The liver is an organ we don't often think of, and thus we tend to underestimate its role in our health.
However, it plays a vital part as it's responsible for processing everything that you eat, drink, absorb and breathe, including synthetic chemicals, the toxins you're exposed to and what you put on your skin.
The liver carries out more than 500 bodily functions, so we need to make sure we are looking after it!
Typically, the liver can carry out these processes with ease, but our modern lifestyles can put our detoxification system under immense pressure, no matter how clean or green you are.
Detoxification is something the body undertakes every day – it refers to the natural metabolic process where the body eliminates what is metabolised, unnecessary or harmful to its functioning.
It occurs without any active effort, much like the heart pumping blood through the body.
The downside is that there's only so much the liver can effectively detoxify from the body.
Any leftover waste that can't be dealt with by the liver builds up, which may cause symptoms such as sluggishness or skin problems, as toxins can treat the skin as an 'emergency exit' if the liver is at capacity.
Since the industrial revolution in the Western world, our environment has been increasingly exposed to thousands of synthetic chemicals.
Pollutants and contaminants such as pesticides, herbicides, environmental toxins, heavy metals, and radiation can be hard to avoid.
Couple these excess toxins with increased adrenalin and cortisol levels from today's often-stressful lifestyle and you have a recipe for an overworked, underperforming liver.
As it's a natural function of the liver, detoxing shouldn't be considered a 'diet'. However, it has become a buzzword over the years, relating to fad diets and miracle products.
In reality, supporting your detoxification system should be a way of life, something you do every day to look after your health and protect yourself as best as you can.
Most detox 'diets' won't work because they're not sustainable.
They usually promise quick results such as weight loss, but don't focus on improving overall health.
They can involve extreme dietary changes that are harsh on your body and, unfortunately, they're commonly made with artificial ingredients that can strip the body of essential nutrients.
The best way to approach detoxing is with holistic, long-term benefits in mind.
The simplest 'detox' is to limit the number of toxins you come into contact with in the first place.
Eat organic foods; look for cleaning and personal care products that don't have nasty chemicals; limit caffeine and alcohol intake; and spend time in nature away from air pollution.
There are a number of benefits to a liver that's functioning to the best of its ability.
People experience more energy, an improved immune system, better absorption of vitamins and minerals, and assistance with maintaining healthy levels of hormones.
A properly functioning liver can also help with clearing excess cholesterol, keeping blood sugar levels under control, hormonal imbalances, and making enzymes and proteins responsible for reactions in the body, like blood clotting.
Anyone taking pharmaceutical drugs should also speak to their doctor about liver support as the liver may be working harder to help process the medicine.
Bitter plants like St Mary's thistle, globe artichoke and dandelion root improve liver detoxification, supporting the body to eliminate waste efficiently.
Bitter medicinal plants can also help with digestion, as they can activate the taste buds, which signal to the digestive system that you're getting ready to eat.
This starts a chain reaction where the nervous system signals to the body that further compounds need to be released to break down food and absorb the nutrients.
The best practice is to support your detox organs daily so they can function at optimal levels – try a medicinal tea before breakfast to kickstart the liver for the day.
Medicinal tea has its own benefits: in tea form, the plants' active constituents are easy for the body to absorb and utilise, meaning the body can get more of the available nutrients faster.
It's healthy as there's nothing in the formula other than the whole medicinal plant and water.
Plus, tea counts towards your daily water intake, improving hydration as well as liver health.
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