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Show your liver some love in 2013

22 JANUARY 2013

Apart from your skin, the liver is the largest organ in the human body, weighing in at around 1.3kg.

It is responsible for more than 40 essential functions; in fact there is no system or part of the body that does not depend to some extent on its function, or that may not be adversely affected if it is unhealthy, under-functioning or toxic.

Signs and symptoms that your liver may be out of sorts can include digestive disturbances, a metallic taste in the mouth, headaches, drowsiness after meals, loss of appetite, an inability to tolerate fatty meals, low energy levels, ‘dingy’ eyes or dark circles under the eyes, jaundice, pale stools, and pain on the right side of the upper abdomen.

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GIVE YOUR LIVER A HELPING HAND

- Eat plentiful amounts of raw fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables and orange, yellow, purple and red coloured fruits and vegetables. Try to eat some with every meal and snack as they contain living enzymes, vitamin C, natural antibiotic substances and protective phytonutrients.

- Avoid fats that present a hefty workload for the liver. These are full-cream dairy products, margarines, processed vegetable oils, deep fried foods, preserved meats, poultry skin and fatty meats.

- Replace butter and margarine with tahini, hummus, pesto, tomato paste or relish, flavoured oils, nut butters or mashed avocado. These good fats are essential for building healthy cell membranes around the liver cells.

- Consume a diverse range of proteins from grains, raw nuts, seeds, legumes, eggs, seafood, free range chicken (without the skin) and lean fresh red meats. If your body is lacking amino acids (the building blocks of protein) you will likely be easily tired and you may suffer with mood changes, reduced cognitive function, hypoglycaemia and poor immune function.

- Use natural sugars from fresh fruits and juices, dried fruits and honey. Avoid refined white sugar and sweets, fizzy drinks, cakes and biscuits made with refined sugars and keep an eagle eye on food labels for added sugars - they are everywhere!

- Drink large amounts of fluids such as water, raw juices and teas. Aim for 2 litres of fluid daily as this will prevent constipation and help your kidneys to eliminate the toxins that the liver breaks down. The liver is the major organ involved in detoxification, however it is still important to support the other body organs of elimination. The skin and the kidneys eliminate toxins through sweating and urine.

 

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NUTRIENTS BENEFICIAL TO LIVER FUNCTION

Vitamin K - green leafy vegetables and alfalfa sprouts.

Arginine - legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), oats, walnuts, wheatgerm and seeds.

Antioxidants - raw juices such as carrot, celery, beetroot, apple, pear and green drinks like wheatgrass and barley-grass juice, and fresh fruits, particularly citrus and kiwi fruit.

Selenium - Brazil nuts, brewer's yeast, kelp, brown rice, seafood, wheatgerm, whole-grains, garlic and onions.

Methionine - legumes, eggs, fish, garlic, onions, seeds and lean meat.

Essential fatty acids - Fish (particularly oily fish) and shellfish, fish oils, nuts and seeds and their oils, avocado, beans, poultry.

Natural sulphur compounds - eggs (preferably free range), garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and Brussels sprouts.

 

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THREE DAYS OF 'LOVING YOUR LIVER'

First thing in the morning
Get up and get out for 30 minutes of brisk walking, jogging or running. Early morning exercise gets the blood flowing and wakes up a sluggish liver.

Before your shower
Skin brush to increase blood flow and to remove dead skin cells and toxins.

While you are dressing
Have a large mug of hot water with lemon juice and grated fresh ginger to help cleanse and refresh the liver.

Breakfast
Soya milk smoothie (blitz crushed ice, fresh berries and pineapple, soya milk and fresh almonds in a liquidiser until smooth and frothy, sieve into a glass and sip slowly)
2 Omega 3-rich eggs, scrambled on a slice of toasted rye bread
0% fat Greek yoghurt topped with fresh fruit, mixed nuts and seeds and a drizzle of Manuka honey.

Mid-morning snack
If there is a juice bar near, go for a vegetable juice that includes carrots, celery and parsley
Alternatively opt for carrot sticks with a small pot of hummus or 2 brown Ryvita with mashed, tinned tuna and cucumber slices

Lunch
A bowl of meat, fish, bean or lentil soup with a good swirl of flaxseed oil
A mixed salad with plenty of green leaves, herbs, peppers, carrots, tomatoes, radish, corn, cucumber, avocado etc., topped with meat, poultry or seafood, a handful of mixed seeds and a drizzle of olive oil and lemon juice
An avocado halved and stuffed with lentil and rice salad or tinned salmon mixed with a dollop of salsa

Mid afternoon snack
3 bean salad
Sachet of instant miso soup
Couple of celery sticks stuffed with nut butter

Evening Meal
Steamed fish or poultry fillets, lean beef or lamb steak, grilled jumbo prawns or tofu stir fried with garlic and ginger - all served with at least 3 different steamed, roasted or stir fried vegetables or a mixed salad
A bowl of meat, fish, bean or lentil soup with a good swirl of flaxseed oil
A two egg omelette or fritatta with sauteed onions, leeks, peppers, chillies, mushrooms etc.

Drinks
Still and sparkling water
Black, green or red bush tea without milk or sugar
Fresh fruit juices mixed 50:50 with water
Fresh vegetable juices



IMPORTANT: If your diet is currently overly-rich in fatty, sugary and salty foods, you may experience a nagging headache and/or tiredness during the first 24-48 hours as toxins are released from fat stores.

To counteract this, drink plenty of fresh, filtered water and take some Milk Thistle which gives the liver a helping hand. Viridian do a good tincture (follow the recommended dosage). Also, you may wish to repeat the 3 days which is fine or just return to the programme every couple of months to ensure your liver knows you care!

For more health, diet and fat loss tips, see nutritionist and author, Fiona Kirk’s website www.fatbustforever.com where you can also preview her books, So What the F*** Should I Eat, 2 Weeks in the Fast Lane, Eat Live & Lose the Flab and Soup Can Make You Thin.

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