The liver. It’s not something that most of us routinely think about, however it is the largest internal organ in the body. Its main job is detoxification. Substances ingested or produced by the body (a by product of metabolism) will eventually be filtered through the liver. Ideally, our liver could process all the toxins we encounter but due to the volume of chemicals and pollutants that we come in contact with daily, sometimes it is hard for our liver to keep up.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver regulates the smooth flow of Qi, the vital energy that sustains life, and stores blood that carries qi around the body. The liver also houses our ‘hun’, or soul, which gives us our consciousness and sense of purpose.
Signs and symptoms that your liver may be in need of some support is abdominal discomfort or digestive disturbances such as bloating, flatulence and heartburn, temporary loss of appetite, fatigue, and emotions such as frustration, quick to anger and explosive reactions.
Below are some suggestions that will assist your liver function as well as support the organs’ detoxification mechanisms.
- Drink more water: The more water you drink, the more toxins you flush. Having a big glass of water (room temperature) with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice upon rising is a great way to start your morning, support your liver and kick start your digestive system for the day. Ensure to aim for 2 – 3L of filtered water daily.
- Bitter foods: They stimulate the liver to produce bile, which is an important part of optimal digestion. Foods such as kale, rocket, beet or dandelion greens, dill, artichokes and bitter melon are great sources and contain bitter properties which will support liver function.
- Eat a balanced diet: Avoid excess consumption of saturated fat, refined carbohydrates (such as white bread, white rice and regular pasta), sugars and high calorie meals. Ensure you are consuming enough fibre, which can be obtained from fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, brown rice, nuts and seeds. Foods such as red meat, dairy and good fats (fats which are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated such as olive oil, nuts, seeds and fish) should be consumed in moderation.
- Exercise: Is beneficial for our mind and body on so many levels. When you exercise consistently, it helps to burn triglycerides for fuel and can also reduce liver fat stores. Aim to get moving for 30-40 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
- Reduce alcohol consumption or avoid alcohol completely. Alcoholic beverages can create many health problems. They can damage or destroy liver cells and/ or scar your liver. Talk to your GP or health professional about what amount of alcohol is right for you.