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Olwen Anderson's Blog

Foods your liver will love (and hate!)

Saturday, July 31, 2010

You can usually spot people with a healthy liver – they have glowing healthy skin and clear eyes. Your liver is very responsive to changes in your diet and lifestyle – look after it well and you will reap the benefits: Not just in how you look, but how alive you feel. Here are foods that will nurture your liver:

-          Fresh fruit. Two pieces a day of fresh raw fruit provide lots of soluble fibre that will soak up toxins and carry them out of your body. Choose fruit that’s in season for variety, and also freshness (some apples are stored for months before sale when they’re out of season). Fresher fruit = more vitamins for you.

-          Salad. Ideally, one of your meals every day should be based on salad. Raw vegetables contain more water-soluble vitamins, used as the building blocks for your liver’s digestive enzymes. Look here for salad inspiration

-          Fresh vegetable juice will give your liver a concentrated boost of vitamins and minerals. It's ideal as a pre-training drink; but it's very quickly digested, so if you’re using it as a between-meal snack, include some protein-rich food as well to prevent a sudden spike in your blood sugar level. When you're recovering from an illness, with a need for extra nutrition but without an appetite, liquid foods like fresh vegetable juices are ideal.

-          When your liver releases bile to break up fats in your diet, the bile/fat molecule attaches to fibre, enabling it to be transported out of your body. So a high fibre diet will give your liver a boost. Legumes are ideal, being packed with minerals as well as high in fibre. (Hint; most people are eating only about half the amount of fibre they really should)

There are some foods that will make life harder for your liver too. An unhappy liver can leave you feeling like you have a perpetual hangover, or that you're carrying around a rubbish dump. That's because your liver just can't keep up with the processing and toxin-clearing you're asking it to do.

-          Processed foods not only require extra processing before they get on the supermarket shelf – any additives will need extra processing by your liver too. The more processed a food is, the less nutrients it is likely to contain

-          Too much fatty food makes your liver more prone to inflammation. Your liver can start to become fatty itself under the strain. You may feel sluggish from the buildup of toxins.

-          Coffee and alcohol molecules aggressively push their way to the front of the liver processing queue and demand attention. The result, when you indulge too much?  Dull skin, and a feeling that you’re constantly ‘below par’

Nurture your liver, and it will reward you with a sense of vitality and more energy.

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Olwen Anderson @olwenanderson


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