Did you know your liver is the main organ for detoxifying the body? Here, Angie Newson, author of Amazon best-seller, The Detox Factor, tells you the best foods to eat to ensure your liver's functions at its optimal level – naturally.
The liver is the body's major organ for detoxification. It's our second largest organ (the skin being the first) and it's our heaviest organ. Everything we ingest passes through the liver and it produces about 1 litre of bile a day to aid fat digestion.
The liver stores glucose for energy and plays a major role in metabolism. Too much bad fatty food, sugar, artificial sweeteners, an overload of caffeine and alcohol cause the liver to swell so you feel bloated, constipated, lethargic and bogged down.
Ideally when detoxifying the liver, it's recommended to do a colon cleanse first as there's no point in doing a liver detox if the colon is clogged full of old waste.
Part of the allium family, garlic is a brilliant little bulb with huge benefits. Used for centuries, it's rich in sulphur to activate the liver's enzymes, improve its bile production and expel toxins.
One of my all time favourite liver flush drinks (and yes there's an afterwhiff – buy hey your liver's worth it), is to blend 8oz orange juice with 2 tablespoons olive oil, the juice of one lemon, some ginger and 1 clove of garlic.
2. Milk Thistle
Has a worthy reputation for easing hangovers! Part of the aster plant family which includes daisies, artichokes and thistles, milk thistle gets its name from the white fluid which is extracted when the leaves are crushed.
A powerful antioxidant, it improves bile function and regulates blood sugar levels. This herb helps in the regeneration of new liver cells and is a safe, natural option to ease liver-related diseases, including scarring of the liver – cirrhosis, fatty liver disease and chronic and active hepatitis.
Although I often use the hearts in salads, it's the leaves that contain the most goodness and digestive-flow benefits. An ancient wonderfood and eaten as an aphrodisiac in Egyptian times, artichokes are full of antioxidants, vitamin C, folic acid, magnesium and potassium.
Artichokes help restore the liver helping to eliminate the accumulated toxins and supports the production of bile.
4. Coriander (AKA Cilantro)
Reminds me of my paternal Mediterranean grandmother who used the leaves in salads and the seeds when cooking potatoes.
Coriander is often used in heavy metal detoxification and you can add freshly-squeezed juice to your coffee enema for a powerful hit right up the Kyber!
5. Beetroot / Beets
A popular, effective and natural liver detoxifier that reduces inflammation, balance the hormones and strengthens the immune system. Used since Roman times for extra energy and vigour in the bedroom due to its boron content, beets also contain betaine which encourage the liver to speedily and smoothly eliminate toxic waste.
When juicing, include the green leafy tops as these are full of iron, calcium and vitamin K. Down a glass each morning.
6. Dandelion Root
Stimulates the digestion due to the increase of bile, dandelions are also a natural diuretic which ease the feelings of bloating and water retention. The magic is found in the root of this weed and it's this part that helps the liver to function at optimum levels. May have a mild laxative effect!
7. Flaxseeds (AKA Linseeds)
Full of fibre, omega-3s and lignans, adding ground flaxseeds to your daily smoothie helps balance balance blood sugar levels and smooth and ease digestive flow. Throw some in to your raw cookie recipes and when used in baking, rest assured the omega-3 content has not been lost.
Add to soups and sprinkle over salads. Flaxseeds are at the top of the list of the world's healthiest food, helping to prevent fatty liver disease, reduce inflammation and lowering bad cholesterol.
Looks pretty ugly on the outside, but certainly has many spicy healthy benefits on the inside. Ginger is a powerful antioxidant that helps lower blood pressure and is a natural pain-killer.
From the same family as turmeric and cardamom, add warm water to a few rated slithers to make a liver-protecting tea or add to juices for a tangy twist for some natural liver therapy.
9. Green Tea
Forget Champagne (certainly no good for the liver), and anyone who knows me knows that green tea is my favourite drink of all time! Helps the liver to function at its optimum level and prevent the buildup of fatty deposits, prevents kidney stones and fights abnormal cancer cells.
Used as a weight-loss aid, green tea is not fermented (unlike builders' tea) and it's the content of polyphenols that make it such a healthy liver and all-round booster.
Discovered in Barbados and considered one of our healthiest foods, this fab cancer-fighting fruit is high in vitamin C, lycopene and antioxidants. Eating and drinking grapefruit aids detoxification of the liver and the breaking down/prevention of kidney stones.
There are 3 different colours – blond, pink and ruby – and they are all deliciously beneficial. Go for a heavy-weighted fruit as this indicates a thin skin and more juice. Drink a glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice every morning or add segments to salads for a tarty tang!
Under the right conditions, the liver can regenerate itself in 6 weeks, and incorporating these 11 foods into your diet will aid healing and toxic elimination.
The result? A thankful liver and a liver to be proud of. I look forward to hearing other ways of detoxing the liver.