WHY YOU SHOULD LOVE YOUR LIVER
The consequences of mistreating the liver include obesity, a higher incidence of cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, allergies and many other ailments. And although the immune system protects our body from many dangers, it is the liver that protects the immune system from overload.
So says Dr Sandra Cabot in her groundbreaking new book, The Liver-Cleansing Diet. The following is an abridged version of her account of how to look after this key organ based on an eating plan to cleanse and revitalise the liver.
Many people struggle with excessive weight and sluggish metabolism all their lives finding that, as they age, they gradually gain more weight and become resigned to a large protruding abdomen and stubborn fat deposits. After years of dieting they believe that nothing can possibly lead to lasting relief. Something is obviously wrong, something is missing.
It took me more than 20 years of medical practice before the solution dawned on me! The liver, the supreme organ of metabolism, had to be the missing key. It seemed so simple yet so incredible; why hadn't someone in medicine thought of this before?
Modern medicine has become side-tracked into treating the symptoms of disease and not the causes. Excessive weight is a symptom of liver dysfunction and not solely due to the number of calories you eat. Medicine has failed to treat the underlying cause of liver dysfunction and indeed has virtually ignored the hardest working organ in the body, with dire consequences.
My theory that the liver holds the key to weight control has been vindicated in all the 1540 patients I have treated since 1994 with my program to improve liver function. The success rate, as measured by the parameters of weight loss and general wellbeing, has been 100% in all the patients I have been able to monitor.
As a medical student I spent many hours with leading naturopathic doctors. I believed that they had much to teach me, and their patient waiting lists were always very long with cases that other doctors had not been able to help. I first learned of the tremendous importance of the liver. In all their patients, naturopathic doctors examined the state of the liver through iridology, acupuncture, pulse techniques and from the patient's history. In the vast majority of cases a liver problem would be found, and correction of this was always a vital step in their healing program. They would treat the liver with dietary changes and specific liver herbs and, in more toxic cases, with fasting programs.
I came to understand that to restore good health one must always consider the state of the liver. However, my career led me into other areas of medicine, and the importance of considering the liver gradually slipped into my subconscious mind. Thankfully, one day I would remember to take a leaf out of the book of this old naturopathic wisdom.
I see many difficult cases where people have been chronically ill or obese for years, and they are all fascinated to learn how the liver holds the key to weight loss and balanced metabolism.
The liver is the major fat-burning organ in the body. If you follow the Liver-Cleaning Diet your metabolism will improve in leaps and bounds and you will start to burn fat. Conversely, if you eat the wrong foods, your liver will make more fat so that you keep on storing fat. To a large degree, it's not how much you eat, it's what you eat that is far more important. On the Liver-Cleansing Diet your liver will give a big sigh of relief and merrily get on with its job of regulating metabolism and burning fat. Then the process of weight loss begins naturally and without excessive effort on your part. You do not have to count calories or pedantically weigh every morsel of food, and even better, you never have to go hungry.
The Symptoms of an Unhappy Liver
Symptoms of mild liver dysfunction may occur even though all blood tests of liver function are `normal'. The tests that doctors use routinely to check the liver are not very sensitive - they check for liver damage rather than function.
Common symptoms due to poor liver function are:
The Twelve Vital Principles to Improve Your Liver Function
ONE -- Listen to Your Body. Don't eat if you're not hungry. Have a raw juice, a piece of fruit, a small raw vegetable salad or a glass of water instead. Conversely, don't put up with hunger pains.
Far too many people place their mealtimes around the clock and will eat at, say, 8.00am, 1.00pm and 7.00pm, come hail or shine, appetite or not. It's much healthier to place your mealtimes around your hunger and pay little heed to the clock. If you are in the habit of eating regular meals when you are not hungry, your liver will be working far too hard and will basically suffer with excessive wear and tear.
TWO -- Drink 8-12 glasses of filtered water daily as this helps to cleanse the liver and kidneys and aids with weight loss. Your body requires small and frequent sips of water otherwise your cells shrink with dehydration and their membranes dry out. There is a higher risk of Alzheimer's Disease in people who do not drink water.
Avoid large amounts of fluid with meals.
THREE -- Avoid Eating Large Amounts of Sugar, especially refined sugar, as the liver will convert this into fat and cholesterol. The fat can cause fatty degeneration of organs or will be transported to fatty areas such as the thighs, buttocks and abdomen for storage. Eventually the blood triglycerides become too high and this is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease.
Avoid all artificial sweeteners as these are toxic to the liver and cause hypoglycaemia and fatigue. If you must have something sweet, have fresh raw fruits, sun-dried fruits, honey or blackstrap molasses.
FOUR -- Don't Become Obsessed with Measuring Calories. If you stick to the foods and meal plans in the LCD, your liver will gradually improve and weight loss will follow accordingly.
Far more people die from overeating than from undereating, so err on the side of eating less once hunger is satisfied.
Ignore the bathroom scales as the aim is to cleanse your body and rejuvenate your entire metabolism, not merely to lose weight. Weight loss will occur hand-in-hand with the improvement in liver functioning. Why stress yourself by noticing how quickly or slowly weight loss occurs?
FIVE -- Avoid Foods That You May be Allergic To or that you know from past experience upset you.
Always chew your food slowly and thoroughly, as digestion begins with saliva being mixed with food in the mouth.
As people age, the production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach often becomes inadequate for efficient digestion of proteins. This can be overcome by sipping a small glass of water containing one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar during every meal (containing protein foods).
SIX -- Be Aware of Good Intestinal Hygiene as the liver must filter out and destroy any bacteria and viruses present in our food. Too many unfriendly organisms, such as salmonella or shigella bacteria, may make us seriously ill and also permanently damage the liver. To reduce this risk, only eat foods that are fresh, and avoid the regular reheating of food as bacteria breed in stored cooked foods, especially meats. Never reheat food more than once. And always wash your hands before eating.
Many packaged and processed foods are laden with preservatives, yet they are still full of unfriendly organisms in a dormant state. As soon as this food hits your intestines, the preservatives wear off and the bugs begin to grow inside you. Especially avoid preserved meats.
SEVEN -- Do Not Eat if You Feel Stressed or Anxious because during these states your blood flow is diverted away from the intestines and liver to other areas of the body.
EIGHT -- Check if Organically-Grown Fresh Produce, Free of Pesticides, is Available in Your Area. If using eggs and chickens, always buy free-range.
Buy products containing natural ingredients and avoid processed foods containing artificial chemicals such as preservatives, colourings, flavourings and artificial sweeteners.
NINE -- Obtain Your Protein from Diverse Sources, Including Legumes. The Liver Cleansing Diet does contain some chicken (preferably free-range), fish and eggs. [This is to cater for newcomers to Natural Health by providing a transition stage - Editor.] However, there are many meals in which protein is obtained from legumes, grains, cereals, nuts and seeds. First-class protein from combinations of these sources is just as complete as protein from animal sources and contains all of the eight essential amino acids.
Legumes or `pulses' are beans (such as soya beans, kidney beans, etc.), peas, chickpeas and lentils and they provide valuable protein, essential fatty acids, fibre, plant hormones, minerals and B vitamins.
If you are too busy to cook beans, it is acceptable to use canned legumes and there are many to choose from. If the canned beans contain lots of salt and sugar, rinse with water before using them.
Seeds - linseed, sunflower, sesame and pumpkin seeds - are excellent sources of essential fatty acids, protein, plant hormones and fibre.
Nuts are very rich in unsaturated oils and should only be eaten fresh and raw. If they have been shelled for a long time and exposed to air, their oils will have become rancid. Buy nuts in sealed bags showing a use-by date, or buy nuts still in their shells.
TEN -- Choose Your Breads and Spreads Wisely. It is Important to eat only good quality breads on the Liver-Cleansing Diet.
Go to a health food store and buy breads free of artificial chemicals. If you have irritable bowel syndrome, use stone-ground breads which have a fine texture and are free of little grainy bits.
Vary the types of breads you eat to reduce allergies - try rye, wheat, corn, oats, rice, barley and others available in health food stores. For something lighter, try rice crackers, Ry-Vita crackers or yeast-free pita bread. If you are allergic to yeast, try yeast-free breads or a sour dough loaf.
While on the LCD, it is essential that you avoid margarine and/or butter. If you must have a spread, try fresh avocado, hommos or tahini.
ELEVEN -- Avoid Constipation by eating plenty of raw fruits and vegetables and drinking water throughout the day. By avoiding constipation you will avoid the growth of unfriendly organisms in the large bowel. To increase the amount of the friendly acidophilus and other lactobacilli bacteria, you may take powdered forms of these or eat soya-bean yoghurt.
TWELVE -- Avoid Excessive Saturated or Damaged Fats. These unhealthy fats can cause liver damage with changes typical of a `fatty liver' similar to that seen in alcohol consumption.
Many weight watchers try to follow a completely fat-free diet However, if this is done for more than four weeks, symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency will start to occur. Furthermore, your liver function and metabolism will slow down leading to easy weight gain!
Symptoms of essential fatty acid deficiency are: dry and itchy skin, eczema, hair loss, joint pains, reduced fertility, increased rate of miscarriage, depression and poor memory, slow metabolic rate with weight gain, reduced immune function, hormonal imbalances, liver degeneration, fatigue, circulatory problems, degenerative diseases, increased rate of aging and high triglycerides.
I see thousands of overweight people and many do not eat excessive calories; their problems are due solely to the consumption of the wrong type of fats. The liver is the supreme fat-burning organ of the body and if you choke it with damaged fats it will be unable to perform its metabolic functions and your entire metabolism will slow down. As a result, you will gain weight easily, particularly around the abdominal area.
In a simplistic way we could say that a healthy liver pumps fat out of your body and keeps you slim.
Eating the wrong foods for your liver will cause an imbalance in the liver's production of lipoproteins so that you will have too much low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and not enough high-density lipoproteins (HDL). This will increase your risk of atherosclerosis, heart disease and high blood pressure.
The type of fat you eat on a daily basis is so very important to your health and longevity and will have the greatest influence of all upon your liver function and weight.
Take Care of Your Oils. Dietary oils will only take care of us if we take care of them by reducing their exposure to heat, air and light. Natural food oils such as those contained in fish, seeds, nuts, avocados, olives and legumes are protected from light, air and heat by virtue of the skins, coverings and shells around them and are fresher and healthier than the bottled versions. However, for salad dressings, light stir-frying, etc., ideally buy unrefined oils that have been cold-pressed and kept in dark-coloured glass bottles to block out the light. Keep your oil in the fridge. Virgin olive oil is generally available and is a good choice because it is cold-pressed and has not been heated, refined or bleached.
OTHER DETOX INFORMATION: