foods for the gallbladder

Loving Your Liver With Nutrition - Part 2

By Emma Suttie, D.Ac, AP

He that takes medicine and neglects diet wastes the time of his doctor.

~ Ancient Chinese Proverb

In this second instalment of the Liver series, we will cover how the foods we eat can heal and support the liver. The spring is the time when liver energies are at the fullest, so this is the perfect time to eat foods that support the liver as well as detoxify, letting go of things we don't need to make room for the new things that will nourish and heal us.

Spring and the liver in TCM

In spring we begin eating less than we did in winter, consuming lighter foods and cleansing the body of the excess fats and heavier foods eaten in winter. Spring is a time of renewal and growth, a time of expansion and expression. Spring is when we introduce newly grown greens and sprouts, salty foods and pungent herbs which support the liver and help to cleanse the body.

Cleansing the body is especially beneficial in spring not only because of the liver's function of filtering toxins, but emotionally as well - emotions like frustration, impatience and anger are associated with the liver and a cleansing of the body and emotions allows us to clear out old residues and enables us to see more clearly and move forward in life with renewed passion and purpose.

Here is a list of things associated with the liver and spring in Chinese medicine.

Yin Organ - Liver
Yang Organ - Gallbladder
Season - Spring
Colour - Green
Direction - East
Flavour - Sour
Sense Organ - Eyes
Emotion - Anger
Weather - Wind

Cooking in Spring

Cooking in spring should be of shorter duration and at higher temperatures. In Chinese medicine raw foods are mostly seen to be cold in nature so some cooking is always recommended, but of all the seasons, the spring is the time food is cooked the least for its cooling and cleansing capabilities. Sautéing with a bit of high quality oil over high heat, or light steaming with water is the perfect was to cook food in spring and the way your liver will receive the most benefit.

greens for a healthy liver

Liver Disharmony

Of all the organs, the liver tends to be the most congested, and ironically, is responsible for the free flow of qi throughout the body. A diet high in fatty, deep fried foods as well as eating highly processed and denatured foods congest the liver and lead to disharmony, physically, mentally and emotionally. A person with a healthy liver in Chinese medicine is supremely calm, has no feelings of stress or tension, easily makes decisions and has excellent judgement.

Physical symptoms of liver imbalance include many symptoms. The liver opens into the eyes so many eye symptoms point to a liver disharmony (bloodshot eyes, floaters, vision problems like cataracts and glaucoma), tendon issues (contraction, weakness, rigidity and inflexibility), pain and distension in the sides and rib areas, vertex headaches and outbursts of anger or frustration are all symptoms of a liver disharmony.

Avocado Salad for Liver Health

Beneficial Liver Foods

  • Honey/mint tea
  • Herbs - basil, fennel, marjoram, rosemary, caraway, dill, bay leaf, turmeric, ginger, black pepper, horseradish, mint, lemon balm, angelica root, prickly ash bark
  • Complex Carbohydrates - grains, legumes, seeds
  • Vegetables - beets, carrots, watercress, onions, mustard greens, taro root
  • Raw foods - sprouted grains, beans, seeds, fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Fruits - lemon, lime, grapefruit
  • Bitter Foods - rye, romaine lettuce, asparagus, amaranth, , quinoa, alfalfa, radish leaves, citrus peel
  • Liver cleansing herbs - dandelion root, bupleurum, mandarin, milk thistle seeds, Oregon grape root, chamomile flowers
  • Liver detoxifying foods - mung beans and their sprouts, lettuce, cucumber, watercress, seaweeds, celery, millet, tofu, plum, chlorophyll rich foods, mushrooms, rhubarb root, radish, daikon radish

dandelion for the liver

If you are feeling like your liver might need a little extra love, then try eating some of the foods listed above, drinking some green juices (dandelion and milk thistle are particularly good) and go outside, take in the new green of the growing plants through your eyes, move your body to circulate the qi and stretch to keep those tendons limber. Your liver will love you for it. :)

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If you would like a downloadable information sheet that will tell you all about how to live in harmony with the Spring Season in Chinese Medicine, you can find it here - The Spring Season in Chinese Medicine.


Burdock for Liver Health

By Vicky Chan of NourishU

It is spring again and is a crucial time to pay attention to our liver health according to Chinese Medicine because the liver is most active in spring.

Liver is the detox engine of our body. It is a part of the digestive system for making cholesterol to digest fatty foods and to dispose of waste products from our blood stream. The liver is also responsible for maintaining the equilibrium of our overall health and should be well taken care of to avoid life-threatening diseases.

The most damaging things to liver health are alcohol, medicine and sorrow. Alcohol, pharmaceutical drugs and supplements are all chemicals which can have unhealthy results to the liver. Mixing them can create toxins and can be poisonous. If you have to take drugs, it is best to take them with at least a one hour interval between each one. Toxins cause our liver to overwork and they can also scar and harden liver tissue. Sorrow, sadness and depression can cause stagnation of liver energy which can inhibit proper liver function.

We should also be careful of what we breathe in. When cleaning with aerosol sprays or cleaners, or any other form of spray such as paint or air fresheners or cosmetic products, we must make sure that the room is ventilated and cover our nose with a mask to prevent breathing in toxic chemicals. When using insecticides, make sure the skin is covered because the chemicals can get into the body through our skin. All toxins require the liver to filter them out therefore over-working this important organ.

The liver does not complain until it is too late. We should be aware of symptoms of problems and check our liver through blood tests regularly.  The symptoms include lack of energy, lack of appetite, indigestion, acid reflux, milky eyes, dark yellow urine, flaky rash, itchy skin, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome and fluid retention. Poor digestion leading to leaky gut syndrome will cause toxins to get into the blood stream, making the liver work harder.

Burdock for Liver Health

The purpose of a liver supporting diet is first ‘to do no harm’. Avoid alcohol and toxins including drugs. Secondly, eat food made from scratch with good oil and not too much seasoning and sauces and with little and simple cooking so that the food can be easily digested and absorbed. Eat small amounts of high quality protein and increase the intake of green vegetables for fibre and essential minerals.  Drinking good clean water will also help the body to flush out toxins and keep the liver healthy.

The following is a soup recipe that is best for our liver in spring, when liver energies are at their peak.

Burdock

Burdock contains a number of nutrients important to liver function. They include vitamins B1, B6 and B12 which are essential for the function of phase 1 liver detoxification's pathways, vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant and sulphur which is essential for a number of important phase 2 liver detoxification pathways in which potent toxins created by phase 1 detoxification are neutralized. Burdock also contains other substances such as arctiin which act to improve liver and gallbladder function.

Burdock has many other health benefits and is believed to be the main reason why the Japanese hold the world record for longevity because burdock is a staple in their diet. Please visit our website www.nourishu.com to find out more information and recipes using burdock.

Burdock, Carrot and Pork Soup

Burdock for Liver Health

SYMPTOMS

High cholesterol

THERAPEUTIC EFFECTS

  • Lowers cholesterol
  • Lower blood lipids
  • Detoxifies
  • Promotes liver health

INGREDIENTS

(4 to 6 servings)

  • Fresh burdock 新鮮牛蒡 -  one piece (about 500gm)
  • Carrot 紅蘿蔔 – 2 to 3 (250gm)
  • Green radish青蘿蔔 – one large (250gm)
  • Honey dates 蜜棗 or dried figs - 3
  • Apricot kernel 南北杏 – one handful (about 15gm)
  • Citrus Peel (chen-pi) 陳皮 – one piece (pre-soaked and with white tissue removed)
  • Pork shoulder cut with bone  or bone-in chicken breast – 300gm (pre-cut into large pieces)
  • Ginger – 2 slices

1.   Wash pork, put in boiling water to cook for a few minutes, remove and rinse.

2.   Peel carrot and radish and cut by rolling cut into pieces.

3.   Peel burdock and cut into thin slices.

4.   Rinse other ingredients and put all into a soup pot with about 3 liters of water. Bring to a rolling boil, remove foam and reduce heat to medium low and let it simmers for about 3 hours to about 6 cups of broth left. Add more water (boiling hot) to the cooking if necessary.

5.   When done, add salt to taste and serve soup with some meat, burdock and carrot. Burdock is a good source of fibre.

Burdock for Liver Health

USAGE

No restrictions and suitable for all ages.