Liver loving foods
At this time of year there is plenty of media attention on ‘detoxing’ and cleansing. Many of us believe special diets, slimming teas, and juice cleanses are needed to detox the body but in all of this we forget that our bodies are extremely smart and are designed for detoxification! Whilst the skin, lungs and kidneys assist the detoxification process, the liver is our main super hero. It neutralises and removes toxins and harmful substances from our body through an intricate process. We love our livers! Before we delve into all of the liver loving foods and nutrients, it is important to briefly understand the main 2-step detox process. This detox process heavily relies on specific nutrients to be able to work efficiently. If we are not getting the right nutrients the detoxification process can become sluggish making us more sensitive to certain chemicals such as caffeine and alcohol and more prone to oxidative stress from toxins in the body. This can lead to feelings of lethargy, bloating, hormonal imbalance and skin disorders to name just a few.
Phase 1 of liver detox takes all of the fat soluble chemicals and toxins in the body, such as caffeine, alcohol, saturated fats, medications, pesticides and other environmental pollutants, and turns them into more toxic intermediate metabolites using cytochrome P450 enzymes. I know what you’re thinking, isn’t detoxification meant to reduce toxicity and make our bodies LESS toxic? Well, think of Phase 1 like packing up the garbage into the bins to get it ready for collection, and once this garbage or intermediate metabolites are ready for collection, Phase 2 begins!
Phase 2 is like the garbage pick up, attaching specific molecules to the highly toxic intermediate metabolites (called conjugation) making them non-toxic and water soluble allowing them to be excreted from the body for good! If the garbage or intermediate metabolites are not picked up or detoxified through Phase 2 then these toxins act as free radicals in the body and cause lots of damage to our cells and tissues and can lead to disease. This is why having Phase 2 function effectively is so important, and the good news is that we can all enhance our natural detoxification process through supporting this phase with lots of nutrients!
We always want to aim to keep Phase 2 working as effectively as Phase 1 in order to make sure you are picking up all that garbage to get rid of all those nasty toxins. In today’s stressful society, sometimes Phase 1 can be overworking due to caffeine, alcohol and other toxins and this is why we need to ensure we are getting all of the important nutrients for Phase 2 to work.
The main nutrients required for Phase 2 detoxification are:
Amino acids – Cysteine, Glycine & Glutamine (these are used to make Glutathione – a powerful antioxidant and great detoxifier!)
Sulphur containing amino acids – Glutathione, Cysteine & Taurine
B Vitamins – 2, 3, 6, 9 and 12
These liver loving nutrients can be found in many foods:
PROTEIN! – Protein sources such as good quality meat, poultry, fish, eggs, legumes and good quality diary products all contain amino acids, zinc and B vitamins that are all vital for Phase 2 detoxification
Cruciferous veggies – broccoli, kale, radish, cauliflower, brussell sprouts, bok choy, cabbage, turnips and sprouts (these all contain those sulphur amino acids that enhance detoxification)
Nuts & seeds – contain zinc, B vitamins and magnesium and brazil nuts contain high amounts of selenium
Fruits such as capsicum, orange, kiwi fruit, lemon, papaya, strawberries, raspberries, banana and avocado contain vitamin C and magnesium
Vegetables including dark leafy greens contain vitamin C, B vitamins and magnesium
Whole grains such as brown rice and oats great sources of B vitamins
As you can see, there are many foods that you can include into your daily diet in order to get the nutrients needed to support and enhance your natural detoxification process. Eating a healthy diet filled with wholefoods such as good quality protein sources, fruits, vegetables and wholegrains will help to reduce the toxic load on your body and will help you feel fabulous! If you think you need a little extra liver and gut support try my lovingly created Vita-sol Purity greens powder. This is a certified organic greens blend that contains liver and gut loving nutrients such as choline, dandelion, milk thistle, antioxidants, cruciferous veggies and prebiotic fibre.