Does this sound like you? Do you wake up in the morning not feeling refreshed from your sleep, generally feel more foggy and heavy (some people liken it to a hangover feeling or like they have cotton wool in their brain) if you suffer with headaches, skin problems, irritability or digestive disturbances – it may be a good time to consider completing a Spring cleanse. All of these symptoms can relate to poor liver function and that your eliminative organs (bowels, kidneys etc) are not keeping up with their job, in the role of detoxification and elimination.
Our poor liver is bombarded every day with toxins, such as pollution, medication (pain killers, anti inflammatories etc) the herbicides and pesticides on the food that we eat, not to mention the colourings and flavourings and preservatives added to these. It is the liver's job to convert and neutralise these metabolic products and toxins into soluble and safe by-products, which can then be eliminated.
The liver has two related processes known as phase 1 and phase 2, in its ability to detoxify pollutants and associated chemicals. Associated with each phase are a number of reactions, which are reliant on certain nutritional vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It is common that generally, people will have low levels of one or more nutrients, or an accumulation of toxins, which will slow down the overall detoxification pathway.
There are many things we can do to help our liver in these processes and here are some of the main suggestions I make to anyone wanting to complete a spring cleanse”.
The first, and possibly most important thing is to drink no less that 2 litres of water a day. The kidneys can’t function properly without enough water. When they don’t work to capacity, some of their load is dumped onto the liver. But if the liver has to do some of the kidneys work, it can’t operate at full throttle so the clearance of toxins will be reduced. Ideally the water should be sipped on all day, rather than consuming large amounts all at once. One of the best ways to start the day is to have a drink of water, with a squeeze of lemon juice in. This acts as a liver flush. As well as this the water will go straight to the bowel and will help with the first elimination of the day.
Certain vitamins and minerals, as well as different phyto or plant nutrients, can help support the liver during this time. These are helpful to assist with the eliminative process. Phyto-nutrients are plant substances found in various fruits and vegetables, which support detoxification pathways and promote general well being. These nutrients exert powerful nutritional and antioxidant actions, and are useful modulators of toxic reactions.
There are many good Liver cleansing products available on the NZ market that already contain these ingredients – Livatone Plus from Dr Sandra Cabot (The liver cleansing Dr) is one that contains these – plus more.
There are a number of foods that contain ingredients that can help with better detoxification in the body. These include broccoli and watercress, lemon and lime, green tea, the spices turmeric and ginger, as well as beetroot, carrot, garlic and grapes. It is ideal to choose organically grown foods, otherwise wash very thoroughly. These can be added to foods or drinks or eaten fresh. Please be aware that green tea contains tannin and caffeine, which will interfere with the absorption of nutrients from the food you eat, if consumed for up to 1 hour after eating or taking nutritional supplements.
Avoid any foods that are going to stress the liver, such as fatty foods, alcohol, coffee and foods containing artificial flavour, colour or preservatives. Preferably, eat foods raw and as fresh as possible.
Essential oils can offer help with better detoxification and good choices are mandarin, grapefruit, fennel, juniper, peppermint, geranium & cedar wood to name a few. Choose no less than 3 different oils and add 2 drops of each to your bath water and disperse. Soak for at least 10 minutes.
Many herbs help specifically with better detoxification in the body so are ideal to use on a spring cleanse. These include dandelion, chicory, artichoke, barberry, milk thistle extract, burdock & schizandra. You will often find these together in a herbal combination already; otherwise they can be taken individually – such as in the beverages dandelion & chicory coffee. These are delicious drinks that are readily available and taste very similar to coffee and can have milk added to them if needed.
Exercise is invaluable for general health and better detoxification in the body. It improves the tone and quality of muscle tissue and stimulates the processes of digestion, absorption, metabolism, and elimination. It also strengthens blood vessels, the lungs and heart, resulting in improved transfer of oxygen to the cells and increased circulation of the circulatory and lymph systems. A beginning exercise program should be light and should gradually increase in difficulty, as endurance increases. Always ensure you increase your water intake if exercising and seek professional advice before starting anything strenuous.
Now is an ideal time to support your liver function and take some of that load of your eliminative organs. A “Spring Cleanse” will not only help to make you feel better, but can also help with more efficient fat loss, will offer a preventative measure in the aging process, by improving the body's ability to neutralise free radicals, giving you better looking skin, hair, sparkling eyes, as well as having better smelling breath and feeling less stressed and more even tempered.
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