Sorry it's come to this, but we had to say something. Your liver's a workaholic, and we're giving it an intervention.
We hate to say it, but the liver can be the most stressed out organ you've got. And what makes it worse is that this vital organ performs many of the things you need to stay healthy, including the fabled detox - where things like excess hormones, waste, and toxins are kicked out of the body. It's also a crucial player in digestion, infection fighting, breaking down fat and play's a part in the body's metabolism, amongst many other things.
You may not know it, but our diets in general are making life pretty tough for the liver, which in turn makes it a challenge for it to do all its jobs well. So, to give you all the stuff you need to make your liver feel good again, here's a whistle-stop tour of the unusual suspects, and a few tips on how to revitalise the most vital of organs.
Avoid liver stressors
If your liver considers something to be toxic, it works hard trying to break it down and get rid of it ASAP. If it's got this kind of workload for too long, it's going to get pretty tired - and when your liver's tired, it's much less effective at what it does. If you fancy losing a few pounds, for instance, you'll have a much tougher time if you're liver's feeling the strain of a bad diet. So think about these things next time you grab a bite to eat, and your liver will thank you for it! (This isn't about ditching things entirely by the way; it's about reducing the amount of these things you eat a bit, to give your liver a rest.)
- Fatty stuff: Too much fatty food - particularly foods with trans-fats, like fries and pies - can really push your liver over the edge. (FYI: if you fry something in olive oil and you hear that sizzling sound, you've changed the structure of the oil into something similar to a trans-fat.) Manufacturers use trans-fats to make their products last longer on the shelves, but the reality is that they'll cause you a lot of problems in the long run... including increasing the 'bad' cholesterol and this could lead to heart attacks and strokes. If you're frying something, give coconout oil a go. It's got a high smoke point, so you really won't encounter the trans-fat problem. In most cases, roasting works as well as frying too!
Processed foods and refined sugar: The liver's got to do so much work to extract anything beneficial from processed foods - especially ones with refined sugar in them - that the nutritional value (though there almost certainly isn't any) really isn't worth the hassle. Not to mention that excess refined sugar is genuinely toxic, addictive and deadly and it can damage your liver. Sugar also increases your uric acid levels. High uric acid levels are a risk factor for heart and kidney disease. In fact, the connection between fructose, metabolic syndrome, and your uric acid is now so clear that your uric acid level can now be used as a marker for fructose toxicity.
- Barbecued food: We all love firing up the barbecue in the summer, but chargrilled food is caked in carcinogens (even if it's not 100% burnt to a crisp). They're called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (or PAHs), and they're horrible for you if you eat them too much. Try slow-cooking your meat on a low temperature instead of a straight-up BBQ - you'll be doing your liver a massive flavour.
There are some really easy ways to make life for your liver easier. And if you help your liver out, it'll help you out right back. In fact, if you treat your liver right, we'd argue that you'll see the biggest improvement in your general health and wellbeing than any other organ in the body. (Though you should be good to them too, of course).
Help your liver out
- Chew: It sounds super obvious, but the more you chew, the less work your body has to do in order to break it down into resources it can use. That makes their life way easier, without any changes to your diet at all. Aim for 30 chews per bite. (It's oddly tough, but it's something to aim for!)
- Eat organic: Pesticides are awful for the liver; they're literally poisons - and there are trace amounts in tonnes of the food we eat, which all add up. Buying organic isn't just a hipster lifestyle thing, it's a genuinely effective way of treating your body better.
- Eat fruit and cruciferous vegetables: By stocking up on the vitamins and minerals in fruit and vegetables, the fabulous nutrients in cruciferous vegetables - like broccoli and cauliflower, and B vitamins from poultry, nuts, eggs, dark green leafy vegetables, you'll not only boost how effective your liver is at fending off toxins, but reduce how susceptible it is to the toxins too. Oh, and don't forget your protein too - the two phases of detoxification systems in the liver are extraordinarily complex and the enzymes which get to work on detoxifying everything are all made out of protein... so not enough protein (amino acids) available may mean not enough enzymes available for everything to work efficiently...
- Having a read of our blog on digestive health and keeping your blood sugar balanced - which helps manage your stress response, will also help to keep your liver happy.
These are just 7 simple ways to help you lovely liver, stay tuned or pop in if you'd like to know more.
Thanks for reading,