The liver is responsible for over 500 vital functions that work to keep us healthy. It is one of the most overworked and under nourished organs in the human body. In a functional sense, our liver processes nutrients from the large intestines for proper absorption, keeps our blood clean, and filters everything we’re exposed to internally & externally on a daily basis. It also produces bile needed to digest fat, balances hormones, and stores vitamins & minerals.
We’re exposed to an overwhelming amount of toxins and chemicals, which create a heavy “toxic load” on the liver. Over time, this wears the liver down, making the body less able to tolerate toxic substances and environments. Alcohol, medications, and otc’s stress the liver the most, but environmental pollutants, pesticides, chemical cleaners, toxic beauty supplies also create a heavy burden.
Our long-term health and well-being are dependent on how well our liver is functioning and how efficiently toxins are cleared from our system. The more we reduce our “toxic load” the less exposure we have to toxins. We maintain liver health by integrating healthy lifestyle practices, eating more whole foods, seasonal cleansing, staying hydrated and engaging in plenty of sweat-inducing exercise. The more we support our liver through the phases of detoxification, the more vital we become.
Integrate the following to support liver function, cleansing and healing:
1. DRINK PLENTY OF WATER
Adequate water intake supports all organs in clearing out excess toxins. Drink half your body weight in ounces everyday to keep your body systems regulated. For instance, if you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 ounces of water daily. Carry a water bottle with you & fill it with filtered water all day vs. constantly drinking from plastic, which wreaks havoc on your liver & hormones. For extra liver support – add lemon! The citrus from the lemon helps to stimulate both phases of detoxification by the liver and stimulates bile production.
2. REMOVE TOXIC FOODS
Eliminating toxic, non-organic & processed/chemical-laden foods from your diet is an easy way to create less of a liver burden. If it comes in a package with an array of foreign ingredients, avoid it. Swap out highly-processed foods for whole foods that are nutrient dense & highly nourishing to the body. Consuming fresh vegetable juices and green smoothies daily is a powerful way to cleanse & detox the liver.
3. CONSUME LIVER SUPPORTING FOODS
Foods such as dark leafy greens, beets, spirulina, chlorella, kelp, citrus, broccoli, cabbage, sprouted lentils/mung bean, dandelion greens, apple cider vinegar, celery, and oats all help to support & nourish the liver. Potassium rich foods like sweet potatoes, bananas, beet greens, spinach and molasses all help to cleanse + clear the liver. Add salad or steamed greens to every meal!
4. GIVE YOUR LIVER A BREAK
If your liver or body is feeling overburdened, cleanse for a day or two on juices or an easy to digest dish like kitchari. If your system just needs a bit of a break or you are looking to cleanse your liver on a deeper level, eat mostly steamed veggies, light cleansing foods like juices and green smoothies or blended soups (which are easy to digest) plus lots of ginger and dandelion tea until your system feels restored. This can be helpful for a few days to a week at a time. It’s also important to eliminate alcohol, heavy fats, fried foods, too much salt & sugar + animal products & meat. Reducing the amount of nuts and heavy fats you are consuming plus decreasing mucous forming foods is also a powerful way to cleanse the liver.
5. SWEAT IT OUT
The more we sweat, the more toxins we release. The fewer toxins in our systems, the less burdened our organs are. Infrared sauna sessions, steam baths, and hot yoga classes are fantastic ways to take your sweating to the next level. I love to soak in an Epsom salt bath a few times a week. I cup of Epsom salts + 10 drops of lavender oil.
6. MOVE YOUR BODY
Exercise regularly to actively move toxins out of the body. This keeps Qi flowing, supports liver function and creates more oxygenated blood. A rebounder is a wonderful tool to get your heart rate up and induce sweating. Dancing, running, hot yoga and swimming are also very effective. Constantly mix up your routine to keep your system vital.
7. INTEGRATE HEALING HERBS
Herbs are a powerful antidote for supporting liver strength & functionality. Most of the herbs that support the liver are very bitter, as this activates the liver to create bile and clear out old waste. Herbs such as turmeric, ginger, milk thistle, dandelion root, burdock root, and are all great options for clearing and healing the liver + restoring liver function.
8. SUPPORT ELIMINATION
Making sure that you are having a proper bowel movement at least once a day is imperative when it comes to liver health/function. One of the most powerful ways our bodies clear toxins is through our feces. Healthy people defecate 1-3x per day. Anything else is considered constipation. If you’re not going, chances are your life’s not flowing. To ensure that you are properly eliminating each day, incorporate plenty of fiber and healthy fats, also make sure you keep hydrated and try to have bitter greens with most meals. If you’re still backed up – try one of the following or a combination within the course of a week to support elimination: raw vegetable juice, lemon water, magnesium, triphila, a coffee enema and digestive bitters at the start of each meal.