With studies showing that viruses can damage the liver, right now is a great time for a liver cleanse. We should all be using food and lifestyle choices to reduce inflammation in our bodies and eliminate the toxins that naturally build up during the winter, when we are eating heavier foods and being a bit more sedentary. Luckily, the way to do this is growing up all around us! The first edible greens that sprout in the spring are so cleansing and detoxifying. All of nature works in perfect balance to give us what we need, because we are part of nature. We just have to tune into it.
Several wild edible plants are growing right now that are perfect for a liver cleanse. They help our bodies flush out toxins, reduce inflammation and boost our digestion.
Bitter greens, like dandelion, stimulate digestion by helping to produce the necessary digestive enzymes. Mixing a few leaves into a raw salad, or sauteing them with other veggies will mitigate the bitterness. Many people try to avoid bitter tasting foods, or to add sweetener to mask the bitterness, but it’s important to taste the flavor in order to get the digestive benefits. We have taste buds located towards the back of the tongue that are specifically dedicated to tasting the bitter flavor.
Asparagus, another wonderful early spring delicacy, is a powerful diuretic, providing the cleansing flush to help our kidneys get rid of toxins. Because asparagus is so packed with minerals, it doesn’t deplete us of essential minerals, like some diuretics do. It is less bitter, but still very flavorful and can be grilled or steamed and pairs well with just about anything.
Ramp up the foraging
My new favorite wild spring green is ramps. Ramps are a wide, smooth green leafy plant, about 6-8” tall, and a member of the allium (garlic) family. They are an amazing mineral-rich diuretic, and have a delicious garlic/onion flavor. If used raw, a little goes a long way. Last night, we chopped up a few leaves and used them as a topping for baked potatoes, instead of chives. The other night, we added some to a chicken curry dish, and the flavor was much more mellow when cooked. We have plans to try making ramp butter, and ramp quiche, inspired to incorporate ramps into our diet every day. Stay tuned for more ramp recipes coming soon. A friend showed me a huge patch of ramps that she recently discovered, growing wild in a spot in the woods near a river. It was like ramp heaven. In the world of foraging, a wild ramp patch is something to keep top secret, so they won’t get over-harvested. If a friend tells you about a ramp patch, they are a true friend!
Another way we can work on our liver cleanse is on an emotional level. Emotions play a key role in our overall health, and what an emotionally charged time we are living in. The liver is literally the waste processing center for our bodies and if we are pent up with anger, frustration, stress, trauma, that will tax the liver in damaging ways. When we get angry or excited, we get flushed, our blood pressure rises, and we can experience swelling. Addressing our emotions, acknowledging and moving through them, helps ensure that the liver doesn’t get bogged down in all that mess, and can use it’s available resources to keep things in balance.
Now is a good time to work on our emotional hygiene. Meditation, exercise, journaling, spending time in nature, whatever it takes to release the dam of unprocessed emotions. Yesterday I had a particular need to do ALL of these things in order to get myself back on track. Suddenly I realized that I needed to stop what I was doing and focus on my emotional health. I went running, I lit a candle and meditated, I called a friend, I went out in the yard. It was tough, but I resisted the urge to binge on chocolate. And today, I’m happy to say that things are off to a better start.
Foods to Support the Liver
So, what do you eat instead of chocolate when you’re feeling down? Foods that are high in fiber and antioxidants: vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and olive oil are what the liver needs. It’s no coincidence that these are the staples of the Mediterranean diet.
Here is a short list of our favorite liver cleanse foods (aside from the wild edibles mentioned above), which provide the enzymes, antioxidants and healthy fats that are so essential:
Wild salmon and other fish high in omega 3’s.
Liver Cleanse Recipes
Sheet Pan Salmon with Asparagus, Lemon and Dill
Super Spring Detox Salad
Roasted Broccoli with Ginger from The Spruce Eats
Our job, especially now, is to take care of ourselves, physically and emotionally; to take advantage of the tools nature offers us. There is no end to the ways our planet supports us, if we can slow down long enough to tune in. Let’s take a moment today to feel gratitude for the bounty, to listen to the stillness, and to give back some love.