Many healthy habits tend to dissolve during the holidays when treats, sweets, and drinks take center stage. These festivities can leave you feeling a little worn out by the time the new year rolls around and ready to make some new resolutions.
By January 1st, many people are already thinking of new habits they want to adopt to reset their health and one of the best things you can do is to give your liver some extra care.
As the body's primary organ of detoxification, the liver is responsible for filtering and removing waste products and toxic substances such as alcohol, heavy metals, and pesticides.
The liver is often overlooked and neglected which can result in a buildup of harmful substances in the body, and unwanted consequences down the road. It's important to pay attention to signs of a liver that is overburdened and needs a little more TLC.
Signs of a sluggish liver:
- Bloating and gas
- Acid reflux and heartburn
- Inability to lose weight
- Moodiness, anxiety or depression
- Chronic fatigue
- Sugar cravings
- Brain fog
- Bad breath
- Sleep problems
Though our liver is built to take on toxins from our environment to then remove them, the reality is we live in an increasingly toxic world and when we combine that with poor dietary and lifestyle habits, it can take a toll on the liver and reduce its ability to cleanse itself properly.
It's often recommended to do intense fasting, liver flushes, or pricey juice cleanses to detox the liver however this can often be detrimental and also a waste of money.
The good news is that you can do a number of things to support, detox, and protect your liver naturally while reducing your toxic load on a daily basis.
5 ways to support your liver naturally:
Try intermittent fasting
There are many kinds of fasting that you can choose from and that have become quite popular however, we recommend starting with a more gentle form of intermittent fasting that works for you. Most people report that taking a break from food after dinner until breakfast during a window of about 10-12 hours feels best.
Allowing the body times of rest and a break from digesting food can provide many benefits to the body as well as the liver by allowing the time and energy for repair and regeneration. Research has shown that intermittent fasting can improve liver health in a number of ways such as reducing liver fat levels, improving sugar metabolism, and promoting a healthy weight (1).
Of course it's important to pair this with a nutrient dense diet to ensure your body, and liver, get all of the nutrition and fuel they need to do their jobs properly.
Adopt a gut and liver friendly diet
Your liver is a key player in keeping your digestive system running smoothly, and vice versa. This is why adopting a diet that is gut and liver friendly will benefit both parties. This looks like ditching the processed foods, alcohol, and sugar and choosing plenty of nutrient dense plant foods that are rich in phytonutrients and fiber.
Include herbs in your daily routine
We've mentioned some liver supporting herbs above, however there are many more that are beneficial for liver health and detoxification.
Certain herbs in particular have been used for hundreds if not thousands of years and research now backs them up to promote good liver health by supporting the removal of toxins, protecting and regenerating liver cells, and reducing inflammation (2).
As herbs do affect individuals differently, check in with your health care practitioner before adding them to your regimen.
Get your daily sweat on
The skin acts as a protective barrier but also as the largest organ of detoxification that can both absorb and release waste through sweat.
Having a regular sweat session in the form of physical activity, saunas, or hot baths may help to assist the liver in the removal of toxic elements from the body while reducing its workload.
In fact multiple studies have found numerous heavy metals in sweat after exercise and sauna exposure (7).
Just remember to stay well hydrated!
The body is comprised of up to 60% water, which makes it an essential nutrient for whole body health but also liver health.
When you're sufficiently hydrated you promote proper digestion and elimination of waste while reducing the burden that may be placed on the liver in times of dehydration.
What if you struggle drinking enough water during your day? Start by having a big glass of filtered water in the morning, experiment with infusing some fruits or herbs into your water to make it more enticing, and carry a water bottle with you to remind you to hydrate regularly.
Keep your home clean
Environmental toxins can place quite a strain on the liver and these can be lurking in our homes without us necessarily knowing in places like bath products, cosmetics, cleaning products, and food and drinks. Most conventional products contain endocrine disrupting chemicals that can interfere with different organ systems and functions, including the liver.
The body does have the capacity to cleanse itself and get rid of unwanted and harmful substances, however, in our day and age we are being exposed to more environmental toxins than ever before. Though we can't control everything in our environment, we can control what we put on and in our bodies and what we bring into our homes.
You can start to clean up your home environment by filtering your water, choosing organic whenever possible, making your own body care products, or using the EWG database to verify your products and make the best choices for your health.