In Portland, the flowers are blooming, the trees are sprouting their leaves and many of us are feeling a sense of renewal and excitment about the upcoming Summer. After a cold, wet winter, this is a great time to recommit to our health. One bodily organ that deserves some love is our liver, our main organ of detoxification. Our liver filters our blood, regulates blood sugar and cholesterol, produces bile to breakdown fat and stores iron, glucose for energy and Vitamins A, D, K and B12. Adding liver supporting foods at this time of the year can help your liver continue functioning at its best. Some suggestions for beneficial liver foods include:
- Beets: The fiber in beets increases the production of antioxidant enzymes in the liver, helping the body to eliminate bile and other toxic substances. The phyto nutrient, betalain, found in beets, provides anti- inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
- Cruciferous vegetables: Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, kale and cabbage are high in antioxidant properties. These vegetables have strong anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits.
- Lentil and beans: These nutritional powerhouses provide fiber to keep your bowels moving and help stabilize your blood sugar. Regular elimination is important because it removes toxins and waste from the body. Ideally, you will poop 1-3 times a day. If you are not pooping daily, your body begins to reabsorb all the waste and toxins in the poop, forcing your liver to reprocess these substances. This increases the liver’s work load.
- Warming spices: Warming spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, fennel, cumin and ginger have amazing anti-inflammatory properties, make food taste better, increase the warming properties of foods, help our bodies digest fat and enhance the body’s ability to detox.
- Cilantro: Cilantro is filled with a high concentration of polyphenols which help protect your liver from damage from toxins.
- Bitter greens: Whether consumed as a tea, eaten in a salad or sauteed over heat, greens such as dandelion, mustard, collards, endive and beet greens help activate the production of bile, necessary for fat digestion. Greens contain high levels of sulfur, which supports your liver in its detoxification process, signaling it to process free radicals and other toxic chemicals.
Picture by Lon and Jessica Binder on flickr.