After the holiday season of eating and partying with friends and family, a return to healthy eating is probably just what the doctor ordered! The extra alcohol, sugar and processed foods consumed during this time of year leaves many of us feeling tired, run down, bloated and out of sorts. It also seriously taxes our livers, our main organ of detoxification. Our liver filters our blood, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol, produces bile to breakdown fat and stores iron, glucose for energy and Vitamins A, D, K and B12. Adding liver supporting foods at this time of the year can help your body recover from all of the holiday fun. Some suggestions for beneficial liver foods include:
- Beets: The fiber in beets increases the production of antioxidant enzymes in the liver, helping the body to eliminate bile and other toxic substances. The phyto nutrient, betalain, found in beets, provides anti- inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage are high in antioxidant properties. These vegetables have strong anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Lentil and beans: These nutritional powerhouses provide fiber to keep your bowels moving and help stabilize your blood sugar. Regular elimination is important because it removes toxins and waste from the body. Ideally, you will poop 1-3 times a day. If you are not pooping daily, your body begins to reabsorb all the waste and toxins in the poop, forcing your liver to reprocess these substances. This increases the liver’s work load.
- Warming spices: Warming spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, fennel, cumin and ginger have amazing anti-inflammatory properties, make food taste better, increase the warming properties of foods, help our bodies digest fat and enhance the body’s ability to detox.
- Bitter greens: Whether consumed as a tea, eaten in a salad or sauteed over heat, greens such as dandelion, mustard, collards, endive and beet greens help activate the production of bile, necessary for fat digestion. Greens contain high levels of sulfur, which supports your liver in its detoxification process, signaling it to process free radicals and other toxic chemicals.
Now that the holiday festivities are over, adding these foods to your diet will give your liver a little love so you can enjoy a healthy and vibrant 2015.