The last of the summer brings with it the potential for fun, frolics and a little more alcohol than usual. Whether it’s festival beers, holiday cocktails or a few too many Pimms’ at the family BBQ, with increased alcohol consumption comes an increased workload for your liver.
Our livers are constantly working hard, filtering our blood, producing bile essential for the digestive process and regulating our blood sugar level. Its work is essential for keeping us healthy.
Here are a few simple diet and lifestyle tweaks that can help you support your liver health and minimise the effects of your summer excesses.
Liver loving foods
Increase your fibre intake. Fibre binds to waste products and helps to remove them from the body but many of us don’t eat enough. If we have a diet lacking in fibre then it can prevent healthy elimination of waste from the digestive system, closely linked with the liver.
Fibre is naturally present in many plant foods so base meals around plenty of vegetables – particularly good sources include broccoli, Brussel sprouts, avocados and kale. Vegetables also provide liver protecting antioxidants.
Drinking green tea is good for your liver. Green tea contains catechins – an antioxidant found to encourage healthy liver function and help to protect the liver from toxic substances. In the summer months, try making a pitcher of green tea and cooling it in the fridge with some slices of lemon.
Drinking optimal amounts of water supports the body’s natural processes of waste elimination. Be mindful of your water intake as you may require more during hotter weather. Aim for a minimum of two litres per day to support your liver in effectively excreting toxic substances in your body.
Liver loving supplements
Turmeric is a bright orange spice which has been long used in Indian cuisine and Ayurvedic medicine. Turmeric is reported to have the ability to protect the liver from damage. Animal studies have shown that mice fed curcumin, one of the active ingredients in Turmeric, suffered less liver damage over time compared with those on a normal diet. Curcumin has even been found to have a beneficial effect in the treatment of liver disorders.
The beneficial compounds in turmeric are notoriously poorly absorbed by the body, so opt for a supplement such as BetterYou’s Turmeric Oral Spray which has been specifically developed to guarantee optimal absorption (via the inner cheek) and deliver maximum benefits faster than tablets and capsules.
What to watch
We know that consuming alcohol to excess will increase the workload of the liver and could eventually cause it serious damage. There’s a difference between a little over indulgence every now and then and consistently drinking to excess. Aim to keep within the government’s recommended alcohol intake most weeks – this is 14 units, the equivalent to six small glasses of wine or six pints of average strength beer.
Watch your sugar intake. The liver is responsible for converting excess sugar into fat and if we consume sugar to excess it can end up becoming stored in the liver. Your liver’s health is yet another reason to keep those biscuits, cakes and sweets to a minimum.
Your liver is an amazing organ and is surprisingly effective at regenerating itself. Support it by eating fresh, natural, whole foods and avoiding processed foods where possible. Drinking plenty of water and minimising your intake of toxic chemicals will keep your liver happy through the summer.
Kim qualified as a nutritionist at London’s Institute for Optimum Nutrition in 2008 and has worked in the field of nutrition and health for over 12 years. Kim’s clinical practice focuses on improving her client’s health and appearance through an individualised approach to nutrition.
Her areas of speciality are weight loss, skin health and healthy ageing. Kim is a full member of CNHC (Complimentary and Natural Healthcare Council) BANT (British Association of Applied Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy) and the Guild of Health Writers. To book an appointment, visit her website.