These small seeds pack a protein punch and produce more oil than most nuts or seeds. They bundle in calcium, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorous and Vitamin B1. Sesame seeds have properties that protect the liver, reduce inflammation and pain, level out blood sugar and reduce cholesterol. They are purported to be anti-cancer, anti-aging, and are antioxidant.
‘A 2013 study by researchers from the Tabriz University of Medical Sciences reported that 40 grams of sesame seeds were better than Tylenol when it came to alleviating the pain caused by knee arthritis.’
Wow! With that much going on – why not get the wok out and start stir frying with a dash of sesame seed oil, ginger, garlic and some sliced veg right now!
Studies indicate that sesame could be a ‘hepatoprotectant’ or liver protector.
So what does sesame do?
Your liver faces stresses from toxins all around us: pharmaceuticals, pesticides, fumes and particulates in the environment, additives in food and overindulging in alcohol or other toxic stimulants and relaxants. It seems that sesame could be a much needed support for the liver, struggling with modern toxic impacts.
The technical bit: sesame maintains levels of glutathione (a potent antioxidant), reducing free radicals and inhibiting the oxidation of fats. (Antioxidants fight free radicals which damage the cells of your body. Free radicals are unstable molecules produced because of environmental pressures on your system).
So, in more straightforward terms – sesame helps the good stuff in your body fight off the damage to your body caused by those toxins that we’re swallowing and surrounded by.
Sesame also appears to be safe for you. As sesame can change blood sugar levels and lower blood pressure, then do be careful if you have diabetes or already low blood pressure.
If you want to protect your liver, boost your immune system, lower your blood pressure, lower your cholesterol, reduce cancer risk and boost vital nutrients, then adding sesame into your diet is a great choice. Tahini (sesame seed paste) and sesame seed oil, as well as the seeds themselves, are available in all supermarkets, and can be used in cooking, spread on toast, added to dressings, used to make hummus, stir frys and so much more.
We’re all talking more about mental health and that’s really important for people with liver conditions. Liver condition or not – looking after your liver and your mental health will lead to a happier healthier life.
There’s a ton of evidence that liver disease relates to mental health:
These are serious clinical problems, but whether or not you have a liver condition, if you aren’t looking after the organ that cleans all the rubbish out of your system (yes, that’s your liver), then you will feel like the bottom of a well used cat litter tray!
This is a two-sided coin – look after one and the other improves. Great! That means you’ve twice the opportunity to feel better.
I’m not a doctor and this is not medical advice, this information is from research I’ve linked to (if you want to dig deeper) and curated with additional resources from well regarded books by scientists, doctors and other reputable authors. Links to those books will give me a small commission if you choose to make a purchase – just so we’re clear 😊
Everything you eat or drink passes through your liver – so let’s start there.
Alcohol is a well known liver toxin. It’s also an emotional crutch and widely abused. You feel bad so you drink more, it harms your liver, you feel worse, you drink more – it’s a vicious downward spiral. Any alcohol will stress the liver, and if you have a liver condition it will do so even more. If you want to save your liver, and your mental health, save the alcohol for never if you have a liver condition, or in moderation if you are otherwise healthy. Here’s more on that:
Good food feels great! There are tons of wonderful foods that will help your liver and you feel great! Eat more of the good things and you will also keep a healthy weight which will prevent you from getting a fatty liver too.
Some of the foods that work best for supporting the liver include broccoli (and other ‘cruciferous’ veg such as cabbage, cauliflower and radishes), avocados, tomatoes, carrots, beetroot, fruits (apples, lemons, grapefruits) and nuts (Nuts are a good source of glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids that help the liver evacuate ammonia, the substance responsible for certain diseases. They also promote blood oxygenation https://www.myliverexam.com/en/detoxification-some-food-to-cleanse-your-liver/), garlic and turmeric. If you eat healthy food I guarantee you’ll feel better all round. I’m vegan and totally advocate for a completely plant based diet if you want to feel great, full of energy and bright-eyed (yup, helps with the jaundice). You can find out more about food and diets in the books below.
Sugar – sorry, but it really does make you feel rubbish. Especially if you have a liver condition, such as Gilbert’s Syndrome, your liver will work better if you have a steady blood sugar level https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4390583/. This is because the chemicals used by liver processes need steady blood sugar levels to be able to work. Plus, your liver does the hard work in managing your blood sugar levels when they’re high or you need to draw on energy for your muscles http://www.diabetesforecast.org/2012/feb/the-liver-s-role-how-it-processes-fats-and-carbs.html Too much sugar means your liver bgins to store it as fat and ultimately damages the liver. Keeping steady blood sugar levels can be achieved by eating little and often, and not going long periods without food, plus not relying on high sugar snacks when you feel lethargic. For those of us with liver conditions who have trained their body to love good food just looking at a piece of cake can make me feel sick. If it’s a real treat for you though, don’t deny yourself completely, just don’t make it a daily crutch that keeps you on the uphill treadmill of feeling knackered and rough.
Exercise – a total liver/brain/body hack. Fortunately you don’t have to be a gym bunny or have an olympian body to do this one. Just get outside for a half hour stroll every day for starters. Yes, you WILL feel better.
Here are some resources to check out to explore this one further. Find what works for you and your lifestyle:
Anxiety is a common reported symptom of Gilbert’s Syndrome. ‘At the molecular level, recently emerging data have established the increased frequency of dual genetic polymorphisms in UDP glucuronosyl-transferases 1A1 and 1A6 in approximately 87% of patients with Gilbert’s syndrome, leading to defective glucuronidation not only of bilirubin but of several other endogenous and exogenous substrates, such as serotonin, coumarin and dopamine derivatives.7,8
Increased serotonin levels have been reported in patients with Gilbert’s syndrome, suggesting a possible explanation for the nonspecific symptoms described in these patients that are commonly attributed to anxiety.9,10’
So, if you’re more likely to have problems with your mental health, then it’s really important to look after yourself. Following the advice above and keeping to a healthy diet, exercise and mental wellbeing routine will absolutely help you lead a better life with Gilbert’s Syndrome.
Because your support helps keep this research and website alive, please donate today:
Find out more about how Milk Thistle works. The effective ingredient is sylmarin, and you need enough of a dose for it to have an impact. Read more here: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/138.html
Diet plays a really important part in managing your health and wellbeing, and especially in helping your liver. However, there is an industry out there just waiting to push the latest ‘superfood’ your way. NHS ‘Choices’ gives the latest lowdown on the claims and offers the evidence to counter / support them here
Find ordinary household paints make you feel unwell? I’ve been using these for years and they are brilliant! www.ecosorganicpaints.co.uk Odourless, solvent free, totally non-toxic.
The liver is the body’s largest solid organ. It responsible for detoxifying many of the potentially harmful substances that can pollute the body.
The liver also plays a critical role in many other body processes including energy production, digestion, and nutrient storage.
What will help my liver?
The cornerstone of any liver-friendly programme is a diet that makes it easier for your liver to work. Lots of fruits and vegetables will help you and your liver work better.
Not only do these foods tend not to tax and stress the liver, they also contain an lots of nutrients such as vitamin C and carotenoids (e.g. beta-carotene) which can support liver function.
Organic produce is best as this is relatively free of potentially toxic herbicides, pesticides and fungicides.
Drinking plenty of water (about one and-a-half to two litres a day) really helps your body and your liver work well.
What won’t help my liver?
Foods that contain artificial additives such as sweeteners, colourings, flavourings and preservatives might cause your liver more problems.
People with Gilbert’s Syndrome often find that drinking alcohol gives them symptoms such as fatigue, brain fog and jaundice. Alcohol is hard for your liver to process and the less you drink the less stressed your liver will be. Watch out for hidden alcohol! You might find some herbal tinctures or food contains alcohol – worth avoiding if you are particularly sensitive.
You might also find fatty food makes you feel sick, and carbohydrates like sugar and white bread or pasta leave you drained and feeling rough. In Gilbert’s Syndrome you need to keep balanced blood sugar levels to help your enzymes work as well as possible (check out ‘What is Gilbert’s Syndrome’ for an explanation), so refined carbs are best avoided.
For a quick boost try the following super tasty liver loving lunch:
Quick pitta lunch
Wholemeal pitta bread, sliced open, spread with humous or tahini, add slices of avocado, a handful of watercress and spinach, and season with a dash of lemon juice, salt and black pepper. For extra nutrition and yumminess add sesame seeds or pine nuts or sunflower seeds. Scrumptious.
I’ve been monitoring the ‘de-tox diet’ phenomenon for many years, and each year my scepticism grows. Avid marketers have spotted a desire for many people to find a solution to the modern malaise of feeling tired and sluggish, and there is a proliferation of products – powders / pills / soups / excercises / regimes / books / websites / treatments etc that claim to help powerfully cleanse the body and leave you lighter, fresher, and generally bright eyed and bushy tailed.
However, on the one hand many run of the mill Doctors will tell you that the liver does a perfectly good job of dealing with toxins. On the other hand many people feel generally under par much of the time. Although I agree that the liver generally does an excellent job, some of us may need a wee bit more help for our liver to do the job we want it to. Given the disadvantage that those with Gilbert’s Syndrome experience, with a reduced capacity to process certain toxins, it makes sense to me to look after my diet so that I can help my liver. But I don’t want to burden my body with the shock of suddenly changing my diet to all fruit or liquid or pureed broccoli or whatever. My message would be to make a lifestyle choice to ensure you feel better EVERY day.
So, what can we all agree on? Well, water is good for you. Drink plenty of it. Alcohol may be ok in small quantities, but personally it makes me feel awful so I avoid it. Caffeine can mess up your blood sugar levels and so reduce your ability to maintain consistent energy, particularly because those with Gilbert’s Syndrome are lacking in an enzyme that needs stable blood sugar levels for it to work properly. Eat little and often to keep your energy up, but make sure you stick to wholefoods such as brown rice, wholemeal bread, crackers, jacket potatoes etc and plenty of vegetables and fruit and not high fat food. This will help you maintain a steady weight, not experience hunger pangs, as well as avoiding over burdening your liver with fat processing. Protein is supposed to help with extra energy. I avoid eating animals and animal products for environmental reasons as well as health and compassionate reasons, so my sources of protein tend to be marmite (full of an awesome range of vitamins), and nut butters, such as peanut butter and cashew butter (high in fat but replace margarine and used as my only source of fat– don’t rule it out completely as your body does need fat), avocado, hemp powder added to soups and dressings, plus lots of soya milk.
If you need caffeine then try swapping to green tea which is better at cleansing the liver, and more gentle to your system than coffee.
Don’t forget a little naughty treat is ok. But use it as a reward for staying generally more liver conscious and once a week rather than every day. I like the 80 / 20 rule – stay 80% within a good diet, then the other 20% ain’t so bad.
Good news! The detox process of the liver which won’t work as well for people with Gilbert’s Syndrome is called Glucuronidation and this process can be helped with Calcium D-Glucarate, glycine, magnesium, and b vitamins.
Calcium D Glucarate can be taken as tablets or capsules, but is also available in apples, brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage and bean sprouts.
Glycine is an amino acid and in high-protein foods, such as fish, meat, beans, milk, and cheese. Glycine is also available in capsule and powder forms, and as part of many combination amino acid supplements.
Spices, nuts, cereals, coffee, cocoa, tea, and vegetables are rich sources of magnesium. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach are also rich in magnesium as they contain chlorophyll. Magnesium supplements are widely available and often with calcium and vitamin c which help its absorption. The best absorbed types of magnesium are citrate and malate, rather than the cheaper form of oxide.
B vitamins are available in many different foods (see the NHS website), but the easiest ways of accessing them are through yeast extracts such as Marmite, and fortified cereals.
So why not help yourself and make sure your diet contains a good balance of foods that may help your liver to work better.
Essential for Glucuronidation are the nutrients L-glutamine, aspartic acid, iron, magnesium, B3 (niacin) and B6. Thyroid should also be adequate. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, cabbage, cress, bok choy, broccoli and similar green leaf vegetables) are helpful. Glucuronidation efficiency can be improved by calcium-d-glucarate. However, you have to start very gradually with the calcium-d-glucarate, and be very consistent.
People with Gilbert’s Syndrome can experience unpleasant reactions when they drink alcohol, although it doesn’t bother some people at all. Here is what happens in the body when you drink:
Alcohol is metabolized extremely quickly by the body – absorbed and metabolized before most other nutrients. About 20% is absorbed directly across the walls of an empty stomach and can reach the brain within one minute.
Once alcohol reaches the stomach, it begins to break down with the alcohol dehydrogenase enzyme. This process reduces the amount of alcohol entering the blood by approximately 20%. (Women produce less of this enzyme, which may help explain why women become more intoxicated than men).
About 10% of the alcohol is expelled in the breath and urine.
Alcohol is rapidly absorbed in the upper portion of the small intestine. The alcohol-laden blood then travels to the liver via the veins and capillaries of the digestive tract, which affects nearly every liver cell. The liver cells are the only cells in our body that can produce enough of the enzyme alcohol dehydrogenase to oxidize alcohol at an appreciable rate.
Though alcohol affects every organ of the body, it’s most dramatic impact is upon the liver. The liver cells normally prefer fatty acids as fuel, and package excess fatty acids as triglycerides, which they then route to other tissues of the body. However, when alcohol is present, the liver cells are forced to first metabolize the alcohol, letting the fatty acids accumulate, sometimes in huge amounts. Alcohol metabolism permanently changes liver cell structure, impairing the liver’s ability to metabolize fats. This is why heavy drinkers develop fatty livers.
The liver can deal with about ½ ounce of ethanol per hour (about one drink, depending on a person’s body size, food intake, etc.). If more alcohol arrives in the liver than the enzymes can handle, the excess alcohol travels to all parts of the body, circulating until the liver enzymes are finally able to process it.
If you are looking after your liver, then it pays to not drink alcohol!
For people with Gilbert’s Syndrome alcohol will likely raise bilirubin levels, and can result in a hangover that’s pretty quick to appear and may last for days.
OK, this is quite technical, but quite handy to know as background to how your liver works:
The liver is one of the most important organs in the body when it comes to detoxifying or getting rid of foreign substances or toxins. The liver neutralizes a wide range of toxic chemicals, both those produced by your own body and those from the environment.
One of the liver’s primary functions is filtering the blood. Almost 2 quarts of blood pass through the liver every minute for detoxification. Filtration of toxins is absolutely critical as the blood from the intestines contains high levels of bacteria, and various other toxic substances. When working properly, the liver clears 99% of the bacteria and other toxins during the first pass.
The liver’s second detoxification process involves the synthesis and secretion of bile. Each day the liver manufactures approximately 1 quart of bile, which serves as a carrier in which many toxic substances are dumped into the intestines. In the intestines, the bile and its toxic load are absorbed by fibre and excreted. However, a diet low in fibre results in inadequate binding and reabsorption of the toxins.
Phase I and Phase II Detoxification
The liver’s third role in detoxification involves a two-step process, Phase 1 and Phase 2. If the phases are out of balance, as in Gilbert’s Syndrome where Phase 2 is impaired, then you are more sensitive to toxins. These toxins not only include drugs, pesticides, and toxins from the gut, but also normal body chemicals such as hormones and inflammatory chemicals (e.g. histamine) which become toxic if allowed to build up.
Phase I enzymes directly neutralize some chemicals, but most are converted to intermediate forms that are then processed by phase II enzymes. These intermediate forms are much more chemically active and therefore more toxic.
Phase II detoxification typically involves ‘conjugation’. Conjugation is where various enzymes in the liver attach small chemicals to the toxin. This conjugation (or binding together) reaction either neutralizes the toxin or makes the toxin more easily excreted through the urine or bile. Phase II enzymes act on some toxins directly, while others must first be activated by the phase I enzymes. There are essentially six phase II detoxification pathways:
· Glutathione conjugation, Amino acid conjugation, Methylation, Sulfation, Acetylation and , Glucuronidation – this last one is impaired in GS sufferers.
Glucuronidation, the combining of glucuronic acid with toxins, requires the enzyme UDP-glucuronyl transferase (UDPGT). Many of the commonly prescribed drugs are detoxified through this pathway. It also helps to detoxify aspirin, menthol, vanillin (synthetic vanilla), food additives such as benzoates, and some hormones. Glucuronidation appears to work well, except for those with Gilbert’s syndrome.
The activity of UDPGT is increased by foods rich in the monoterpene limonene (citris peel, dill weed oil, and caraway oil). Methionine, administered as SAM, has been shown to be quite beneficial in treating Gilbert’s syndrome.
Nutrients needed by phase II detoxification enzymes
Glutathione conjugation: Glutathione, vitamin B6
Amino acid conjugation: Glycine
Sulfation: Cysteine, methionine, molybdenum
Glucuronidation: Glucuronic acid
phase II detoxification enzymes can be encouraged by :
Recently evidence suggests that people with Gilbert’s syndrome may show increased toxicity compared to unaffected individuals following use of medications which are metabolised by glucuronidation in the liver. This has been reported with some anti-cancer agents and also with paracetamol, where they may be more prone to toxicity after paracetamol overdose.
Do you find a side of effect of your GS is itchy skin? A lot of us experience it. One suggestion why this might happen is that your skin, as the bodies 2nd largest detoxification organ after your liver, is trying to help your ailing liver in the detox process. Here’s a couple of tips that might help – 1) Skin brushing before your morning shower or bath helps to stimulate circulation and encourage detoxification. Brush towards your heart using firm strokes. 2) If you’ve over indulged and your liver is struggling, swapping your morning-after coffee with a cup of nettle or dandelion tea will replace lost minerals and support your liver’s detoxification process.