By Jennifer Thomas
How can we help our body detoxify?
The liver is one of the hardest working organs in the body. It collects nutrients in food and puts them into the bloodstream and eliminates toxins, keeping metabolism and circulation healthy. It cleans the blood, keeps digestion running smoothly and balances the hormones – no wonder there is such a strong focus on it in holistic medicine.
In the mainstream diet, we are exposed to many toxins – such as excess sugars and animal proteins, refined oils, unnatural chemicals, flavorings and preservatives, pesticides, herbicides and so on. There are also nitrates in the environment, chemicals absorbed through the skin and airways due to pollution or the use of deodorant, not to mention our reliance on alcohol, caffeine, and nicotine. It’s up to the liver to eliminate all of this junk – and since this junk is often the causes of cancer and other chronic diseases, it is essential that we support the liver as best we can for optimum health and healing.
Since toxins aren’t stored in the liver, liver ‘cleanses’ are often gimmicks. Detoxifying involves aiding the liver in doing its job. Our top tips are all designed to help reduce stress on the liver, neutralize toxins and free radicals, and give the liver what it needs to do its job.
Diet is, of course, the best way to help your liver out. An anti-inflammatory diet filled with fiber and antioxidants can even reverse liver damage (1). There are so many necessary nutrients derived from a whole, organic, plant based diet that support liver function. When you focus on keeping things balanced - being aware of refined carbs, eating healthy fats, limiting refined oils, and a low intake of processed foods which are rich in excess sugar, salt, fat and chemical additives - your liver will be a lot less strained and thankful.
Water, water, and more water!
When detoxing, water is essential. It is the key component of the human body and needed to flush out waste and transport essential nutrients where they’re needed.
The kidneys depend on water to filter the blood and require a large supply of it to excrete those toxins as urine. If your body doesn't get enough water, it will keep hold of it for other essential purposes – meaning you’re also keeping hold of those nasty toxins.
The liver, too, depends on a good water supply, and its waste system requires water to lubricate stool so that we can excrete it quickly and painlessly. Water is the most important part of any detox, as even slight dehydration can compromise the detoxification process and your health can quickly deteriorate.
The Richer Health detox potion
You can find plenty of detoxing drink recipes online, but below is our favorite. You will need:
- Cucumber – full of citrulline, which aids the elimination of ammonia in the liver
- Lime – stimulates bile production, supporting lipid digestion
- Mint – used for centuries to aid digestion
- Blueberries – packed full of antioxidants, blueberries balance electrolyte minerals needed by the liver, such as magnesium, calcium, and potassium
Take all ingredients and muddle in a glass, fill with refreshing filtered water and enjoy!
Supplements, herbs, and spices
There are a few herbs and spices that are said to help liver function. For starters, turmeric contains curcumin, a compound helpful in restoring healthy blood pressure, improving circulation and fighting toxin buildup.
Milk thistle, holy basil, bupleurum and dandelion root (yes, those weeds in your back yard!) are all said to help the liver metabolize chemicals. Milk thistle especially is a good source of silymarin, which prevents the depletion of glutathione (a chemical responsible for oxidation) in the liver. Dandelion root is a natural diuretic which helps the body quickly eliminate toxins and balance blood sugar and fluid levels.
Green Tea is a magical healing tonic all by itself! It is antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-arteriosclerotic, antibacterial aaaaand anti-carcinogenic – in fact, inverse relationships have been shown between drinking green tea and stomach and colon cancer. (2)
A quality type, especially potent Matcha (a grounded green tea, meaning it has up to 10 times the nutrients of the common green tea), contains catechins – powerful antioxidants which can reduce liver inflammation and oxidative stress in the digestive system. Buy decaffeinated and your liver will be even happier.
Gentle exercise is good for just about anything, and as long as you stay hydrated, that includes liver function. Exercise has been proven to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the liver (3) – even more reasons to get out of the house and into the sunshine!
There is very little scientific research either way in the effectiveness of coffee enemas (except a wealth of studies concerning singed rear ends – make sure you let them cool down!) but the anecdotal evidence for coffee enemas is overwhelming.
The Gerson Therapy relies on coffee enemas alongside a whole-food, plant based, nutrient stuffed diet, and has had a higher success rate than other alternative and in fact most traditional cancer treatments (4).
Next week's blog post will provide more info on how these work - we had one of our Richer Health staff try!
What are your tips for keeping your liver healthy? Let us know in the comments below!
Happy cleansing, folks!