How to cleanse your liver
As we continue our BEST BODY campaign, there’s no point putting all your focus into training if your body doesn’t function properly. Which is why a big part of us helping you get your best body, is about helping you look after the inside, as well as the outside.
Now, you’ll all know that I like my wine… and I know I’m not the only working woman/mother out there who relies on a glass of vino or two at the end of a busy day or week to help me wind down and relax. However, our livers are very important organs and are responsible for expelling toxins. So if your liver doesn’t function properly, you’ll get a toxic build up and that means your body cannot and will not function properly. You’ll have bad immunity, low energy, bad skin, you won’t be able to absorb nutrients properly, your bile function is affected, causing gut issues and the big picture is irreversible liver damage caused by too many toxins for too long a period of time.
However, many people forget that alcohol is only one of many toxins. So if you don’t enjoy a tipple but are stressed, eat too much sugar, take pharmaceutical or recreational drugs, eat processed foods, have too much caffeine, artificial sweeteners and fizzy diet drinks, you’re liver will be in serious trouble and you’ll struggle to get the body results you want.
I enjoy my wine, but the fact is that I look after my liver (and the rest of my body inside and out) and I eat a very low toxin diet. I’m also incredibly hydrated and exercise regularly, especially cardio-wise which also helps to expel toxins. I have low stress levels (finally!) and a very low sugar diet and my eating is PACKED FULL of foods that cleanse the liver. Someone asked me the other day how I can drink a bottle of wine and be fine at 5:30am the next day and I’d say that 1) I tend to get 8-9 hours sleep a night and sleep helps your body function better and 2) My body is very good at getting rid of toxins because I look after myself so well.
Here are my top liver cleansing foods and how they work, along with some scientific back up from two good websites*.
I eat roasted garlic all the time as a side vegetable and add fresh chopped garlic to sauces/salad dressings.
Garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that activate the liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins from the body. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from toxic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.
Not something I eat all the time, as I eat more lemons, but I do sometimes have half a grapefruit 30 mins after a juice and before breakfast. It’s also great in a vegetable juice.
Grapefruit is rich in natural vitamin C and antioxidants, two powerful liver cleansers. Like garlic, grapefruit contains compounds that boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes. It also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to burn fat rather than store it.
Leafy green vegetables such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory also contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can bear heavily on the liver. Leafy greens also eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body, and spur the creation and flow of cleansing bile.
I have at least one a day, usually at breakfast and/or chopped on a salad – it’s my perfect 4pm snack too.
Rich in glutathione-producing compounds, avocados actively promote liver health by protecting it against toxic overload, and boosting its cleansing power.
I eat these as a snack, chopped into wheat-free cereal and in salads.
Walnuts, which contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas.
I have a shot of this each day (1/2 tsp of powder in warm water and downed in one – doesn’t tast great but SO good for you!) and I often cook fish in turmeric and ginger.
Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.
I have two in my juice every morning, sip on hot water and lemon throughout the day and drizzle over olive oil on all three meals I have each day
The sourness of lemons triggers nerve and hormone activation to the liver and digestive system. Very helpful for those who suffer from sluggish bowels.
I don’t eat these as much as I could do, so this will be on my list of things to eat more of – they taste great with fish/chicken and I’m going to try them in salads too.
The brassica family – cabbage, broccoli and brussels sprouts, contain glucosinolates. Glucosinolates are sulphur containing (hence the boarding school corridor smell) compounds that protect the liver from damage and improve its ability to eliminate toxins and excess hormones.
Water improves the flow of nutrients to, and waste products from, the liver. Not drinking enough may increase the risk of gallstones, which is when bile becomes too concentrated in the gall bladder.
Still not convinced? Your body stores excess water, fat and self made cholesterol around toxins in your body to keep them away from your vital organs, so toxins actually make you fat. A good reason to a) look after your liver which expels toxins and b) reduce the amount of toxins (not just alcohol) that you consume.
So, as you start on your summer body campaign (or whatever body focus mission you may be on)… remember that you won’t get the results outside when you aren’t looking after your insides.