We take our livers for granted. Our liver is constantly working to protect us against chemicals, pesticides, plastics, food additives, and all other toxins we are exposed to. Over time, an overwhelmed liver will become sluggish and less efficient. Living detoxified means maintaining habits that support liver health in order to avoid the poor health consequences associated with chronic inflammation and oxidation, such as weight gain, diabetes, fatigue, headaches, autoimmunity and depression. Take it step-by-step and work your way towards a detoxified lifestyle.
Step 1: Eat to Detoxify
Yes, you should reduce your toxic exposures, but because it is impossible to complete avoid toxins, the first step of living detoxified is to ensure that the nutrients required by the liver for activation and transformation of toxins are present in appropriate amounts in your diet.
Eat to optimize detoxification by incorporating these concepts into your lifestyle:
- At each meal, fill half or more, of your plate, with vegetables and fruits. The more color you see, the better. The colored pigments that give natural foods their vibrant colors are the phytonutrients involved in liver detoxification and are antioxidants that stabilize free radical byproducts of phase 1 detoxification.
- Eat dark leafy green vegetables every single day, such as spinach, kale or collard greens to provide b-vitamins and chlorophyll.
- Explore cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and cabbage. These vegetables contain sulfur, which is an essential nutrient for transforming toxins for elimination. (Click the links for these veggies for recipes.)
- Other sources of sulfur are garlic and onion.
- Try turmeric. This anti-inflammatory yellow spice tastes great and supports liver function.
- Drink green tea. The catechins found in green tea are bioactive antioxidants that support liver enzymes during transformation.
Step 2: Reduce Body Burden
The next step is to reduce your exposure to toxins and chemicals. These are common sources of exposure to toxins:
- High fat meat and cheese contain polychlorinated bipheyls (PCBs), chlorinated pesticides and dioxin.
- Farmed salmon is a source of PCBs and dioxin.
- Conventionally grown produce, especially items on the Dirty Dozen Plus list, contain chlorinated pesticides.
- Plastic food and water containers, and epoxy linings of canned foods contain bisphenol-A (BPA) and plasticizers called phthalates.
- Personal care items, such as lotion and hair care products, and household cleaning supplies contain parabens, phthalates and fragrances, that act as endocrine disruptors.
To reduce you exposure consider these lifestyle changes:
- Limit beef to once weekly.
- Limit cheese to no more than one ounce daily.
- Choose lean meats, such as -loin, chuck and extra lean ground meat.
- Take the skin off of chicken and turkey.
- Eat small, wild fish, such as wild salmon, anchovies, or sardines at least once or twice per week.
- Choose organic produce, especially for produce items that are high in pesticide residues.
- Use glass and stainless steel storage containers and water bottles instead of plastic.
- Review the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Database to choose non-toxic (or less toxic) personal care products. There is also a really handy app you can download.
- Consult the Environmental Working Group’s Cleaners Guide for household cleaning supplies.
Step 3: Get It Out, Elimination
The final step is to support natural elimination systems. Sweat, urine and feces are how the human body is designed to eliminate toxins. If you are sedentary, chronically under-hydrated and tend towards constipation, guess where toxins are going? Those toxins go right into fat and bone for storage because they can’t get out any other way.
Support elimination by:
- Sweating! Exercise. Move your body and work up a sweat. Do what you love and if you don’t love exercise…keep trying. You must find some way to be active and sweat.
- Hydrate well. Drink enough unsweetened water or tea to maintain a light colored urine.
- Fiber binds toxins and helps to eliminate them in feces. Fluids help to move stool through the digestive tract. Eat enough vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds and drink enough fluids so that you have an easily passed bowel movement every day. There are many other factors involved with healthy bowel movements but fluids and fiber are the place to start.
Living detoxified is all about maintaining healthy habits. If you are jazzed about a juice fast or interested in a elimination diet, that’s fine, but the real impact comes from consistent lifestyle habits that lead to a diet high in nutrients and low in toxins and a lifestyle that facilitates proper elimination.
Photo Credit: Mason Jar Salads from Food and Other Stuff. Mason jar salads are something I learned from my clients. They are fantastic! Healthy, balanced and efficient. This is the newest way to pack your lunch–try it!
Material on this blog is provided for informational purposes only. It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for personalized nutrition or health advice or healthcare. Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have read or accessed through this website.