How to boost energy with a liver cleanse
Energy is one of those strange things. It’s not until you regain it that you realise just how little you had to start with. That’s what I discovered when I recently went on a two-week liver cleanse.
I’m not a big ‘cleanse’ type of person, in fact this was my first. But when the opportunity to do a liver cleanse presented itself, I thought, why not? I was mostly motivated by the long list of benefits a liver cleanse can provide, including a clearer mind, less headaches and body pains, possible weight loss, better digestion, brighter skin and balanced hormones … Yep, I can certainly do with most of those.
So why is cleansing necessary?
According to Dr Nat Kringoudis, a Doctor of Chinese Medicine, wellbeing begins in the gut. “When the gut is deficient we might see disordered bowel movements and bloating right through to emotional upset, anxiety and depression,” says Kringoudis.
“Not only does your gut process your food and drink, it is likened to your second brain and is your emotional centre,” says Kringoudis. “You have thousands of receptors in your gut that help regulate your emotions. Equally, if your hormones aren’t being nourished because your body can’t adequately draw nutrients from your diet, this will extend to how your hormones work.”
According to Kringoudis, the liver in particular, is a crucial organ that communicates with many organ systems including the lymph (which, along with the liver, aids in detoxification), the digestive system and bowel.
“When the liver energy is smooth, our bodies run well. However, the liver energy can easily become stagnated, be it from emotional pressure, eating poor quality foods, over consumption of alcohol and stress.”
My body’s been under a lot of stress lately so I was eager to give the cleanse a go. It involved 14 days of liver cleansing teas, containing Chinese herbs to dredge out accumulations in the gut, followed by eight days of probiotic tea to restore gut function.
My enthusiasm was slightly dented when I realised that for the duration of the two-week cleanse, I would have to follow a strict vegan diet, eliminating meat, dairy, most grains, coffee, alcohol, processed foods, pastry, cakes and biscuits. Two weeks, I could do this.
Halfway through day one I was almost ready to pack it in, consumed by fatigue, headaches and a massive mental fog that had me wanting to wither up in a corner somewhere. All normal, apparently.
I couldn’t believe the difference the following morning. I awoke feeling mentally alert, clear and focused. However, this positive benefit was offset by another cleansing side effect – body aches and pains. My lower back, glutes and thighs were painful for the next three days, particularly at night, making it difficult to sleep.
Despite this, my mental alertness continued undiminished – I felt like Bradley Cooper in Limitless! Along with the symptoms I experienced, side effects of cleansing can include irritability and heightened emotions, sugar cravings, skin break outs and changed bowel movements, so I got off lightly all things considered.
As the fortnight progressed, I could definitely see more changes emerging. Along with the mental focus, I felt a marked increase in overall energy. As a perennially exhausted, caffeine-addicted mum of two, I realised that my energy levels had been below par for quite some time. Having a spring in my step was a welcome addition and I surprised myself by not feeling desperate for a coffee each morning (although my husband’s coffee smelt DAMN GOOD, I won’t deny).
I also experienced a steady weight loss of around 3-400grams most days, resulting in about a 2.5kg weight loss overall. As someone whose weight can fluctuate quite drastically on a daily basis, this slow, steady decline seemed a positive sign that my hormones and digestive system were on a more even keel.
The final week involved drinking a probiotic tea each day, while slowly introducing restricted foods. I’m pleased to say that I’ve been eating a lot less processed food and red meat ever since and trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals into my diet. My energy levels and alertness continue to be high (except for a couple of particularly interrupted nights, courtesy of the kids).
If you’re feeling sluggish and your system has been overloaded with toxins lately – or even if it hasn’t – I definitely recommend a liver cleanse to give your body a healthy shake up.
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