What it does: the liver performs an array of jobs, including the production of bile needed to help break down fat in the digestive system, the processing of protein to make it safe and the metabolism of alcohol and drugs.
By having the right kinds of food and drink in the right proportions, it is possible to minimise the strain we exert on these organs, while with the help of certain foods and herbal preparations, we can gently cleanse, strengthen and enhance their functioning.
So be prepared to redefine your interpretation of the dreaded "detox". Starvation and deprivation can be avoided: I will explain how to cleanse your system without the headaches and halitosis usually associated with a quick fix approach, while providing you with the building blocks for a healthier life.
Have just two to three moderate servings of protein foods a day. These include milk, meat, poultry, fish, soya and legumes. High-protein diets can raise these normal intakes four- and five-fold. Have vitamin C- and E-rich foods, such as oranges, berries, kiwi fruit, peppers, dark green vegetables and wheat germ. They help to protect the liver from potentially damaging free radicals. Try green tea. Also rich in antioxidants, it may enhance the effects of vitamins C and E. Take milk thistle supplements. Extracts of the plant protect liver cells, encourage repair of damaged cells and stimulate growth of new cells. Use dandelion coffee or root infusions. When combined with milk thistle, they speed the flow of cell-damaging toxins away from the liver.
WHY do any of us need to "detoxify" our bodies? Few of the foods and drinks that we consume willingly have an acutely poisonous effect on our bodies - with the exception of excessive alcohol. We worked out long ago, for instance, to avoid deadly nightshade.
Liver overload: Drinking too much alcohol and eating a high-protein diet puts a strain on the liver - as can the regular use of headache remedies, antibiotics and excessive intakes of residues in food.
But what modern man has become accustomed to, however, is the regular consumption of a diet containing low levels of potentially damaging residues and additives. Add to this our daily exposure to environmental pollutants, from carbon monoxide to household sprays and perfumes, and it is easy to see how we can put an added strain on our liver, kidneys and digestive systems, as well as our lungs and skin.