In two previous articles (here and here) I examined liver function, detoxification and the environmental chemicals we all encounter. I also addressed serum liver testing and how to monitor your liver function without blood tests. In this article I’ll discuss what you can do to keep your liver in optimal health.
Clean Up Your Environment
There are hundreds of untested chemicals (endocrine disruptors) in our personal care products and cosmetics. There are fumes in household cleaners. There are chemicals like food dyes and additives in food. All these comprise your “body burden” and are known to exacerbate physical symptoms from allergies and asthma to headaches and fatigue.
But is it really possible to eliminate harmful environmental chemicals in this modern world? Not completely, I don’t think; but we can go a long way. Here are some ideas to consider for helping your body cope (the most important first).
- Eat mostly raw, whole foods. Start with fruit/nut smoothies. Drink fresh juice. Do all you can to eliminate processed and “fake” foods that contain additives, dyes and preservatives.
- Choose your personal care products (soap, deodorant, shampoo, face cream, etc.) carefully. All these products with ingredient names that are long and difficult to pronounce are likely to be synthetic chemicals that were never intended to make you healthier. At your health food store you can find natural alternatives containing herbs and plants instead. Expect to pay more for these and be glad you found them.
- Use plastics wisely. Don’t microwave food in plastic containers. Use only glass or BPA-free food containers and baby bottles.
- If you use Teflon pans, avoid heating to where they begin to smoke (generally beyond 450° F) and release toxic gases. Use glass bakeware and stainless steel or cast iron pots and pans.
- Switch from the standard cleaning products (containing chlorine bleach) to vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. There is a great recipe for whitening laundry without using chlorine bleach here.
- Avoid toxic pest control in your home and on your lawn, garden or fruit trees.
- Clean your air by ventilating often. The more green plants you have indoors the better, because they serve as natural air detoxifiers.
- Clean your water by getting a shower filter and a drinking water filter.
- Reduce electromagnetic frequencies (EMF) from cellphones, laptops and other machinery that produce or use electricity.
Your liver is the “vacuum cleaner” of your bloodstream. Therefore, fewer toxins in your body cells and fluids allow the liver to more efficiently detoxify.
Drink six 8-ounce cups of water a day to help flush out metabolic by-products (though this really is not going to have a sufficient effect).
If you add lemon to your water, you’ll support phase 2 liver detoxification; but that is still not enough. Add on an exercise routine that causes a good sweat, and you’ll start to move toxins out of your body. Furthermore, a liquid cleanse can really jump-start your health and liver-cleansing function.
A liquid cleanse can be done safely without a doctor’s guidance if you understand some basic rules.
Liquid cleansing can be performed at one of three different intensity levels for three to 10 days or more. The easiest is a fresh juice “feast” with no solid food. The lemonade cleanse described below is one such cleanse. Alternatively, the most intense version of a cleanse consists of a water fast. (You ingest only water.) I recommend that water fasts should be done only under supervision of a healthcare professional.
Depending on the intensity of your cleanse method and your health level, you can expect to experience the symptoms of detoxification that include sweating, increased urination, diarrhea or decreased bowel movement, mild weakness, a change in breath odor, and possibly aches and pains. The aches and pains occur in weaker body areas and only during the first two to three days before improvement ensues. For example, if you have arthritis, then expect your joints to ache. We call this a “Herxhiemer reaction” (feeling worse before feeling better). This is thought to be an effect of tissue cells releasing stored chemical waste.
The Lemonade Cleanse
- Grade B maple syrup. (Do not use grade A or “pancake” maple syrup.)
- Large bag of fresh lemons or limes. (Do not use from concentrate.)
- Cayenne spice. (This may already be in your kitchen)
- Six water bottles so you can prepare several at once and store in refrigerator for up to six hours.
Mix the following ingredients into 16-ounce water bottles to desired taste:
- Water. (Nearly fill up bottle.)
- Juice from half to one fresh-squeezed lemon or lime.
- Grade B maple syrup. (Can use stevia drops.)
- Cayenne pepper. (Begin with only a pinch and adjust amount for desired taste; greater cayenne amounts stimulate more cleansing.)
On the second and succeeding bottles, experiment with more or less citrus juice, more or less maple syrup and more or less cayenne. For lunch or dinner, consider using hot water (like a soup broth) with increased cayenne to get a powerful spice taste. Drink six to 12 of these full bottles per day. Remember, this is your food and your drink for each day you are on the liquid cleanse. You will find that your hunger decreases substantially after the third day.
Following a liquid cleanse, you must be careful to return slowly over three to seven days to cleansing foods (mostly raw whole foods). These liver-supporting foods are the raw whole foods. (Have you heard that before?) Some of the more powerful ones are garlic, onions, artichoke, beets, burdock and green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, beet greens, dandelion greens). Of course, you can eat clean animal meats (organic, free range) and foods with healthy fats (fish, oils, nuts, avocado).
In my next article I’ll go into detail on what liver protective and cleansing supplements you’ll want to know about.
To your ongoing great health and feeling good,
Michael Cutler, M.D.
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