At this time of year your liver is probably still recovering from over indulgence if you ate and drank too much over the festive period! But there’s plenty you can do to support liver function and keep healthy and energised, ready to face the winter period ahead.
When your liver is healthy, so are you. It’s no coincidence that colds, coughs and flues are much more virulent at this time of year as we take less care of our diet and general health, staying indoors and eating comforting foodstuffs to ward off the winter cold. This all results in a lowered immunity and toxic build up: the perfect environment for viruses and bacteria to take hold.
So here are some simple changes you can make to help support this major bodily organ.
5 simple dietary changes to help your liver
- Instead of your usual drink of tea or coffee, start your day with a mug of hot water and slices of fresh lemon.
- Make sure you are eating plenty of fresh vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale, and pak choi are particularly beneficial. Other liver supportive vegetables include more bitter green leafy vegetables such as endive, watercress, and spring greens which help to encourage the bile flow. Also eat plenty of carrots and beetroot.
- Eat plenty of garlic and onions. They can be incorporated into most cooked dishes, or if you are feeling brave you could try them raw!
- Start juicing. Have one large glass of fresh vegetable juice each day (use plenty from the above list). You can also add apple, pineapple, carrot or orange if you prefer your juice a little sweeter. If you find it ‘too green’ then adding lemon, lime or ginger will give the juice a bit of a lift. Not only will this help to cleanse your liver but it will also provide you with a whole host of good nutrition.
- Add turmeric to your food. This spice is a natural liver cleanser and tastes good too.
Supplements to support liver health
Lecithin is one of the richest natural sources of choline and inositol, both of which are much heralded ‘cleaning’ materials for overworked liver cells. They literally encourage the transport of fatty toxins out of the liver (and eventually the body) via the gut. Choline and inositol are both lipotropic agents that play an important role in fat metabolism in the liver and the emulsification of fats in the body. Lecithin often comes as granules which can be sprinkled onto food. Choline and Inositol generally come together in capsule form.
Milk Thistle is a unique herb, often referred to as the “Liver Herb” or known as Silymarin after its main therapeutic ingredient. Extracts of Milk thistle protect liver cells and improve liver function. Milk Thistle has been the focus of over two hundred high quality scientific research trials, which highlight the fact that it has the rare healing property of being able to enhance the cellular reproductive processes in the liver, i.e. it helps to repair any damage to the liver. It also alters bile makeup, thereby potentially reducing risk of gallstones. It is typically used to treat liver cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis (liver inflammation), and gallbladder disorders. The herb can be taken as capsules, tinctures, and infusions (strong teas).