You don’t have to love liver; you just have to love your liver. The liver is one of the organs in the body most damaged by chronic drug and alcohol use; the impact is immense. But the good news is that the liver is very forgiving.
The liver is one of the most important organs in the human body. It detoxifies, helps break down fats, helps in the production of hormones and so much more. Many people know the liver is responsible for cleansing the blood, an essential job during detox – at any given time, ten percent of your blood is actually in the liver itself.
One of the tasks of the liver is to produce bile, dark green to yellowish-brown fluid responsible for the breakdown of fats. If treated well, the liver generates bile which is then stored in the gall bladder. After eating fats, bile breaks them down so they don’t become stored in the liver or the body. It is easier to maintain overall health and a healthy weight without excess bodily fat.
The liver is located under the right rib. For many alcoholics and addicts, the liver can be so damaged that it is sore to the touch. Each time alcohol or drugs are consumed, a tiny bit of scar tissue is produced. In people who abuse substances, the liver can be overwhelmed and can become inflamed. This inflammation may lead to cirrhosis and liver cancers. However, for most people, the liver can be healed and fortified by eating proper foods and using supplements.
Drinking water is one of the most powerful practices we can implement to clean up and clear the liver. Help your liver by not adding toxins to the water, such as artificial flavorings and colorings. Many believe that drinking up to one gallon of water a day will flush toxins from the body and maintain overall liver health. Adding a slice of fresh lemon or another citrus fruit is a simple way to add flavor to water and improve the production of bile, especially first thing in the morning.
B complex vitamins are quite important to the liver. These particular vitamins help detoxify the body from alcohol and caffeine. Examples of vitamin B rich foods are nutritional yeast (try it on popcorn – trust me!), dark leafy vegetables, organic dairy products, lentils, nuts, whole eggs, chicken, fish and meat.
Vitamin C is also essential for overall health and support of the liver. If you smoke, the body needs extra vitamin C. You can eat whole foods high in vitamin C such as red bell peppers, broccoli, kiwi, dark leafy greens like kale, cooked tomatoes and citrus fruit. You can also take a high quality vitamin C supplement.
Glutathione is one of the most important detoxifying amino acids in the liver. Supplements are available, but it is more beneficial to eat foods that supply a natural form of this amino acid. Asparagus, avocado, walnuts, meats and fish are rich in glutathione. It is recommended that you eat good quality red meats – spend the extra money for grass-fed beef.
Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and kale are very helpful in detoxing the body. These vegetables may be easily consumed in stir-fry dishes, salads or daily smoothies. Fresh parsley and cilantro cleanse your blood. Add both to guacamole or even use the stems in your juice or smoothies.
Cranberry and pomegranate juice help your liver metabolize fats effectively. Cranberry juice cocktail is not the same as plain cranberry juice. The cocktail version has a very high sugar content and often contains other fruit juices. Pomegranate juice, such as the POM brand, is actually very good for you and tastes great when added to any sparkling mineral water, such as Pellegrino.
Beets, too, are very helpful for the liver – try them juiced, grated raw in a salad or roasted with olive oil and garlic. Dandelion root and green tea are also beneficial to the liver.
Remember to exercise; sweating releases toxins and encourages bowel movements. Skin brushing with a natural bristle brush allows the skin to shed these toxins more easily.
During the first year of recovery, avoid cleanses and fasts. Detoxifications that are too rapid can actually cause damage to a vulnerable liver. If you incorporate some of the foods that are mentioned above, your liver may regenerate and heal along with the rest of you.