A few years back, my GP raised her eyebrows and said my liver was unhappy. Mild understatement really. Bottom line? I was drinking too much alcohol. Now, nobody likes to be told what to do, right? And our psyches have a curious kickback mechanism that makes it tempting to say, ‘Sod that and sod you: if I want to kill myself slowly with liver disease, that’s my choice.’ And of course it is. Though you have to wonder, why are we so self-destructive? Why do we hate our bodies so much?
But, that aside, it’s a bit selfish, huh? Because, of course, our choices affect other people, people who love us. And they have no choice in the matter, do they? Unless it’s to stop loving and that’s easier said than done.
Anyhow. Livers are awesome! They deal with everything that you bung in your body and that you absorb into your body from the environment. They clear the blood of poisonous substances (everything from alcohol to pesticides) that would otherwise build up in the bloodstream. They absorb these toxins, altering their chemical structure, making them water soluble and then excreting them into the bile. The bile then carries them away from the liver to the intestines whence they are excreted. Clever liver.
The other amazing thing about livers is that they are so damn forgiving. Bless their hearts (can a liver have a heart?), no matter how cruel we are, they will keep try, try, trying. And the good news is that they will regenerate, if you give them the chance. But you need to love them and be kind…just a bit.
In my book The Detox Plan I outline a whole four week liver detox plan. It’s slow, safe and has amazing results. It’s also pretty simple. First and foremost, cut out alcohol. All alcohol. If you can’t, then it’s fair to say, you’re alcoholic and will need help.
Second up, adopt a clean diet (so, no processed foods, no deep-fried foods, no sugar). A healthy liver can handle fat, no problem (and there’s nothing wrong with ‘good’ fat) but, if your liver is under strain, then be very careful. Rich, fried and fatty foods are not kind to livers. Think superfood salads, vitamin-packed soups, green juices, grains and pulses, nuts and seeds.
Once you’ve eased your body into this cleaner way of living for a week, you can launch into a serious liver flush for the second week. The liver flush comes originally from Polarity Therapy – I first discovered it at Fiona Arrigo’s Stop the World detox retreat, over 25 years ago. It helps to clear the liver, gall-bladder, kidneys and intestinal tract, and can help restore a correct biochemical balance in the body. It revolves around a breakfast shake that tastes mega weird but you swiftly get used to it. It may sound counter-intuitive to dose a fatty liver with oil but, trust me, it works. The only proviso is that, if you have gallstones or a history of them (or any serious health issue, come to that), you will need to take professional advice (this is my disclaimer, okay?).
The drink encourages the expulsion of stones and, if they are too big, they can become trapped in the bile duct. Result? Agony. Been there, chewed the duvet, don’t advise it.
Anyhow, that warning aside…let’s go…
Breakfast – Liver flush drink. Combine three to four tablespoons of virgin cold-pressed olive oil or almond oil with twice the amount of freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add three to six cloves of garlic and fresh ginger to taste. Blend until frothy and drink immediately. Tip: glug, don’t sip.
Have it in place of breakfast for a full seven days.
I also prepare a herbal tea, from equal amounts of licorice root, fennel, peppermint and fenugreek. Add fresh ginger, lemon juice and honey to taste and drink after the liver flush to take away the greasy feeling. You can also drink this freely through the day.
Mid-morning– alkaline juice – cabbage/kale/spinach, lettuce, carrots and beetroot. Or try a turmeric smoothie – turmeric is a mega liver healer.
Lunch – alkaline vegetables, either fresh in a big salad or lightly steamed with ginger. Add a little dressing (olive, almond, sesame or argan oil with lemon, garlic, onion). Got dandelions in your garden? Bung ’em in – they’re supreme liver pals.
Mid-afternoon – as mid-morning
Dinner – make it light. Either salad (as for lunch), soup or just some fruit (apple, pear, grapes, melon, papaya) with a portion of seeds.
That’s it. Simple, huh?
Third week and beyond – Drop the liver flush drink. Widen your diet but keep off all alcohol, rich, fried and junk/convenience foods. Your palate should have adapted to cleaner eating so it should be easy now to avoid the crap. Does this mean you can’t eat yummy food? Far from it!
PS – the emotion connected with the liver is anger.