By: Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D.
The new school year has started once again. For children this is an exciting transition to another grade, a new school, and potential new friends! With the endless possibilities of what’s to come, stress can definitely play a role in your little one’s new adventure.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine theory, it is believed that stress can negatively impact the health of the liver.
Physical stressors, such as environmental pollutants and poor dietary habits, impact the liver just as much as emotional stressors, such as new transitions, busy lives and social growth. It is imperative that we start supporting the liver at an early age, to give our children a head start to life’s demands that are yet to come!
The liver plays an extremely important role as the main detoxifying organ of the body. It is the liver’s responsibility to activate and deactivate hormones, drugs and biochemicals in the body, digest fats, strengthen the immune system, and to clean the blood/body of environmental and dietary toxins. When the liver is sluggish, these necessary processes cannot function optimally which can lead to imbalances in the body. Signs of a sluggish liver can be (but not limited to);
- Problems digesting fats
- Skin problems – acne, eczema
Some children may manifest these imbalances already, while others may see these imbalances at play when they are older. Whatever the time these physical symptoms actually pop up, always remember that prevention is always key to successful outcomes.
The liver has regenerative properties and is one of the most robust, strongest organs in the body. In other words, the liver can take years of unhealthy habits (mainly diet and stress-based) before any blood test or imaging picks up that there is a problem. By the time these tests can pick up an imbalance, the liver is quite unhealthy, often suffering from irreversible damage, and takes a long time to heal, if given the right treatment. This is why becoming aware of symptoms, and being assessed and treated by a naturopathic doctor at an early age can really help optimize you and your child’s health.
Here are some tips to keeping the liver healthy:
- The abundance of liver detoxifying properties, including fibre, magnesium, and B6, make these vegetables key to maintaining a healthy liver. If your kids don’t like leafy greens, try blending a handful in their favourite fruit smoothie. They won’t be able to taste the greens but will get all the benefits. I recommend 1-2 cups daily. Examples include, spinach, kale, swiss chard, dandelion greens, rapini, bok choy.
- Castor bean oil has been used for centuries for its detoxification properties. Applied topically to the skin, the oil drives through the skin, enters the lymphatic system, and help clean out the cells, aiding the liver with detoxification. For HOW Tos with castor oil, please visit www.tanyaleend.com
- This easy remedy helps your gallbladder purge and decongest bile, promoting smoother flow and function of the liver. Adding a few slices of lemon to water is a tasty and easy way of stimulating detoxification. It is also high in vitamin C!
- (aka deep fried and processed foods): One of the liver’s roles is to rid the body of excess fats. A diet rich in these bad fats can overwhelm the liver, slowing its function, and can eventually lead to damage, such as fatty liver, later in life. Eating a diet rich in poly unsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) such as olive oil, fish oils and flax oils, can help offset the damage caused by saturated and trans-fat.
- Fibre is essential for binding excess fats and hormones, which is incredibly helpful for the liver. Adding high fibre foods such as oats, brown rice, flax seeds, and bran promotes healthy elimination patterns and balanced blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
- Keeping your kids active promotes a strong liver by strengthening its detoxification processes.
- Stress is has a major impact on the liver’s function. Teaching your child how to relax after a stressful/busy day and teaching them to properly cope with stressful life situations efficiently can lessen the emotional burden on the liver, setting them up for all of life’s challenges that await them!
Tanya Lee, BSc (Hons), N.D.
Lotus Arts and Wellness
920 Yonge St. Suite 605
Toronto, ON M4W 3C7
Health Centre of Milton
400 Main S. E Suite 210
Milton, ON L9T 1P7