|Image courtesy of Christopher Michel, Wikimedia Commons|
The liver isn't just a large and meaty organ hanging out by the right side of your belly, it's also super hard working. It's on call 24/7 to process toxins from everything from secondhand smoke to last night’s doublewhiskeycokenoice mistake. When it's not busy salvaging you from occasional bad decisions, it also makes proteins you need for proper blood clotting. Not one for downtime, it also manages to help make cholesterol (your body needs some) and stores glycogen for when you need a quick jolt of energy. It can even regenerate itself if part of it becomes damaged. As a thank you for all it does, here's how Dr. Alschuler recommends you can give back to your liver with a little TLC:
o Vitamin B
"Vitamin B (specifically B1, B2 and B6) is our body's energy-enhancing nutrient essential to maintaining a healthy body function, including digestion." Many breakfast cereals and vegan milks are fortified with B vitamins, so be sure not to skimp on the vital nutrient.
o Green Tea
"Epigallocatechin galate, the active nutrient in green tea, has been shown to decrease the activation of cancer-causing substances by stimulating key detoxification pathways." Though green tea is having a moment right now as a liquid for poaching in the world of culinary trends, enjoy it the good old fashioned way in a cup for a piping hot mug of liver liftin' goodness.
"Considered the master antioxidant, critical for detoxification, glutathione provides antioxidant protection, promotes detoxification and fortified the immune system. It’s also interesting to note that as alcohol is broken down in the liver, it creates a harmful chemical called acetaldehyde (which ages your tissue and damages your body). The liver’s primary detox substance is glutathione itself!" Look for this wise grandfather of all antioxidants at your local natural health foods store in the supplement aisle.
o Milk Thistle
People think I'm crazy when I tell them I take milk thistle pre and post- wee-too-heavy nights of drinking (it's a plant that has nothing to do with dairy milk, NIH offers a good breakdown of it here), but Dr. Alschuler agrees: "Milk Thistle (also known as silymarin) has been used for centuries to treat liver conditions such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. Today it continues to be used as a supreme liver antioxidant."
"Fiber helps to optimize the process of detoxification in the body." Look for healthy sources of fiber like beans, whole wheat pasta, raspberries and apples and pears with the skin on.
Dr. Lise Alschuler is speaking at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium (IHS) in NYC on February 20 – 22. IHS brings together multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals dedicated to improving patient care and defining the future of healthcare (site link here). She also writes for Five To Thrive, a digital magazine that covers healthy, natural ways to ‘thrive’ in life post-recovery.