spring cleanse your liver!

23 March 2011

The Liver!

Our body’s main detoxifying organ of all the many thousands of toxins we take in daily (some by choice, others completely unavoidable). The liver is our essential filter to protect us from harmful substances in cleaning products, additives in foods and drinks, heavy metals, oral contraceptives, medications, and pollution in the air we breath all day long. And as if this isn’t enough, it is also the organ that takes on the burden of lack of exercise, excess alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes and poor nutritional choices.

So what happens when we go out for a night of partying, eat some greasy junk food the next day, pop a few advils and try and rehydrate ourselves with an orange gatorade, all while living in the crowded city with cars and industrial fumes blowing all around us? Or if we eat processed foods, do not exercise, drive to work and sit behind a desk all day? Our liver can get clogged up and sluggish!

Symptoms of a sluggish liver can vary, however they often include fatigue, headaches, fever, constipation, uneven blood sugar levels, a lowered immune system, skin allergies, rashes and acne. A sluggish liver over time can also result in much more severe health conditions including life threatening degenerative diseases.

Now, who wants these things weighing them down as we leap into the spring months of warm weather and fresh beginnings? Not me, and I assume not you since you are reading this.

So…I suggest trying my User-Friendly Liver Spring Cleanse.  Now I don’t know about you, but when I hear the word “cleanse” the scary, no food, drinking only lemon juice, maple syrup and cayenne pepper and nothing else for days comes to mind. The idea of that is enough to make me never ever want to attempt a cleanse, however this one I am suggesting is very different. My approach to detoxify the liver is simple- avoid consuming liver clogging foods and drinks, and increase intake of liver supporting ones! And this does not mean forever, but for a few weeks to a month in order to give your liver a little vacation and time to rejuvenate so you can have fantastic energy into the hot summer months (and a little room for a few cocktails on a sunny patio as well!)

Foods to eliminate or avoid as often as possible on the User-Friendly Liver Spring Cleanse:

1. Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, pasta, cookies, cakes and crackers
2. Refined sugar or products containing sugar such as pop, cereals, candy, baked goods, ice cream
3. Fatty, deep fried and junk foods or any items with high amounts of saturated and trans fats
4. Processed foods that contain preservatives, additives and anything artificial including artificial sweeteners and all those names you can not pronounce
5. Seafood with high levels of mercury (tuna, swordfish), processed meats (luncheon meats, hot dogs) and high fat dairy (cheese, cream)
6. Fatty red meat (if meat is a must, stick to small portions of leaner cuts of meat, poultry and fish)
7. Alcohol and Tobacco

Foods to love and enjoy during the User-Friendly Liver Spring Cleanse:

1. Garlic and Onions- high in sulfur, these foods support the liver by stimulating enzymatic activity and increasing bile secretion (other foods high in sulfur include nuts, eggs, oysters, and other vegetables including cauliflower, asparagus and cabbage)
2. Cruciferous vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel’s sprouts, kaleand cabbage- this group of vegetables contain many phytochemicals (protective compounds found in plants) that directly help the liver’s detoxification process. One substance in particular found in these foods, indole-3-carbinol stimulates many of the detoxifying enzymes in phase 1 and phase 2 pathways of liver detoxification. They are also powerful antioxidants which scoop up all of the extra free radicals produced as a result of the detox, before they can harm our bodies
3. Foods high in Vitamin C which include strawberries, lemons, oranges, sweet peppers, broccoli, kale, mangos, grapefruits, papaya and kiwi! This vitamin helps in the production of glutathione, necessary for proper liver detoxification. It is also a strong antioxidant
4. Magnesium rich foods such as avocado, sweet corn, walnuts, carrot, celery, asparagus, dandelion, fresh green peas, broccoli, cauliflower and sunflower seeds all quicken the detoxification process resulting in less toxic build up in the body
5. LemonsDrinking water with fresh squeezed lemon is one of the best things you can do for your liver. It naturally stimulates the liver by strengthening and producing enzymes, reducing the acidity in the body and increasing bile flow and production. Try drinking a glass of warm water with lemon before each meal
6. Bitter salad greens (dandelion, endive, rocket and chicory)- all stimulants to the system, often used to detox and support both the kidneys and the liver. Try tossing some in your next salad or drinking dandelion as a calming tea
7. Milk Thistle- most often found in a tincture or capsule form, milk thistle has been used to treat liver disease and protect the liver from toxins for thousands of years. Studies have shown great results from the use of this plant in both the prevention and reversal of serious liver conditions
8. All other fruits, vegetables, beansand legumes. All high in fibre (which helps eliminate all toxins and prevents them from being reabsorbed back into the blood stream to be reprocessed by the liver), phytochemicals and antioxidants. Make sure to include good sources of soluble fibre such as oatbran, apples, pears and beans

Do not forget to drink lots and lots of WATER! At least 8-10 glasses a day depending on your activity level. Water is the easiest and most natural way for you to reduce the toxicity in your body. Make sure to drink filtered water to avoid chemicals and heavy metals often found in tap water.

And remember, this cleanse is not forever, but you may feel so great after completing it you wont want to stop!

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