Article in Body and Soul
Feeling weighed down by Easter excess? Lighten the load with these simple tips.
First up, I need to say that there’s no one “detox diet” or “cleanse” that works for everyone. In fact, often the best approach isn’t extreme but rather involves making some small changes to your overall food intake and lifestyle to help your liver do its job – and it has more than 500 functions so this is no small feat.
The key to detoxifying or cleansing the liver is to reduce its exposure to substances which can overload this organ. The good news is that the liver is remarkably efficient at renewing itself, so when given a chance, the cells can regenerate. There are always exceptions to this, and if you leave it too long, you may end up with permanent liver damage, but this is rare.
Liver Detox 101
These everyday changes will help your liver work at its optimum:
REDUCE TOXIC FATS
The trans fats found in processed and packaged foods, as well as an excessive intake of saturated fats found in animal products (such as fatty cuts of meat), can overwhelm the liver’s normal functioning. These can contribute to fatty liver disease, which is where the liver becomes “clogged” with excess fatty tissue, making it less efficient.
Provide your liver with the fluid it needs to effectively eliminate and detoxify. Avoid further dehydration by reducing your tea and coffee intake to no more than two to three cups per day.
This is a direct toxin to the liver, so excessive intake can lead to cell damage. Stick to safe limits, which is one standard drink for women no more than five days per week or two standard drinks for men over the same time span.
CUT BACK ON SUGAR
Fructose, found in table sugar as well as fruit, can overwhelm the liver if eaten in excess. The result can be fatty liver disease as described above, as well as insulin resistance in which your body becomes less able to handle and process dietary sugars. Limit processed foods, as these often have hidden sugars, as well as fruit to no more than two pieces per day.
This drug is often taken in excess and for too long which can damage the liver. Stick to no more than 4g per day (usually equivalent to 8 capsules or tablets) for no more than three days consecutively.
A healthy liver requires a healthy digestive system as the two are linked. Staying regular and avoiding constipation is key – increase your fibre intake slowly to avoid bloating. If you have digestive troubles, take a good quality probiotic to revive your intestinal flora.
6 Good Habits to Start Now
- Start your morning with a large glass of water. Some find it easier to drink room- temperature or warm water with a little lemon added. Keep hydrated throughout your day.
- Have a high-protein breakfast such as eggs on a bed of spinach or kale, a protein shake containing psyllium husks for fibre, or plain yoghurt and berries. Avoid processed cereals or fruit juices.
- Have a lighter lunch – ideally a large salad with a small amount of lean protein.
- Trade your afternoon coffee for a herbal tea. The lack of caffeine will help you sleep better at night.
- Make your evening meal the smallest of the day and opt for fresh steamed vegetables and fish, lean cuts of meat, or chicken. Include three serves of fresh fish in your week, but avoid those with higher mercury counts such as swordfish, flake and basa.
- Avoid over-indulging in dessert by having a herbal tea instead and keep alcohol to a minimum. Perhaps trade a glass of wine for sparkling mineral water.