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Time for a Spring Cleanse? Top 15 Foods for Liver Detoxification

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liver cleanse natural

By Kristin Muckerheide, AADP, CHHC

The liver is one of the most important organs in the body. It is one of the major organs of detoxification, filtering blood coming from the digestive tract and metabolizing and detoxifying toxic substances like alcohol, medications, and chemicals. The liver also makes proteins that are important for blood clotting and other vital functions.

Like a carefully orchestrated assembly line, the various parts and organs of the body work together to keep everything running smoothly and efficiently. So if your liver becomes overly congested with toxins, as often happens with our modern lifestyle, over time, it reduces your body’s ability to secrete the bile it needs to digest fats. This in turn leads to digestive issues and even malnutrition.

Once the liver starts to malfunction, cascading effects ensue in other parts of the body. If the liver’s bile secretion goes awry, the gallbladder is sure to suffer next. This is an increasingly common problem: Every year, 500,000 people in the U.S. alone have surgery to remove gallstones, which often result from compromised bile secretion. 

This is just one of many examples demonstrating how the liver connects to other vital bodily functions. In short, it’s important to keep your liver strong to maintain overall health and wellbeing. And with spring upon us, there is no better time for a gentle liver cleanse.

After a winter of indulging in sweets, starches, animal products, baked goods and comfort foods (your body needed these to keep warm in the frigid winter weather), you may start to feel the desire to eat lighter, fresher, more raw foods and become more active. Many people naturally experience that all of a sudden, they actually want to work out and eat salads and green smoothies.

If this is your experience, it means that your body is simply following the natural rhythm of the seasons. It wants to purge and cleanse itself of all the fat buildup and toxins it accumulated throughout the winter, so that you will you have the energy to walk, run, bike and play in the nice spring weather.

Nature gives us the fresh green foods we need to help us detoxify and cleanse the body and liver in the spring: arugula, dandelion, asparagus, artichoke, peas, avocado, Bok Choy and fennel, just to name a few. It’s not a coincidence that much of the spring produce is green, indicating the presence of chlorophyll, a molecule that binds with toxins (like heavy metals) and carries them out of the body.

So take advantage of all the powerful produce the earth gives us in the spring to cleanse our bodies after the long winter. When we fight against the natural rhythm of the seasons, our bodies can easily fall out of balance—you may see this manifest as being unable to tolerate cold winter weather, suffering from allergies in the springtime or becoming inflamed and overheated in the summer.

When you’re eating cold smoothies and raw salads in the middle of winter or hot barbeque ribs in July, of course your body is confused! Instead, follow along with nature and what it provides us to keep in balance with the environment in which we live, wherever that may be.

A liver cleanse doesn’t have to make you miserable, involving fasting or drinking copious amounts of noxious liquids like lemon, maple syrup and cayenne pepper or orange juice mixed with lots of olive oil. You can get a long way simply by favoring foods and herbs that help revitalize and cleanse the liver. For a gentle, natural spring cleanse, emphasize these liver-supporting foods:

  1. Dandelion greens and root: Dandelion is a rich source of minerals and a variety of phytonutrients and super antioxidants, which support cleansing of the digestive tract and offer great liver support. It increases the production of bile from the liver and gall bladder, which aids digestion and keeps detox systems in balance. It also helps carry toxins out of the liver. For best results, regularly add dandelion leaves to your salad or sip dandelion tea throughout the day.
  2. Milk thistle: The active compounds in milk thistle, silymarin, appear to help the liver regenerate cells after damage has occurred. This is one of the best liver-strengthening herbs, but it is also strong, and can sometimes create a rash. Start with small doses and build up over time.
  3. Broccoli sprouts: Broccoli sprouts have 20-50 times MORE liver enzyme-stimulating activity than regular broccoli, which is already extremely healthy. A 2012 study found that eating broccoli sprouts may enhance detoxification of airborne pollutants and reduce their negative effects on the body (published in Carcinogenesis, Jan 2012). This follows a 2005 study published in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention that found that broccoli sprouts may help detoxify carcinogens and reduce the risk of liver cancer.
  4. Flaxseeds: Flaxseeds ensure that toxins are eliminated properly. They are a great source of fiber, which binds to toxins and flushes them from the intestinal tract. They are also a great source of omega 3 oils. For best results, consume 2 Tbsp of ground flaxseeds in water every morning.
  5. Lemons: Lemons stimulate the release of enzymes and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily excreted from the body. Drink warm lemon water (add ground flaxseeds for enhanced toxin removal) first thing in the morning, which is alkaline-forming and helps balance an overly acidic American diet.
  6. Garlic: No detox plan is complete without garlic. This powerful antiviral, antiseptic and antibiotic healer rids your body of these pathogenic microbes and can reduce endogenous (produced in the body) toxins. Garlic’s sulphuric compounds make it an essential detoxifier.
  7. Artichokes: Artichokes aren’t just tasty, they also stimulate bile production, which is essential to properly digest fats, and purify and protect the liver. Artichoke has a mild diuretic effect on the kidneys, ensuring proper removal of toxins once the liver breaks them down.
  8. Turmeric: This highly anti-inflammatory spice helps with liver and digestive disorders; it protects the liver from toxic substances and has been shown to promote bile secretion.
  9. Cruciferous veggies: Vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts are a rich source of sulphur compounds, which enhance the liver’s detoxification pathways and help it break down and eliminate fat through the bile ducts.
  10. Allium veggies: This class of vegetables include onions, garlic, chives. These foods contain compounds that help the liver produce enzymes needed for toxin breakdown and elimination. They also provide antioxidants that quench free radicals produced during the detox process.
  11. Sesame seeds: These wonder seeds are not only rich in calcium and iron, they are also a liver-protective.
  12. Beetroot: The humble beet contains a wealth of nutrients, including vitamins B3, Bl and C, beta carotene, iron, magnesium, zinc, and calcium—which are all necessary for optimal detoxification and elimination and great for gallbladder and liver health.
  13. Apples: While ideal for a fall cleanse, apples are beneficial all year-round. The quercetin in the skin of red apples is also helpful for spring allergies due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
  14. Sea vegetables: Seaweeds contain powerful antioxidants that help alkalize the blood and strengthen digestion. The algin in seaweeds absorbs toxins from the digestive tract just as a water softener removes hardness from tap water. Sea veggies also offer the broadest range of minerals of any food, containing virtually all the minerals found in the ocean and that are needed in the human body.
  15. Chlorophyll-containing foods: These bind with toxins and remove them from the body. The foods highest in chlorophyll include spirulina, chlorella, wheatgrass and sea vegetables, but any naturally green food contains some amount of chlorophyll.

How to Put It All Together.

For best results, set off a 2–3 week period in which you drink plenty of water, green juice and/or herbal tea, eat lightly, cut back on heavy animal foods and emphasize the liver-supporting foods above. Mix and match according to what you like the best. Incorporate exercise and time outside in the fresh air and sun if possible. You can also try making a detoxifying juice to drink between meals once or twice a day.

Here’s an example of a tasty and powerful detoxifying juice: Use a combination of any of the following: beetroot, beet greens (the tops of the beetroots), apples, celery (including the leaves), parsley, lemon and a knob of fresh ginger.

Try cutting out dairy and gluten-containing foods and grains to clear your brain fog, boost your energy and give your gut a chance to heal. See how you feel without them as well as how you react when adding these foods back into your diet. For best results, add dairy and gluten back in one at a time, with 2–3 days in between to watch for any delayed reactions, which can take up to 72 hours to manifest.

Although more intense liver cleanses and detoxification regimens do exist, incorporating the foods mentioned above, always in moderation, gives the body a gentler, more natural cleanse that is safe for nearly everyone. 

As Hippocrates once said, “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.” Nature supplies us with the most powerful medicine of all—minus the nasty side effects, costs and long-term effects of pills and procedures. No matter what your age or health condition, staying in tune with the earth’s patterns and consuming the medicinal foods each season provides is key to feeling your best and enjoying optimal health all life long.


kristin muckerheide body + soul wellness, llcKristin Muckerheide is an AADP Board Certified Holistic Health Counselor and owner of the holistic health counseling practice Body + Soul Wellness, LLC. For questions and to learn more, www.mybodysoulwellness.com.

Morning Flexibility Yoga Routine with Tara Stiles

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Morning Flexibility Yoga Routine with Tara Stiles

Limber up with this 7-minute morning routine with Tara Stiles, yoga instructor and founder of Strala Yoga in NYC, for a flexible mind and body all day long!

 

Paramahamsa Satyananda: The Peace Within

there is no noise quote

5 Poses That Should Induce Labor (But Don't)...

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goddess pose image

Blogger Erica Rodefer vents about some of the yoga poses that she thought 'should' help induce her labor... but didn't! Can you relate to trying any of these poses while preparing for labor? Did any of them work for you?

 

Five poses that should induce labor (but don't)... or at least haven't so far for me.

OK, to be fair, most of these poses are designed to open the hips, which should prepare the body for labor but not necessarily "induce" it.. but people say squats particularly and hip openers might help if you're at term and ready to go. (I am!)

Without further ado, I give you 5 Poses That Should Induce Labor
(But-Don't-Work-If-You're-Me-Because-My-Baby-Doesn't-Want-to-Come-Out-and-I'm-Going-to-Be-Pregnant-Forever).

 

1. Malasana (Garland Pose)

Garland pose

2. Goddess Pose

Goddess pose

3. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide-Legged Forward Bend)

wide-legged forward bend

4. Baddha Konasana (Cobblers Pose) while pressing the "trigger point" between your ankle bone and heel

cobblers pose

5. Parivrtta Surya Yantrasana (Compass Pose). A milder modified version of this to open my hips.

compass pose


Other things that don't work...

Spicy Foods

Pineapple

Long Walks

Bouncing on a Yoga Ball

Gardening

Meditating

Massage

Relaxing


Not yet tested...

Patience!

 

erica rodefer for yoga u online.comErica Rodefer is a writer and yoga teacher living in Charleston, SC. As the former online editor for Yoga Journal magazine, she lived and breathed yoga at work and at home. She practiced with amazing teachers every day, went to yoga conferences, and had a supportive environment to live her yoga. Now, she's trying to navigate yoga in the real world, and blogs about her journey to find contentment and live in the present, no matter what. Her loves include yoga, writing, crafting, her cat Gracey, and her dog Penny.

Online Yoga Warm-Up with Elena Brower

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elena brower yoga warm-up

This 9-minute yoga warm-up with Elena Brower, founder and co-owner of VIRAYOGA, and co-author of Art of Attention, is the perfect routine after waking up or right before getting into bed. Or simply use this calming, relaxing warm-up to slowly and gently open the body for your regular yoga practice. 

Helen Keller: The World of Eternal Beauty

There is in the blind as in the seeing an Absolute which gives truth to what we know to be true, order to what is orderly, beauty to the beautiful, touchableness to what is tangible. . . . . While I walk about my chamber with unsteady steps, my spirit sweeps skyward on eagle wings and looks out with unquenchable vision upon the world of eternal beauty.

- Helen Keller 1880-1968

Helen Keller

Free April Online Yoga Practice: 90-Minute Complete Anusara Practice

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anusara yoga class with marie lumholtz

Anusara yoga teacher Marie Lumholtz starts this moderately-paced Level 1 class by encouraging you to connect with yourself and "this place that is the divine itself, or the universe, that holds everything together."

Get ready for a great day as you lift and surrender your heart to open up the body. Stress will melt away as you release stored tension during this uplifting, inspiring Anusara practice.

 

Spring Poem: Such Singing in the Wild Branches

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Get inspired with this lovely Spring-themed poem from Mary Oliver. Get outside, take a walk, ride your bike, do some yoga poses in the backyard—just spend time in nature and breathe in the fresh air!


It was spring
and finally I heard him
among the first leaves—
then I saw him clutching the limb

in an island of shade
with his red-brown feathers
all trim and neat for the new year.
First, I stood still

and thought of nothing.
Then I began to listen.
Then I was filled with gladness—
and that's when it happened,

when I seemed to float,
to be, myself, a wing or a tree—
and I began to understand
what the bird was saying,

and the sands in the glass
stopped
for a pure white moment
while gravity sprinkled upward

like rain, rising,
and in fact
it became difficult to tell just what it was that was singing—
it was the thrush for sure, but it seemed

not a single thrush, but himself, and all his brothers,
and also the trees around them,
as well as the gliding, long-tailed clouds
in the perfectly blue sky— all, all of them

were singing.
And, of course, yes, so it seemed,
so was I.
Such soft and solemn and perfect music doesn't last

for more than a few moments.
It's one of those magical places wise people
like to talk about.
One of the things they say about it, that is true,

is that, once you've been there,
you're there forever.
Listen, everyone has a chance.
Is it spring, is it morning?

Are there trees near you,
and does your own soul need comforting?
Quick, then— open the door and fly on your heavy feet; the song
may already be drifting away.

— Mary Oliver, "Such Singing in the Wild Branches"

10 Ways Motherhood Changed My Yoga Practice

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how motherhood changed my yoga practice
Yoga is a personal experience unique to each individual; it is always changing and evolving—even if we can't feel it right away. It is an experience of constant growth, even if the changes are subtle, and just in our mind instead of our life circumstances.
Blogger Erica Rodefer tells us how one big life change of hers—becoming a mother—found its way into her yoga practice and changed that too. Yoga-practicing parents, this one's for you!

  1. I no longer have a Buddha statue or candle at the front of my mat for an altar. Instead, I have a sleeping baby in a bouncy seat, who inevitably wakes up screaming several times during my 30-minute practice session.
  2. Asana sessions are interrupted several times by demands for attention, food, or the need to be rocked back to sleep.
  3. During those breaks, I often have to change out of my cute yoga top into something looser so I can nurse. Poses that require me to lie on my belly still feel horrible, so I modify or skip those altogether.
  4. I look up and say "Boo!" almost every time I find my way into Cobra or Upward Facing Dog.
  5. My dog Penny, who will take every opportunity she can get to cuddle now that I almost always have a baby in my arms, comes running to practice with me. She licks my face every time I take Downward Dog and lies down on my calves for the seconds I'm in Cobra or Up Dog. I stop to pet her every time.
  6. Thirty minutes of uninterrupted practice is cause for a celebration. If I make it through, I'm elated for the rest of the day.
  7. I know yoga isn't about the poses. I've known this for a very long time, but deep down it still has been a little bit about poses for me. No longer! I practice because it feels good to do something for myself. It feels good in my body and for my spirit. I also want to be a role model for my little to girl—I want her to grow up seeing the importance of self-care. For the first time in 10 years of practicing yoga, I really don't give a flying flip what I look like or what poses I can accomplish.
  8. My yoga mat doubles as padding for Tummy Time. I put a blanket down, too, to avoid getting drool all over it. This is when I get in my forward folds. (Penny licks me in the face then, too.)
  9. Any activity is fair game for a quick meditation session: the shower, an evening stroll through my neighborhood, holding a sleeping baby (who refuses to sleep anywhere other than my arms)… I just take 10 deep, mindful breaths. That totally counts, right? 
  10. Savasana... I remember that! 

erica rodefer for yoga u online.comErica Rodefer is a writer and yoga teacher living in Charleston, SC. As the former online editor for Yoga Journal magazine, she lived and breathed yoga at work and at home. She practiced with amazing teachers every day, went to yoga conferences, and had a supportive environment to live her yoga. Now, she's trying to navigate yoga in the real world, and blogs about her journey to find contentment and live in the present, no matter what. Her loves include yoga, writing, crafting, her cat Gracey, and her dog Penny.

The 5 Elements Yoga Practice with Elena Brower

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Watch Elena Brower, founder and co-owner of VIRAYOGA, and co-author of Art of Attention, as she leads you through this grounding asana practice for invoking the Earth element within. Take delight in the power and beauty of your connection with nature in this energetic 9-minute practice.

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