To detox or not to detox, that is the question. As Wellness coach Tamra Mercieca explains, our liver is our body’s natural cleanser.
Detox fads come in and go out, but at the end of the day, our liver’s main function is to naturally detox the body. It is our internal cleaner, which given the right support, has the ability to keep the body clear of the free radicals which cause illness and disease.
The liver is our second largest organ and therefore one of the most important. If the body was an automobile, the liver would be considered its engine. It does hundreds of things to make sure it runs smoothly, playing a vital role in regulating fat, balancing our hormones, digestion and circulation.
Medical herbalist Dominique Finney says the liver’s main job is to get rid of foreign substances. “Anything that enters the blood stream is filtered through the liver to ensure that quality nutrients go to the organs.” It is like a sharp-eyed bouncer guarding the red velvet rope in front of an exclusive nightclub called Your Body.
Going out on a bender may be fun at the time, but it will make your liver have to work double as hard. All the alcohol, processed foods and toxic chemical residue we’re exposed to, get caught in the liver. Too much, and our liver starts to resemble a dirty wet sponge, that needs to be wrung out.
Finney says when the liver becomes overworked or too congested it will not filter blood optimally. “It can become blocked, fatty or even bloated. The liver will then contribute to high cholesterol and lowered synthesis of nutrients and new cells, compromising your health.”
Over two-thousand Australians dying from liver diseases each year, despite it being preventable. So watch out for the signs: headaches, fatigue, depression, poor concentration, mood swings, allergies, rashes, red itchy eyes, food sensitivities, sore and stiff sides or even a bitter taste in the mouth.
To detox or not to detox:
Dietitian Emilie Isles doesn’t encourage detox plans because the liver is continuously working to detoxify the body. “You’re much better off improving everyday eating habits to boost liver function instead of paying for expensive, gimmicky plans or following highly restrictive diets.”
To ensure a natural detox, Isles recommends keeping your diet relatively low in fat, consuming five serves of vegetables and two serves of fruit per day and keeping alcohol to a minimum. “We need to get back in touch with real food solutions and ensure we understand what nutrients we need,” Isles says.
Mental liver cleanse:
The liver is the seat of our emotions according to ancient wisdom, Chinese medicine, and even cutting edge medical systems. Authors like Louise Hay (Heal Your Body) point to our ability to heal our body through our thoughts. Thanks to modern science we now know what thoughts are behind which physical ailments.
Acupuncturist Adam Davidson says particular organs are directly related to certain emotions. “When we become unbalanced, the liver can lead to anger and frustration.” Anger triggers the stress response, releasing specific hormones, which can weaken the liver and immune system.
Give the liver a helping hand:
While the key to a healthy liver is maintaining harmony and balance, Davison says there are some foods and supplements that will help the liver along. “Ginger, most dark green leafy vegetables, beetroot and mint will all help the free flow of our qi (or energy).
Give these a try:
Dandelion tea: Dandelion has been used for centuries by herbalists as a general detox, cleansing the liver while boosting kidney function. It works as a blood purifier and antioxidant.
Milk Thistle: is one of the best known herbs for supporting the liver and treating liver disease. It contains an antioxidant that acts as a toxin blocker while contributing to the reversal of fatty liver.
Lemons: are the number one fruit for cleansing your entire body. They cleanse not only the liver, but also the gallbladder, kidneys, digestive tract and lungs.
Beetroot juice: contains a chemical called betaine that stimulates the liver cells and protects the liver and bile ducts.
Carrots: are high in beta carotene and are the premium liver cleansing food. They help regulate blood sugar levels, while reducing inflammation in the whole body and are a good energy food to increase stamina.
Garlic: helps strengthen and cleanse the blood, while giving the liver and kidneys a good spring clean that will increase your energy.
Get plenty of sleep, have infrared saunas, indulge in lymphatic massages, but most importantly, drink copious amounts of filtered water. Water is vital for the elimination process, keeping the body clean and detoxified. It literally flushes out all the toxins your body stores from any bad foods you eat.