Love Your Liver

By: Dr. Mike Baker, ND

We’re finally well into spring – the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining and many people are beginning their yearly tradition of Spring Cleaning. We take time to wash the windows, finally vacuum under the couch and beat the rugs, but what about cleaning your liver? According to traditional Chinese Medicine, spring time is the time of year the liver and gallbladder are most active. For many of us, we find ourselves entering spring with a desire to lose a few pounds and change poor dietary habits gained over the winter. Luckily spring is a season of renewal and our diets naturally improve as fresh vegetables become more plentiful.

Our bodies are subjected to harmful substances on a daily basis – from airborne pollutants, chemical sprays on our fruit vegetables, hormones added to meat, and even some pharmaceutical drugs. In this day and age, our livers work overtime on a daily basis. The liver is our body’s most well known “detox” organ. It uses many complex processes to turn harmful substances into less toxic compounds that can be excreted through our digestive and urinary systems.

I think yearly “cleanses” are a great idea if done properly – it’s your chance to quit coffee for a few weeks, give up alcohol for awhile, eliminate sugar, and even try a daily green smoothie! During a cleanse or detox, most people note that the first few days are a struggle, but if they can stick with it, they are soon rewarded with improved energy and better health.

Although yearly cleanses are a worthy cause, I think it’s the healthy daily habits that make the biggest impact. Typically, I recommend well crafted cleanses to kick start a healthier diet which is ideally sustainable for the long term. Here are some tips for daily detoxification:

• Drink lots of water to support good kidney function
• Eat foods rich in fiber: This ensures your digestive tract continually flushes out what you eat
• Choose organic foods as much as possible to reduce the chemicals your liver must process
• Enjoy dark leafy greens and brightly colored vegetables. These provide vitamins A, C and many of the Bs used by the liver for detoxification
• Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, caulifower, cabbage, and brussels sprouts are rich in sulphur. Sulphur is key ingredient for detoxification
• Bitter foods such as dandelion greens, kale, and mustard greens help to stimulate the release of bile
• Coleslaw with a lemon juice and olive oil dressing is a great way to incorporate all the above foods for a healthy liver!

Of course, before beginning any cleanse or detoxification, talk to your doctor first. There are various herbs and diets that may not be right for you.