Culture: Carole Baker says love your liver!
As we are fast approaching the dreaded ‘X’ word, it’s about time we started thinking about how we are going to a) Preserve our sanity b) Look after our liver.
I will come back to the sanity issue a little later and focus for now on how best to avoid completely toxifying your liver over the Xmas period and what natural remedies and foods help look after your liver if you overindulge very slightly!
The liver is an amazing organ – the only one in the body that can completely regenerate itself, even if threequarters of your liver were removed it would re-grow back to its original size – a real wonder how people like George Best managed to completely destroy theirs! The liver is the main detoxification centre of the body – it processes all the toxins we ingest in our food and drink and also what we put on our skins. Unfortunately, many of us consume toxins without realising it or the strain we are putting on our liver. We all know that excess alcohol can cause cirrhosis of the liver, but even in small amounts it can put the liver under great strain. Processed foods, fizzy drinks, caffeine, hormones, sugar, additives and drugs (both legal and illegal) can also add to stress for the liver. So what can you do to avoid those hangovers (the liver struggling to cope with the overload) and ensure you remain healthy over the festive period?
1st rule for liver lovers: Drink lots of water and avoid too much alcohol and processed food. “If it comes out of a packet, tin or plastic, look at the label and think twice!” Your liver loves fresh, unadulterated foods!
Nutritional supplements and foods
Milk thistle: The active agent in milk thistle is silymarin – an antioxidant that reduces the production of free radicals and can act as a toxin blocker and helps regenerate the liver – take it in supplement form.
Dandelion root: – you can drink this in the form of roasted dandelion root coffee
Dandelion leaves: in salads or smoothies
Globe artichoke: this herb contains cynarin which is similar to silymarin and this herb stimulates the liver tissue to regenerate. It is also beneficial for the gall bladder.
Beetroot and beetroot leaves: are the richest source of betaine, a natural liver detoxifier and bile thinner.
Berries of all types
Selenium (in Brazil nuts)
Liquorice root: the extract of liquorice root has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage: all good for the liver
Signs of a stressed out liver
Bad skin: the skin is a major organ of the body and the first place to show if your liver is under great stress.
Lack of energy: your liver is an important powerhouse for the body, if it is stressed you will feel tired.
Reactions to too much fatty and processed food: you will find you get more stomach upsets and often pain near the right-hand side of the rib cage.
Yoga to stimulate the liver and de-stress you
Twist – Half Lord of the Fishes:
The twisting postures in yoga are fantastic for the whole of the digestive system and are very detoxifying, what they also do is increase your energy levels and de-stress you. They are known as the great balancers of the system and that is similar to the job your liver is trying to perform every day. If you are feeling wound up by the whole ‘X word’ then spiral yourself into this lovely twist and as you uncoil yourself watch your mind unwind as well.
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you, buttocks can be supported on a folded blanket. Bend your knees, put your feet on the floor, and then slide your left foot under your right leg to the outside of your right hip. Lay the outside of the left leg on the floor. Step the right foot over the left leg and stand it on the floor outside your left hip. The right knee will point directly up at the ceiling (if this is tricky then keep the left leg straight).
Exhale and twist toward the inside of the right thigh. Press the right hand against the floor just behind your right buttock, and set your left upper arm on the outside of your right thigh, near the knee. Pull your front torso and inner right thigh snugly together.
Press the inner right foot very actively into the floor, release the right groin, and lengthen the front torso. Lean the upper torso back slightly, against the shoulder blades, and continue to lengthen the tailbone into the floor.
You can turn your head in one of two directions: Continue the twist of the torso by turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left and looking over the left shoulder at the right foot.
With every inhalation lift a little more through the breast bone, pushing the fingers against the floor to help. Twist a little more with every exhalation. Be sure to distribute the twist evenly throughout the entire length of the spine; don’t concentrate it in the lower back. Stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time. Enjoy!
The suggestions in this article are the personal opinion of the author. Please do not take any new remedies if you are currently on any medication without the consent of your GP.
Carole Baker is founder of The Self Centre, Bury St Edmunds