If you’ve been overdoing the alcohol this summer then it is a good idea to take a break from it and detox your liver.
When you’re relaxing on vacation or spending your weekends with friends at BBQ’s or other get-togethers it’s easy to drink more than usual. I’m not talking about a hangover but generally hitting you liver with more alcohol than it’s used to.
Drinking on an empty stomach is very different than drinking with meals. Alcohol will be absorbed straight into the blood stream when you drink it on an empty stomach and it travels quickly to other parts of the body.
While some research seems to indicate that a small glass of red wine a day may be good for your heart other, less known research, shows that alcohol can increase the risk of a number of cancers.
The link to cancer is thought to be due to the damage to DNA done by acetaldehyde, the chemical produced by your body, as it processes the alcohol.
It’s the build up of acetaldehyde in your body that together with other effects of alcohol causes a hangover. I’ve already written about how to deal with a hangover here.
Here’s a good infographic that shows you how alcohol travels through your body affecting all your organs. Click in the image to enlarge it.
- Avoid processed foods, sugars and saturated fats
- Eat more fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds, organic eggs, grass-fed meat and wild caught oily fish
- Avoid chemical toxins
Antioxidants in fruit and veg neutralize free radicals
When your liver processes alcohol it produces free radicals. Free radicals cause oxidization which is the major source of the damage that leads to liver diseases.
Although some doctors say that taking a break from alcohol will not repair your liver there is some evidence that an increased intake of antioxidants can help protect your liver from alcohol related damage.
It’s well known that fresh fruit and vegetables contain many antioxidants that neutralize damaging free radicals and and other phytochemicals that are important for good health.
They contain an abundance of vitamins and minerals that are needed for efficient liver detox. People who have nutrient deficiencies due to a junk food diet do not have an optimal detox system.
One way of getting more fruit and veg into your diet is to drink them. You can juice them or blend them into smoothies. I favour green smoothies these days over juices as they contain the whole fruit and vegetables which contain the fiber essential for keeping your bowels moving while you detox.
Cruciferous and mustard family veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, turnips, watercress and arugula
(rocket) are particularly good for boosting liver detox.
Daisy family veg & leaves such as artichoke, dandelion, radicchio and chicory are good liver foods. If you can get them add some dandelion leaves to your green smoothie.
Sulfurous veg like onions, garlic leeks and shallots; and eggs supply sulfur which the liver uses for detoxification.
Beets are said to help detoxify alcoholic toxicity. According to the American Liver Foundation beets can help heal liver disease. Betalain in beets is a powerful antioxidant and stimulates the production of bile which carries toxins out of the body. Get some beet detox recipes here.
Unsalted and unroasted fresh nuts, seeds, grass-fed meat and oily fish provide the essential fatty acids crucial for all functions of the liver including detox.
Whether you breathe them in, or they are absorbed from your skin, toxins eventually pass through the liver.
Avoid exposure to aerosol sprays, paints, insecticides, fungicides and sprayed chemicals, air fresheners, chemical household cleaners, toxic sunscreen. Use non toxic household cleaning products and natural personal care products.
Here’s a plan and some recipes to help you detox your liver
1. Start your day with a cup of High Mountain Oolong tea. According to Daniel Reid, leading expert on Eastern medicine, one of the most effective antidotes for the toxic damage done by alcohol to the liver is to drink High Mountain Oolong tea especially first thing in the morning and late afternoon. Oolong tea is a semi-fermented green tea that is full of healthy antioxidants. If you don’t like green tea then this is a good one to try.
2. Follow the tea with a green detox smoothie. If hunger is getting the better of you then try a smoothie bowl made with berries. Find some recipes here.
3. Have a detox salad for lunch and top it with a couple of soft boiled organic eggs. Eggs are loaded with vitamins, minerals, high quality proteins, good fats and sulfur all needed by the liver for detox.
3. Snack on some fruit and a handful of nuts mid-afternoon if you feel hungry.
4. For your evening meal eat some steamed or stir fried veg with some, beans, lentils, wild caught fish or organic chicken. Add a natural, home made sauce if you want and serve with brown rice or quinoa.
Liver Detox Green Smoothie
Makes 2 Servings
3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut or almond milk
1 organic banana
Handful of organic green grapes, (around 10-15)
2 kale leaves, roughly torn, or 1 cup of spinach
Half an organic cucumber
½ a ripe avocado
Small handful of ice (optional)
Place all ingredients into a blender and whizz up until very smooth. Add ice if you must to cool the smoothie as blending can make it warm.
Shredded Vegetable Detox Salad
1/2 lb carrots
1 head broccoli, roughly chopped
1/2 head cauliflower
1/2 bunch kale (about 4 leaves)
1/2 cup fresh cilantro ( coriander) or parsley
1/2 cup sunflower seeds
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil
½ tablespoon apple cider vinegar
juice of ½ organic lemon
Celtic or Himalayan salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Shred the carrots using the shredding attachment of your food processor. Place in a large bowl and set aside.
2. Using the regular food processor blade add the broccoli and pulse until finely chopped (do it in several batches if necessary) Add to the bowl with the carrots.
3. Repeat with the cauliflower and then with the kale, and then the parsley. Adding each to the bowl as they are chopped.
4. Add the sunflowers seeds to the large bowl with all of the rest of vegetables. Toss well to combine.
5. Make dressing by whisking dressing ingredients together in small bowl or shake up in a glass jar with lid. Pour some on top of salad mixture and mix well. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve remaining dressing seperately.
Alcohol has a dehydrating effect on the body so it’s important to rehydrate. Detox water and coconut water help to replenish minerals.
According to Donna Gates, of Body Ecology, Coconut Kefir can help negate the drying effects of alcohol and drinking 2 cups a day can ease cravings for sweets and alcohol.
Milk thistle has been traditionally used by herbalists for hundreds of years for the treatment of liver problems. Silymarin, the active ingredient, is a group of flavonoids, which are thought to help repair liver cells damaged by alcohol and other toxic substances.
Look for standardized extracts of milk thistle containing between 100 – 200—mg silymarin per capsule. The usual recommended dose is 100 – 200 mg of silymarin, twice a day.
Some brisk walking or rebounding is a good way to get the blood and lymph circulation going. Good circulation helps the cells detox themselves.
It’s amazing how good people say they feel after following a liver detox. So, now you know how to detox your liver are you going to give it a try?