Not just this month but for ever!
January will be for many people a time to give their liver a rest from the over indulgences of the festive period. However your liver needs to be loved all year around and not just for a couple of weeks at the beginning of the year!
The liver is a big red blob of an organ that sits in the body cavity next to the stomach and pancreas. It is a real multi tasker!
It stores some key nutrients - iron, certain vitamins and emergency stores of carbohydrates for when we are being chased by that tiger, or our blood sugars are slightly low.
Additionally the liver is the body's detoxification organ. In nutrition we call detoxification biotransformation – basically the liver converts all the end products of the body processes- metabolites which can be very toxic to less toxic compounds ready for elimination.
.If your Lifestyle exposes you to a high toxic load from both external and internal sources and then on top of this you have the following:
1) Impaired elimination (constipation or decreased GI transit time; renal dysfunction)
2) Inefficient fuels (macronutrient imbalance) –over fed and under nourished- When you eat a mainly beige diet!
3) Deficiency of detoxifying substances (antioxidants, cofactors, conjugating agents) - All nutrients that you only get from the food you eat or supplements.
3) Dysregulation of detoxifying enzymes (Phase I > Phase II) which need key nutrients to work!"
4) Gut dysbiosis - An in -balance of beneficial bacteria
If you find you are suffering from niggling health issues such as headaches, poor memory, GI upset, fatigue, skin irritation, inflammation and hormonal issues such as PMS or perimenopause and menopausal symptoms, Or you have digestive upset and low energy and are constantly lurching from one bout of illness to another, then you may find that your liver would benefit from additional nutritional support as well as looking at other body systems which help to eliminate the toxins once the liver has done its job.
Factors that inhibit phase 1
Slow detoxifiers – Some people are genetically slow at removing toxins. As we age this may be more profound. Also a Lack of macronutrients/micronutrients. I often work with clients using laboratory analysis to discover their genetic liver detoxification profiles and this enables a targeted bespoke approach to supporting them.
A diet High arachidonic acid, AA is an omega 6 polyunsaturated FA found in animal fats and excess has been linked with inflammation -the western diet is overloaded with too much omega 6 not enough omega 3. Omega 3 oils are from fish oils and flax
A diet high in hydrogenated fats - these are found in processed foods
A diet Low in good quality protein
Fasting- has been shown to reduce the phase I detoxification process
Grapefruit (naringenin) – slows down phase 1-that’s why some drugs say don’t take with grapefruit- found in many citrus fruits.
Some medications-anti depressants, oral contraceptives, H2 blockers, antihistamines, anti-fungal medications and many other drugs can slow down phase I
Viral infections- and we all know about these!
Alcohol and recreational drugs also need to be broken down by the liver as does caffeine. This is why some people have a better tolerance to caffeine and alcohol than others.
Phase 2 detoxification is known as the conjugation pathway, whereby the liver attaches another molecule to the “intermediate toxin” to render is less harmful. There are 6 types of conjugation that takes place in this phase:
sulfation, glucuronidation, glutathione conjugation, methylation, acetylation, and glycination.
It does not matter what they are called, all that required to know is that all these processes only function by providing fuel to the amazing machine called your human body. The liver is totally dependent on key nutrients to help it function optimally. All the processes mentioned above will only function optimally by providing them with the key components they need- nutrients.
To help your liver do the job it is designed for here are some key nutrients and foods that it needs.
Some foods and herbs that have been shown to help with liver support
Cruciferous vegetables- broccoli, cauliflower, sprouts, kale
These contain sulphurous compounds and Calcium D glucarate which
Supports liver in its role of detoxification.
Glutathione - a very powerful antioxidant- helps to neutralize toxins during the biotransoformation process. I take it as a supplement.
Other foods are: Artichoke, Pomegranate, Watercress and Green tea: which contains catechins - powerful antioxidants.
Magnesuim , B vitamins, Vitamin E are also key components of an optimal detoxification process.
Obviously a highly nutritious diet with lots of varied foods in different colours and textures will give an abundance of nutrients. But if you are not absorbing or digesting your foods this is an area that needs to also be considered.
Regular Saunas may also be beneficial to help eliminate toxins but be mindful to maintain hydration.
I hope this article has been helpful. Enjoy loving your liver and looking after the amazing machine called your human body!