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Spring Cleaning of March Madness

By Greg Samples


Originally published in Everything Knoxville in April, 2014

March Madness is over, but the remnants of our internal turmoil may still be lingering and in need of a spring cleaning. Traditionally, spring is also the time when the liver is most active and most in need of cleansing. During this time we may find ourselves to be irritable, easily angered, and generally in a foul mood. It is no coincidence that in earlier times people who were disagreeable were often described as "liverish".

The people we encounter, the movies and news we see, the work we do, and even the weather can affect our mood. This is obvious, but one thing that can affect our demeanor to a great extent that we may not readily identify is food. Often we are unaware of why certain things that we normally tolerate suddenly set us off. If we examine our intake for the previous 24 hours, we can usually identify something that is unhealthy for the liver, such as alcohol, oily or greasy foods, dairy, or nut butters.

Often cleansing the liver is recommended by some type of fast or regimen, but this can be traumatic even for healthy livers. The liver is constantly cleansing the blood and itself. Instead of trying to cleanse it, it may be more prudent to simply provide it with the tools it needs to be healthy, and even more importantly, reduce or eliminate those damaging foods above.

For the liver, the most pressing issue is the quality of oil. Good quality sesame oil is best used for cooking, while olive oil is best for salads. The method of cooking is also extremely important. Lightly sauteed vegetables or grains are much preferred over frying, but even with light saute it is important not to let the oil get so hot that it begins to smoke. This changes the chemical nature of the oil. The next time you suddenly feel enraged, recall the amount of deep fried foods that you have recently consumed.

Some of the best foods that can assist the liver in taking care of itself are leafy greens. Of these, kale and collards are particularly adept at this, but others help as well. Eating a good portion of greens daily is probably the healthiest thing one can do for the liver. Sour tasting food also nourishes the liver. Sour kraut is an excellent food for liver health, and citrus such as tangerines or oranges can actually be useful in tempering bouts of anger.

March Madness is over. You can make your own life and those around you much more pleasant by keeping your liver healthy which will improve your mood, outlook, and therefore all of your relationships. Be kind to your liver.

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