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Detoxing the Liver
by Sandra Cabot, M.D.

You can improve liver function through simple dietary habits and achieve many health benefits--including weight loss

You might think that if the liver can cleanse the bloodstream, it should be able to cleanse itself and is in no need of extra help, right? Wrong! The liver, the supreme organ for cleansing the body, itself needs cleansing.
    The liver is like the air and oil filters of an engine which need regular cleansing and maintenance. If these engine filters become dirty, blocked, and over worked, they malfunction and eventually the engine breaks down. This is what happens in the body and eventually an overloaded or dirty liver filter can cause wide ranging symptoms of poor health in the body.
    What can overload or impair the liver’s ability to detoxify? There are a number of factors such as: high exposures to environmental toxins, alcohol, and heavy metals; generation of excess free radicals from immune complexes or viruses; fatty infiltration of the liver due to a high fat diet; nutritional deficiencies of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, essential fatty acids, and sulphur bearing amino acids; hereditary deficiencies of the liver enzymes that break down toxins; leaky gut syndrome in which excess toxins return from the gut to the liver; medications that modify detox enzymes in the liver such as anti-histamines, anti-ulcer drugs, anti-depressants, and much more.

So how we can cleanse the liver? We can do several key things:
1) Reduce consumption of hydrogenated vegetable oils, which contain trans-fatty acids.
2) Reduce consumption of sugar and processed foods.
3) Boost the intake of foods high in anti-oxidants such as citrus fruits, raw vegetables and raw juices.
4) Detect and avoid food allergies.
5) Use natural antibiotics to reduce unfriendly germs in the bowel (such as onions, garlic, horseradish, olive leaf extract) and take in probiotics by eating acidophilus yogurt.
    There are key foods that increase or balance the activity of the phase one and phase two detox pathways in the liver:

* Cruciferous Vegetables
These are a rich source of bi-functional modulators to balance both detox pathways in the liver. These include watercress, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussel sprouts. The cruciferous vegetables contain phyto-nutrients such as sulforaphane, which is an isothiocyanate and a potent inducer of phase 2 liver detox enzymes.

* Sesame Seeds & Tahini
A component of sesame seeds demonstrates protection of liver cells (hepatocytes) from alcohol and carbon tetrachloride.

* Turmeric (found in Curry Powder)
The curcumin in turmeric speeds up phase two detox pathways (increases glutathione production which is a powerful antioxidant in the liver) and is anti-inflammatory.

* Green Tea
The catechins in green tea speed up phase 2 liver detox pathways and balance phase 1 detox pathways. Catechins are also strong antioxidants.

* Citrus Fruit & Caraway Oil
Limonene, a monoterpenoid found in citrus fruit and caraway oil, enhances breakdown and elimination of carcinogenic metabolites from the body via the liver.

* Milk Thistle
Milk Thistle (silymarin) is an herb that is clinically proven to repair liver damage. It is a strong antioxidant bioflavonoid.

Diet plays a crucial role in modifying the detox pathways in the liver. Protein deficient diets impair detox pathways in liver, resulting in deficiencies of amino acids. (The most dangerous deficiencies are in methionine, cysteine, glutamine, glycine, and taurine.) Antioxidants should also be plentiful in the diet. Vitamin C, bioflavonoids, and anthocyanins (purple pigments in foods), chlorophyll (green pigments in foods), carotenoids (yellow and orange pigments in foods) are powerful protectors of the liver. These antioxidants are increased by a diet abundant in raw fruits, fresh vegetable salads, and raw juices.

Sandra Cabot, M.D. is the author of The Liver Cleansing Diet. She is based in Australia and specializes in helping people with weight problems, liver dysfunction, and hormonal imbalances. Learn more at www.liverdoctor.com

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