The liver is the largest organ and is the “king” of the detoxification organs. In addition to its detoxification function, the liver also helps us with the following:
- produces bile which emulsifies fats and prepares them for digestion
- produces cholesterol which is the basic molecule that forms our sex hormones
- processes a variety of nutrients and turns them into their active forms that are used by the body most efficiently
- stores a variety of vitamins and minerals
- metabolizes amino acids (protein) and fatty acids (fat)
- stores and releases glycogen (stored carbohydrate energy)
- regulates blood sugar levels
- produces blood clotting factors and other components of the blood
As you can see, it’s very important to take care of your liver so it can continue to do these powerful functions!
Unfortunately, certain lifestyle choices and conditions can cause the liver to become sluggish including:
- regular use of alcohol or recreational drugs
- chemical exposure
- high use of pharmaceutical drugs
- a junk food diet full of additives and devoid of nutrients and fiber – especially sugar and other refined carbohydrates
- excess fat and protein intake – in particular, poor fats such as heated vegetable oils and trans-fats
- toxic bowel and Candida albicans (yeast) overgrowth
Signs of a congested liver include:
- acne, rashes, psoriasis and other skin conditions
- elevated blood cholesterol
- dry skin
- very dark urine
- achy joints and muscles
- headaches and sinus problems
- foggy thinking
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s time for a detox! I’ll be writing more about detoxification in coming posts, but in the meantime, try these five simple steps:
- Increase fruit and veggie intake, especially dark and bitter leafy greens.
- Reduce congesting foods such as sugars, refined carbs and dairy.
- Drink more water! (You should be drinking half your weight in ounces every day. So if you weigh 150, you should be drinking 75 ounces of water each day.)
- Drink a liver flush formula as soon as you wake up! (See below for details.)
- Get to bed by 11pm because that’s when the liver begins its peak hours of functioning.
Liver Flush Tonic
Enjoy this cocktail first thing in the morning and follow with 8oz of plain water. You can repeat four or more times throughout the day. Alternating the tonic with apple cider vinegar and/or chlorophyll in water work well, too.
- 1 cup grapefruit or fresh apple juice
- 4-6 TBSP fresh lemon juice
- 2-3 TBSP EVOO
- 1-3 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
- plain water
Winter is here and “germs” are everywhere. Guess what? They always have been. Unfortunately, germs are blamed as the cause of sickness when a weak immune system is the real culprit. Why are our immune systems weak? A variety of factors contribute to this weakness including stress, lack of sleep, poor diet, lack of exercise, overuse of alcohol or medications and dehydration.
So what can you do to support your immune system this winter? I suggest adding alkaline, nutrient-dense foods in your diet such as chlorophyll-rich greens like kale, parsley and cabbage, anti-microbial veggies such as garlic, high-mineral sea veggies and other seasonal goodies. In addition, fats such coconut oil (high in lauric acid), butter from pastured cows (high in vitamin A, E, selenium and conjugated linoleic acid) and cod liver oil (high in vitamins A and D) are great immune system builders. Flax oil, fish oils and wild-caught, cold water fish such as salmon and sardines contain omega-3 essential fatty acids which reduce inflammation in the body. Also, be sure to incorporate lacto-fermented foods and/or a good probiotic which build healthy intestinal flora and support immune system health. Lacto-fermented foods include sauerkraut, kimchee, miso, kefir and yogurt, to name a few.
In addition to fat, make sure you are getting enough good quality protein in your diet. This can be from sprouted or soaked legumes, pastured meats or wild-caught fish. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and support the growth, repair and maintenance of every system in the body. Without it, your body doesn’t have the building blocks it needs to support your immune system. Be sure to balance your animal and vegetarian sources of protein. Everyone is different. Some people need more animal protein sources and less vegetarian protein, while others benefit from more vegetarian protein sources. Start with a 50/50 ratio and experiment! You may find that you need more protein or a particular type of protein during certain seasons or when you engage in more activities.
Remember that poor diets can lead to leaky gut syndrome, compromised digestion, nutritional deficiencies and Candida overgrowth (yeast). The health of the gut is very important to the health of your immune system. If you experience allergies, skin conditions, gas or bloating, for example, you may need to look a closer look at your diet, stress levels and digestive system health. If you’re feeling rundown, it’s really important to cut back on sugar, refined carbs, alcohol and commercial dairy. The sugars in these products feed the opportunistic bacteria and yeast. In addition, water supports the mucosal lining of the gut where the friendly microbes live, so make sure you are hydrating well in the colder months.
Regular, appropriate exercise and sunlight (rich in immune-system boosting vitamin D) have been found to support a healthy immune system. Be careful with working out too much however, because for some it can weaken the immune system further. Some people benefit more from intense workouts, while others benefit more from more calming workout such as walking or yoga (although yoga can be quite intense as well). The important thing is to move your body regularly and listen to it.
In addition to eating well and exercising, getting plenty of sleep and relaxation will protect you from most viruses and other infections. Make sure you have time to decompress everyday. It can be staring into space, closing your eyes to meditate or visualizing something soothing or joyful. In my opinion, this is the most effective way to stay healthy, even if you consume a lot of junk. Guess what? People who eat well but don’t rest get sick. Create a self-nourishment or play menu and pick something from it each and every day. It can be as simple as giving someone a hug, smiling more, going for a long walk or enjoying a cup of tea or glass of wine with a loved one.
So instead of worrying about the flu vaccine and stocking up on hand-sanitizer, put your time and and energy into eating well, relaxing, playing and loving yourself and others a little more. As they say, laughter truly is the best medicine.