Feb Fast is in full swing with many of our members ditching the booze for a good cause and giving their liver’s a break after the festive season.
Beyond reducing your health risks and raising money, there are plenty of other benefits too, especially if your conditioning your body with goals to build muscle, lose weight or increase endurance. By going alcohol-free you’ll be reducing your caloric intake, minimising fat storage, increasing energy and productivity as well as improving sleep.
Getting to know your liver
Feb Fast is the perfect opportunity to help support your liver and encourage optimal detoxification.
Your liver has two major detoxification pathways:
- Phase 1 is responsible for breaking down toxins into small metabolites that enter the body through consumption of food, inhalation and our skin.
- Phase 2 converts these small metabolites from fat-soluble form to water-soluble so that these can be easily excreted from the body.
Phase 1 and Phase 2 pathways need to in balance for optimal detoxification. However, in most people, Phase 1 is more active than Phase 2 and as a result toxic, metabolites float freely in the bloodstream causing inflammation and cellular or tissue damage.
Nourishing your liver
To address this imbalance, a multifactorial approach is required including dietary, gut, hormone and liver support. But there are several things you can do to nourish your liver and increase its performance.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Keep hydrated
Water is vital in eliminating toxins and wastes as well as cell function, digestion, nutrient absorption, joint lubrication and metabolism of fat. Pretty much every system and process needs water.
Aim for 2L a day. If you want to get more specific, multiply your weight by .033. For example, 68kg x .033 = 2.2L.
If you have a high exercise load, are large or sweat a lot, you may need to increase this to accommodate the demand.
- Increase your liver-loving nutrients
- Cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy and kale contain enzymes needed for detoxification.
- Parsley is high in sulphur compounds that aid detoxification.
- Bitter greens like endive, rocket and chicory, are high in plant chlorophylls and help cleanse environmental toxins like heavy metals as well as promote the production and flow of bile.
- Foods high in B vitamins improve liver function and promote liver decongestion. Think eggs, whole grains, broccoli, spinach, lean meats.
- Turmeric offers an anti-inflammatory action and contains essential liver compounds.
- Garlic is an antioxidant, provides an anti-inflammatory action and helps to clear heavy metals.
- Consume quality protein
Make sure you’re eating enough quality protein which can help not only support your general nutrition, especially if training hard, but it will also help with cravings that often occur when detoxing.
- Reduce liver load and inflammation
Avoid damaging and oxidised fats. Remove excess saturated animal fats found in processed meats like salami, bacon and sausages, as well as high-fat dairy. Eat organic produce where possible and avoid additives and preservatives.
If you think your liver could do with some more individually tailored support or you want to optimise your general health and wellbeing, book in for a nutrition consult!