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Why Apples Are an Overlooked Liver Detox Superfood

  • Published on: 29 March, 2017
  • Last update: 24 August, 2017

There are so many reasons why apples are a miracle food. I know I’ve talked about TCM’s (Traditional Chinese Medicine) concept of “liver stagnation” a zillion times, but it’s because most Americans have issues with a sluggish liver – how can we not in a world where powerful chemicals are a casual encounter?

Just the other day I went to buy toilet paper and there wasn’t a single option that didn’t have added fragrances and other hormone-disrupting, liver-burdening compounds. Healing your liver (and reducing the pathogen load in your gut/body) is the KEY to recovering from hormone imbalance, PMS, acne, emotional stagnation (mood swings), depression and so much more.

As you may know, I haven’t always been a big fan of 100% raw food. I’ve always resonated with TCM’s teachings of balance, adding in warming food for grounding and digestive fire. The other day a lightbulb went off in my head after I had a conversation with my friend @MedicalMedium. What happens when liver stagnation is unaddressed (and worse, aggravated) for a long period of time? HEAT builds up, leading to a more advanced condition called ‘Liver Fire.’

That’s where a lot of us are at now. Essentially this “heat” has nowhere to go since liver detoxification pathways are blocked, stagnant or exhausted. An excellent way to address this is to actually add in more raw food (especially apples) until the liver ‘cools off,’ before you put the grounding & building foods back in. This is similar to the “weed and feed” philosophy of our cleanse: remove the pathogenic gut bugs before repopulating with probiotics so that they have a clear slate in which to thrive and grow. MM & I discussed how we both love Chinese Medicine, but the philosophy must evolve and adapt to address modern toxic conditions.

Back to the concept of ‘liver stagnation’: if you want to get a full picture of what this feels like and why it happens, visit this article for a full explanation.

Long story short, an excess of stress, heavy/rich food, antibiotics, drugs, chemicals, plastics, anger, exogenous hormones (dairy), meat, etc ALL burden the liver at once and slow it down. This is a problem because the liver metabolizes, balances, and removes any excess of your hormones – meaning the liver is the first place to look if you have hormone imbalance, “hormonal acne”, depression/anxiety and more. When liver stagnation goes on for too long (think about being stuck in traffic for ages), “liver heat” (aggravation) builds up the condition graduates to “Liver Fire.” On top of this, TCM sees toxins and pathogens of all kinds as a form of “heat” that makes this situation worse.

A diet that helps to cool the Liver network avoids spicy and overly rich foods, as well as artificial additives. Raw foods or stir frying and steaming is recommended as opposed to roasting, baking or deep frying.

For this condition, the diet should consist of:

  • 50-60% lightly cooked and raw vegetables or fruit,
  • 30% complex carbohydrates,
  • 10-20% protein/fat with a focus on high quality sources.
  • Oily and fatty foods should be avoided ENTIRELY.

The Most Important Foods for Liver Stagnation + Liver Heat

apples, pears, watermelon, mint, asparagus, young plants such as sprouts, mung beans, tomato, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, carrots, raw honey, lemon, spinach, dandelion greens, celery, seaweed, kelp, lettuce, cucumber, mushroom, strawberries, fresh vegetables and fruits

Foods to Limit of Avoid

chilies, wasabi, coffee, mustard, horseradish, chocolate, lamb and red meats, shrimp, cheese, dairy, peanuts, lard, margarine, all fried foods, BBQ’d foods, cigarettes, alcohol, recreational stimulants, artificial preservatives, artificial colorings and all highly processed foods.

Why are Apples so Important?

Apples are important for several reasons.

1. THE FIBER: PECTIN – Remember how the liver’s job is to excrete excess hormones? Most Americans have an issue with ‘estrogen dominance,’ or excess serum estrogen. This is linked to breast cancer, and explains why TCM views liver stagnation as a beginning step and risk factor to hormone-related cancers. Estrogen is excreted by the liver into the intestines and eventually into the bowel. If you don’t get enough fiber DAILY, stools are sluggish and remain sitting in the bowel, where estrogen is reabsorbed into the blood stream over and over again eventually getting stored in fat cells.

2. THE ENERGETIC IMPACT OF THE APPLE – In TCM, apples are cool and sweet. They have a specific action on the liver and gallbladder meridians, stimulating the liver into action & allowing it to release “heat” (toxins, hormones, pathogens) to be bound into its powerful fiber.

3. LIVER DETOX POWER – One of the major sources of “heat” that overwhelms the liver would be heavy metals. The liver has a very difficult time detoxifying these substances, as large stores of zinc, cysteine, and glutathione are required. Pectin, a special fiber found in apples, has a unique ability to bind to heavy metals and slowly remove them via the intestinal tract without the risk of reabsorption.

4. DISSOLVES GALLSTONES AND SLUGGISH BILE – Another component of “liver stagnation” would be sluggish bile and the buildup of gallstones. The malic acid in apples helps to dissolve these cholesterol-packed gallstones so that your body can move them out of your system via the stool.

5. INFECTION FIGHTING POWER – As I mentioned, pathogens are also considered “heat” in TCM and attack the liver. In December 1978, Canadian scientists in the journal Applied & Environmental Microbiology demonstrated that fresh apple juice and sauce inhibits both the stomach flu and polo virus. They were also able to inhibit the bacterial biofilm that causes tooth decay!

Hope this gives you guys some motivation to indulge in the beautiful APPLE this week 🙂 Talk soon!

xox, Olivia

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