My revealing signs of recent red wine intolerance, itchy legs and redness of skin between my eyebrows are all suggestive of a toxic inflamed liver.
Consequently, I’m carrying out a 14-day liver cleanse. I’m just over half way through as I type. Fortunately, I’ve not suffered any of the potential uncomfortable detox side effects such as; headaches, bloating, stomach pains or simmering rage (in Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is the ‘seat of anger’, so a detox can often liberate repressed anger and induce heightened feelings of irritation).
Instead, I’m experiencing what I call the ‘hedgehog/pussy cat effect’ - an all consuming sleepiness and need to curl up and sleep on someone’s lapJ. My circadian rhythm clock appears to have a new battery installed, so I’m waking up at the mere lick of light, and my body & brain wants to shut down at around 6pm when the sun is pootling off to bed.
I’m also craving warming soups and spicy curries – fortunately, both can be welcomed during a liver ‘scrub’.
My ‘winter wonder soup’, chock full of fibrous seasonal dark green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables, is making regular appearances on my ‘cleanse’ menu, as all the veggies have a strong positive impact on the body’s detoxification system and are the best enhancers of liver function.
Green veggies are abundant in chlorophyll (the plant equivalent of human haemoglobin), which provides the body with oxygen and stored energy, as well as connecting with damaging free oxidative radicals and toxins to turn them in to harmless neutral materials (ridding the body of environmental toxins, heavy metals and other foreign chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides).
Cruciferous vegetables contain folic acid, antioxidants, B vitamins, Vitamin C and carotenoids required for detoxification processes, along with glucosinolates to assist the first step (phase I) of liver detoxification and sulfurophane to support the second step (phase II).
Indole-3-carbinol, a compound found in cruciferous vegetables, enhances ‘glutathione conjugation’. This is a pathway in the liver that breaks down oestrogens, including xenoestrogens (environmental oestrogens such as those found in plastics) that contribute to breast, prostate and cervical cancer. These vegetables also enhance the ‘sulphation’ pathways, responsible for the elimination of excess neurotransmitters, food additives, toxins from intestinal bacteria, environmental toxins and drugs (such as aspirin). Basically, they work with enzymes in your liver to turn toxins into compounds that can be easily removed from the body.
Most importantly, the green veggies in this soup provide the body with plenty of fibre to bind toxins in the gut and speed their correct elimination from the body. Detox cleanses can do more harm than good if toxins are dislodged from fatty tissue stores but don’t get effectively excreted. This can lead to their reabsorption back into the bloodstream in a more harmful form than before.
That’s why it’s more than the usual intake of water, bone broths, vegetables and fruit for me for these two weeks (along with natural apple & pectin fibre supplements:).
If you’re looking for a lovely warming soup that will gently support your liver, I recommend you give this one a whirl…
Green & clean Soup (serves 4)
1 red onion, finely diced
4 garlic cloves, sliced finely lengthways
½-1 red chilli, finely sliced across the chilli width (depending upon how spicy you like your food)
2 celery stalks, finely sliced widthways
1 handful of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 handful of coriander, roughly chopped
1 handful of basil, roughly chopped
500ml or 1L of organic chicken bone or veggie broth (depending on your desired ratio of liquid to vegetables)
1 x 425g glass jar of giant butter beans (or 1 x tin of any organic white bean)
1 pack of asparagus spears, cut in half width ways
1 courgette, sliced across on a diagonal
1 small bunch greens (or other greens available - kale, spinach beet greens), roughly chopped
1/2 lime, juice only
1 handful of purple sprouting broccoli, washed
1 handful of rainbow chard, washed and roughly chopped widthways
1 handful of cavolo nero, washed and torn into pieces
1 handful of British purple kale, washed and torn into pieces
Sea salt & Freshly ground black pepper
Gently fry the onions in olive oil until transparent, then add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
Add the red chilli, celery stalks, flat leaf parsley, coriander and basil. Stir and cook for 2 minutes
Add the chicken or vegetable stock and butter beans. Heat for 2 minutes.
Add all the vegetables, turn up the heat to high and bring the stock to the boil. Then reduce the heat and simmer for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender but still vibrant green/purple in colour.
Add a squeeze of lime and seasoning. Serve plain if you are on a ‘cleanse’, or add a smattering of green or red pesto or grated pecorino if you’re just indulging in a scrumptious bowl of soup.