Loving your liver this Christmas

Christmas really is that time of year that can push you to the limits in so many ways be it fighting all the traffic on the roads, elbowing your way through shops to try to get through the crowds or overindulging at the never-ending lineup of parties that roll around every year. I’m all for celebrating with family and friends because that’s what life is all about! That being said,Β keeping yourself healthyΒ is also key. One of the best ways to do that around Christmas and New Years, given the increase in alcohol and party foods, is to show your liver some lovin’! ❀️

The liver is truly remarkable. It’s the largest organ in the digestive system and the second largest organ in the human body. It completes several critical functions for survival and is extremely unique in that it can regenerate itself replacing damaged tissue with new tissue [1]. Whaaaaat?! 😳 True! The liver goes through two phases of detoxification with Phase 1 converting toxins (e.g. medication and alcohol) into less harmful compounds (which produces free radicals in the process), while phase 2 makes the toxins water-soluble so they can be easily excreted through bile and urine. That is an enormous oversimplification of a very complex process I might add but we’d be here for weeks if we went over the whole process in detail!

Love our livers as we might, we do tend to ask them to work a little harder at this time of year. I’m a realist though and am not going to be telling anyone not to go to parties and have a few drinks (because I will be!), but poor liver function means poor mind and body function so do consider including some of the things from the list below over the coming weeks to ensure you stay well, relaxed and that you give your liver some much-needed love and attention ❀️

Seven steps for loving your liver this Christmas


1. Bitter foods – These are essential as they encourage the production and release of bile, which helps with digestion and absorption of fats, carbohydrates and fat soluble vitamins [2]. Bitter foods might include dark leafy greens, artichoke, herbs like dill and saffron or dandelion tea / greens, which are also helpful for indigestion (might be useful for that post-Christmas lunch!)

2. Brassica vegetables – Broccoli, cabbage, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, kale (that may be turned into kimchi, sauerkraut etc. for added benefits!) all contain a compound called indole-3-carbinol that exerts protective effects on the liver Β along with helping to remove toxins from the body by supporting phase 2 detoxification [3]

3. Flavonoids – The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of these compounds will help toΒ combat oxidative stress associated with alcohol consumption and support phase 2 enzymes in the detoxification process [4]. Increased antioxidant intake will also combat the production of increased free radicals in phase 1 (more alcohol, more free radicals). Great sources of flavonoids include blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, oranges, grapefruit, lemon and parsley just to name a few <3

4. Turmeric – You know I love this one! Turmeric provides protective effects to the liver and aids in the reduction of inflammation, which may be on the rise over the holiday season as a result of that increased alcohol or perhaps poor food choices (though we’re going to try not to make those, yes? πŸ˜‡). It’s also great for increasing bile flow along with the bitter foods mentioned above [5]. Turmeric provides improved beneficial effects when combined with piperine (found in black pepper) and a fat [6].

5. Green tea – Strengthens the immune system and protects against liver toxicity and isΒ also high in flavonoids and antioxidants [7]. We <3 green tea!

6. Soluble and Insoluble Fibre –Β The combination of which will ensure you are effectively removing waste and toxins from the body πŸ’©, which will be necessary if your alcohol intake has increased. More fibre will also keep you well satiated [8] and may help reduce your ‘party food’ intake. Sources of soluble fibre include fruit, vegetables and legumes while sources of insoluble fibre include nuts, seeds, skins of fruit and vegetables, legumes and wholegrain breads.

7. Water – This is a given! More alcohol, more water. Try going glass for glass. You’ll become well acquainted with the bathroom but you’ll also be keeping yourself hydrated and removing toxins πŸ™ƒ

In addition to all of that, making the best possible food choices you can, trying to steer clear of packaged / highly processed foods, getting plenty of sleep and getting in some exercise along with drinking in moderation are all fundamental for good health over this period. There are also a stack of wonderful herbs that can give you added support one of my favourites being St Mary’s Thistle (or Milk Thistle), as it protects and restores liver function, but you’ll need to have a chat to your Naturopath to see whether it’s suitable for you and at what dose.

All of that said, I hope you have wonderful Christmas and New Years festivities with your families and friends. Stay safe, enjoy yourselves and a HUGE thank you for your ongoing support during 2016 ❀️


1. Guan, Y-S & He, Q 2014, β€˜Plants Consumption and Liver Health’, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, vol. 2015, viewed 17 December 2016

2. Valussi, M 2012, β€˜Functional foods with digestion-enhancing properties’, International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition, vol. 63, no. S1, pp. 82–89, viewed 17 December 2016.

3. Aggarwal, B & Ichikawa, H 2005, β€˜Molecular Targets and Anticancer Potential of Indole-3-Carbinol and Its Derivatives’, Cell Cycle, vol. 4, no. 9, pp. 1201–1215, viewed 19 December 2016.

4. Akhlaghi, M 2016, β€˜Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Beneficial Effects of Flavonoids’, Phytotherapy Research, vol. 30, no. 10, pp. 1559–1571, viewed 15 December 2016.

5. Rathaur, P, Raja, W, Ramteke, P. & John, S 2012, β€˜Turmeric: The Golden Spice of Life’, International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research, vol. 3, no. 7, pp. 1987–1994, viewed 17 December 2016.

6. Alamdari, N, O’Neal, P & Hasselgren, P-O 2009, β€˜Curcumin and muscle wasting – A new role for an old drug?’, Nutrition, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 125–129, viewed 14 December 2016.

7. Chacko, SM, Thambi, PT, Kuttan, R & Nishigaki, I 2010, β€˜Beneficial effects of green tea: a literature review.’, Chinese Medicine, vol. 5, no. 13, pp. 1–9, viewed 20 December 2016.

8. Oliveira, CP, De Lima Sanches, P, De Abreu-Silva, EO & Marcadenti, A 2015, β€˜Nutrition and physical activity in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease’, Journal of Diabetes Research, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, viewed 20 December 2016.

Please note: This does not constitute medical advice and should not replace the advice given to you by your GP or qualified natural health practitioner. If you are unsure of whether these hints and tips are suitable for you, please discuss with your GP or qualified natural health practitioner of choice before making any dietary changes.

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