It’s officially Spring!
A time for growth, rejuvenation, new beginnings, renewal, inspiration, and cleansing; it is a time we empty out the junk, clean out the back of the cupboards, sweep the cobwebs, and prepare the garden.
It is also an excellent time to clean up the body, reduce toxic load, drop a few bad habits, and give your liver a little loving.
Spring is the best time for a gentle cleanse, particularly one that focuses the liver. Biologically, nature supports cleansing the body during the spring. As the seasons change, the air warms, and the blossoms begin to show themselves on the trees; so too does the body change, we require less sleep, our mood is lifted, and our body craves fresh greens, fruit and lighter foods. The organs are ready to lighten their load, release old and built up toxins, and fortify with nutrient-rich, but easy to digest foods.
Why Cleanse the Liver?
The liver is pretty much the big kahuna of the bodily organs; it has several vital roles to play and is responsible for much of our overall health. All of the blood leaving the stomach and intestines must pass through the liver. The liver must process this blood, break it down, balance its pH, and distribute it, creating the proper nutrients for the body to use.
The liver is also responsible for:
- Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Store and release glucose as needed
- Processing of hemoglobin for use of its iron content
- Conversion of harmful ammonia to urea (urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine)
- Clearing the blood of drugs and other harmful substances
- Regulating blood clotting
- Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
Symptoms of a Burdened Liver:
Low energy and/or chronic fatigue
Trouble with weight-loss
Anger, frustration, anxiety
Headaches, brain fog and difficulty focusing
Muscle aches and stiffness
Bad breath or body odor
Jaundice or skin and eyes taking on a yellow hugh
Abdominal discomfort: pain, swelling, bloating, gas, and poor digestion
So let’s say you’re not quite ready to embark on a full-on liver cleanse. I get it. It’s tough to jump into some big dietary changes, even temporarily, especially if you aren’t ready. There are many gentle and simple ways to show your liver a little appreciation and give it a break from all its hard work. So here’s a way for you to start small.
Easy Ways To Give Your Liver Some Extra Love
- Start the Day With Lemon Water: Lemon is a lovely gentle detoxifier, it flushes out old toxins, gives you a boost of vitamin C, and hydrates your cells. Lemon reduces inflammation and oxidation to the liver, and can relieve some toxic overload. A large glass of room temperature, or warm, lemon water first thing in the morning is an amazing way to wake up your organs, re-hydrate at a cellular level, and entice a gentle, regular cleanse. Leave a large mason jar on your counter overnight, add a few fresh slices of lemon in the morning, and, for optimal benefit, consume a good half hour before putting anything else in your body. Easy as that.
- Stay Hydrated: Every organ in the body needs sufficient hydration to operate effectively. Keep water on hand at all times, carrying a water bottle with you to work, drinking herbal teas at intervals throughout the day, and ensuring you consume at least 1.5-2 litres daily. To increase water consumption, try flavouring your water with lime, ginger, cucumber, mint, raspberries, etc. or cool down some herbal teas. Remember, by the time you are thirsty, you are already dehydrated, so sip regularly throughout the entire day for a happy liver.
- Lighten the Load: All day long, the liver is busy removing toxins from the body, processing food nutrients, and regulating body metabolism. The last thing it needs is to be overworked with a regular supply of toxic materials and hard to filter non-food stuffs. You know I’m right. Reduce the trash: limit your caffeine and alcohol consumption, pay attention to food labels and watch for dangerous food additives such as MSG, which has over 50 different names (here’s a list), food dyes, and hard to pronounce preservatives. Swap out iodized salt for a mineral rich pink Himalayan sea salt, and stay far, far away from all artificial sweeteners and rancid oils: deep fried foods of all kinds, hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils, canola and vegetable oils, and old, rancid oils that have been hiding out in your pantry for way too long (chuck those today!).
- Consume Foods that Support the Liver: Fantastic news! The liver-lovin’ real foods list is extensive, colourful, and most delicious. Include these beauties in your diet regularly: apples, garlic, ginger, lemon, parsley, broccoli, avocadoes, apple cider vinegar, asparagus, beets, berries of all kinds, brazil nuts, cabbage, celery, leafy greens (kale, chard, romaine, beet greens, lettuces), fermented foods (sauerkraut, kimchi, water kefir, beet kvass), onions, seeds (flaxseeds, sesame, pumpkin, sunflower, hemp), olive oil, coconut oil, spices & herbs of all kinds, for starters!!
- Take it Down a Notch: Stress is taxing on the entire body and all its systems, and the liver is no exception. Regular stress influences how the organs function, putting added strain on them, and pushing them too hard. Like so many other parts of the body, when worked and pushed too hard, the liver can’t function as well as it should. Elevated and continuous cortisol levels can create fatty deposits where they shouldn’t be and overburden a liver, slowing its processes. Anything and everything you can do to encourage regular calming practices into your everyday life can have serious, and often life-saving, benefits. Identify your biggest stressors in life and assess whether or not they are necessary, are serving you, or can be diminished. Just as importantly, is implementing regular practices of calm: meditation, yoga, regular exercise, walking, hiking, swimming, time in nature, time with animals, and time with loved ones.
Making your health a priority is a full-time job. It requires dedication, time, and determination. Spend a little time this spring reducing the load and spreading the love to your liver. Appreciate this organ for all it does and give it a break. Amazing things may take shape from there!