Short of joking about the occasional weekend damage, many of us never really give much thought to one of the largest and most important organs in our body. Our liver has numerous functions including, but not limited to, break down and build up of essential nutrients such as proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Our liver helps produce digestive enzymes, sex, steroid and stress hormones, is integral in maintenance of our blood sugar, and has at least 300 other essential functions.
In terms of long-term health, the wellness of our liver cells in many ways equals the expression of our overall health. The toxins and chemicals we are exposed to day to day, intentionally or not, can tax our detoxification organs, including our liver. It is worth taking the time to provide our system with nutrients that help enhance the well functioning of our liver.
Wherever possible it makes sense to both reduce our toxic load by minimizing or limiting our exposure to harmful toxins and chemicals, and to provide our system with an abundance of nutrients that help our liver perform its job. Not surprisingly, it is nearly impossible to find a vegetable or fruit that does not asist the function and maintenance of a healthy liver. Eat your favorite local fruits and vegetables and consider incorporating the following seven powerhouse foods into your eating for healthy liver function.
Garlic: Garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that activate our liver enzymes, which are responsible for flushing out toxins from the bod. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from toxic damage and aid it in the detoxification process.
Grapefruit: Grapefruit is rich in natural vitamin C and antioxidants, two powerful liver cleansers. Like garlic, grapefruit contains compounds that boost our production of liver detoxification enzymes. It also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to burn fat rather than store it.
Green Tea: Green tea is loaded with catechins, a type of plant antioxidant that has been shown in studies to eliminate liver fat accumulation and promote proper liver function. This powerful herbal beverage also protects the liver against toxins that would otherwise accumulate and cause serious damage.
Green Vegetables: Leafy green vegetables such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens,spinach, mustard greens, and chicory also contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can bear heavily on the liver. Leafy greens also eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body and spur the creation and flow of cleansing bile.
Avocado: Avocados are valuable in helping our liver burn fat rather than store it, and helping to reduce LDL and raise HDL levels in the blood. Moreover, avocado contains nutrients that make up the precursor for one of the most potent antioxidants in our body, glutathione.
Glutathione is needed by the liver to repair cells and clear toxins from our body. People with chronic liver disease are found to be low in glutathione levels.
Walnuts: Walnuts, which contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas.
Turmeric: Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.
Wherever possible choose local and/or organic versions of the above. This can make a big difference as spray-free fruits and vegetables are up to 70 percent higher in the beneficial antioxidants.The longer fruits and vegetables travel, and the more heavily they are sprayed, has a direct effect on the content of beneficial nutrients. Interesting, research shows, the harder our plants are challenged to fight for their own survival, the greater the level ofantioxidants present in the plant. The more they are sprayed, the more they can depend on the spray for their protection and slack off on the production of antioxidants. Like the plants, when we slack off on the production of whole fresh foods, and choose to depend on a primarily refined and processed diet base, it has a negative effect on our own survival. Small changes to diet can translate to a much greater ability for our body to thrive and adapt to our environment. Start with the liver-friendly seven and begin to enjoy how your system thanks you.
By Ben Polzin, Down To Earth Garden Center
Winterizing your perennials garden doesn’t have to be a big job, especially if you take little steps all year to prepare your plants for whatever nature gives us. The most important task is getting any diseased foliage cut back and removed to prevent any unwanted diseases or insects from overwintering in the plant or soil. Spending a little time in the garden this fall will help your plants reach their potential next year. It’s a great time of year to be out and enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of fall. Relax and enjoy the task; it’s the one chance you have to do a cleaning job that stays done for six months.
► How do I know what my plants need? While some varieties of perennials may need more protection than others, all of them will benefit from your attention
► When should I cut back my perennials? Most perennials are cut back after we have had a killing frost in the fall. This usually occurs in early October. It is important to clean off all plant debris after the frost to help minimize soil-borne diseases.
► What kind of protection should I provide? Most perennials simply need a good layer of mulch applied late in the fall. The purpose of mulching in this case is to protect the crowns of the plants from the alternate freezing and thawing that occurs very late in fall and in early spring. It is important that the ground be allowed to get cold before mulching, so wait until early to mid-November before covering the plants. Ideally an inch or two of frost in the ground is best.
► Are some mulches better than others for perennials? There are several mulches that work well for winter protection of perennials. Straw, hay, and leaves are the most common.
► How much mulch should I use? A layer 4 to 6 inches deep is best for most perennials.
► Are there any perennials I shouldn’t mulch? Bearded iris should either go without mulch or be mulched extremely late. The iris borer seems to be worse on mulched plants, especially those mulched early. If you have had any disease problems with your peonies, leave them unmulched as well.
► Should I continue to water in the fall, even after a killing frost? Making sure your perennials stay WELL watered until the ground freezes is important to successful wintering. Quite often we go through several dry weeks late in October. If the soil is dry an inch or two below the surface, give the area a thorough soaking.
► Can I divide or move my perennials in fall? Many perennials can be divided or moved in fall. Generally if a perennial blooms in spring or early summer, it can be divided or moved in fall. If it blooms in late summer or fall, it is best divided or moved in spring. There are a few exceptions, of course. Irises and day lilies prefer to be divided in August, and a few plants with taproots don’t ever want to be disturbed.
► When can I remove the mulch in the spring? Wait until all the frost is out of the ground before removing the mulch. If it gets very warm early, you may want to pull back part of the mulch, but leave at least 2 to 3 inches.Some gardeners leave mulches in the beds, just pulling them back away from the crown of the plants. This adds organic matter and helps suppress weeds. Mulches that have been removed can be composted.
By Dr Margaret Meier, DVM, CVSMT
As we celebrate food in this issue, it is important to consider the food we feed our pets as well as ourselves. Did you know that how the food we eat, and feed our pets, is processed can change the inherent nature of the raw ingredients? We all have heard numerous times that processed foods are “bad” for us and that if it comes in a box we should avoid it. Is the same true for our pets? The answer isn’t necessarily as black and white as one might think.The idea of feeding our pets a diet that owners have prepared for them has been rapidly gaining popularity over the last few decades. There are numerous recipes available online, and one can even find several commercially prepared“raw” diets now in the pet stores and grocery stores. The question then becomes more a matter of balanced nutrition and safety, for us and our pets, than availability and/or accessibility of these diets should we choose to feed them to our four-legged friends.
If you choose a non-processed “raw” diet for your pet, one of the biggest concerns is that of parasites and bacterial overgrowth. Bacteria such as Salmonella and Campylobacter can be found in raw protein sources such as chicken and milk, and if handled inappropriately can lead to illness. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) make the following statement on their website:
“Raw diets, especially raw meat diets, are not recommended because of the risk for salmonellosis and other infections that can affect pets and their owners.”
That being said, we all have also seen many recent pet food recalls for salmonellosis in processed pet foods. So, what else must we consider when choosing what to feed our pets?
As we go through life our nutritional needs change, and so do the needs of our pets. When we feed our pets a non-processed diet, it is essential to provide balanced nutrition. I recommend Canine/Feline Whole Body Support by Standard Process to help meet the micronutrient needs of my patients, regardless of their base diet. Disease processes such as allergies, diabetes, kidney and/or heart disease, and even osteoarthritis also change nutritional needs and should be addressed with supplements accordingly with your veterinarian’s assistance. For example, increasing the amounts of EPA/DHA essential fatty acids in the diet can substantially aid with skin, heart, and joint problems.
Finally, the species of pet must also be taken into consideration. Dogs are omnivores, like humans, but cats are obligate carnivores. These dietary classifications are essentialto understand and follow if you are electing to provide a non-processed diet for your pet. Dietary amounts for essential amino acids, such as taurine, differ between the species (and even breeds), and if not monitored closely can result in deficiency diseases such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
As we look to provide better nutrition to our pets, processed diets are also improving. All one need do is look at the growing selection of pet foods in the store for the evidence. Unfortunately, this is also adding to confusion as to what’s the best option for you and your pet. Discussing all of your questions and concerns with your veterinarian will provide the best scenario for you and your pet