One of the most important things you can do to get your health back on track is to start by loving your liver. With the constant bombardment of a huge array of chemicals from food, water, cleaning products, gardening products, cosmetics, skin care products, perfumes and personal hygiene, it is no wonder there is so much disease around us. And we haven’t even mentioned drugs and alcohol yet!
So why is the liver so important? The liver plays many roles in our body- it produces bile to aid in the digestion of fats, regulates cholesterol and triglyceride levels, converts many drugs and natural medicines into a useable form and processes toxins, waste products, drugs and hormones so that they can easily be excreted from the body, just to name a few!
There are two phases of liver detoxification. The first phase increases the solubility of the chemicals or hormones actually making them more chemically active than the original to prepare it for Phase II conjugation. Phase II is also about processing the reactive intermediates into water soluble non-toxic compounds so that the body is able to excrete it. However, different drugs as well as alcohol, smoking and caffeine can all increase phase I activity, making it difficult for phase II to keep up and more of these highly chemically reactive metabolites are being released into the system. That’s why it is so important to make sure that both phases are working well, otherwise we may have an onslaught of highly toxic chemicals wreaking havoc in our bodies!
Let’s talk about one of these main culprits- alcohol. If we consume too much alcohol or consume it too quickly, our liver cells struggle to process it. When alcohol reaches the liver, it produces a toxic enzyme called acetaldehyde which can damage liver cells. The liver also requires water to do its job effectively. Alcohol acts as a diuretic in the body and as such, dehydrates and forces the body to find water from other sources. Regular and heavy drinking over time can strain or upset the way alcohol is metabolised which can lead to alcoholic liver disease.
So enough of the biochemistry! One of the first things we can do to ensure optimal liver function is to reduce the chemical load on the body. The worst offenders in our diet include fatty foods, alcohol, caffeine and artificial additives such as colourings, flavourings and antioxidants (not the naturally occurring ones!). Avoid as much as possible, highly processed foods, those that contain excessive sugar, fats or artificial additives. Where possible use organically grown food but if this is not always possible, make sure you wash it well. Consume plenty of fruits and vegetables which are high in naturally occurring antioxidants. Also include a variety of whole grains, nuts and seeds in your diet which are high in B vitamins and many minerals. Drink plenty of filtered water to help your body flush out toxins.
Reduce chemical exposure by reducing chemicals around the house. Instead of using a vast array of cleaning products which contain toxic chemicals, choose more natural options such as bicarb soda or vinegar. Also avoid using the use of pharmaceutical drugs as much as possible and do not combine the use of Paracetamol and alcohol. When it comes to choosing your cosmetics, toothpaste or any personal hygiene product, always choose the natural options as your skin can easily absorb the toxins contained in the products.
Three final simple tricks to optimise liver health:
- Start each morning with 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar with a glass of water to kick-start liver function, detoxification and stimulate digestion for the day.
- Supplement with chlorella which is a type of algae with a high nutrient level. It promotes alkalinity within the body and has the ability to bind to toxins such as heavy metals and chemicals and pull them out of the body.
- Have lots of turmeric as it supports liver detoxification. It also is a great anti-inflammatory, lowers cholesterol, is anti-cancer and an antioxidant. So get into those turmeric lattes- they’re a fad for a reason!