The liver is one of the most important and multi-talented organs in the body. It performs more than 5,000 functions, including detoxifying the blood, creating proteins from amino acids, storing energy, supporting the immune system, and assisting digestion. It is the main filtering organ of the body, and all blood flows through it at some point.
Just like most filters, the liver can get bogged down by too many toxins. If we lived in pristine natural environments with pure air and clean water, only ever ate whole raw foods, and were never stressed, the liver would self-regulate and we would not need to cleanse. But most of us are all too familiar with stress, our environment is full of poisons, and many people eat at least some food that turns toxic in the body.
The liver is regularly exposed to toxins such as pesticides, processed sugar, food additives, caffeine, alcohol, drugs, cleaning products (on the hands), cigarettes, heavy metals, radiation, and the hormones created by stress.
These toxins need to be cleaned out of the liver on a regular basis for optimal wellness. Clogged livers lead to fatigue, mental stupor, weight gain, depression, irritability, immune dysfunction, and a host of serious diseases. If you are feeling bad and you don’t know why, it’s probably your liver.
The first step to cleansing the liver is to stop polluting it. Cut out all refined sugar and simple starches. Stay away from alcohol, stimulants, caffeine, and non-essential pharmaceuticals. Go easy on the saturated fats. Drink clean water and seek out clean air.
Aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep per night. The liver regenerates between 11p.m. and 2a.m., so go to bed by 11 whenever possible. Avoid stress as much as you can, and cultivate coping strategies such as deep breathing to keep your adrenaline and cortisol from flowing when you encounter stressful situations.
Raw Food Liver Cleansing
Switching to a diet that is mostly living foods will go a long way in helping your liver detoxify. When I went all raw I noticed a remarkable difference in how much energy I had, how easily I digested my food, and how clear my skin (and brain!) became, all because my liver was cleaning out.
While most raw fruits and veggies support the liver, some are especially helpful:
~ Leafy Greens: Kale, spinach, arugula, Swiss chard, and especially dandelion greens purify the blood and stimulate the liver to produce it’s cleansing enzymes. Dandelion root makes a great liver-cleansing tea. Though not exactly leafy, asparagus and artichoke deserve special mention for their liver-supporting properties.
~ Alliums: Garlic, onion, and leek are powerful liver cleansers. Chop raw garlic finely, squeeze lemon juice over it, and let it sit for at least 30 minutes to prevent potential damage to the digestive tract.
~ Fruit: Apples for their pectin, which binds to heavy metals and draws them out of the body; and lemon, lime, grapefruit, and other citrus fruits for their cleansing properties and vitamin C content.
~ Chlorophyll: Spirulina, chlorella, and the super dark greens.
~ Curcumin: Turmeric, cayenne, and ginger.
~ Brassicas: Broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. Especially broccoli sprouts which are particularly high in liver cleansing micronutrients.
~ Healthy Fats: Avocados and cold-pressed extra virgin organic olive (in moderation) help the body produce the liver-supporting HDL (“good”) cholesterol. Walnuts and ground flax seeds are helpful, too.
And start your day with a glass of warm water with fresh lemon juice and a dash of cayenne pepper. This will kick start your digestion and inspire the cleansing action of the liver.
The liver is a vital organ that keeps the body clean and functioning. It is important to cleanse the liver regularly to keep it working optimally. Cutting out stimulants and toxic foods will help the liver chugging along. And eating a diet of primarily raw, nutritious food will keep your liver, and the rest of your body, healthy and happy.