There are so many detox products on the market, what do you recommend for supporting liver health and general detoxification?
There are many foods and herbs that support liver function, and Spring is a ideal time to start focusing on these foods, especially since many of them are now in season.
The liver is the main detoxification organ, and because it has so many other functions as well, (including bile production, carbohydrate metabolism regulation, hormone regulation, blood filtration, and GTF synthesis) it is important to keep this organ functioning optimally.
The liver can often become overburdened with processing toxins that it can't keep up with the other functions, a condition commonly referred to as "sluggish liver". When it can't keep up with processing toxins, the body then makes fats cells to store the toxins in until the liver can get around to processing them. A sluggish liver also puts strain on the other detox organs, including the kidneys, colon, and skin.
The liver has two phases of detoxification. The first phase alters the toxins making them weaker and/or water-soluble. The water-soluble toxins are then excreted via the kidneys. Phase two neutralizes the altered toxins, which are then excreted via the colon.
Foods that Support Phase 1:
Brassicas (cabbage, broccoli*, Brussel sprouts, kale, cauliflower), Citrus, and Vitamin C and B complex (choose food sources or whole-food based supplement)
Foods that Support Phase 2:
Asparagus*, Walnuts*, Avocado*, Artichoke, Brassicas, Vitamin C and B complex, Sulphur foods (garlic*, onion, broccoli), Citrus, Beets, Carrots, Dandelion, Turmeric*, and Leafy Greens*
Supplements and Herbs:
In addition to the above foods and herbs, supporting the digestive and intestinal systems is also important for maintaining a healthy liver.
Beginning each day with 1-2 glasses of room temperature water with freshly squeezed lemon is a excellent way to gently stimulate and cleanse the liver as well as kickstarting the digestive system. The intestinal system can be supported with probiotics, fibre, and fresh aloe vera.
A monthly 3-day juice feast is another great way to re-set your system and cleanse you liver.
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Shawna Barker BSc., RHN is a nutritionist, college instructor, and raw food educator.