The Huffington Post Canada | By Arti Patel
Posted: 12/31/2013 2:41 pm EST
We've had our fair share of holiday turkeys and treats and of course, booze on New Year's Eve. If your New Year's resolution is about your personal health and getting fit, detoxing one of your body's most useful organs may be the place to start.
Our livers act as our body's own personal vacuum as it sucks in the bad and leaves us a clean and shiny surface to work with. And on top of digesting our food and getting rid of harmful material in our bloodstream, our livers also work to convert and distribute nutrients from the foods we eat.
And while most of us associate liver damage with drinking excess amounts of alcohol, The American Liver Foundation (ALF) says sugar may just be the new alcohol of 2014.
"More people suffer liver damage from calories [in sugar] than from alcohol. Fatty liver disease affects up to 25 per cent of people in the United States, and the deadly disease can lead to liver cancer and liver failure," the foundation said in a statement.
Fatty liver disease is the result of our livers filling up with excess fat. It is normal for livers to have some fat but if you have more than 5 to 10 per cent of your liver's weight, it's called fatty liver.
The ALF also recommends eating high fibre foods and eating spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice to detox your liver. Also avoid deep-fried and fatty foods, smoked, cured and salted foods, and desserts and snacks high in sugar.
So to help with your fresh start to the new year, the foundation has listed 20 foods we should always try to cook with. We say, take it step-by-step and try making a meal out of some of these ingredients every week instead of stocking up your pantry and fridge all at once.
Seaweed is high in nutrients and low in calories. A study from McGill University found that seaweed was great for detoxing our bodies from a radioactive chemical called strontium.
They might make you cry but onions also come packed with cancer-fighting compounds. Yellow onions, for example, have been found to protect our bodies against liver and colon cancers.
Our livers have the ability to produce cholesterol on its own, but if you eat cholesterol-filled foods (like eggs), then your liver may produce less. According to Authority Nutrition, eggs tend to have the "good" cholesterol your liver needs.
Sesame seeds contain sesamin, a substance found to protect the liver from oxidative damage.
Avocados can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials.
Eating artichokes can boost bile production in your liver, which helps its overall health and function.
High in fibre and vitamin C, fennel has also been found to protect our livers from harmful chemicals.
Often used in homemade cleansers (juices or smoothies), ginger is a natural way to detox your liver.
Consuming too many fatty proteins can also lead to liver damage. Healthy options of proteins (that also fill you up) include beans and lentils.
Now fish oil can be tricky and may not be for everyone. Some sources suggest using fish oil supplements to fight heart disease or diabetes, but often this oil is not recommend for everyday use. If you're unsure, ask your family doctor.
Flax seeds can easily be added to your soups, salads or cereals and help your liverward off harmful hormones from entering your bloodstream.
Garlic helps your liver activate enzymes that flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aide in liver cleansing.
Sometimes an underrated vegetable, broccoli is a powerhouse for your liver's health. Dr. Oz recommends eating four servings of broccoli a week (along with garlic and curries) just for your liver.
Cabbage, also called one of the world's healthiest foods, provides your body with cholesterol-lowering benefits.
Cauliflower, also known as 2014's new kale, is similar to broccoli and cabbage by helping your liver flush our harmful toxins.
Eating leafy greens is also crucial for liver health. Kale, for example, also helps our bodies detoxify from harmful chemicals.
Eating Brussels sprouts is also another popular way to detox. According to the Global Healing Center, Brussels sprouts help our livers function properly.
Bitter greens like kale and collard greens have high-cleansing properties as well.
A member of the mint family, basil helps the metabolic breakdown and elimination of chemicals in our blood.