You can help the liver do a better job by reducing the number of toxins your body is exposed to via food and the skin. This includes environmental pollutants as well as chemicals we use in our everyday lives.
When the liver is under a big workload it can’t work as effectively. This can lead to a number of poor health outcomes, including the accumulation of fatty tissue. The storage of toxins in fat cells is one way a stressed liver deals with potentially harmful substances it is having trouble processing.
Choosing foods, herbs and making lifestyle choices to help with the excretion of toxins or cleansing of the blood are ways you can help the liver do a better job.
Symptoms of a toxic system or sub-optimal liver cleansing include:
– Stomach aches after eating fatty foods, nausea or diarrhoea
– Poor digestion and bloating
– Fat gain, especially around the middle or, in women, middle and upper thighs
– High cholesterol levels
– Bad skin (acne) or ailing skin (eczema or psoriasis)
– Change to skin tone (yellowing)
– Dark circles under the eyes
– “White heads” on the skin (little fatty bubbles beneath the surface of the skin)
– Poor concentration
– Disturbed sleep (waking up before dawn)
– Swelling or inflammation, including possibly quite noticeable swelling of hands or feet (gout)
– Dark yellow urine, or light-coloured stools
– Tender liver (right hand side of the abdomen)
Other ways to improve the health of the liver and so, overall wellbeing, is to make things easier on the liver.
- Eat less saturated and trans fat
- Stop drinking alcohol
- Use fewer chemicals at home by choosing low chemical everyday items such a washing detergent, dish washing liquid, toothpaste and shampoos, as well as low-VOC paints.
- Reduce your caffeine intake
- Drink plenty of water (but not with meals)
- Eat more leafy greens
- Have a glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice before breakfast
- Choose organic foods – they have fewer chemicals
- Reduce the number of processed foods you eat
- Exercise, to help your metabolism keep moving
- Eat bitter or pungent foods with at least one meal a day
- Drink liver-friendly herbal teas or take a herbal liver tonic
- Eat foods with both soluble and insoluble fibre as these help with fat elimination (for example, oats, sweet potato, brown rice)
Popular herbal teas for liver cleansing often include dandelion or milk thistle. There are also a number of Chinese herbs to help support liver health. When combined to create a liver tonic they usually include herbs such as Schizandra, Rehmannia, Bupleurum, Baical Skullcap or Lycium. Artichoke is also good for the liver. It can be eaten steamed or taken in a herbal medicine combination. Foods that are high in enzymes can also be of value, as they help with food digestion. Fish, bean shoots and tropical fruit (such as papaya) are good examples of these.
Vanessa Blake is a freelance writer and health freak with a ridiculous general knowledge of nutrition and the body. No wonder she decided to study for a Diploma of Nutrition in 2003. She also loves yoga.