Thursday, June 30, 2011

Your Liver Needs Support Too

This article is prepared for Total Cleanse

Your Liver Needs Support Too
Sarah Reid, RHNC

One of the hardest working parts of the human body is, without doubt, the liver. More than the heart, lungs or brain, the liver is the most metabolically active organ – performing well over 500 functions at once – and has the remarkable ability to regenerate if part is removed. Making bile a day to digest fats and absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, regulating carbohydrate metabolism and making cholesterol for hormones are just a few of the lesser-known jobs in addition to it’s famous detoxification abilities. Just like the heart, lungs or brain, the liver is a critical part of existence – death occurs within a few hours if it fails completely.

Even though this remarkable, largest human gland can “rebuild” itself when partially removed or physically damaged in traumatic events, unfortunately even it cannot “become new again” if the damage leaves scars. These scars stem from the most intimate form of injury to the body, the toxic build-up of drugs, chemicals, alcohol and free-radicals from daily life. Even if you never drink, smoke or even touch an Aspirin, over 100,000 toxins fill personal care products, pesticides, food additives, drinking water, car exhaust, cleaning products, paint, carpets and furniture. Eating a modern diet removes most of the health promoting, liver supporting vitamins, minerals and enzymes, and the build-up of excess fat being processed in the organ “clogs” it and can actually lead to the toxins being “preserved” in extra fat cells. In a person living pure and clean 100% of the time (a rarity, or even extinct, breed) they don’t build up at all, being either non-existent in the system or effortlessly eliminated. However, for most of us, simple activities of daily living do take a toll on even the healthiest livers.

If you find yourself struggling with depression, poor stress response (“snapping” at people), chronic fatigue, skin problems, chemical sensitivities, severe PMS or menopause symptoms, dark under-eye circles and even severe difficulty losing weight through diet and exercise, your liver is sending out an urgent SOS. Scarring won’t occur without long-term, constant abuse – and you can prevent it with some simple self-care techniques.


The first thing you can do for your liver, not to mention your whole body, is to adopt a healthy, whole-foods way of eating. Lots of insoluble fibre (whole grains and vegetables) pull toxin-filled bile from the gut, while garlic, onions, (naturally raised) eggs, turmeric, cinnamon, milk thistle and liquorice root all provide sulphur and manganese which are critical for detoxification pathways. Even if you can’t afford to buy organic food, washing fruits and vegetables in a mixture of filtered water and baking soda helps remove most of the sprayed pest-and herbicides. Meats, eggs and (non-Canadian) dairy are another story thanks to the drugs being given to the animals – for instance, North Carolina alone uses more antibiotics on it’s livestock than the entire United States uses on people! Chickens and pork in Canada are the most commonly affected animals. Caffeine, nicotine, pop and artificial sweeteners (not to mention excess alcohol) are potent liver-toxifying agents, and it’s best to avoid them altogether. At home, cut chemical exposure where you can by choosing “green” cleaning products and reducing the amount of cosmetics you use.

It goes without saying that the best way of clearing what’s lodged inside our poor livers is an intensive detox program. Juicing has long been used as a boost for health by athletes and celebrities, and the science behind the concentrated, unbound nutrients supports the evidence of a liver working like a well-oiled machine. Like maintaining a car by changing the oil and rotating the tires, a fresh start makes for a smoother ride down the road, and you might be surprised by how much energy you have, how quickly you digest your new healthier food, and how much better you simply feel after a protocol. To reiterate the car adage, like an older and more beaten model that needs a lot of detailing to look good and act properly, you too might be surprised at how long (and for how many rounds) it takes to feel at your optimum.

Once getting onto a cleaner path, you can further enhance how your liver works with a few choice supplements: chlorophyll and spirulina (also called blue-green algae), a B-vitamin complex with high levels of choline and inositol, Vitamin C with bioflavonoids, Vitamin E and a good quality multi vitamin and mineral that has zinc and selenium Use digestive enzymes as well if your digestion is often slow.

While these supplements and lifestyle choices are, as with all decisions we make, optional elements in our daily lives, one thing isn’t – the health of your liver. Save yourself the hospital stay, the drugs and the pain, and give your body’s work-horse a break.

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I started my "working life" as a holistic and allopathic nutritional consultant with a love of cooking. Teaching the value of wholesome meal choices to families became close to my heart after I battled a long history of struggles with weight and health, and the passion for teaching led me into where I am now. My blog, which focuses on "bringing good taste to healthier food" through creative use of whole grains, fresh produce and acknowledging the importance of the occasional treat, also features a wealth of "specialty diet" friendly recipes for gluten-, egg-, dairy- and sugar- tree nut-free items that everyone can enjoy without alienating those who need them.

Overall, I want to bring back the desire for good quality, homemade, (mostly) healthy food into the hearts and kitchens of families so that the next generation will be less box-reliant than mine. I firmly believe that any “homemade” food, even when labelled as "naughty", is a more wholesome treat than pre-packaged, cookie-cutter junk. With the knowledge of good food (and how to cook good food) as a base, a healthy lifestyle can follow, and then anything is possible!

Today, my love for teaching is branching out even further - I'm in Montessori training to solidify my love for the system and working with children and families!