How to restore your liver after the festive season

How to restore your liver after the festive season

Author -  Good Health

It’s a hectic time of year on all counts. What’s worse than the festive period can only be described as the aftermath. The turbulent effect that a period of over-indulgence can have on your body and your mindset is huge so it might be a good idea to detox.

Your major detoxification organ is the liver, which acts as a complex filter. Approximately two litres of blood pass through the liver every minute to be cleared of toxins and waste compounds. The bowel, kidneys, skin, blood and lymphatic circulations also play a part in the removal of unwanted or toxic substances. When this system is compromised toxins re-circulate and can accumulate in the body, acting as a constant drain on health and vitality.

The liver is largely responsible for the removal of these potentially harmful toxins, in addition to those naturally generated in the body. Given this increased toxic load the liver is often overstretched and under-resourced. Smoking, drinking alcohol, and eating a diet full of junk food causes damage to our liver cells. A sluggish liver underlies many common health complaints, and can interfere with weight management as the liver struggles with its key roles in toxin elimination; hormone detoxification; fat, protein and carbohydrate metabolism; regulation of blood sugar levels and digestive function. 

Do you experience any of the following?

• Headaches
• Allergies
• Bad breath
• Problem skin
• Weight problems
• Fluid retention
• Fatigue & lowered vitality
• Constipation
• Bloating & flatulence
• Hormonal imbalances
• Poor appetite, especially in the morning
• Intolerance of fumes, chemicals or medications
• Overindulgence in alcohol, drugs or processed fast foods

If you answered yes to any one of these, it might be time for a detox!

Naturopaths recommend detoxing the liver, purifying the blood and gently cleansing the kidneys to avoid toxic gridlock whilst supporting other crucial systems such as the lungs, adrenal and lymphatic system. Liver detoxification is separated into two processes known as Phase I and Phase II. A family of special enzymes called cytochrome P450 begin the Phase I detoxification process, breaking down or neutralising chemicals, medication and metabolic end products that would be toxic and potentially lethal if left to accumulate. Common substances neutralised by Phase I include caffeine, painkillers, asthma medication, alcohol, insecticides and cigarette smoke. However this phase can be altered by exposure or overload of toxins, medication and aging. This increases our rate of developing allergies, other chronic health conditions and liver disease or may lead to intolerance of chemicals (perfumes), drugs and caffeine.

Phase II involves mainly conjugation in which liver enzymes attach special little neutralizing chemicals to toxins (nicotine, insecticides, carcinogens) so they can be excreted through the urine or bile. Lack of physical activity and dietary deficiencies can slow down the Phase II process making us feel tired and sluggish which is another reason why detoxing is often recommended, to lift energy levels.

Fibre is particularly important when detoxing because bile binds to many fat-soluble toxins requiring fibre from the diet to assist excretion of toxins from the body. Without fibre the toxins along with bile are reabsorbed. That’s why fibre (e.g. slippery elm, psyllium, flax seed fibre) is often included in herbal detox products. Blood purifying herbs (red clover, burdock) tighten blood vessel junctions. This prevents proteins leaking into the body’s tissues and mounting an unwanted immune response. Many people that suffer from minor allergies, inflammation and unexplained aches and pains remark that they feel an improvement after completing a detox.

Key herbal extracts and nutrients to support detoxification include:

Milk Thistle – a widely appreciated liver tonic with antioxidant properties and digestive benefits which has been scientifically proven to help protect and regenerate our cells, especially in the liver and kidney, by providing antioxidant and anti-inflammatory actions.

Schisandra - protects and restores the liver, enhances detoxification and provides stress and nervous system support.

Dandelion - a traditional liver tonic that encourages healthy digestion and bowel function.

Green Tea - a powerful antioxidant that also enhances fat metabolism.

Chlorella - contains high levels of cleansing chlorophyll and aids toxin elimination through inhibiting the absorption of toxins and reducing damage to cells from toxic chemicals.

Vitamin C - a vital nutrient with widespread actions including antioxidant properties required for detoxification.

Fibre – important for the binding and elimination of toxins, and maintaining healthy bowel function. Additionally it is well documented that adequate fibre intake helps elimination and regularity through the bowel.
Attention to diet and lifestyle is also important. After all, there is limited benefit in improving toxin removal when you are still introducing the same amount of junk into the body. To maximize your health benefit from a detox you should try to reduce your intake of junk food, alcohol and cigarettes. Eat more health enhancing foods such as fruit, vegetables and lean protein; plus herbs and nutrients to support their body’s natural detoxification and healing processes.

Supporting the liver through quality natural supplements, and diet and lifestyle modifications, is a smart health practice to offset the negative effects of modern living, help maintain a balanced body weight, and ongoing health.

Lifestyle changes to support healthy detoxification:

• Eat a wide variety of fresh fruit and vegetables daily - Eating cabbage, the brassica family of Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower contain powerful natural compounds that assist with detoxifying chemicals.

• If possible eat organic foods to reduce toxin intake.

• Eat quality protein from fish, organic eggs and chicken, and whey protein to provide important amino acids necessary for liver detoxification.

• Increase fibre from fruit and vegetables, legumes, flaxseeds and wholegrains to maintain toxin removal via the bowel.

• Use quality fats such as cold pressed flaxseed oil, olive oil, coconut oil and avocado oil, raw nuts and seeds, instead of animal fats and processed vegetable oils or margarines.

• Drink 1-2 litres of pure water daily (avoid tap water) to encourage elimination via the kidneys and bowel and maintain optimal cellular function.

• Avoid alcohol, coffee, non-essential drugs, fried foods, sugar, refined and packaged foods, artificial sweeteners, additives, preservatives and colourings.

• Start the day with a cleansing drink of ½ a lemon squeezed into hot water.

• Use natural household cleaning agents and skincare products to reduce chemical exposure.

Good Health offers Body Cleanse™ Total Body Detox which is a gentle, two part detoxifying formulation that contains popular herbs and nutrients to naturally support the body’s detoxification processes, along with fibre to absorb & remove toxins. It supports healthy liver and bowel function and contains key herbs for blood cleansing and supporting healthy skin.

Body Cleanse™ Total Body Detox is like a spring clean from the inside and may be undertaken as a simple one month or a quick one week detox.

Not all products recommended may be available in South Africa at this time.

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Not all products recommended may be available in South Africa at this time