The little-discussed factor in gut health.
The Liver and Digestive Health
When it comes to looking after your gut, I’m sure you’ve heard about probiotics and fibre, right? But did you know that looking after your liver can be key to ensuring your gut is working the way that its meant to?
St Mary’s Thistle print by AgaFarrell
Your liver, the one responsible for detoxifying the body’s metabolites and the toxins you ingest, creates a digestive secretion called bile. Bile is the medium through which these detoxified products are released via the bowel, shifting them out of your system. It is created from bile salts that are transported from the liver to the gall bladder. Concentrated, stored and excreted by the gall bladder in response to the presence of a meal, bile enables us to absorb fatty acids and fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and some minerals. It also helps to maintain the optimum pH in the gut for our gut flora to grow and contains immunoglobulins that support the integrity and structure of the gut wall.
When should you start to worry about your liver and its effect on the gut?
At this time of year I often notice that the ads for detoxes and cleanses really ramp up as we all start our New Year’s Resolutions to be healthier and happier. Ads that promise you’ll have more energy, lose weight and all you have to do is drink a tea, take a pill or a powder – doesn’t that sound great?
Now, while not all detoxes are as effective at helping your body to detoxify as others, if you really feel like you want to (or need to) detox, instead of just boosting the function of your detoxifying organs, why not look at why you need a detox in the first place?
To my own complete annoyance, I have a tendency of getting into a food-rut from time-to-time. Either I find a few dishes and make them every few days or so for weeks on end, or things just get so busy that it’s easier to just stick to the one dish each lunchtime than spend time being creative to come up with something new. It doesn’t necessarily mean that I’m eating toast every day, but I’m certainly not getting the wide variety of foods that I know would be of more benefit to me health-wise, as well as keeping life interesting. The reality is, really, I just get into a headspace where everything seems ‘too hard’, or takes ‘too long’ to be worth the effort.
It’s funny, because while all this is going on, I’m annoyed because I actually don’t enjoy eating the same thing day-in, day-out. That’s why the whole ‘Sunday cook-up’ ‘meal-prep’ thing just doesn’t work for me. I know that some of you couldn’t survive without that ritual, but my food habits and tastes are much more spontaneous than that, so having the same meal for every lunch and dinner each week is by far the last thing I could do on purpose.
The wider variety of foods that you eat, the wider array of nutrients you eat. It’s a food mantra that (for the most part) inspires me to try new things, be creative and be mindful of the food I have in my kitchen. So when it hit me that I’ve been having the same gluten-free instant noodles with soup and mackerel for lunch every day at work for the past six weeks, I knew I had to snap out of it, be purposefully aware of my habits and find inspiration to shake things up. Continue reading
The thing about being a grown-up, is that, even if you aren’t the sort of person who cooks, you may find yourself in a position where you need to cook for others. It might be for some friends after a sunny Saturday at the markets, some in-laws, or for a sexy date you’ve been seeing lately, but, every now and then, it happens. Now, I’m not saying that you need to “impress” people (it’s just not my bag to think that way), but when it comes to food, I want to enjoy all of my meals and for those I share with to enjoy them too. There’s something uniquely satisfying about sharing love with your food and magically silencing an entire table in a unison of gratification.
But, sometimes that can seem like a daunting task of endless dirty dishes – and nobody like dishes! While, I am known to use every pot and pan in the kitchen occasionally, in my experience, you can make some incredibly impressive food that does just that with hardly any effort or mess at all. Continue reading
Chicken is one of my favourite foods. If I’m feeling down, I’m tired, hungover, depressed, homesick or just really, really hungry, I crave chicken – I always have. It’s such a versatile meat and a good quality source of protein, including the amino acid, tryptophan (needed to produce serotonin and melatonin – anti-depressive and anti-insomnia hormones). I feel like I eat it most days of the week.
As you can probably imagine, no matter how tight money gets, it’s important to me that I can afford to eat as nutritiously as I can. Even when money gets incredibly low, I plan out my spending and at the very least, I make sure I have enough protein in my diet to get me through the last few days until pay day, using staples in my pantry and freezer to bulk it out. The easiest way I find to do this, Continue reading
If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that I really really (REALLY) love tea. I love a hot cup of earl grey on a cold and slow morning, I love a bubbly and naturally sweet iced tea in the summer time, I love collecting new flavours and I even bathe in the stuff! But the thing I love most about tea is discovering the medicinal properties of the different herbs – meaning that you can drink specific teas to help your body do its thing!
From time to time, I’d like to explore with you these medicinal properties (goodness knows I need another reason to drink more tea, don’t I?) in my Tea Fiend series. Just remember, if you are going to explore these options, best to opt for organic tea (I’d be happy to give you a guide to my favourite brands within this series – just ask!), and don’t be afraid to try a pre-made blend (it will only taste better that way) or even experiment in blending stand-alone herbs that you like (you never know what you will come up with).
Ginger Tea (Zingiber officinale)