Heal Thy Liver

Posted by Romy Lawson on

The summer season has been upon us, and let’s be honest it’s not exactly characterised as a time of health.

Boozing, feasting, tanning... our body cops it from a lot of different angles. 

Once these toxins enter our body, head straight to our waste plant-the liver.    

You can think of the liver as a toxin processing factory. Internal (hormones such as cortisol & oestrogen) and external toxins (alcohol, drugs, environmental pollutants, pesticides etc.), are sent into the liver where they can be packaged up and eliminated.

There are two liver detoxification phases:

  1. This is where toxic molecules enter the liver and are transformed into intermediate products by enzymes called cytochrome P450 (CYP450). These products are then sent to the second phase of detoxification. In the process of transforming them, this first phase actually creates more inflammation and oxidative stress. If this is balanced with antioxidants it can result in liver inflammation & eventually damage.
  2. The second phase consists of amino acid pathways called “conjugation pathways”. These pathways join an amino acid to the metabolite so they become water-soluble. This means they are able to to be sent to our digestive or urinary systems and excreted via our faeces or urine.

If Phase I is a little sluggish, or you’re overloading it, we need to get Phase II to pick up the slack as well as reduce the potential inflammation it creates. We do this by providing your liver with the right co-factors, increase your antioxidant capacity and get your eliminatory organs firing on all cylinders.

Boost phase II and reduce oxidative stress/inflammation

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage & kale contain sulphur-containing components called ‘glucosinolates’. When you chew or chop these vegetables, they are converted to isothiocyanates, like sulforaphane.

Sulforaphane has been shown to induce phase II detoxification & upregulate antioxidant enzymes, which we need to reduce any potential damage from inflammation & oxidative stress. Another key ingredient these vegetables contain is Indole-3-carbinol (I3C) which also supports optimal oestrogen metabolism through the liver. 

Protein/amino acids

Phase II pathways are particularly dependent on precursors such as amino acids, which we derive from protein containing foods. Ensuring you have a good quality, palm-sized portion of protein with each meal will help your liver to bind the toxins ready for eliminations.

When choosing animal products, ensure you choose organic, grass-fed options.

Sources of protein:

Fish/poultry/meat

Bean & legumes

Buckwheat

Quinoa

Tofu/tempeh

Nuts & seeds

 

Support our mother antioxidant

In amongst the vast array of antioxidants the liver needs, glutathione is known as our “mother antioxidant”. It’s one of the main detoxification pathways in phase II and also protects the membranes of ALL of our cells from damage. 

Glutathione is made up of three amino acids – cysteine, glutamine & glycine.

You can increase glutathione levels using glutathione and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) as supplements. NAC provides cysteine in a more bio-available form and is actually used to prevent liver damage in the case of paracetamol poisoning. Always consult your health practitioner before taking supplements, don't get trigger happy on iHerb.

Ensure you have adequate selenium intake daily, as it’s also a selenium-dependent antioxidant. Which, just by eating -3 brazil nuts you can get your Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).

 

Get those juices flowing

Detoxification doesn’t end with the liver. Once it has processed and packaged the toxins up, it needs a clear path out of our bods.

Bile is made by our livers and released by the gallbladder so that the waste produced by the liver can be carried out in our stools.

Add bitters to your meals such as rocket, dandelion greens & kale to stimulate its production and release.

 

Ensure the exit routes are clear

The grand finale for our waste is leaving via our stool & urine. We need to make sure our gut & kidneys are in good shape to excrete these toxins, otherwise you risk re-absorption and re-circulation back into your system.

Good gut health looks a little different depending on the persons’ digestive landscape. if you have any digestive disturbances it’s important to seek support from a health professional.

But in general terms, supporting your gut consists of a few core themes.

  • getting rid of irritants
  • increasing microbial diversity
  • supporting digestive secretions & intestinal wall integrity
  • optimising movement of food and waste through the gut (we don’t want it too fast or too slow).

Hydration. You should be getting minimum 0.033ml per/kg body weight of water a day, so a 60kg person should be having a minimum 2L of water.

A seemingly boring recommendation but can’t tell you enough how important it is, particularly for stopping our bodies from becoming a toxic wasteland by delivering waste & nutrients to our kidneys and ensures they can excrete them.

We figured "Feb-fast” was the time to give you a couple of ways to repay your liver after all it’s hard work over the silly season. 

Hope you get something out of it!  

Until next month,

 

Rom & Al

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