The liver works overtime in the body to perform hundreds of essential tasks including processing digested food from the intestine, controlling levels of fats and other substances in the blood, as well as filtering everything from what we eat and drink to what we are exposed to in the environment.
There are two main phases of detoxification in the liver, phase I and phase II. Each phase requires key nutrients to support their action.
Phase I: Involves several enzymes that help break down fat-soluble toxins and other byproducts. This phase requires the help of key nutrients including vitamins E, C, B3, B6, B12 and folate, as well as glutathione.
Phase II: Mobilises and transforms the byproducts of phase I into new, water-soluble waste products allowing for the removal from the body. This phase requires help from key nutrients such as glutathione, sulfur-based compounds, particularly like those found in cruciferous vegetables, as well as minerals, including zinc and selenium.
For some nutritional tips for a healthy liver to support both phases of liver detoxification, try some of these top 5 tips:
- Stay hydrated
Drinking more water always helps to cleanse the liver. Adequate water is required to promote blood circulation while also assisting in dissolving nutrients.
- Increase fibre
Fibre is an indigestible type of carbohydrate that has various health benefits. It helps to promote healthy bowel function, supporting the removal of toxins from the body. All plant foods are good sources of dietary fibre, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.
- Add in cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables include things like broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and brussels sprouts. These vegetables provide sulphur-rich compounds that are essential to produce glutathione, the master antioxidant that supports detoxification. Try to incorporate them as often as possible, at a minimum aiming for a few serves every week.
- Limit alcohol
You shouldn’t be surprised to see this one on the list! The liver is only able to process one standard drink per hour, so anything above this is putting strain on the liver. The current Australian recommendations are no more than 10 standard drinks a week and no more than 4 standard drinks on any one day for healthy men and women. Alcohol-free days throughout the week are also strongly encouraged.
- Consider using supportive supplements
Herbs like St Mary’s thistle have a long history of use in both protecting the liver while also supporting liver health.
St Mary’s thistle, also sometimes referred to as Milk thistle, is a plant native to the Mediterranean region that has been used for centuries as a medicinal herb for the liver.
The main active constituent of St Mary’s thistle, silymarin is predominantly found in the seeds of the plant and is believed to be responsible for both the plant’s antioxidant effects, as well as its positive effect on liver health.
Found in both Herbs of Gold St Mary’s Thistle 35 000, as well as Herbs of Gold Liver Care this herb can be beneficial for supporting healthy liver function. Herbs of Gold St Mary’s Thistle 35 000 is a high-strength formula containing St Mary’s thistle standardised to silymarin where Herbs of Gold Liver Care is a combination of herbs and nutrients to support healthy liver function and digestion. Herbs of Gold Liver Care contains St Mary’s thistle in combination with Dandelion, a herb that has been traditionally used in Western herbal medicine as a digestive tonic, to improve digestive weakness.