Enjoy the festivities without overtaxing your liver by following our simple detox tips
You can’t be blamed for overindulging a little at this time of year, considering all the parties to go to, festive feasts to enjoy and the forthcoming New Year to ring in with friends and family. But after a few weeks of late nights, mince pies, and one too many glasses of mulled wine, you might start to feel a little under par.
Rich food, alcohol, not enough sleep and added stress can take a bit of a toll on your liver. It’s capable of dealing with most of the things you throw at it during everyday life, however, it could do with some extra nurturing when it’s given more work, which is really common at Christmas time.’
Thankfully, this organ is also really adept at repairing and regenerating, so keep an eye on how it’s doing using the checklist below, and if needed, make a few simple tweaks to help your liver perform at its best while you have fun.
Does your liver need a helping hand?
If you tick more than three or four of these signs and symptoms it might be time to give your liver some TLC.
· You don’t wake up refreshed, even if you think you’ve slept well.
· You fall asleep easily but wake up between 2am and 3am.
· You’re not hungry for breakfast in the morning.
· You struggle to control your body temperature and overheat easily.
· You have mood swings.
· You skin feels itchy around your bra line.
· Your PMS or menopause symptoms seem worse.
· Your skin is dry and rashy.
· You have red or itchy eyes.
· You’re experiencing constipation and/or diarrhoea.
13 ways to party-proof your liver
Lighten the load
Alcohol is the first thing your liver processes, so whenever you drink it, your liver will find it harder to deal with other toxins. Ease the burden by alternating every alcoholic drink with water. Try not to drink on consecutive nights so your liver can catch up, and skip drinks with fizzy, sugary mixers because sugar just adds to the toxic load.
Know your limits
Protect your health by drinking no more than 14 units of alcohol a week – that’s six 175ml glasses of 13 per cent wine, six pints of four per cent beer or seven 50ml servings of 40 per cent spirits, such as gin. Try to spread that amount over a week, ideally with at least three alcohol-free days a week.
Schedule a night in
Your liver does most of its work between 2am and 3am, but only if you’re in deep sleep at that time. Set aside some restorative nights in, in-between celebrations, where you aim to be in bed by 10pm to optimise that all-important sleep cycle.
Prep before a party
The night before the morning after, load up on liver-supporting foods. Broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower all contain enzymes that help support your liver, and garlic and onions are rich in allicin, an important liver nutrient.
Try some bitter bites
Bitter foods such as chicory, rocket, Jerusalem artichokes, watercress, kale and even very dark chocolate (more than 80 per cent cocoa solids) encourage your liver to produce bile. Bile helps your body breakdown fats and fat-soluble toxins so they can be sent to your intestines where they are mixed with fibre and excreted.
Do daily rituals
Snatch some ‘me time’ to encourage other organs of elimination, such as your skin and lungs to help in the detox process. For example, dry brush your skin, always towards your heart, every morning before your shower, and switch between hot and cold water for an extra boost.
Boost your breakfast
The morning after a night out, get off to a healthy start with a breakfast of poached eggs on wilted kale and slices of baked sweet potato. The specific combination of micro and macronutrients – including lean protein, soluble fibre, B vitamins, and antioxidant nutrients such as vitamin C and beta-carotene – help to nourish liver cells and carry toxins away.
Strike a pose
You can also try a supine spinal twist, as gentle twisting stretches help to encourage blood flow to your liver. Lie on your back with your arms stretched out to the sides. Bend one knee and let that leg roll across the other leg so your spine gently stretches. Keep your shoulders on the floor and turn your head in the opposite direction. Relax for 30 seconds then repeat on the other side.
Sample a new supplement
You could also try a supplement called TUDCA (£34.99), which studies show is promising for rehabilitating and regenerating your liver. It’s made naturally in small amounts by your body, and is said to help eliminate toxic metabolites.
Exercise is great for your liver – but go easy. Steady aerobic exercise such as walking, cycling or swimming increases the amount of air getting to your lungs, which increases the amount of oxygen circulating in your body and that helps your liver with detoxification.
Seek extra support
Milk thistle is a great herb to support your liver, especially before and after a big night out. A multivitamin containing zinc, magnesium, and vitamin C is also a good idea. Zinc and vitamin C together help destroy free radicals that are created as your body detoxes, magnesium encourages the release of toxins.
Help with heat
If you need a boost after a stressful day or heavy night out, lie down for 20 minutes with a hot water bottle resting over your liver. The heat stimulates the release of liver enzymes and can help to speed up detoxification.
Try to drink at least two litres of water a day to help your liver flush toxins through. To add variety, try some herbal teas with added liver detoxing properties, such as cardamom, liquorice, fennel, mint, dandelion or nettle.
Test how healthy your liver is with the British Liver Trust’s online screener