detoxification, helping to support your liver with the removal of toxicants from the body.
  • Ensure quality protein with each meal. Protein is needed daily for the liver to carry out its detoxification processes, and it is also essential for healthy metabolism. Good quality protein includes organic poultry, game, red meat (2-3 times per week), fish, (especially oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines), organic, free-range eggs, pulses and quinoa.
  • Flaxseeds (linseeds) are a wonderful source of insoluble fibre, helping to bulk up the stool and prevent constipation. Add to smoothies, salads or porridge.
  • Where possible, choose organic foods to minimise your exposure to pesticides, chemicals, antibiotics and synthetic hormones. Dairy, meat and eggs are the most important foods to buy organic, followed by apples, spinach, strawberries, nectarines, peaches, peppers, potatoes, celery, cherries, tomatoes, pears and grapes.
  • Stick to 1-2 cups of coffee per day (without sugar or sweeteners). When it comes to coffee quality is preferable to quantity, so choose organic where possible and really savour the taste.
  • Avoid all processed and prepared foods such as frozen and ready meals. These foods are packed with preservatives and many other additives that put an additional strain on your liver.
  • It’s no secret that alcohol can impact your liver (and your body) negatively, however if you do choose to drink remember the quality not quantity rule and make sure you drink plenty of water alongside your favourite tipple.
  • Avoid high temperature cooking methods where possible (e.g. frying, baking or barbecuing) and aim to steam, poach or boil your foods. This helps to minimise toxic products created during cooking at high heat.
  • Exercise stimulates both blood flow and the lymphatic system which helps with the elimination of toxins from the body. Saunas, massage and dry skin brushing are also great for stimulating your lymphatic system and supporting your detoxification pathways.
  • Consider switching to natural skincare and household products to reduce your exposure to synthetic chemicals. These are easily absorbed through the skin or respiratory system and are a further burden to the liver.

 

Signs that you might be in need of further liver support include headaches, night sweats, fatigue and sluggishness, skin eruptions (acne), low mood and irritability, brain fog, sensitivity to perfumes or chemicals and food allergies. If you would like further help with supporting the health of your liver please contact our team at The Nutrition Coach.

 

Author: Katie Edwards

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