5 Simple Ways to Detox Your Liver Without Even Trying

Image courtesy of Christopher Michel, Wikimedia Commons

Rough Sunday? Heck, rough Tuesday? Naturopathic physician and and a founding and current board member of the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Dr. Lise Alschuler offers these smart tips to start feeling better and give your poor liver a boost. Because hey guys, vegans like to have fun and drink too. (And if you’re me, you unfortunately sneak a box of cheese fries and a slice of pizza past your moral compass and into bed with you after a vodka-fueled evening).

The liver isn’t just a large and meaty organ hanging out by the right side of your belly, it’s also super hard working. It’s on call 24/7 to process toxins from everything from secondhand smoke to last night’s doublewhiskeycokenoice mistake. When it’s not busy salvaging you from occasional bad decisions, it also makes proteins you need for proper blood clotting. Not one for downtime, it also manages to help make cholesterol (your body needs some) and stores glycogen for when you need a quick jolt of energy. It can even regenerate itself if part of it becomes damaged. As a thank you for all it does, here’s how Dr. Alschuler recommends you can give back to your liver with a little TLC: 
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o Vitamin B

“Vitamin B (specifically B1, B2 and B6) is our body’s energy-enhancing nutrient essential to maintaining a healthy body function, including digestion.” Many breakfast cereals and vegan milks are fortified with B vitamins, so be sure not to skimp on the vital nutrient.

o Green Tea

“Epigallocatechin galate, the active nutrient in green tea, has been shown to decrease the activation of cancer-causing substances by stimulating key detoxification pathways.” Though green tea is having a moment right now as a liquid for poaching in the world of culinary trends, enjoy it the good old fashioned way in a cup for a piping hot mug of liver liftin’ goodness.

o Glutathione

“Considered the master antioxidant, critical for detoxification, glutathione provides antioxidant protection, promotes detoxification and fortified the immune system. It’s also interesting to note that as alcohol is broken down in the liver, it creates a harmful chemical called acetaldehyde (which ages your tissue and damages your body). The liver’s primary detox substance is glutathione itself!” Look for this wise grandfather of all antioxidants at your local natural health foods store in the supplement aisle.

o Milk Thistle

People think I’m crazy when I tell them I take milk thistle pre and post- wee-too-heavy nights of drinking (it’s a plant that has nothing to do with dairy milk, NIH offers a good breakdown of it here), but Dr. Alschuler agrees: “Milk Thistle (also known as silymarin) has been used for centuries to treat liver conditions such as hepatitis and cirrhosis. Today it continues to be used as a supreme liver antioxidant.”

o Fiber

“Fiber helps to optimize the process of detoxification in the body.” Look for healthy sources of fiber like beans, whole wheat pasta, raspberries and apples and pears with the skin on.

Dr. Lise Alschuler is speaking at the Integrative Healthcare Symposium (IHS) in NYC on February 20 – 22. IHS brings together multi-disciplinary healthcare professionals dedicated to improving patient care and defining the future of healthcare (site link here). She also writes for Five To Thrive, a digital magazine that covers healthy, natural ways to ‘thrive’ in life post-recovery. 

5 Healthy Sipping Secrets from The Juice Generation

These “juicy tips” from The Juice Generation’s new book The Juice Generation: 100 Recipes for Fresh Juices and Superfood Smoothies by Eric Helms with Amely Greeven are some of my favorites from the new guide to all things juicing and blending. The book is loaded with recipes and ideas that will help boost your health, make juicing easier and add a shot of delicousness to your life (trust me, all tasting betterthan that morning shot of apple cider vinegar you started taking).

1. Sip spit-ily.

Sounds gross, but by mixing your saliva (which contains digestive enzymes) muddled around with a fresh juice, it gets your digestive juices flowing and helps promote better absorption of your drink’s nutrients. Also, sip slowly. Not only is savoring your juice better than chugging it down (and who wants to down it in four sips anyways? That’s like $2.30 a sip, guys)

2. Use your leftover almond butter jars to store juices.

…because you’ve been making healthy smoothies too with nutrient-packed almond butter too, right? right? Whether it’s an empty (and thoroughly cleaned!) almond butter, pickle or salsa jar, they all work great for storing juices.. Because plastic lets oxygen in, your juice’s lose their nutrients at a quicker rate. Since glass slows the oxidation process, you’ll have fresher juices for longer. Glass is also super easy to clean and lasts pretty much…until you drop it. Mason jars work fine too, for the trendier juicing set.

3. Pair hemp seeds with oil.
I’ve heard of power pairings like vitamin C and iron or green tea and lemon juice, but the book taught me that combing hemp seeds (or powder) with coconut oil helps you absorb the omega-3s in hemp twice as effectively.

4. Juice softer vegetables (like spinach, parsley, mint, kale) under harder fruits or veggies like carrots or apples.
Pretty self explanatory, but doing so helps pass the softer ones through the juicer and extract the most from leafy greens and herbs.

5. Don’t get carrageenan-ed away.

This seaweed extract (it’s a natural polysaccharaide boiled out from a red seaweed common in the Atlantic ocean) is often added to beverages like packaged soy, almond and coconut milk (not to mention countless dairy products). Among other things, it works as a thickening agent and as an emulsifier (such as by binding coconut oils and water together). While the FDA has given it a GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) status, the verdict is still out. Since some people attribute stomach problems to the additive, if you suffer from tummy upset after imbibing look for carrageenan-free brands when buying milk substitutes (or milk for that matter). Not into nut milks? Bananas, avocados, coconut water and fresh-squeezed juice all do the job. Extra ice for a frothy shake works too!

Learn more about the book here.