Yip, It’s that time of year. Christmas might be a bit away yet, but the Christmas parties are getting earlier and earlier so more of us will be heading to the seasonal work nights out, lunches and family get togethers.
So first off, if you want to be a real Liver Lover, avoiding alcohol or reducing intake, is the way to go. But. let’s face it – very few Christmas parties are full of tee-total people with a happy liver on their mind.
So, let’s see what I can do to give you some tips to minimise the damage, and give this vital organ some support at its busiest time of the year.
Firstly, it might help to understand WHY the Liver is so important.
The liver is a critical organ in the support of the digestion and safe elimination of food and toxins we consume and absorb. There are two parts to liver function – Phase 1 and Phase 2. Think of it like a factory where all the by-products from our food, medications, etc are queuing up to be decontaminated for safe passage on through the body.
Alcohol, Caffeine, Smoking, and other things like pesticides and exhaust fumes, are known to speed up Phase 1 which in turn leads to a backlog of by-products queuing up to be treated and safely exiting phase 2. It is this back log that means these by-products (toxins) stay in our body longer than they are supposed to. They often recirculate and come around again and again rather like a car circling the block while waiting for a parking spot.
This recirculation of toxins can cause fatigue and brain fog and contribute to imbalances in the gut. Concurrently, bacteria and yeast imbalances in the gut can increase the toxic load – making the queues speeding through phase 1 and backing up at phase 2 all the worse.
Reduce your toxic load
In the lead up to any Christmas Party excess, it would be a good idea to reduce your toxic load where possible.
If you are a regular coffee drinker (more than 2 a day), consider replacing some of your daily coffees with any of the liver support drinks below:
· Green tea (before 1pm)
· Dr Stuarts Liver Detox tea
· Liquorice Root Tea
· Dandelion Tea
· Ginger Tea
Waste Disposal - Not just for Christmas.
It’s important to keep your digestive system on track and firing on all cylinders. Make sure your internal waste disposal unit is working well, eliminating regularly. Constipation causes a build-up of toxins which are absorbed from the bowel by the body and travel back to the liver. This means your liver is already overworked before you add to the burden with the Christmas excess. If you are regularly constipated, then book an appointment with me - you’d be surprised how easily this can be addressed. I’ve had clients with constipation for all of their adult lives finding relief with regular elimination after a few short weeks (days in some cases).
20 minutes before breakfast, drink the juice of ½ lemon in lukewarm water. Lemon juice helps flush out unwanted materials and encourages the liver to produce bile which is required for digestion. Drinking warm lemon water can help get your digestive system get moving in the morning without overloading it.
Include foods each day to support liver function
These foods support Phase II of the liver function so that it can keep up with Phase I.
Asparagus, Avocado, Spinach, Broccoli, Garlic, Walnuts, Brazil Nuts, Apple Cider Vinegar, Cauliflower, Beansprouts
Turmeric, Caraway, celery, coriander cumin, fennel, parsley, mint, garlic, onions, ginger, paprika, saffron.
Pre and Post Night Out Care
Milk Thistle has long been recognised as the hangover crutch, but it is this plant’s most active compound, its main antioxidant player, Silymarin, that works the magic.
Research has shown Milk Thistle to have a protective, regenerative effect on our liver cells by boosting antioxidant activity in the body.
Christmas party nights out strain these cells so taking Milk Thistle, in a tincture or capsule, can help to minimise damage and allow cells to function better. It is also an anti-inflammatory herb and can help negate some of the free-radical damage associated with alcohol and help the liver to metabolise toxins.
If you know you are in for a run of nights out, milk thistle can be taken preventatively for example, up to 6 weeks before the party season, as well as after.
As with everything – quality is key. Make sure you buy from a reputable outlet. Buy a product with a THR mark, (traditional herbal registration).
As far as so-called detoxing goes, your body is already equipped to break down alcohol over time. The British Dietetic Association is keen to remind us of this.
“The body has numerous organs, such as the skin, gut, liver and kidney, that continually ‘detoxify’ the body from head to toe by responding to signals, in the form of hormones, to remove any waste products. There are no pills or specific drinks, patches or lotions that can do a magic job. If you have over-indulged on alcohol, for example, the liver works hard to break down the alcohol into products it can remove. It sounds predictable, but for most people, a sensible diet and regular physical activity really are the only ways to properly maintain and maximise your health. Not smoking, drinking less alcohol, getting enough sleep, fresh air and exercise will also help you feel healthier and more energised.”
Just a reminder that all Milk Thistle can do is give your liver a helping hand – it's not a magic sponge to soak up all the Prosecco from the night before.
Word of Caution – Just because Milk Thistle is a herb, doesn’t make it safe for everyone. The Liver also metabolises medications and Milk Thistle may speed up that metabolism, so before taking this supplement have a word with your Doctor or Pharmacist if you are on existing medication.
Okay, so there had to be a boring tip in here somewhere! There’s no way to disguise the fact that more than moderate amounts of alcohol can overload the body with toxins, deplete us of important nutrients, suppress the immune system (making us vulnerable to picking up colds or flu), disrupt sleep, and upset digestion… the list goes on.
If you’re going to be drinking regularly at Christmas, alternate between alcoholic drinks and water and make sure you keep hydrated. Mixing spirits with fruit juices or making alcoholic smoothie-like cocktails with loads of fresh fruit (not the tins of syrup some bars use) provides useful nutrients to counteract the alcohol and may even help ward off a hangover.
DO NOT drink on an empty stomach. An empty stomach will absorb the alcohol more quickly – so fill up before you go out.
And that fool proof tip to avoiding at worst case, liver damage and at best a hangover the next day?
Abstinence from alcohol the night before. Sorry.