I had a question come up recently about detoxification. “What are some beginner things I can do to improve my body function?” When the topic of detoxification comes up, the first organs that come to mind are typically the liver and the kidneys. For this discussion, we will focus on the liver. The liver is designed to filter the blood that comes from the digestive tract before it is sent to the rest of the body. It also detoxifies chemicals, metabolizes drugs, regulates blood clotting, converts glucose into glycogen, stores iron and more. The liver also secretes bile that is stored in the gallbladder between meals. Bile is used to emulsify the fat contents of meals, but that’s not all. Bile contains bile salts that aid in the absorption of fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E & K). Bile also regulates the micro flora in your intestines, encourages peristalsis and destroys unwanted invaders.
The liver has a big job to do in this day and age. With all of the pharmaceuticals available, the chemicals and pharmaceuticals in the municipal water supply, the pesticides used on foods and the many other types of environmental toxins, the liver can get overwhelmed beyond its designation.
We can however, ease the heavy burden on our liver with a healthy and balanced diet. By avoiding foods that can stress the liver, we can allow this important organ to focus on the main job it was designed to do, filtering the blood. Some foods and drinks that can tax the liver include highly processed foods, hydrogenated oils, genetically modified foods and alcohol. In fact, drugs and alcohol divert the liver from its blood filtering function to attempt to metabolize the excess alcohol or drugs.
Foods that assist liver function are organic fruits and vegetables. Choosing organic foods allows you to reduce your exposure to agricultural chemicals, easing the burden on the liver. Specifically, cruciferous vegetables have been found to be very beneficial to the liver. Broccoli, kale, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and cabbage are all rich sources of sulfur. Studies show that these molecules have the ability to detoxify a wide range of medications, pesticides and other toxins. Onions and garlic also contain a significant amount of sulfur. Surprisingly, there are some great spices that have been used for centuries that aid in liver detoxification. To name a few, turmeric, cinnamon, licorice and saffron have been used traditionally in many cultures to maintain liver health.
If you want to give your liver a rest, avoid ALL fats for a period of time, even the good ones. In my practice, I also recommend avoiding processed foods, mainly white flour and sugar, and fried foods. Other beginner tips may include drinking 16 ounces of warm water upon rising in the morning with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice, or try a couple drops of lemon or lime essential oil in your water. Grapefruit juice is also well studied for its ability to detoxify the liver. Using a drop or two of grapefruit essential is also a great option. Consuming lacto-fermented foods and cultured drinks are also beneficial to the liver and can assist in the detoxification process.
Other options include properly prepared walnuts, avocados, apples, green tea and the all encompassing leafy green (great for every body organ!). Here is an opportunity to try some leafy greens you don’t typically choose. Mustard greens, arugula, dandelion greens, bitter gourd and chicory have an amazing ability to neutralize pesticides, heavy metals and other chemicals. To varying degrees, all of these suggestions can be part of a healthy detoxifying diet, and will aid the liver and the kidneys. You may be surprised with the amount of energy, clarity of mind and stamina gained with adopting these “super foods” in your diet.