Horray! it’s now officially spring time and we can start saying goodbye to those dark evenings. Here in Wicklow we’re having a wet start to the season with lots of rain and grey skies but don’t let that dampen your spirits. It’s now time to come out of winter hibernation mode and welcome the spring. Our bodies tend to get sluggish during the winter months, we spend less time moving and tend to opt for those comfort foods. So now is the time to spring into action! You might be thinking of spring cleaning the house but why not also stop and think about some ways to help spring clean your body.
Why the need?
We need to give our liver a good boost. Our liver is the largest organ in the body and it works hard performing over 500 metabolic functions. Some of these include the following: produces and excretes bile to help emulsify and absorb fats, filters the blood, helps regulate blood glucose levels, breaksdown protein, it makes cholesterol and helps breakdown fatty acids to produce energy, breaksdown toxins, activates Vitamin D, produces heat (the main heat producing organ of the body), stores glucose in the form of glycogen, and it stores vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K, iron and copper.
Signs that you might need some liver support
Change in texture of your hair, skin conditions (rashes, eczema or psoriasis), headaches, nausea, sensitivity to chemicals, perfumes or tobacco smoke, hangovers easily from alcohol, strong reaction to caffeine.
Top tips for your spring clean
1. Drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of filtered water (herbal teas count) a day and aim for more if doing strenuous exercise. It’s amazing the difference this simple change can make. I’ve had clients report that their energy levels improve and aches and pain start to ease when this simple change is made.
2. Reduce the amount of added sugar in your diet. The maximum amount of added sugar a day recommended by the World Health Organisation that we should be consuming is a max of 6 teaspoons i.e. 24g. 4g = 1 tsp. It’s worth getting into the habit of reading food labels and buying wholefoods. Sugar is a toxin and artificial sweeteners are even worse. They both trigger the release of insulin which in turn stores fat. Sugar also feeds our bad gut bacteria which can lead to lots of digestive problems e.g. bloating, irregular bowel movements, acid reflux. Why not swap your usual chocolate treat for 2 squares of 85% dark chocolate or a healthy chocolate mousse – my go to favourite (blend ½ avocado with ½ banana and 2 tsps of raw cacao powder, squeeze of lemon juice) or 1 or 2 stewed apples with cinnamon.
3. Cut down on the caffeine especially if you have symptoms like acid reflux, feel jittery, have problems sleeping or have gastritis. Caffeine is filtered and detoxified through the glutathione pathway in the liver. This pathway depends on food sources like onions, garlic, root vegetables to boost glutathione levels.
4. Increase your fibre as it’s great for bowel health. It’s important that you are having at least one bowel movement every day, otherwise toxins will re-circulate in your body and you’ll start to have symptoms of ill health (e.g. tired, headaches, irritable, itchy skin). Increasing fibre also helps with pumping fats and cholesterol out through the bowels.
5. Specific therapeutic nutrients that help boost and support liver function include: milk thistle (has silymarin which boosts detoxification by preventing glutathione from depleting), N-acetyl cysteine (glutathione is made in the body from NAC), artichoke extract, dandelion root (take as a tea), B vitamins (increase cellular energy enough to kick start change), aloe vera (natural laxative and calms inflammation). I usually recommend taking one of these nutrients for 4 weeks only and stop. Then rotate to a different nutrient next time you feel you need a boost and review what works best for you.