Want to know what's all the rage again now that spring has sprung? Liver and gallbladder detoxes!
This might be an unpopular opinion - but hey! I'm full of unpopular opinions. So here's my bomb drop:
I hate detoxes.
I hate the trendy idea that our bodies are toxic and need to be starved clean. (Our bodies have some pretty amazing systems in place to make sure we don't become toxic. How many people do you know that have had toxic shock syndrome, toxic megacolon, or sepsis?)
I hate how so many cleanses and detoxes limit food and are purely focused on juicing. (Can you say blood sugar roller-coaster much?!)
I hate the misconception that our liver is just a dirty filter that needs to be rinsed out. (FYI it's not. The liver doesn't store toxins, it transforms unsafe molecules into safe molecules that can be more easily removed from the body.)
While I'm not the biggest fan of juices cleanses or fasting detoxes, I do understand why focusing on liver health is always so popular during spring: In Chinese medicine, every season is associated with one of the five elements. And every element has a color, sound, taste, emotion, and yes, organ system that is affiliated with it too. Spring's organs? No surprise, the liver and gallbladder.
So, even though I cry a little bit on the inside every time someone I know starts the master cleanse or another green juice fast, I too use the spring season to focus on my liver health.
I tend to re-commit to dietary changes like focusing more on veggies of all types and healthy fats. I also cut way back on my sugar and alcohol consumption because they both stress the liver. My favorite outlined dietary re-set is the 21 Day Sugar Detox, but you don't have to do a full-on program to make some key positive changes.
The link between springtime and the liver makes this a great time to focus on eating foods to support detoxification pathways.
Here are three ways to help your liver work more smarter, not harder this spring.
Move Your Qi Using Acupuncture and Exercise
In Chinese medicine, the liver is in charge of the free flow of qi (energy). When your qi doesn't move smoothly, it accumulates in the channels (think of those as the rivers and streams that carry the qi throughout the body). Those accumulations create pain, disease, and emotional stress so it's super important to keep the qi moving smoothly. Acupuncture and exercise are my two favorite ways to keep the qi moving.
Do Some Grounding Meditations
The energy of the liver likes to rise up. Think of all the plant life shooting up from the ground, ready to grow tall to the sky.
This energy is exciting, new, and exuberant!! But it can also be explosive - leading to symptoms like red, itchy eyes, headaches/migraines, and irritability or anger. Grounding visualizations and meditations can help anchor this energy to the earth - keeping it from blowing it's cool on the way up.
Thin Bile Using Food
Bile is created in your liver, stored in the gallbladder, and used to digest fat. When the bile is thick and murky, it creates gallstones and can get stuck in the bile duct. Eating certain foods can thin the bile and help prevent that stagnation of qi I talked about in the last tip.
A couple of my favorite bile thinning foods are lemon and beets. Starting your day off with warm water and lemon is a great way to incorporate more lemon juice into your daily diet. And if you're scared of cooking beets but looking for a great recipe, our friend Lucia has one over here.
Not into lemons or beets? Ask us about other Chinese medicine based food therapy recommendations for springtime liver health during your next appointment!
*The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
*Heads up! This post may contain some affiliate links. If you buy something through one of those links you won't pay a single cent more, but I'll get a small commission that helps keep the content flowing. P.S. I only recommend products I use in my own daily life!