Detox Your Liver for Vitality

Your liver is frequently under appreciated, yet is one of the most important organs in your body! The liver has hundreds of different functions, two of the primary being to store vital nutrients for your body and to filter and breakdown chemicals that would otherwise be harmful to our bodies. As our world has become more industrialized, we are now more commonly exposed to both natural and unnatural substances that our livers must filter. These substances can come from a variety of sources, be it chemicals (pesticides, industrial chemicals, solvents, toiletries etc.), drugs and medications, or poor diet (including alcohol, caffeine, and sugar). Exposure to these substances can lead to your liver being overburdened, and an overburdened liver can lead to chronic fatigue, allergies, improper digestion of food, body aches, headaches, brain fog, depression, and fatty liver disease. Some, including myself, argue that an overtaxed liver will result in a toxic body, promoting the ideal environment for almost all chronic diseases and disorders!

There are a number of options to consider when it comes to finding a protocol to help detoxify and cleanse your liver. Some protocols are more extreme than others, so always choose the option you feel most comfortable with. Small changes in your lifestyle can have a dramatic effect on how you feel and your quality of life. That being said, some of the more ‘extreme’ options can be more effective than other ‘less extreme’ options.

Diet and exercise are the foundation of a quality life and is one of the most important protocols for keeping your liver in tip-top shape. Processed foods lack essential nutrients your body requires to function optimally — this includes allowing your liver to work its magic and keep your body clean! Additionally, most processed foods contain preservatives in the form of chemicals, which put a great strain on your liver to eliminate. Usually, they also contain sugar, another substance your liver must eliminate. Keep your foods as simple and whole as possible to provide yourself with the most amount of nutrients, and test yourself for food intolerances and allergies — these foods can put an enormous strain on your entire body, not just your liver. Be sure to include high quality fats in your diet, such as olive oil, coconut oil, or even butter! Your liver works in conjunction with your gallbladder, the organ responsible for digesting fats. If you give your body the proper fats it needs, your gallbladder will release bile for digestion. The magic is that bile is actually created from the toxins your liver removes from your body! Limiting or eliminating alcohol, caffeine, and sugar consumption will also take tremendous strides in detoxifying your liver.

Milk Thistle

Herbs and cleansing foods are another facet to consider to detoxify your liver. Milk thistle is one of the most well known and well researched herbs when it comes to aiding and cleansing your liver. It contains numerous antioxidants and compounds that not only help your liver function more optimally, but also help prevent your liver from absorbing any dangerous compounds it filters while it works. Two other herbs include artichoke and dandelion, both which have been used for thousands of years to promote better digestion and aid the liver. These three herbs can be found at health food stores in whole, capsule, or tincture form, and are frequently placed together in various tonics. Adding specific foods known to help cleanse the liver can also be a great asset to liver detox. Such foods include dark leafy greens, including the three herbs above in their whole form, other green vegetables (such as cabbage and asparagus), garlic, turmeric, citrus fruit, carrots, beets, and apples in their various form. Apples contain two important substances for helping to detox the liver: pectin, a form of soluble fiber, and malic acid, which can help fat digestion and help break down gallstones in your gallbladder.

Dandelion

Liver cleanses and fasting are the more ‘extreme’ methods of detoxifying your liver, and different variations can also be more ‘extreme’ than others. Such variations can include the olive oil liver cleanse, coffee enemas, apple juice fasting, vegetable juice fasting, and water fasting. Each of these techniques deserves their own post, as each requires its own unique protocol while being conducted. Look for a series of upcoming articles beginning this week, starting with the olive oil liver cleanse!

Surf, Yoga, and Wellness in Peru! Announcing an Encompassing Health Getaway

Encompassing Health is teaming up with Paleo Yogis to bring you an AWESOME life-changing event. This 7 day retreat will be filled with yoga classes, surf lessons, wellness talks, ziplining, and all-around fun. We will spend 7 days on the coast of Northern Peru, this January 7th-13th, 2013.

Peru Yoga RetreatYou will not find a more affordable all-inclusive retreat. (All-inclusive pricing starts at $750 USD!) There will be lodging within walking distance of the beach, with a private hammock and swimming pool. You will eat freshly cooked food by a professional chef-delicious, healthy, and catered to your dietary needs. Every day will bring a different adventure we practice beach yoga and workouts, relax with Yin Yoga and yoga therapy ball massage, learn about subtle energies and the importance of colorful vegetables.

Peru Yoga and Surf Retreat
The early-bird ends soon, so register right away! The full details, pricing matrix, and travel info can be found in “Peru Yoga and Surf Retreat” tab above. Please feel free to contact us with any questions!!!!
I will see you in Peru….

Mancora Peru Yoga

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash

As you may have noticed, I never tire of squash, so autumn has been full of great meals. This recipe is incredibly simple, but satisfying and tasty. Squash is a good, dense vegetable, so it can take the place of a less healthy dish while filling your body with important micro-nutrients. Cinnamon is a “warming” herb, so it’s perfect to make you feel more cozy during the cooler months. (And as a bonus, cinnamon even assists in blood-sugar regulation. This gives me an excuse to add more of it.) Add a side of sauteed kale and cranberries, and you’ve got a balanced fall meal. Cinnamon Sticks

Ingredients:

  • 1 small or medium butternut squash, cut in half.
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Butter or Earth Balance (optional)

Directions: Roasted Butternut Squash

Preheat the oven to 400F. Oil the cookie sheet or baking pan, and pour 1/2 cup of water in the pan. Cut the butternut squash in half. Scoop out the seeds and discard, then place each piece face down on the pan.

Cook for about 30-45 minutes; it is cooked when you can pierce it with a fork. Take the squash out of the oven, and using a tongs, flip each side over. Once the squash is face-up, drizzle honey over each piece.  Sprinkle cinnamon over the honey, be as generous as you want. If you want to use butter (or butter substitute) place a couple pats of it on top of each piece. Place it back in the oven, and cook an additional 10-15 minutes, or until golden brown.

Remove the squash from the oven, and wait for it to cool a little. Cut each half into 3 pieces, and serve warm. You can always add more cinnamon in the end!

Why You Should Own a Foam Roller

You’ve probably seen a foam roller at the gym or a chiropractor’s office, but did you know they’re one of the most versatile and practical tools for preventing and relieving injuries? While foam rollers are most commonly used in the realm of sports (such as strength, conditioning, and other athletics), they’re one of the most beneficial and affordable tools you can own for relieving vast array of bodily ailments.

High density foam rollerFoam rollers are overly simplistic in their design, and their names aren’t misleading. Foam rollers are typically 3 feet long cylinders made of — you guessed it! — foam. By utilizing your body weight, you can manipulate the roller and yourself into various positions to help stretch and massage your entire body. While this can be very important for athletes, it is also important for the average person. Think of how many people (maybe even yourself) that have chronic low-back pain, upper-back pain, neck or hip pain, or even sciatica. Many of these symptoms can be mitigated, if not completely relieved, by using a foam roller regularly. Foam rollers are unique because they help you manipulate fascia, the substance around your muscles that forms into knots. Fascia can be slightly manipulated through stretching, but other than receiving a massage, foam rollers and other similar devices are the only way to relieve fascial knots. It is these fascial knots that lead to the many pains we see so regularly; by working them out regularly, you’ll see a tremendous benefit in your body.

Preventing and relieving common injuries was one of the primary reasons foam rollers were invented and have become so widespread in the fitness world. For example, many athletes, especially runners, have injuries and pain in their IT band. By using a foam roller regularly, rolling on your side from your hip to your knee in this particular instance, you can help to relieve the fascial knots that develop. Sciatica is a common ailment that deals with compression in the sciatic nerve in the leg — performing similar motions on the foam roller can help to relieve this compression. Even if you don’t yet have injuries, frequently utilizing a foam roller will help stretch out fascial knots before they become and injury or painful.

Increasing your flexibility is a key benefit of using a foam roller, and is another component of why foam rollers will help to prevent many injuries and pain. Many of those common ailments (upper and lower back pain, neck and hip pain, etc.) are caused by lack of flexibility or tight muscles. For example, many cases of lower back pain are caused by having tight hamstrings or hip flexors — which can be caused from athletic training (such as running or strength training) or even from sitting or not moving for prolonged periods of time. Running your hamstrings along the roller and perching your hips on the roller so they are elevated will help relieve these common ailments. For upper back pain, you can lay on your back and place the roller behind your heart. Flexibility is a key component of overall health that is frequently overlooked — have a protocol that helps build and keep your flexibility is important for longevity.

Rolling helps you de-stress. Nearly all the benefits we know we get from receiving a massage we also receive from rolling frequently on a foam roller. When we get stressed, be it from a hard day at work, exercise, or from emotions, we tend to tense our muscles in key areas — the areas where we ‘hold our stress.’ Using a roller helps to relieve that tension before it becomes too painful or leads to an injury. Additionally, relieving any tension in your body feels wonderful! It’s a great way to get a natural high.

Nubbed foam rollerWe will have a series of future articles and videos regarding specific stretching and movements to utilize on the foam roller, especially regarding specific ailments. For now, I’d suggest investing in a foam roller and experimenting with it to find what works best for your body. Foam rollers typically cost around $25, and the benefits you’ll receive are tremendous for so little! If you have access to a roller at the gym, use it every time you go. Your body will thank you!