Please place your hand at the place where your front right ribs end, and say “THANK YOU, LIVER.” Show some love and gratitude to this workhorse of an organ, who along your intestines, kidneys and skin, forms the garbage commission team of your body and keep it from becoming an oversaturated trash can full of spoilage and toxins.
More than ever, we’re consistently exposed to toxins. They are present in the air, food, water, housewares, skincare, cleaning products…Some of them affect our hormones directly, others kill the good bacteria in our digestive tract, and others overwhelm the detoxification processes. It’s impossible to isolate ourselves from them. However, there are many things we can do to decrease the toxic load we expose ourselves to in our daily life.
Here are some tips. Remember, yes, ideally, you could make all the changes today, but that’s not realistic. Focus on one thing at a time. Maybe you can decrease your consumption of a certain thing or start eating something new that can support your body get rid of the junk, perhaps you buy a new deodorant... I’m giving you many options. Pick one, the easiest one, and start from there.
ADD LIVER-SUPPORTIVE FOODS:
- Brassica (aka cruciferous) veggies: kale, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, radishes, kohlrabi, arugula, bok choy, cabbage, watercress, etc (these are also rich in sulphur, that promotes antioxidant production)
- Burdock root
- Spirulina (I know, it’s an acquired taste, but if you buy the blue kind, you can make pretty smoothies and post them on Instagram)
- Green Tea
- Good quality protein: wild caught fish, pastured eggs, poultry and meat, bone broth and collagen
2. SUPPORT YOUR ANTIOXIDANT PRODUCTION:
- Foods high in vitamins C and E: almonds, walnuts, avocado, sunflower seeds, berries, citrus, peppers, tomatoes, etc
- Foods high in sulphur: garlic, onions, shallots, leeks, and Brassica
- Foods high in selenium: Brazil nuts (2 a day!) and/or sardines
- Bitter dark leafy greens: arugula, radicchio (and other chicories), collard greens, mustard greens, Swiss chard
3. SUPPORTIVE PRACTICES:
- Gentle exercise
- Stress management techniques: meditation, mindfulness, deep breathing
- Sweating: sauna, infrared sauna, steam room.
- Strength training to increase muscle mass
4. TRY TO LIMIT EXPOSURE TO ENVIRONMENTAL TOXINS
- Plastics: I know, so hard to avoid them!!! I also find it challenging, but I’m trying to be more mindful. Especially, focus on avoiding the ones with the number 3, 6 and 7 (when you see the recycle triangle in plastic products, there’s a number inside, avoid the ones containing those digits).
Throw away scratched plastics, don’t microwave and don’t place plastic containers/utensils in the dishwasher (as per Leonardo Trasande, M.D., an expert researcher at NYU). BPA free packaging might be better, however, it’s safer to stay away from plastics completely. Invest in a water filter instead of drinking from plastic bottles. Get a stainless steal or glass water bottle.
- Try to consume ORGANIC produce as much as possible. They are pesticide free, and pesticides do accumulate as toxins in our bodies. But don’t stop eating produce just because it’s not organic! Consult ewg.org's Dirty Dozen guide.
- Switch to natural skincare, personal care, cleaning, and feminine hygiene products (we rarely think about this last one, but the exact place where these products are used is extremely effective in absorbing all compounds. Cotton is highly sprayed with pesticides, and plastics can mimic our hormones or cause toxicity, so check out your local Whole Foods for substitutions).
Our skin is our largest organ, and absorbs a lot of the compound it’s exposed to. I know it’s easier said than done, but set your goals into finishing the soaps, shampoo, lotions, makeup, and cleaning supplies you currently have at home, and start buying “clean” brands. I'm a huge fan of dapple products, but there are many other brands in the market right now. The ewg.org website can offer resources and recommend brands. Here’s the direct link to their consumer guides where you can search for sunscreen, food, filters, cleaning products and cosmetic options https://www.ewg.org/consumer-guides#.WqAQ4iOZOqA.
A great source of skincare and makeup that I use is https://www.100percentpure.com, whose ingredient labels read like the ones in clean, unprocessed food: everything is recognizable and pure. But since the clean skincare industry is exploding like crazy, I’m sure you can find many more amazing products. I asked lifestyle, fashion blogger, and one of the most stylish people I know, Fortunee Dushey of Fortune Inspired, to share her favorite clean skincare products, in case you thought clean was for hippies like me only!
Fortunee is a big fan of Kai deodorant, which is all natural and has a light scent. She also uses their body lotion. For the face, she just got turned on to California-based True Botanicals. And just FYI, Barney’s just unveiled a whole Conscious Beauty category that includes a great variety of clean (and obviously pricey) brands and products. As for me, I wash my face with raw honey, moisturize with rose hip oil from thrivemarket.com along with DoTerra’s Immortelle essential oil blend (happy to get you hooked up with that), and jojoba and/or coconut oil from the health food store instead of body lotion.
I clean my countertops with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar plus "purify" essential oil blend from DoTerra, pretty cheap, easy and effective.
5. BENEFICIAL PATHWAY FOODS:
- Omega-3 fatty acids: sardines, wild salmon, chia seeds, ground flax seeds (flax meal), flax oil (don’t cook it) and walnuts.
- Magnesium: Consider supplementing. Ask your doctor, or try epsom salt baths.
- B complex: some of us have difficulty metabolizing B vitamins. You can try a methylated B complex supplement. This one is my favorite.
6. STRESS MANAGEMENT
We hear it all the time, and we wished we were doing something about it, but it’s not to be taken lightly. Chronic stress—aka feeling that there’s a threat coming your way ALL the time for any given reason—can over task your glands and throw your hormones off balance, then the liver gets in trouble too. I don’t mean to stress you even more by telling you this, nor by suggesting improvements you can make to your lifestyle in order to decrease the toxic load in your life. I just want to inspire you to do something that helps you relax as a daily practice from now on.
Think of the way you speak to yourself. Think if what you are saying comes from a place of love. If not, try again to speak/think from a place of love. Say something nice to yourself, even if you don’t feel like it!
You can also download one of the following apps to get started on five minutes of mediation: The Mindfulness App, Headspace, Calm, Mindbody Insight Timer (this is the one I use) or Smiling Mind are all free and since you can download them in your phone, you can take them anywhere, even if you are the meditating weirdo in the subway! If that’s not for you (but try it before quitting), just say three things that you are grateful for right before going to sleep. Do a deep breathing exercise (SEE HERE for my favorite) or just have a dance party for yourself listening to your favorite music. There are many ways to destress, the secret is just to get started….
So…begin loving your liver, your whole body and your mind. Make your own situation as optimal as possible for your branches to expand, your leaves to grow and your buds to blossom. Pick just one thing to get started. There’s no perfection, so just try…
Please feel free to share tips, your favorite products and even recipes. This is a conversation that is just beginning.