It’s that time of year where your calendar is full with social outings and celebrations over fine food and often an abundance of alcoholic bevvies. Christmas is a time to relax and be merry and this may mean letting your hair down…a little too far and consequently upsetting your liver health.
Your liver plays an important role in metabolising your hormones to allow excess levels to be safely removed from your body. If the detoxification processes in the liver (Phase 1 and Phase 2) are overwhelmed with filtering toxins (such as alcohol), your hormone health metabolism may be compromised.
Along with staying hydrated, here are my top ways to use foods to promote a healthy and happy liver and support your hormone health through the silly season.
THE GUT: LIVER CONNECTION
If your digestion is in tip top condition, this will help out your liver. The liver is the filter of the blood, so any toxins such as undigested foods, bacteria and bacterial products (also known as lipopolysaccharides, or endotoxins), which cross a leaky small intestinal wall in the condition of leaky gut, will place a greater pressure on the liver. Promoting good gut health will therefore give your liver a well deserved christmas break.
Here’s some simple ways you can support your digestion using foods this festive season.
LEMON/ ACV WATER
Prevent post meal bloat by starting your meals with either juice 1/2 lemon or 1 teaspoon up to 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, in warm water (some boiling, the rest room temp). This promotes healthy stomach acid secretion which allows efficient break down of your foods, particularly protein and absorption of amino acids and minerals.
ADD FERMENTED FOODS
The addition on 1 teaspoon, up to 2 tablespoons of fermented vegetables such as sauerkraut to your christmas meals can help to supply gut friendly enzymes and beneficial bacteria. You could also start the day with some seasonal fruits, nuts, seeds and a dollop of coconut yoghurt or add coconut kefir to your favourite smoothie.
ENJOY THE FATS
Yes, that’s right I’m saying to include the fats (with except to trans fats). These will help to nourish your gut and keep your blood sugar levels stable across the day in order to prevent insulin spikes and unwanted inflammation production. If roast is on the menu this christmas, make up a real gravy from the roast juices and nourishing fats. Mix in a small amount of warmed gut healing bone broth, coconut or tapioca flour and stir until you’ve reached a desired consistency, adding more broth if needed. Yummy!!
Don’t forget to keep aside any roast carcass’ or bones from fish, lamb or beef dishes. You can add them to the freezer and make up a batch of broth when you have time later on.
LIVER SPECIFIC SUPPORT
As introduced above, the liver has 2 phases of detoxification. The second phase is where toxins and hormones are broken down into water soluble substances, safe for elimination from the body via urine or faeces. This phase requires certain nutrients for proper enzyme function, including sulphur containing amino acids (taurine, cysteine) as well as glycine, B vitamins, inositol, choline, magnesium, selenium and glutathione. Get these through your foods this festive season:
These guys are high in the sulphur containing amino acids, supporting phase 2 liver detoxification. Fill your plate with cauliflower, broccoli, watercress, bok choy, kale and cabbage to get the biliary benefits. Just be sure to cook them to prevent any disruption to your thyroid health.
Hopping into greens this festive season will also give your liver a helping hand. Kale, spinach, rocket, swiss chard and lettuce varieties are high in your B group vitamins, vital for supporting an important process involved in phase 2 liver detox, called methylation. Start your day with liver cleansing greens by whizzing up a quick green smoothie or juice, or a a big fresh salad containing your fav greens to share amongst the christmas table.
BRING IN THE BEETROOT
Beetroot offers important liver support and encourages healthy bowel movements. It is rich in betaine, a substance which encourages your liver to process toxins, provides protection to the liver and bile ducts (encouraging healthy bowel movements) and has healing benefits for the liver. Get your christmas beetroot dose through my yummy Beetroot Dip or my Veggie Juice For Healthy Hormones.
Another liver healthy addition to your christmas roast veg and meat is the fragrant herb rosemary. It provides anti-inflammatory actions and encourages binding of oestrogen to the protective oestrogen ER-beta receptor activity (as oppose to the dangerous ER-alpha receptor). Rosemary particularly promotes healthy 2 hydroxylation oestrogen metabolism in phase 1 of liver detoxification, in turn preventing 4 hydroxylation metabolism. 4 hydroxy-oeftrone metabolites have the potential to bind to and damage DNA and lead to breast cancer development. More info on this topic in my book: Balanced, The Natural Way To Healthy Hormones.
Fresh ginger and turmeric, added into my Green Start Smoothie or grated into cooking also provide liver protective properties. You could end a day or night of celebrations with a soothing anti-inflammatory Turmeric Milk.
USE FOODS FOR A HAPPY LIVER
Whether it’s christmas, new years or any celebration where alcohol may be a feature, you can prevent compromising your liver health. Along with hydrating your body there are ways you can support your liver through your foods. Include a combination of gut healthy foods with cruciferous and leafy green vegetables, beetroot and liver protective herbs of rosemary, turmeric and ginger.
More liver supportive diet, lifestyle and supplementation recommendations found in my book- Balanced, The Natural Way To Healthy Hormones.