How Your Liver Keeps You Healthy
Our liver is truly a powerful organ, being responsible for filtering our blood, turning toxins into waste products, transforming essential hormones, creating healthy cholesterol, and metabolizing drugs, nutrients and any other ingested products efficiently. So many things impact the health of our liver every day. Every single thing we put into and on to our body must eventually be processed in the liver. If you are maintaining a healthy diet, keeping your alcohol intake to a minimum, exercising regularly and generally avoiding environmental pollutants, your liver will be working very efficiently. But if you are routinely consuming processed (nutrient poor) foods or excessive alcohol, minimally exercising or being exposed to environmental pollutants regularly, your liver can really struggle to process those inputs. This is why we should be thinking of our liver and detoxification health every day by paying attention to our inputs over time.
The Role of Detoxification
Our body is naturally designed to detoxify everyday through sweat, urine and bowel movements. Internally, our liver, kidneys, lymphatic, digestive and immune system are constantly at work making sure that our cells are staying healthy, and anything we may be exposed to is processed safely. Over time, if you continually are exposed to or consume things that are very difficult for your body to process such as alcohol, processed foods, topical chemicals or environmental toxins, it may gradually build up in your body causing illness to arise.
Many folks are drawn into doing a detox throughout the year, which in western culture is a very different thing than in traditional Ayurvedic wisdom. People may think of cleansing as a jump start to detoxifying the body, with several days of juicing, short term elimination diets or weeks of multiple supplements to push “toxins” from the liver and cleanse their bowels. In reality, if your body or liver does need support with cleansing or detoxing, doing something so harsh will quickly break your body down and likely further deplete your essential detoxifying organs - mainly the liver, colon and large intestines. Even with the best intent, “cleansing” can sometimes do more harm to your body and work against you. Re-frame this quick fix approach with a more sustainable solution.
The Ayurvedic approach to detoxification is including simple, rejuvenating practices every day that will support your body to naturally detoxify to the best of our ability. The principles of “building and nourishing” is foundational to everything in the ayurvedic approach to detoxification, thus supporting your liver every day is preferred to a short term cleanse.
5 Practices to Love your Liver Everyday
1. Drink enough water. Water supports every single organ system in your body, along with keeping our kidneys, blood pressure, blood, joints and immune system strong. Consuming half of your body weight (in ounces) up to 100 ounces for women and 120 ounces for men is preferred through filtered water or herbal teas.
2. Enjoy Pukka’s Detox tea any time of day. Made with organic aniseed, fennel seed, cardamom pod, licorice root, coriander seed and turmeric root, this blend is like a supportive hug for your liver in every cup. Aniseed and fennel serve as gentle carminatives to decrease symptoms of gas and bloating and ease digestion, while turmeric supports overall inflammation in the liver and protects the liver from oxidative stress (1).
3. Eat several colorful foods each day. Fresh fruits and vegetables are full of antioxidants, nutrients and fiber which are key for our liver’s health, and for digestion and elimination to run smoothly. Try to consume at least two fresh fruits and two vegetables each day.
4. Keep alcohol to a minimum - no more than twice per week.
5. Avoid topical skin care products with chemicals or harsh ingredients. Everything you put on your skin will eventually be absorbed and processed through your blood and liver. Just like keeping a clean diet, what you put on your skin will influence your liver’s health long term.
Author: Lindsay Kluge
Herbal Educator, Pukka Herbs US
Lindsay is a clinical herbalist and nutritionist with a passion for bringing plants and people together. Through her work as a teacher and practitioner, she is passionate about helping people feel empowered in their health through community organic gardening, health education, and connection with nature. She has worked in clinical practiced with naturopathic doctors and MD’s alike, bridging the gap between alternative and conventional medicine to bring comprehensive, research based botanical medicine to her local communities. With an undergraduate degree in horticulture and a Masters in herbal medicine, plants are Lindsay's love language. She currently serves as the herbal educator for Pukka Herbs in the US, and teaches clinical nutrition at her alma mater, the Maryland University of Integrative Health. She is a guest lecturer at herbal medicine schools and conferences throughout the US.
MS Herbal Medicine
Years of Experience:
10+ years as a clinical herbalist and nutritionist practitioner