Saturday, December 12, 2015

Detoxing Your Liver

This article, originally titled "15 Tips for Detoxing Your Liver", is from Healthy Diet Base. I am a believing in doing what you can for liver health, after all you only have one liver and you need it to live. I have a friend who was infected with Hep C after a blood transfusion in Europe following a car accident. Later on in his mid 50's he started drinking quite a bit and his monthly liver function tests starting getting even worse. He asked me what he could do, beside quit drinking (Ha! the power of our addictions!). I had him take the same supplement that I take for my liver, which is a combination of many of the ingredients listed below. His liver function tests started getting better and importantly he started feeling better - I remember thinking if only I can get him to cut way back on drinking.

I take the Liver De-Tox supplement because of my abuse of Motrin over decades from knee and back pain. In my daily does of this liver de-tox supplement, I am getting 225 micrograms of Biotin, 375 mg of Choline Bitartitrate, 240 mg of Milk Thistle, 225 mg of N-Acetyl L-Cysteine, 200 mg of Alpha Lipoic Acid, 75mg of Broccoli Concentrate, and 45mg each of Green Tea extract, Olive Oil extract and Turmeric extract.   

 I still remember the first week I started talking the liver health supplement as I felt better and had more energy. I had no reason to believe it was from anything but that product. So the Motrin is bad history with me and I was and am concerned with the damage I did to my liver. Today, I do not take anything stronger than Aspirin and then only for headaches. If people could incorporate some of the foods below into their diet I think they would feel better overall and feel better about optimizing the health of their liver.

The liver is an essential organ that helps to keep the human body free of toxins. It performs important functions in almost every part of your body, from balancing your cholesterol levels to filtering your blood. Painkillers, prescription medications, alcohol, and other toxins can overload the liver and reduce its ability to function. Detoxing your liver helps to flush out toxins and improve the health of your liver. Here are 15 tips for detoxing your liver.

1. Milk Thistle

Milk thistle is a plant that has been used for centuries to treat diseases of the liver and gall bladder. It’s been used by Europeans to heal various liver-related ailments as far back as 2,000 years ago! The plant got its name from the milky fluid that oozes from the leaves when they are crushed.

One of milk thistle’s active compounds is called, silymarin, a potent antioxidant that is several times more effective than vitamin C and vitamin E. It is used to reduce inflammation, inhibit the production of toxins, and prevent further damage to the liver. Of all the silymarins found in milk thistle, silybin has been found to be the most effective in the promotion of liver health. This is why milk thistle supplements contain high doses of silybin.

Milk thistle’s detoxifying and cleansing properties are so potent that it’s even believed to slow down the progression of severe liver damage or liver cirrhosis. Apart from acting as a detoxifier to the liver and preventing alcohol-related liver diseases, milk thistle is also used to treat other conditions that affect the liver including chronic hepatitis, acute viral hepatitis, fibrosis and cirrhosis, as well as hepatic toxicity due to frequent steroid usage.

Milk thistle is available as a tincture that can be used to aid the process of liver detoxification. It is also available in extract form as supplements. In general, the more silymarin it contains, the better the supplement. Recommended doses for milk thistle supplementation vary among individuals, but are usually between 140 mg and 300 mg taken 2 to 3 times daily.

If the supplement contains phosphatidylcholine complex, less of it may be consumed since it promotes better absorption of these liver-detoxifying agents. In which case, you only have to take 100-200 mg once or twice a day. The presence of artichoke, boldo, dandelion, licorice, and turmeric decreases the recommended dosage to 100-140 mg which should be taken 2 to 3 times daily.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has been used for thousands of years to treat various ailments and illnesses. It is thought to improve the function of the stomach, colon, liver, bladder, and kidneys. Make your own apple cider vinegar by crushing some fresh apples and filtering the liquid, before allowing it to cure into vinegar. Alternatively, you can buy bottled apple cider vinegar at most health food stores and supermarkets. Use the vinegar to make a warm cleansing drink for your liver by adding 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and one teaspoon of honey to a cup of warm water.

Here’s another recipe you might want to try. You will need:

•Apple cider vinegar
•1 quart filtered water
•½ pc. lemon, thinly sliced
•¼ pc. cucumber, thinly sliced
•2 sprigs mint

Place the mint leaves and slices of lemon and cucumber in a quart-sized bottle or mason jar. Fill the jar with water, and leave enough room for 3 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar. Place the vinegar last and if you like, add more to taste. Seal the jar, refrigerate it overnight, and you have a detox drink you can consume the next day!

While apple cider vinegar is usually easy and safe to use, there might be some things you’ll want to keep in mind. Since undiluted apple cider vinegar can be harmful to the esophagus and other parts of the digestive tract, you’ll want to be sure to dilute the vinegar. Try to keep your apple cider consumption to under eight ounces a day as anything over that could potentially decrease your potassium levels. Also, if you are allergic to apples, you will not want to use apple cider vinegar to detoxify your liver.

If you have been prescribed certain medications, especially drugs like cardiac glycosides, diuretics, insulin laxatives, and diabetes or blood pressure medications, you will want to be careful when using apple cider vinegar for detoxification. If you are taking these types of medications, it is always a good idea to check with your health care provide before beginning a regimen that could potentially have harmful effects. Even though apple cider vinegar is made from natural sources, it could still interfere with these types of medications.

3. Garlic

Garlic contains nutrients and Allicin, a compound that helps to aid the process of liver detoxification. Garlic helps to flush heavy metals, nitrogen, and excess hormones from the liver. Cooking garlic can reduce the potency of the nutrients, but the strong flavor of raw garlic can be off-putting for many people. One solution is to try taking garlic capsules, preferably 2-3 times a day while you are performing your liver detox.

When ingesting the garlic capsules, it is best that they are coated so they have a less chance of upsetting your stomach. If your stomach still gets upset when taking a capsule, you can try to take an antacid along with it.

Garlic which is an herb, is normally completely fine for you to use in your detoxification process. However, as with other herbs, there may be some things to keep in mind when using garlic. Although it is not very common, some people have been known to have had an allergic reaction to garlic.

You might want to double check with your health care provider if you are taking certain medications especially for tuberculosis (TB) or HIV/AIDS as garlic can interfere with the absorption of certain kinds of medications specifically for these illnesses. Also for women taking birth control pills, garlic may actually decrease the effectiveness of the pill.

4. Grapefruit seed extract

Grapefruit seed extract contains powerful antioxidants that help to flush toxins from the body, including the liver. Grapefruit seed extract can be expensive, but you only need a few drops 2-3 times a day. If you don’t want to spend money on grapefruit seed extract, try eating a couple of whole grapefruits every day during your liver detox. The results may not be as powerful as using the extract, but grapefruits contain antioxidants that can help to cleanse your liver.

Grapefruit seed extract is processed from grapefruit seeds and pulp and is a byproduct of producing grapefruit juice. In order to reduce the acidity and bitterness of grapefruit juice and extract, vegetable glycerin is added to the final product.

Grapefruit has long been known to interfere with certain medications so it is good to use caution when taking grapefruit seed extract in the detoxification process of your liver. Grapefruit juice has been known to decrease how quickly certain medications are broken down by the liver which can actually increase the side effects of certain medications. You’ll want to be especially cautious if you are taking medications for the following conditions: high blood pressure, high cholesterol, erectile dysfunction and also if you are taking any kinds of sedatives. Other kinds of medications that may have an altered effect when taken with grapefruit are blood thinners such as Coumadin and also medications that contain caffeine.

5. Dandelion Root

Dandelions are flowering weeds with a wide range of medicinal uses. The roots and leaves of dandelion plants have long been used to make herbal remedies, tinctures and tonics to help cleanse the liver, improve digestion and purify the blood. Dandelions are packed with important nutrients, including calcium, potassium and a variety of vitamins. Dandelion root contains properties that increase the production of bile, which helps to eliminate toxins from the liver.

Dandelion root is available as a tea, tincture, supplement and powdered extract. You can also buy dried dandelion root, which can be prepared in a similar way to fresh coffee. As dandelion root is a powerful diuretic, you must drink plenty of water to replace lost fluids. Dandelion root can also produce a mild laxative effect, making it ideal for flushing out your whole system.

6. Turmeric

Turmeric is a popular spice that gives curried dishes their striking yellow color. Turmeric is also commonly used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat a wide range of health conditions including coughs, colds, viruses, infections, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn’s disease, high cholesterol levels, excess mucous, nasal congestion, and various skin complaints. Turmeric contains powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-spasmodic properties, as well as several health-enhancing nutrients including iron, copper, potassium, manganese, vitamin B6 and fiber. These powerful properties combine to improve liver function, protect and regenerate liver tissue, aid digestion, reduce digestive gas, reduce cholesterol, boost the immune system, improve circulation, and purify the blood.

Turmeric is also an effective aid for detoxing the liver. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have made it to this list! Curcumin, the very thing that gives turmeric its bright yellow color, is a phytochemical responsible for its detoxifying effects. The University of Maryland Medical Center states that curcumin stimulates the gallbladder to produce bile, which helps to eliminate liver toxins and repair damaged liver cells. Liver detox is made more effective when turmeric is combined with ginger, which helps to boost circulation and reduce congestion.

Turmeric is available as a supplement, extract, or tea. To make turmeric tea, you need:
•2 tsp. fresh turmeric, peeled and finely grated
•1 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
•½ to ¾ tsp. powdered cinnamon
•1 pinch powdered black pepper
•½ tsp. pure vanilla extract
•1 tsp. pure raw honey or preferred sweetener
•¼ cup coconut milk or preferred milk

Boil some water and use it to fill a mug halfway. Add the turmeric and ginger and allow it to steep for 10 to 15 minutes. Then, add the cinnamon, black pepper, vanilla extract, and honey and stir. Fill up the rest of the mug with coconut milk and stir. Now you have a tasty turmeric tea to cleanse your liver!

What makes this tea great is that many of ingredients aid in liver detoxification. Black pepper and coconut milk allow the body to better absorb the turmeric. Cinnamon is a known anti-inflammatory. And lastly, raw honey is rich in antioxidants that promote digestive health.

7. Lemon

Lemons are packed with vital nutrients, vitamins and minerals, including fiber, vitamin C, vitamin B6, phosphorous, thiamin, riboflavin, copper, calcium, iron, potassium, and magnesium. The juice, fruit, and peel of lemons are often used in natural remedies and herbal infusions due to their potent antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties. Lemon is commonly used to treat sore throats, tickly coughs, fever, colds, blocked sinuses, indigestion, constipation, tinnitus, and rheumatism. Lemon is also thought to help prevent kidney stones, high blood pressure, and chronic stomach problems.

Lemons contain powerful antioxidants, known as bioflavonoids, which help to cleanse the liver, purify the blood, and strengthen the immune system. Adding the juice of half a lemon to a cup of warm or cold water gives you a cleansing drink to help flush toxins from your liver and digestive system. Have a glass of this every day to keep your liver happy. Below is a more effective way of preparing lemon water for liver detoxification. For this you will need:

•1 pc. lemon, preferably organic
•¼ liter hot water
•¾ liter cold water

Juice the lemon in a large glass jar. Chop the remains of the lemon into quarters and add to the jar. Fill the jar with water and salt to taste then let it soak for 10 minutes. Leave the lemon slices to increase the potency of the drink, but be aware that the longer it soaks, the more bitter it will be. You can also add raw honey to sweeten the lemon water. Alternatively, you can buy lemon tea or dried lemons to make a refreshing drink.

8. Green Tea

Lauded as one of the world’s healthiest beverages by both nutritionists and research scientists, green tea is also helpful for detoxing the liver. Green tea originated in China and has long been known in Asia for its many health benefits. Green tea comes from the leaves of the plant called Camellia sinensis. The leaves of the plant are not fermented when being made into green tea which leaves the antioxidant chemicals called polyphenols completely intact. Because green tea is one of the least processed beverages, all of its amazing antioxidants called catechins are nearly poured right into your cup. These catechins which are crucial components when it comes to protecting cells from damage, are also helpful in assisting the liver with the detoxification process.

When you use green tea to detoxify your liver, it is recommended that you drink four to five cups a day. Some people don’t like the taste of green tea and if you still want to experience the powerful detoxification effects of the beverage, you can opt for capsules or liquid supplements. Something to keep in mind regarding green tea is that it does contain caffeine. If you are trying to detox your body from caffeine, you can try drinking decaffeinated green tea. Also, if you take the capsules or supplements, they contain caffeine. It is always best to get the capsules or supplements from a reputable source and you might want to check with your health care provider to ensure they are safe for you to take.

9. Avocados

Considered a super-food, avocados are rich in nutrients and help the body to produce a compound called glutathione which is necessary for the liver to get rid of harmful toxins in the body. If you have chronic liver disease, your body is probably low on glutathione. Eating avocados can help increase this important compound and help to heal the liver.

Avocados, which are technically a fruit since they grow on a tree and reproduce with a seed, may get a bad rap at times because of their high fat content. However, the fat contained in avocados is monounsaturated and is the healthy fat good for maintaining health cholesterol levels. Avocados also provide about 20 vitamins and minerals that are essential for optimum health. If you consume avocados, you are also helping your body to absorb fat-soluble nutrients. Avocados are a great source of Vitamin C and Vitamin E and antioxidants that help to neutralize free radicals in the liver which can further protect liver cells and keep this vital organ free from harm.

Avocados are eaten in a variety of ways and can replace foods that aren’t so good for you like mayonnaise, sour cream and butter. They taste great on sandwiches, in salads or topped with fresh salsa. Whether you mash them, whip them, slice or dice them, avocados are a great food to eat during the liver detoxification process. They are one food you will want to keep on eating after your detox to help protect and heal the liver.

10. Cabbage

Eating cabbage, which is considered one of the world’s healthiest foods, contains glucosinolate that helps to stimulate the activation of important detoxifying enzymes known to flush out toxins from the liver. There are many foods in the cabbage family including Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cauliflower that can also be good when detoxing the liver. These foods contain sulfur which is known as a cleansing mineral. More importantly, cabbage and the other foods in its family are full of sulfur-containing amino acids. These amino acids, including taurine, methionine and cysteine are essential when it comes to clearing the pathways during a liver detox. If you are eating a lot of cabbage and other vegetables that contain sulfur, you may want to note that eating a lot of fruit might cancel out those benefits since eating fruit can interfere with sulfur metabolism.

While a variety of cabbage can be eaten during a liver detox, only green cabbage contains high amounts of chlorophyll which is known to be important for strengthening the liver. Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable which also contains Vitamin K, Vitamin C, folate and Omega 3 fatty acids which are all beneficial for optimum health. In order to get the best benefit, be sure to eat organic, raw cabbage. You can also drink raw cabbage juice as a way to detox your liver. If you juice the cabbage yourself, you will want to be sure to drink the juice right away or else it will lose pertinent vitamin content.

11. Walnuts

You might not think of eating nuts as a way to help detox your liver but they contain high density lipoproteins that help to protect against fatty liver disease. These lipoproteins also reduce levels of C-reactive protein that helps to lower inflammation in the liver. This is important because inflammation of the liver is often a precursor to liver damage.

Some nuts, especially walnuts, contain large amounts of the amino acid known as arginine which help to rid the liver of harmful toxins like ammonia. Walnuts also contain high amounts of glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids which are both necessary for effectively detoxifying the liver. One important thing to remember about eating walnuts during a detox is that you want to chew them well, turning them into liquid before swallowing. Because walnuts are a food with low levels of toxicity, extracts from the hulls of walnuts are often used in special formulas made to cleanse the liver from toxins. Protein, antioxidants and healthy unsaturated fats can also be found in walnuts and are all essential for liver health and function. Unsaturated fats are especially important as they help to protect the liver against fat accumulation and aid in building healthy cell membranes around liver cells.

Other nuts that can be healthy for the liver include Brazil nuts, pecans and almonds. Peanuts are usually not a good food when it comes to liver health. When eating nuts for health benefits, make sure to only eat them unsalted and in their rawest form.

12. Seaweed

If you think seaweed is strictly reserved for dieters or health nuts, then you will never look at this superfood the same way again. Not only is seaweed high in nutrients and low in calories, it also contains hardcore detox properties that cleanses the liver. In fact, a study from McGill University concluded that seaweed is an effective detox agent against radioactive chemicals like strontium. Seaweed, kelp, in particular, contains a high concentration of algin, which helps rid the body of radioactive particles in the body.

Of course, unless you live near a melted down nuclear power plant, seaweed’s radioactive detox properties is useless. But the goodness of seaweed doesn’t stop there. Seaweed is also helps flush out heavy metals like cadmium and lead in the body. Green seaweed is rich in chlorophyll, one of nature’s most potent detoxifier. Chlorophyll contains a special kind of fiber that binds and flushes out toxic chemicals from the body, especially unwanted substances in the liver. To round up, seaweed is the only food that contains the broadest range of minerals, around 10 or 20 times more than any vegetable.

But before you go and start hoarding seaweed from the local grocer, make sure you’re getting the highest quality seaweed from a reputable source so you can take full advantage of its detoxifying properties.

13. Onions

The liver is without a doubt one of the most abused organs in the body. The liver filters out all the unwanted substances in the body so if you’re serious about taking care of it, then you might want to start adding more onions to your diet. You see, apart from containing a long list of essential vitamins and minerals that protect the body from free radicals, onions also contains sulphur, a compound that not only purifies the liver from toxic chemicals and environmental toxins, but also helps flush out a wide range of poisons ranging from pesticides to alcohol.

Onions are also one of the best sources of anticancer compounds including phenolics and flavonoids. Research shows that shallots, yellow onion, and Northern red onions inhibit the growth of cancer cells in the body. Onions are believed to cut the risks of developing colon and liver cancer. It also contains a higher level of special antioxidants that protect the body from certain types of cancers. That said, not all onions offer the same level of anticancer and liver-detoxifying properties. Western Yellow onions contain 11 times more antioxidants than the Western White so it’s important to research which varieties offer the highest anticancer properties.

There are several ways to incorporate onions into your diet. Onions are quite versatile and can be a part of any meal. You can caramelize them in low to medium heat and add them to omelets, salads, sandwiches, and pretty much any vegetable ditch. Chopped raw onions can be combined with tomatoes, cucumber, and toasted pita bread to create a Mediterranean salad. Don’t forget to drizzle it with olive oil and lemon juice! You can also make an Italian salad by mixing sliced onions, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. Finish it off by drizzling it with olive oil. Maximize the detoxifying properties of onions by using garlic-infused olive oils when preparing salads.

14. Artichoke

Another of nature’s heavy-duty liver detoxifier is artichoke. Artichoke is known to boost bile production in the liver. This in turn helps normalize health and digestive function and prevent the development of certain types of cancer.

Artichoke as a liver-friendly detoxifier is actually old news. In Europe, most doctors prescribe artichoke extracts to those suffering from liver-related diseases since the 18th century. Most holistic practitioners are also turning to artichoke to cleanse the liver from toxic chemicals.

Recent studies prove the benefits of artichoke on liver health. In 2010, a study featured in the Biological Trace Element Research links consumption of artichoke leaf extract with reduced fat and cholesterol levels in liver. An earlier study that appeared in Experimental and Toxicologic Pathology shows that consuming artichoke extract before being exposed to liver-damaging toxins prevent injury to the liver. An Italian research published in Nutrition and Cancer revealed that artichoke extract demonstrated a capability to protect liver cells from damage, mainly due to their antioxidant effects. They also discovered that artichoke extract prevented the growth of cancerous cells in the liver.

Artichoke belongs to the milk thistle family. Apart from being a hardcore liver detoxifier, artichoke also helps stabilize blood sugar levels and is rich in phelonic acid compound known as cynarin. Cynarin is believed to be responsible for artichoke’s cholagogue and choleretic properties. Cholagogue is a substance that promotes the discharge of bile from the system while choleretic stimulates the liver’s bile production.

Cholagogue and choleretic are extremely important in the overall health of the liver. How? People suffering from liver problems tend to excrete inadequate amounts of bile and most times, the bile is not properly transported to the gallbladder. This causes an increased risk of liver damage. By adding more artichoke to your diet, you supply the body with helpful compounds that repairs, reinvigorate and detoxifies the liver.

15. Fennel and Fennel Seeds

Fennel for better liver health? You better believe it! Fennel and fennel seeds are not only high in essential vitamins, minerals and fiber, they are also used traditionally to detox the liver from harmful chemicals.

Fennel is used to treat a wide range of health problems ranging from a simple case of indigestion to chronic flatulence. It also helps dissolve kidney stones and neutralize uric acid in the tissues, making it a great herbal treatment for those suffering from gout or arthritis. This carminative herb helps aid in removing mucus and phlegm buildup in the lungs, and even removes mucus from the intestinal tract. It contains natural cleansing properties for the colon, liver, and gallbladder. It’s one hardworking superfood if we ever saw one!

Fennel seeds, on the other hand, have been used for decades to treat a wide range of liver diseases. In fact, fennel seeds are often taken as tea because it helps disengage any blockages in the liver, spleen, and biliary bladder. Fennel seeds are not only potent liver detoxifiers but they also dissolve kidney stones.

Fennels contain a multitude of phytonutrients that give it its antioxidant properties. Perhaps the most important of these when it comes to liver health is anethole. Anethole has been shown in many studies to prevent cancer and protect the liver from injury. The fennel bulb, which is rich in fiber, can decrease cholesterol levels and removes cancer-causing toxins from the colon, which reduces your risk for colon cancer.

Fennel and fennel tea are used to treat jaundice and reverse the ill effects of alcohol consumption on the liver. And to wrap up the amazing, wonderful nutritional value of fennel and fennel seeds, they prevent water retention and improve the body’s metabolic rate leading to… you guessed it – weight loss!

You can use all parts of the fennel including its base, stalk, and leaves to detoxify your liver. Here are some ideas on how to prepare it:

•Sauté fennel and onions and serve as a side dish
•Toss fennel with avocados and orange slices for a fresh salad
•Braise fennel and eat them with scallops
•Add slices of fennel into your sandwiches

Prepare plain yogurt with mint leaves and top with thin slices of fennel.

BTW - I recently re-connected with my heavy drinking, Hep C friend.  He is now 62 years old and a new Grandpa. He has quit drinking and been sober for that last two years, but still takes his supplements. 

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