Our liver plays a crucial role in our overall wellbeing, affecting everything from our energy levels, our ability to fight diseases through to our metabolism. So, how can we keep it in good shape?
In the forthcoming book, Healthy Liver, Dry July ambassador Dr Cris Beer has written a research-based guide to keeping your liver healthy and fatty free. Dr Cris provides an abundance of tips, methods and delicious healthy recipes that all promote liver health, including a 7-day detox.
A healthy liver performs an amazing 500 different functions, from breaking down fat, extracting vitamins, storing energy and fighting infections – and Healthy Liver provides a complete guide to keeping it in good health, with easy-to-implement tips for busy everyday lives.
As an expert in nutritional medicine, Dr Cris specialises not just in the prevention and treatment of illnesses, but in the attaining of optimum health. By employing simple lifestyle and holistic medicine strategies, Dr Cris believes that restoration of health and vitality can be achieved by anyone. Dr Cris holds qualifications in medicine, biomedical science, integrative and nutritional medicine, health coaching, as well as personal fitness training. She was the health consultant for The Biggest Loser Retreat and is a sought after media commentator. She currently practises at The Medical Sanctuary on the Gold Coast as a registered medical doctor helping patients every day. For more information visit www.drcris.com.au
Author: Dr Cris
Question: What inspired you to become an ambassador for Dry July?
Dr Cris Beer: I feel that Dry July is so worthwhile to do for all Australians who regularly consume alcohol in order to improve their health and raise money for a worthy cause at the same time. To take a month to focus on improving an aspect of your health by abstaining from alcohol, which is such a prevalent problem in Australian society, is such as great thing.
Question: How does alcohol affect our liver?
Dr Cris Beer: Regular alcohol over-consumption can damage the liver and lead to fatty liver disease, whereby the liver ceases to function optimally and can lead to weight gain, fatigue, and insulin resistance (which predisposes individuals to diabetes and elevated cholesterol and blood pressure levels). This process is generally gradual and subtle and seems to 'appear out of nowhere' but in reality it is the cumulative effects of alcohol over-consumption that can lead to significant health issues over time.
Question: How can we repair our liver after overindulging?
Dr Cris Beer: Luckily our liver is remarkably hardy and can regenerate itself even when it is significantly damaged. The key is to provide it with an environment that allows healing. This environment needs to be one free of those substances which can overload this liver such as alcohol (sugary and processed foods being another common overload substance). This means abstaining from alcohol for at least 48 hours after a large drinking session (hopefully avoiding a large drinking session to begin with by sticking to the safe recommended alcohol limits of 1-2 standard drinks per day on no more than five days of the week). It also means drinking plenty of water to help the liver in being able to effectively detoxify and avoiding fatty and processed foods. Studies also indicate that getting enough rest and sleep and reducing stress levels all help to repair the liver from any damage as a result of overindulgence.
Question: Can you share a recipe from Healthy Liver, with us?
Dr Cris Beer: The recipes found in Healthy Liver are all easy to follow and are designed with the busy person in mind. The recipes use real food that anyone would recognise as palatable and easy to prepare. One of my favourite recipes from the book is the homemade 'Chocolate Mousse' recipe because it's so easy to do for the whole family - just blend avocado, cacao, coconut cream, and a small amount of maple syrup and a pinch of salt to taste and you're done! So easy and delicious.
Question: Why do we need to detox our liver?
Dr Cris Beer: The word 'detox' really is a play on words as there is no one detox pill or program that works to heal the liver better than the other. The basis of liver health is to provide it with an environment to heal. This is because the liver naturally detoxifies when given the right environment to do so - that being one that is low in alcohol and other toxins that can damage the liver, low in processed and highly sugary foods, and one that is high in fresh fruits, vegetables, and good sources of protein such as nuts and seeds, fresh white fish and chicken, and lean cuts of meat. This is the premise behind the 7-Day detox plan provided in Healthy Liver.
Question: And, how often should we do a 7-day liver detox?
Dr Cris Beer: Ideally the 7-Day Detox plan becomes a healthier way of living and becomes the norm in terms of lifestyle changes that someone can make for the betterment of their liver and overall health. In reality though, I realise that life is busy and we can all succumb to convenience living based on bad habits and so ideally we undertake the 7-day detox plan outlined in Healthy Liver at least several times per year. I find that my patients generally choose the start of the year and the middle of the year to do this to 'reset' their liver health. This can be a great way to take stock of our health habits and make some changes along the way.
Interview by Brooke Hunter