This hard-working powerhouse keeps our metabolism and circulation healthy, balances our hormones, cleans our blood and keeps digestion running smoothly. No wonder it is such a strong focus of holistic medicine.
The liver transfers nutrients from food into the blood, and neutralises and eliminates toxic substances via the intestines. It works hard – especially so with today’s modern diet – sugars, excess man-made toxins in food and environment, nitrates, alcohol, caffeine, nicotine, refined oils… these are all the duty of the liver to dispose of.
So, we’ve put together our top tips for giving your liver some love.
One quick note: Toxins aren’t stored in the liver, so we aren’t pedaling ‘cleanses’ here – detoxifying involves aiding the flushing of toxins from the system to reduce stress on the liver, and consuming antioxidants, which help neutralise cell-damaging free radicals. We don’t recommend juice cleanses, water cleanses or any kind of fasting – your body (and liver!) need a host of valuable nutrients from food to do their jobs properly, and dramatically limiting food intake can do more harm than good.
The biggest helping hand you can throw at your liver is to sort your diet out. An anti-inflammatory diet, filled with fibre and antioxidants can reverse liver damage (1), and nutrients from whole, organic, plant-based foods is the best to support liver function. Keep things balanced with unrefined carbs, healthy fats, lots of veggies and keeping intake of sugar and refined grains low. That way the liver has time to do its job.
Water, water, and more water!
In the detoxification process, it is absolutely essential. It is the key component that flushes out toxins and waste from the body, and transports nutrients to where they are needed.
The kidneys depend on water for their role filtering the blood, and require a large supply of it to excrete those toxins as urine. If there is not enough water, your body will keep hold of it for other essential purposes – meaning you’re also keeping hold of those nasty toxins.
The liver, too, depends on a good water supply, and its waste system requires water to lubricate stool so that we can excrete it quickly. Water is the most important part of any detox, as even slight dehydration can compromise the detoxification process and your health can quickly deteriorate.
The Green Mo detox potion
You can find plenty of detoxing drink recipes online, but this is our favourite. You will need:Cucumber – full of citrulline, which aids detoxification of ammonia in the liver
Lime – stimulates bile production and thinning, facilitating detoxification and lipid digestion
Mint – Used for centuries to aid digestion
Blueberries – packed full of antioxidants, blueberries balance electrolyte minerals needed by the liver, such as magnesium, calcium and potassium
Take all ingredients and muddle in a glass, fill with refreshing filtered water and enjoy!
Green Tea is a magical healing tonic all by itself! It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-arteriosclerotic, antibacterial aaaaand anti-carcinogenic – in fact, inverse relationships have been shown between drinking green tea and stomach and colon cancer! (2)
A quality type, especially potent Matcha, contain catechins – powerful antioxidants which can reduce liver inflammation and reduce oxidative stress in the digestive system. Buy decaffeinated and your liver will be even happier 🙂
Supplements, herbs and spices
There are a few herbs and spices that are said to help liver function. For starters, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound helpful in restoring healthy blood pressure, improving circulationand fighting toxin buildup. Milk thistle, Holy Basil, Bupleurum and Dandelion root (yes, those weeds in your back yard!) are all said to help the liver metabolise chemicals. Milk thistle especially is a good source of silymarin, which prevents the depletion of glutathione (a chemical responsible for oxidation) in the liver, and dandelion root is a natural diuretic which helps the body quickly eliminate toxins and balance blood sugar and fluid levels
Gentle exercise is good for just about anything, and as long as you stay hydrated, that includes liver function. Exercise has been proven to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the liver (3) – even more reasons to get out of the house and into the sunshine!
There is very little scientific research either way in the effectiveness of coffee enemas (except a wealth of studies concerning singed rear ends – make sure you let them cool down!) but the anecdotal evidence for coffee enemas is overwhelming.
The Gerson Therapy relies on coffee enemas alongside a whole-food, plant-based, nutrient stuffed diet, and has had a higher success rate than other alternative and in fact most traditional cancer treatments (4).
How do they work?
According to research by the Gerson Institute (5), a coffee enema removes toxins from the liver and free radicals from the bloodstream. Caffeine travels to the liver through a vein from the rectum. The theobromine, theophyilline and caffeine in coffee dilate blood vessels and bile ducks, allowing the liver to release toxin-filled bile to the intestines for excretion.
Coffee administered rectally stimulates glutathione s-transferase, an enzyme that deactivates free radicals, by up to 600-700% – these toxins are then excreted with increased bile flow. Coffee enemas also stimulate peristalsis in the gut.
Here’s a great article on how to do it. They take some getting used to, but you will be surprised how much better you feel – coffee enemas can relieve brain fog, sluggishness and even some types of pain as toxins are stripped from the body.
Do you have any more top tips for keeping your liver healthy? Let us know in the comments below! Happy cleansing, folks!