Let’s Talk Liver Detoxification
What Role does the Liver Play in Detoxification?
Our liver is an amazing organ, it’s the workhorse of our body.
The liver processes everything that we put in our mouth such as food, medications, alcohol, caffeine, additives and damaged fats. It also deals with what we pick up from the environment such as cigarette smoke, pollution, pesticides, heavy metals, chemicals and more.
When your liver isn’t working at its best these toxins don’t get processed efficiently and remain in the body. Your immune system will see them as foreign invaders, which can lead to inflammation. Other factors that can contribute to inflammation are poor diet, food sensitivities, chronic stress, insufficient exercise, not enough sleep, low grade infections and gut issues, to name the more common culprits.
When we have an infection or an allergy and the problem has been addressed, the inflammation will go away. The problem occurs when inflammation doesn’t resolve and is usually due to toxins and some of the other liver stressors mentioned above.
When toxins are circulating in our system and our liver is struggling to keep up, our body’s defence strategy is to store these nasties in our fat cells to be sorted out later. This is how toxin overload adds to our weight gain. Not only do we put on weight because of poor eating habits and lifestyle choices but also because of toxin overload. Only when the liver is no longer under stress, can toxins be released from fat cells to be processed and eliminated safely from the body.
It stands to reason that when we become healthier, sustainable weight loss will occur naturally, without unpleasant side effects. Dramatic weight loss without supporting your detoxification pathways can be detrimental to your health and will likely be short lived.
Detoxification is part of your daily routine. It is happening all the time. Your body is generally efficient at breaking down and removing harmful toxins and other substances when you are fit and healthy. There may be times though, when you haven’t made the best lifestyle choices, have been under a great deal of stress, been unwell or not sleeping well. It is during periods like this that you may need to support your body’s natural process of detoxification.
One of the most important factors to consider before doing a ‘detox cleanse’, is whether you are passing a bowel motion every day. If you aren’t going to the toilet once or twice a day during a ‘detox’ cleanse, you could feel awful. Your body won’t be able to eliminate the toxins efficiently if your system isn’t working properly. Going to the toilet ideally two to three times a day will facilitate the elimination of this waste.
How can you help your body deal with toxins?
One way to do this is to decrease your toxic exposure. You can do this by reducing your alcohol and caffeine intake, you may want to consider becoming a non-smoker. Reading food labels is super helpful to avoid nasties such as artificial colours, flavours and preservatives. You can also eat whole foods (avoid packet foods, which are packed with sugar, salt, preservatives etc.) and organic where possible. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) puts out a guide (the dirty dozen) that recommends which foods are most important to buy organic. They always recommend chicken and meat to be organic. Consider using environmentally friendly cleaning and skin products. Making small changes over time can have a huge impact on your health in the long term.
How can you love your liver?
Avoid those highly processed foods and opt for real, wholesome cooked meals. Convenience comes at a price. High fructose corn syrup found in soft drinks and baked goods can result in an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). One in ten children have NAFLD. That’s a scary statistic. It may be time to consider cutting down on your sugar intake.
Exercise is essential because it helps to burns excess glucose stores and regulates insulin production, which takes the pressure off your liver.
When it comes to alcohol, cigarettes and caffeine. The question to ask, is what are you getting from these and is it worth it? In the past, these were a big part of my life. I now no longer consider them as my friends and only occasionally have a glass of bubbles or two.
For me, it’s not about detoxing or cleansing the liver, it’s about supporting what your liver does for you naturally and protecting it from the liver loaders.
Making a conscious decision to eat well will go a long way. Choose organic where possible and eat foods that support your liver such as almonds, berries, beets, broccoli sprout, dandelion root, asparagus, spinach, avocado, green tea, leafy greens, salmon and lentils. Drink sufficient water and take a break from too much alcohol and caffeine. Make take to relax and sleep. Get pooping every day. If you do decide to do a cleanse, get professional advice.