Love Your Hard Working Liver
Did you know the liver is your second-largest organ (skin being the largest)? Of course, we pay loads of attention to caring for our skin (not to mention $$). But this week, I’m pushing to bring our livers to the forefront. Give your liver the attention it deserves, so it can function optimally.
The liver is a hard working multi-tasker! It processes 30% of our blood every minute, clearing out waste products, drugs, and other poisonous substances. It releases “bile,” which is necessary to digest food and absorb nutrients. It stores vitamins, sugar and iron to give us energy, and controls production and removal of cholesterol. It is essential to our metabolism and immune system. This past week I’ve been doing research on keeping the liver healthy and, based on that research, I’ve undertaken the following steps.
Limit alcohol — This is #1 in every article and every list about the liver! Alcohol is challenging for the liver to process, to say the least (like poison). 1 glass (3 to 5 oz.) is the maximum recommendation per day for women. I tried eliminating alcohol (wine) altogether this week, unsuccessfully. But, at least I cut-down and kept track (keeping a log on your calendar is recommended as a method to curtail consumption).
No Late-Night Eating / Get Enough Sleep — I gave my liver at least three hours before bedtime so it could finish its digestion-related duties and thus devote adequate time during the night to perform its many other functions. Slept an average of 8.5 hours/night this week, according to my Fitbit.
Drink Detox Drinks — Detox is a popular word these days! Juices and smoothies can be used to boost your liver function, and the internet is a great source for recipes. I worked with my diet guru, Karen Kelly of Trimm-Way Weight Center, to develop this recipe.
Daily AM Smoothie:
(Note – This requires a high-powered blender like a VitaMix)
1/2 large Fuji or other sweet apple (or a whole apple if it’s small)
2 stalks celery
1/3 cucumber, skin-on
1/4 red beet
1T chopped beet stems
1 slice lemon, peeled
1/2” slice of ginger root, peeled
3 mint leaves
1 handful (2 oz.) kale
1-1/2 cup water or more depending on desired consistency
Cut fruit/vegies in chunks/pieces, put the bigger items into the blender first, adding the rest on top with the water, and pulse/blend/pulse/blend like crazy. Pause if your blender starts to overheat, and add water if it seems overwhelmed. Turns out very thick (I ate it with a soup spoon!). Makes about 2 big glasses. Store leftovers in a mason jar in the refrigerator for the next day (I opted to put it in the freezer since it was several days’ worth for me).
Eat Liver-Friendly Foods — Here are some foods that help the liver do its job:
- Garlic, Onions
- Leafy Greens
- Green Tea
- Olive Oil
- Cruciferous Vegetables – Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Cauliflower
- Grapefruit, Lemons, Limes
- Beets and Carrots
But, really, as far as the liver is concerned, what you don’t eat is far more important than what you do eat. If the liver could talk (scary thought), it would say “don’t eat unhealthy foods.” I think we all know what this means, especially if you’re a follower of MoveGirlGO!
Maintain Optimal Weight & Stay Active/Exercise — This is an important aspect of liver health, so be faithful to a routine, and stay tuned to MoveGirlGO for motivation.
Final thought: There are lots of websites giving lots of good information on protecting your liver — leave me a comment if you want a list of links that I found most helpful!
What about agave nectar? So many are taken in by the agave industry marketing campaign that it is a healthy sweeter. The truth is that it is a poison with more HFCS than anything else on the market. It is a poison that no cell in the body can use and must go directly to the liver for detoxification, just like all poisons.