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Loving Your Liver

By Greg Samples


Originally published in Everything Knoxville in January, 2015

The human liver gets no love. It may be the most ignored organ in the body until it screams for your attention. The heart, lungs, kidneys, and bladder all get daily attention as their function noticeably affects our behavior and comfort. Even our pancreas gets noticed if our energy level drops. But the liver just works steadily with no fanfare keeping your body and other organs relatively free from toxins and wastes.

Closely associated with the liver, both in proximity and function, is the gall bladder. In traditional eastern medicine these two organs are paired as opposites and are complementary. Certain foods tend to distress both organs, and likewise, certain foods tend to help restore their function.

It is well known that alcohol in excess damages the liver and can lead to cirrhosis. Yet oily, fatty food can also be destructive. High fat animal food can be clogging to the liver, especially if fried. Fried foods, especially deep fried, tend to clog the liver and inhibit its ability to function. Nuts and nut butters high in fat can also contribute to liver congestion. The quantity and quality of oil consumed can be pivotal. Sesame oil is excellent for sauteing and stir frying. In all cases, oil should never be allowed to smoke, as this is an indication that the structure of the oil is changing. Olive oil is well suited for salads and raw dishes but volume must be kept in check.

Traditional eastern medicine identifies the sour taste with the liver and gall bladder, collectively known as wood, or tree energy. Just as citrus is used in dish detergent to cut grease from your cookware, sour tasting foods such as oranges, grapefruit, and sauerkraut can help cleanse the buildup of fats and oils in the liver. By keeping a check on the oily, fatty foods consumed, plus making sure to include sour tasting foods on a regular basis, your liver and gall bladder functions can be kept functioning smoothly.

Lastly, fresh greens such as kale, collards, turnip greens, or even romaine lettuce are the absolute best things you can eat for your liver. They provide the nutrients for the most efficient buffering of toxins as they are filtered by the liver and safely discharged from the body. By adopting these suggestions, you may not notice the benefits to your liver today, but it may prevent you from experiencing considerable difficulty in the future.

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