Ten Tips to Support the Liver this Spring 1. Drink plenty of water. Fereydoon Batmanghelidj, M.D. is one of the world’s foremost experts on the therapeutic value of water. He suggests that half of your body’s weight is the number of ounces of water to aim for each day. For example, if you weigh 120 pounds, 60 ounces of water is your goal. I have seen the beneficial effects of this formula in the clinic with many patients over the years. Also, drinking a glass of warm water with lemon first thing in the morning will support your liver’s natural detoxification processes. By the way, dehydrating beverages such as coffee and alcohol don’t count towards your total water intake.
2. Eat vegetables every day, especially greens. In TCM, the color green is associated with the liver. When choosing your salad fixings, go for the organic spring mix instead of the iceberg. Your liver will love a variety of greens such as kale, spinach, asparagus, and collard greens. The color green in these vegetables comes from chlorophyll, a substance plants use to trap the energy of the sun. Go ahead–eat some sunshine! 3. Add sour-tasting foods to your diet. These include citrus fruits (sprinkle lemon in your water and on foods such as fish and vegetables), raw apple cider vinegar (good for balancing pH–try two tablespoons in a glass of water, or use with olive oil on your salad), and sauerkraut (which contains beneficial bacteria). With our over-sugared, over-salted palates, we often overlook sour-tasting foods. According to TCM, the sour flavor is associated with the liver, and it enhances bile flow.
4. Avoid toxic fats, eat beneficial ones. Decrease your consumption of trans fats and partially-hydrogenated oils. Toxic fats put an unnecessary burden on the liver, further stagnating qi flow. Emphasize organic, unprocessed oils (such as olive oil and flax oil) in your food preparation. Increase the use of fish that is low in mercury, avocados, nuts, and seeds in your diet. Consider supplementing your diet with an Omega-3 supplement to boost your essential fatty acid intake. Omega-3 supplementation has been shown to decrease cardiovascular disease risk, and it can reduce symptoms of arthritis, depression, cognitive decline, and a seemingly endless list of health challenges.
5. Reduce your sugar consumption. On average, Americans eat 137 pounds of sugar a year! It’s the hidden sugars that often add up. Watch what you add to foods like cereal and coffee. Read food labels and avoid overly sugary choices. Know that “fat free” foods can be loaded with sugar, and actually increase triglycerides, a fat in your blood. Eat whole fruits rather than drinking fruit juice.
6. Eat close to nature. Often simpler is better. Select the best of what comes from Mother Nature and avoid artificial ingredients and toxic sweeteners by eating less packaged foods. Go organic as much as possible. 7. Get Outdoors this spring! Incorporate more conscious breathing and exercise into your routine to boost circulation and enhance overall liver function. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy, and remember to breathe. Emphasizes breathing and movement specifically designed to promote the smooth flow of qi. Daily walks, running, strength training, yoga.
8. Choose to be joyful by cultivating a spirit of gratitude, and regularly forgive others as well as yourself. In TCM, the emotion that contributes to stagnant liver qi is anger, especially repressed anger. The virtues that free the liver qi are forgiveness and a release of judgment towards self and others. In China, when someone is angry, they are said to have a toxic liver. In fact, a morning greeting there translates to “How is your liver?”
9. Reduce or eliminate your use of alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine. These substances can become very addictive, masking a greater imbalance in our physical, emotional, and spiritual health. Taking these suggested steps to give our liver some TLC can be part of a comprehensive program to heal our reliance on potentially harmful chemicals.
10. Schedule time for self-care. Get acupuncture to tone your body, a massage, take a yoga class, etc. I say schedule because I’ve noticed something in our 24/7 culture. This is that if we don’t put taking care of ourselves on our own list, it often doesn’t happen.