Remember high school health class?
In suburban New Jersey in the late 80’s, we weren’t learning anything particularly useful or compelling—even the sex ed wasn’t titillating. Now that I’m a teacher of physiology, and health practitioner talking to clients about their bodies, I’m always struck by how interested people are in how their insides work, especially children and teens.There’s a lot we could have learned in health class: what your liver does for you, how to manage stress so that it doesn’t tear you apart, which foods commonly cause reflux, the importance of sleep and hydration, how to properly recover from a cold….knowledge that is often hard-won as an adult.
One of my intentions in offering the Seasonal Cleanse is to help you instate habits that will set you up for a radically improved health status by the end of the year. Since each season focuses on a different body system, you’ll amass a slew of good practices to care for the varied and precious parts of you.
In that spirit, here are four ways to move the principles of liver and gallbladder support into your daily life:
Consider daily liver support in the form of milk thistle, artichoke, or turmeric. Especially if you drink regularly, have a job where you’re exposed to solvents or other chemicals (think office printer fumes or hair dye), or have systemic inflammation that follows the “liverish” pattern.
My favorite ways to get Milk Thistle:
- Thorne Research Siliphos—a phospholipid-bound extract of the active hepatoprotectant constituents in Milk Thistle. This type of preparation renders the milk thistle more absorbable, and more readily usable by our livers. I recommend this form for anyone on medications that are tough on the liver, and to regular drinkers.
- Milk Thistle Seed Gomasio—an herbalist’s riff on the traditional Japanese sesame seed “shake.” Grind up milk thistle seed, sea salt, sesame seeds, and seaweed and store in a tightly sealed glass jar for a nutritious and savory topping for grains, soups, salads….Stay-tuned for my recipe in the Summer Cleanse!
My favorite ways to get Artichoke:
- Eat it! See our Herby Artichoke recipe in our Seasonal Cleanse Spring Guide—and remember to keep the cooking water. Drink a couple of ounces of Artichoke Water a few times per day until you’ve finished it up. Eat 1-2 artichokes per week while they’re in season.
- Artichoke-based bitters are my absolute favorite. Farmacopia’s Salad Bitters and GB Bitters both contain a good dose.
My favorite ways to get Turmeric:
- Divine Golden Turmeric Paste (of course!)
- Thorne Research Meriva—a phospholipid-bound extract of curcumin, a set of active constituents in the turmeric. This extract contains a highly absorbable and usable form of curcumin, and is especially indicated for those with depression, joint pain, and inflammatory bowel conditions.
Or, you can get all 3 in Thorne’s S.A.T.—a milk thistle, artichoke, and turmeric combo in capsules!
Our world isn’t very liver-friendly these days, so you may want to consider daily liver support no matter what your situation!
Broth Re-charge: Whenever you’re feeling down or depleted, take the time to cook up some Alkalizing Mineral Broth, and drink the whole batch over the course of a few days. Real nourishment makes you feel amazingly good.
Bitter lover: Give your liver and gallbladder a loving nudge by taking your bitters before (or after) meals, particularly with heavy, fatty, difficult-to-digest or unfamiliar foods. Get a 1 ounce size of your favorite bitters blend at Farmacopia and keep it on you. You’ll never be caught without them!
Food First! Eat for liver health: Especially when you’re feeling sluggish, rundown or inflamed. Just eating the right foods, and avoiding troublesome ones, is a great boon to the liver.
High sugar/packaged/processed foods
The EWG’s “dirty dozen” highest pesticide foods
Foods you’re reactive or allergic to
Rancid oils—often found in packaged baked goods, poorly stored or old nuts and seeds, and bottles of vegetable oil that have been sitting in your cabinet too long
Too much alcohol
Vegetables! Especially artichokes, leafy greens, beets, and radishes
Hydration—liver loves water!
High-quality proteins—remember that amino acids, minerals, and B vitamins are all required for detoxification. They also keep our blood sugar stable, which as we’ve learned, takes a load off the liver