Hello and happy Wellness Wednesday to you all. I thought I would try and make some time to get some information across to you. I find that doing one:one work with my clients leaves me with little time to actually sit down and write. My plan is to get something to you every Wednesday, so I am going to do my best to deliver on this.
My first Wellness Wednesday post is all about tips for looking after your liver over the busiest month of the year. I don’t know about you, but we have already enjoyed a few Christmas socials and December hasn’t even started yet.
For years I was unable to enjoy alcohol or go out for that matter, and I am so grateful that I can now fully embrace good health and enjoy the benefits that this brings. So yes, I do enjoy the odd Mojito or G&T, everything in moderation. I most certainly make sure that I take extra care in providing my liver with the best possible support that I can.
Your liver is one of your most precious organs and is generally working around the clock to keep things ticking over smoothly. Whilst detoxification is your livers’ daily function, it still requires specific nutrients to do the job. With greater environmental stress and depletion of nutrients in our soil, it has become more challenging for your liver to do the job it is naturally pretty good at. At times of greater indulgence, richer food and more alcohol, it becomes really important to take a little extra care in supporting your liver.
Here are my top tips to look after your liver over the festive period.
Make sure to eat sufficient protein.
So many liver supporting/detox plans encourage juices only, but actually your liver needs protein (amino acids) to construct enzymes to help with the detoxication process. In short, there are 2 phases and 6 pathways that toxins take in the liver. During the first phase the liver filters waste products out of the blood by attaching a vitamin/mineral to the toxin. This new compound is super toxic and can cause a lot of damage if not shuttled into the second phase quickly. During the second phase the liver attaches an amino acid to the toxin to make it water soluble so that it can be safely eliminated from the body. Whilst your body is capable of making its own proteins, there are eight amino acids that you need to obtain from food. This is one of the many reasons that you should ensure to get good quality protein into your diet.
Whey protein is a great way to do this (providing you are not dairy intolerant) as it also contains glutathione, our master antioxidant. Other good options include eggs, oily fish, grass-fed beef or plant proteins, but be mindful that plant proteins contain less amino acids, so you might need to supplement if you are vegan.
Vegetables such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, etc. contain a vast array of phytochemicals that can support detoxication, prevent cancer and balance hormones. Sulforaphane and glucosinolates, such as indole-3-carbinol, are some of the compounds that has been found to modulate the expression and activity of enzymes involved in the elimination of many active compounds. Simply add three portions of these vegetables to your diet a day. You can steam them, roast them, juice them or even add them to a smoothie. My preference at this time of the year is steamed or added to a stew/casserole.
Beetroot is a rich source of phytochemical compounds that is rich in antioxidants and offer anti-inflammatory benefits. Most importantly, it is one of the very few vegetables that contain betalains, a group of highly bioactive pigments, that provides detoxification properties. They also support lymphatic flow, a key part of the detoxification process. A good way to incorporate this into your diet is to enjoy it in a juice, smoothie or roasted.
Grapefruit contains antioxidants naringin and naringenin that can help to protect the liver by protecting liver cells and reducing inflammation. It is really important to note that you should NOT consume grapefruit if taking any pharmaceutical drugs as it can negatively impact the way that these drugs are metabolised by the liver, so best to avoid. Otherwise, enjoy as a fruit or in a juice.
Ever wondered why that first cup of coffee after a night out makes you feel so much better? Well it appears that drinking coffee can actually protect your liver from cirrhosis. Apart from the caffeine, coffee contains some really powerful antioxidants, such as chlorogenic acid, hydroxycinnamic acid and trigonelline. It also contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, such as melanoidins and cafestol that helps to modulate bile and improve memory. The one very important thing to add is that conventional coffee is among the most heavily chemically treated foods in the world. It is steeped in fertiliser, pesticides, fungicides and insecticides, so basically soaked full of bad stuff. If you going to drink coffee, make sure it is ORGANIC! Try and enjoy it in the morning so that it doesn’t impact your sleep at night.
My first aid cupboard is NEVER without milk thistle. Milk thistle is high in silymarin, which offers wonderful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory and immune support. It has been shown to protect the liver from damage caused by alcohol and toxins and even liver cancer. All you need is 15 drops in a little water twice a day. Again please be mindful if using pharmaceuticals as milk thistle can impact the way that these medications work.
Last, but definitely the MOST important is to keep yourself hydrated. Aim for a minimum of two litres of water a day. Top tip: start each day with a glass of water and if you don’t like water on its own, then add some fruit, such as kiwi, berries, citrus fruit to it for a little flavour.
There are many other ways to support your liver, such as incorporating garlic, parsley, coriander, dandelion, bitter greens and more. Whatever you decide to incorporate, just try and make a little time to nurture your body at a very busy time of the year.
Wishing you all a fun festive period.