Wai Lana, host of the long-running PBS series Wai Lana Yoga, shares tips on liver health.
Knowing the important role that my liver plays in keeping me healthy, I often share this simple truth with others: “Take care of your liver now, and your liver will take care of you.” A healthy liver will cleanse and nourish your blood, regulate your hormones, break down fat and cholesterol, form blood-clotting proteins, and store iron and other essential vitamins throughout your entire life.
Unfortunately, environmental pollution, chemicals and pesticides in our foods, and over-consumption of painkillers and other medical drugs are far too common in today’s world. In excess, toxins can overwork your liver. When your liver is weak, instead of purifying the pollutants that enter your body, it sends them into your bloodstream. When this happens, it can make you feel overly tired and sick. A sluggish liver can also lead to allergies, bad skin, mood swings, weight gain, and even obesity.
Mother Nature, as always, provides us with safe remedies in the form of foods and herbs that can help nourish, detoxify, and strengthen our livers. Here are a few healthy ways to make your liver sing. Remember too that regular gentle exercise such as hatha yoga, walking, and swimming will help you assimilate these nutrients and assist with the detoxification process.
Beets have such a vibrant bright red color that it’s not hard to imagine they are an excellent blood purifier. Try grating them on top of salads for a colorful and crunchy topping, or make a traditional Russian beet soup called borscht, which can be served hot or cold depending on the season.
Herbs like milk thistle, which is strengthening for the liver, and dandelion, which is detoxifying, have traditionally been used as liver tonics to keep the liver’s lifeline flowing and healthy. My Liver Support supplement combines these two potent herbs to gently cleanse and nourish your liver.
Bitter, leafy salad greens like arugula, endive, chicory, and dandelion mixed with regular salad greens are one of my favorite ways to end a meal. Bitter salad greens, when eaten after the main course, help your organs digest the starchier foods from the meal. They also stimulate bile flow from the liver, which helps your liver naturally cleanse itself. With an herbal vinaigrette (or, if you prefer, a creamy ranch-style dressing), bitter greens can feel very soothing and renewing to your liver.
Hot water with a little squeeze of lemon is a good way to start the day. It also helps cleanse and detoxify the liver. I recommend doing this for a few days in a row and then stopping for a few days since lemon juice in excess can be hard on the stomach.