The liver is the largest organ in the body and weighs three to four pounds. It’s a complex chemical factory and orchestrates bodily functions that operate twenty-four hours a day. It plays a fundamental part of our body’s natural filtration system, and a well-functioning liver is essential for most cancer prevention programs. The more nutritional support we give our liver, the less damage it will take on as it works to keep our body free of carcinogens.
When we eat clean food and drink plenty of filtered water, herbal teas, fresh juices and mineral broths, we can easily shore up our liver health. On the other hand, excessive coffee, black tea, soft drinks, sports drinks, alcohol, medications, and environmental chemicals, will interfere with our liver’s ability to function and can potentially do harm.
Vitamins and minerals -especially the B vitamins – are necessary to activate enzymes that are involved in liver detoxification. Some of the best sources of B vitamins can be found in dark leafy greens, deep colored vegetables and fruit, whole-grains, lentils, almonds and pecans.
A high fiber diet is also important for good liver function. Every day the liver produces about a quart of bile, which transports toxins to be dumped into the intestines. Once inside the intestines, the bile, along with its toxic cargo, gets absorbed by fiber which then gets eliminated via the bowel. A low fiber diet undermines this process. Depending on sex, age and weight, I like to encourage clients to eat 25 to 40 grams of fiber daily. You can use this chart as a reference to calculate your daily fiber intake.
Beets specifically improve liver function by thinning the bile so that it can move more freely through the liver and into the intestine. Once there, it breaks down fat and fuels peristalsis, which helps to efficiently move waste out of the body. I love to oven roast (in a covered dish), chunks of beet that I’ve thinly coated with olive oil, at 350ºF for approximately 40 to 50 minutes depending on the size of your chunks.
Other foods containing liver-cleansing factors are eggs, onions and garlic because of their high sulfur content. Good sources of high-fiber foods are apples, celery, legumes, pears, broccoli, Brussel sprouts and cabbage. Additionally, cinnamon, licorice and turmeric are spices that contain liver-cleansing properties ~ so use them liberally!
Beyond good nutrition, liver health is also supported by exercise because it gets the blood and lymph circulating thereby promoting detoxification. The movement of lymph relies completely on muscle contraction through physical activity or manual stimulation. Aerobic exercise increases lymphatic flow, which means that the body can more easily eliminate toxins. Two of the best ways to activate the lymph are jumping rope or bouncing on a mini-trampoline, but really any kind exercise is useful. If you’re looking to improve breast health, consider exercising with no bra.