That means it's time for everyone to start a 'detox', participate in 'dry January', join a gym and fill their shopping trolleys with tons of salad leaves, kale and grapes, as 2018 is the year they will finally get healthy!
Doesn't this happen every year though?...
It's true that our liver detoxifies our body on a daily basis, however due to the modern lifestyle and toxic exposures we face, our liver often requires a little extra support. This is especially true after the Christmas and New Year period due to 2 main things.... alcohol and sugar!
Symptoms of a sluggish, over-burdened liver include acne, skin rashes, itchy skin, headaches, chemical sensitivities, food intolerances, digestive issues, fatigue, high cholesterol and hormone imbalances!
I could go on...
Not only do we need micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) for the liver detoxification process, but we also need quality amino acids from protein in our diets to support phase 2 of the process.
These amino acids help 'carry' metabolised toxins out of the body- think of a bouncer kicking out the bad guys from a nightclub!
So those 'vegetable juice only' fasts may not be the best way to go. We need to make sure we are providing the body with all the substrates it needs to safely and effectively detox our bodies.
Here are my simple and easy tips to support and enhance your whole liver detoxification process, on a daily basis-
#1 Start your day with an 'internal bath'.
Keep a big glass of room temperature water by the side of your bed and drink that as soon as you wake up in the morning! This is especially beneficial for those who struggle to get enough water during the day because they forget, or if they don't get time to keep using the toilet at work (shout out to teachers, builders and police officers!).
If you have a bit of spare time in the morning, make yourself a warm drink of either lemon juice in water (1/2 fresh lemon), raw apple cider vinegar (1 tbsp) in water or a mug of herbal tea for an even better morning ritual. If you choose lemon/ACV, I'd recommend using a glass or metal straw to prevent enamel damage long term from the acidity.
Water itself is important for detoxification ( aim for 2-3 litres) but adding phyto-chemicals from lemon, ACV or herbs can provide the body with some extra nutrients, and also helps prepare the digestive system for the day.
#2 Consume high quality protein at each meal.
Wild caught oily fish, grass fed meat, free range poultry, organic eggs, beans, legumes, protein powders and nuts/seeds are all great sources of protein.
Like I explained earlier, our bodies need amino acids from protein to support phase 2 of liver detoxification, which helps to remove metabolised toxins safely from the body.
Protein is also important for blood sugar stabilisation, satiety, growth and repair. For breakfast you could have eggs, avocado and spinach. For lunch, how about a big salad with chopped chicken breast, mixed beans, olive oil dressing and pumpkin seeds? At dinner time, a serving of baked, wild salmon with steamed broccoli, red peppers and sweet potato wedges could be a great meal idea to end your protein-rich day.
Struggling to think of protein sources for a healthy breakfast other than eggs? I use collagen peptides or a 'clean' vegan protein powder in my smoothies for a delicious, easy, breakfast on the go!
#3 Eat more cruciferous veggies!
Vegetables in the Brassica family include broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, radish, turnip and cabbage.
These 'super veggies' produce a phytochemical known as sulforaphane once they are chopped or chewed . Our livers LOVE sulforaphane, as it is an important nutrient for detoxification, especially for the clearance of 'used' hormones, heavy metals and pesticides. It has also been shown to have cancer fighting properties!
Cruciferous vegetables are also high in both soluble and insoluble fibre, keeping our colons healthy. The soluble fibre feeds our gut bacteria, while the insoluble fibre acts as a sweeping brush, cleansing our intestines and providing 'bulk' for our stools.
If our guts aren't functioning optimally, or if we are constipated, our liver wont be able to eliminate the toxins as waste efficiently and this waste and 'used' hormones can get reabsorbed, in a process known as auto-intoxication. Eww...
#4 Spice up your life!
Another simple tip is to add more flavours to your food! (And no, I don't mean tomato ketchup or an OXO cube. ) I'm talking about basil, thyme, oregano, dill, rosemary, ginger, cumin, turmeric, coriander, black pepper, paprika, chilli etc, but especially.... garlic!
Garlic is rich in sulphur, selenium and allicin all of which have liver-loving properties! The bitterness and aromatic flavours of these also help the digestive process, mainly through triggering the release of digestive enzymes and bile from the liver and gallbladder.
You may think that the jars of herbs and spices in kitchen are just for flavour, but they are actually rich in anti-oxidants and polyphenols which fight inflammation in the body.
#5 Sip on herbal tea
There's nothing more comforting than a nice warm cup of tea, don't you agree? I use herbal teas as part of my daily wellness routine due to the range of health benefits, phytochemicals and antioxidants they contain.
Swapping your regular 'builders tea', fruit juice or can of Coke for 2-4 cups of herbal tea per day could help to improve your liver health immediately! When choosing a brand, go for the highest quality you can afford and preferably organic.
My favourite UK brands are Pukka Herbs, Clipper, Tea Pigs, Heath & Heather and Dr Stuarts. Certain herbs are especially good for the liver including dandelion, nettle, burdock root, milk thistle and green tea.
#6 Manage your stress!
Last, but certainly not least is stress management. It may feel like stress is mentioned in relation to every condition and health issue out there, but it really is important!
We know that chronic stress creates inflammation in the body and inflammation is the thing that causes tissue damage and organ dysfunction. Chronic stress can also down-regulate thyroid function and our metabolism, affecting the function of our liver and the speed of toxin clearance and detoxification.
Exercise can be part of a great stress management practice and also benefits the body by increasing our metabolic rate and supporting detoxification. Stored/trapped emotions such as anger and frustration can also be held within the liver, contributing to unwanted symptoms. Yoga, meditation, EFT and counselling can all help to release these emotions.
I follow these daily recommendations personally, and they are all very easy and simple things to add to your routine. Give them a try!
What are your favourite liver health tips? Share them in the comments section below...