Tag Archive for: Self-Care

When life gives you lemons … make lemon juice!

Today, I want to discuss the healing power of lemons and your liver.

Over the years, I’ve seen so thousands of people join the AIP Recipe Collection Facebook Group looking for help with recipes to support their healing journey. They describe serious cases of hives, unexplained rashes and reactions, eczema, digestive disorders, acne, acid reflux, cirrhosis, psoriasis, edema, hepatitis, lupus, chronic fatigue and other liver related symptoms and diseases … it’s frankly quite shocking … and most people don’t realize that they are all related to liver function! Did you know there are more than 100 types of different kinds of liver diseases. and fatty liver disease is by far the most common?

I’m posting this information here in the hope that it will help others benefit from the healing power of lemons and understand how important it is to support your liver through the use of a diet and the addition of lemons as “medicine” – if it’s right for you. (DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, lemon juice may not be fore everyone, I am simply sharing my research and results, and you should consult your physician to see if this is right for you.)

My experience using lemons as “medicine” began as I struggled to find answers to my own health issues – first an inexplicably enlarged liver and edema, then an extreme case of hives that left me unable to sleep, and when I could sleep I had to sleep with ice-packs applied to my legs so I wouldn’t claw them open in the middle of the night. I’d been down the road of hormone testing, ultra-sounds and trips to the dermatologist without any answer or improvement – I was ready to try just about anything … and when I tell you what I did, you’ll probably agree, I really was ready to try anything!

While my doctors had pretty much ignored my liver in trying to deal with my symptoms I decided to circle back and focus on it on my own, and I’ve shocked more than a few (including medical professionals) with the approach I took.

Why Focus On The Liver?

  • The liver is the second largest organ – next only to our skin. If your symptoms include skin reactions, it could very well be an indication that your body is overloaded trying to remove toxins from the body, and it is therefore highly likely that your liver is either over loaded or at minimum in need of some extra support.
  • How are your albumin levels? Albumin is the main protein that is made by the liver. While there are many factors that can affect the level of albumin circulating in the blood, chronic liver disease causes a decrease in the amount of albumin produced, and therefore the level of albumin in the blood is reduced. NOTE: you do not have to be a heavy drinker to have liver disease – being under chronic stress can have a HUGE impact on liver health.
  • Our livers are over worked and overlooked! Don’t believe me – read on!

Consider this information from the Canadian Liver Foundation:

“The liver is a resilient organ that’s easy to ignore – until something goes wrong. Because of its wide-ranging responsibilities, your healthy liver can come under attack by viruses, toxic substances, contaminants and diseases. However, even when under siege, the liver is very slow to complain. People who have problems with their liver are frequently unaware because they may have few, if any, symptoms. Your liver is such a determined organ that it will continue working even when two-thirds of it has been damaged.”

“Weighing in at a little over one kilogram, your liver is a complex chemical factory that works 24 hours a day. It processes virtually everything you eat, drink, breathe in or rub on your skin; in fact, the liver performs over 500 functions that are vital to life.

Every day, your liver helps your body by providing it with energy, fighting off infections and toxins, helping clot the blood, regulating hormones and much, much more.

To give you an idea of your liver’s critical roles, here is a partial list of its functions:

  • Cleanses your blood: Metabolizing alcohol and other drugs and chemicals, neutralizing and destroying poisonous substances.
  • Regulates your supply of body fuel: Producing, storing and supplying quick energy (glucose) to keep your mind alert and your body active. It produces, stores and exports fat.
  • Manufactures many of your essential body proteins involved in: Transporting substances in your blood, clotting of your blood, and providing resistance to infections.
  • Regulates the balance of hormones: Including sex hormones, thyroid hormones, cortisone and other adrenal hormones.
  • Regulates your body’s cholesterol: Producing cholesterol, excreting it and converting it to other essential substances.
  • Regulates your supply of essential vitamins and minerals: Including iron and copper.
  • Produces bile: Eliminating toxic substances from your body and aiding with your digestion.”

Back to the Lemons!

Oddly enough, I learned my lemon, liver support protocol while watching a documentary called e-motion. If you haven’t watched this documentary yet, I highly recommend it – it discussed how our emotions and how stress, sadness, anger and even memories can be held responsible for many if not all of the diseases we suffer today … because they effect our organs, and very importantly OUR LIVER! You can watch the full-length program on YouTube – check it out here.

One of the speakers, Don Tolman – Whole Foods Nutritional & Author (“Cowboy Don” as he’s called – I knew I liked him right away with a handle like that!), talked about the benefits of lemon juice and how drinking ONE CUP (approximately THREE lemons) of fresh squeezed lemon juice every morning before food, for a period of 90 days (none of this tiny squeeze of lemon in water folks) will usually fully restore your liver in that short a period of time! (Watch a clip of him discussing this on YouTube here.)

Everything Cowboy Don was saying about lemons, an-ions, bile and digestion resonated with me and I wanted to know more, so I looked him up on the internet and found this article: “How to Restore Liver Health & Improve Function” – it’s a really good quick look at what the liver does and how it’s impacted by toxins, viruses (NOTE:  it does discuss some non-AIP products as cleanses, but we can look past that and use what will work for us here in conjunction to the AIP).

Here are a few snippets from the article:

A healthy liver is crucial to your overall health and vitality.

Unfortunately, due to modern day life, it’s common for your liver to become stressed, overworked and damaged leading to malfunctioning and eventual dis-ease.

There are a number of things you can do to reverse any damage and heal liver disease naturally without toxic pharmaceuticals or medical intervention.

WHAT IS THE LIVER?

The liver is the largest internal organ of the body. It’s located on the upper right side of the stomach and is vital for the functioning of your metabolism and immune system.

WHAT DOES THE LIVER DO?

The liver performs several important tasks including; storing blood and constantly filtering it to remove harmful toxins; it rids the body of dead blood cells; secretes hormones and enzymes; supports digestion, converting what we eat into life-sustaining nutrition; and even regenerates its own damaged tissue.

WHAT CAUSES LIVER DISEASE?

Liver disease is usually caused by internal infection as a result of exposure to viruses, medical drugs or toxic substances like chemical cosmetics which seep into the body, impacting the auto-immune process.

Since I originally researched Cowboy Don and his theory about the healing power of lemons and your liver, he’s written a new article that you may also want to read – Signs of Fatty Liver Disease and How to Recover Naturally. But, for now … continue along with me on this lemon juice journey.

Liver Rejuvenating Lemon Juice Protocol

One of the most potent and effective foods on earth for healing, regenerating and cleansing the liver is Lemons.

In fact, if you’ll drink one cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice each day when you rise, within 90 days your liver will usually restore itself.

Lemons are the only food on earth that contain “an-ions” (every other wholefood contains “cat-ions”).  Your liver produces “an-ions” known as bile which helps to release toxins and metabolic waste.  That’s why lemons have significance when it comes to restoring your liver to its highest functional capacity.

So, why does it work? The most basic explanation I can come up with is that it gives your liver a break. Since your liver has to produce an-ions to get rid of toxins from your body, manage digestion and more (as mentioned earlier in this post – your liver is pretty busy), it never gets a day off. Consuming lemon juice, which is the only wholefood that contains an-ions, you’re giving your liver the love and support it needs, allowing it to use some of the an-ions (either that it produces or that you’re providing in the lemon juice) to rejuvenate itself.

Okay – I can hear you now – seriously, ONE CUP of lemon juice every morning, 30 minutes before food for 90 DAYS!  No way, can’t be done! And, does it even work?

Well, yes, you CAN do it, I DID and YES, it worked for me! While I’m not a doctor, I’ve share what I learn with others who struggle with recurring flares of eczema, hives, rashes, psoriasis, etc., and it’s helped them too! Oddly enough, I recently chatted with my Functional Medicine Practitioner, who’s helping to put a protocol together to help with my prolonged toxic exposure to mold, and she mentioned that my crazy lemon drink theory that I’d told her about was no so crazy at all – in the course she’d been taking to become a practitioner specializing in mold exposure she learned that another practitioner uses a similar lemon juice drink to successfully to treat flares like this – go figure!

A Recipe to “Zest Up Your Life!”

Let me make this an easier “pill” to swallow. I couldn’t bring myself to take the full cup of lemon juice in additional water, I just wanted it out of the way ASAP – down the hatch!  I tried just chugging that much lemon juice, and while it’s doable, I found and modified a recipe called Zest Up your Life, that makes it a little more bearable and easier to clean up.

Ingredients

  • 3 Lemons (organic if possible)
  • 1 TBSP Honey (raw if possible)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  • Pinch of Himalayan Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper (if you’ve reintroduced)
  • 1 TBSP of Chia Seeds (if you’ve reintroduced)

Preparation

  1. Juice your lemons – I found it much easier for clean up using a citrus juicer instead of a vegetable juicer
  2. Stir in honey, turmeric, salt and pepper
  3. Sprinkle chia seeds on top
  4. Drink immediately
  5. Once you become a seasoned lemon juice veteran you may enjoy it served over ice for a refreshing summer beverage

Lemon Juice & Water

Not ready, or maybe not needing, to go “whole-lemon” into liver rejuvenation? That’s okay, but don’t underestimate the healing power of lemons! Drinking lemon-infused water daily is a great way to show your liver some love! There are LOTS of articles on the internet that discuss the incredible health and healing benefits of lemons and lemon water … so don’t hesitate to liven up your plain water with a squeeze or infusion of lemon.

Is it best to add lemon to cold, warm, or hot water?

A debate came up a while ago when I posted an old family-favorite cold remedy for Hot Lemon and Honey in the AIP Recipe Collection Group – “Doesn’t the vitamin C get destroyed in hot water?” So, in usual fashion, I went digging for information. Here’s what I learned: “Warm water helps extract Vitamin C and polyphenols from both the lemon and its peel. While vitamin C isn’t heat stable – meaning it can degrade once it reaches a certain temperature – even a boiling temperature isn’t hot enough to negate the fruit’s benefits.” You can read more about this topic here –  “The Right Way to Drink Lemon Water (For Maximum Benefits), According to a Nutritionist

Goodness knows you’ve been working hard at taking good care of yourself now that you’re on the AIP, there’s a lot of cooking and prepping and learning to be done and you’re probably exhausted. That said, now’s a good time to consider some of the self-care aspects of the protocol we need to address.

Jump over to the Self-Care page – click here –  for some additional information and resources on self-care, support, community, exercise, sleep and stress management.

As you know by now, the AIP involves more than just dietary changes – it’s a holistic approach to health.

To be truly successful on your journey to autoimmune wellness you will need to consider the additional lifestyle changes Dr. Ballantyne discusses in her e-book, The Autoimmune Protocol. These lifestyle changes are known to be important modulators of immune function, gut health and hormone health, so don’t discount their significance.

If you haven’t picked up a copy of The Autoimmune Protocol yet, I definitely recommend it – it contains everything you need, all in one place – get yours here.

Below are a few additional resources that go hand-in-hand with the e-book and expand upon it.

Sleep

This is HUGE! Are you getting enough? What’s right for one might not be enough for another.

Did you know that not getting enough sleep causes inflammation and increased susceptibility to infection – even in healthy people! Studies show that one night of poor sleep causes higher insulin resistance than six months of bad diet! In fact, scientific studies show that sleep may be even more important for our health than diet! Now, if that’s not enough to make you take a serious look at your sleep routine, I don’t know what is!

It’s recommended that we get to bed by 10 pm for optimal rest and recovery, and that we get 7 to 10 hours of sleep per night (for autoimmune sufferers it might be 9-10 hours or even 12 hours every night to heal).

Sleep is so important that Dr. Ballantyne has written an e-book that is full of information about the science behind sleep, how it effects every aspect of our life, tips for creating a healthy sleep environment and bedtime routine, good sleep hygiene, troubleshooting insomnia, FAQs along with nutritional and supplement guidance. Dr. Ballantyne also includes a 14-night challenge to help you track your progress. Grab your copy of Go to Bed! – Click here.

Stress Management

Did you know that for every five minutes of upset it takes your body six to eight hours to calm down biochemically! Those numbers are staggering. Imagine what long-term, chronic stress is doing to your body. Without getting into a bunch of science about cortisol, adrenaline, hormones and more (I’ll leave that to the experts – check out this article from Dr. Ballantyne – How Stress Undermines Health), simply know that when under stress, your body misuses its precious resources leaving your immune system weak and your body vulnerable to disease.

Finding effective ways to reduce and manage stress is imperative for our healing journeys – it’s been one of my biggest challenges, and I still need regular reminders. It’s essential for maintaining a healthy gut, normal immune function and balanced hormones. Each of us will need to find effective ways to deal with our individual stressors. For some it may be as simple as learning to slow down, scheduling deep breathing exercises and meditation, healthy self-care activities like yoga or gentle autoimmune safe exercise (see below). For others, more may be involved and you may need to seek the support an guidance of a professional to help deal with past or present traumas, personality traits or difficult situations. If you’re looking for a motivation on this, join me on Instagram.

Activity

Everyone knows that exercise and activity are good for our health, but what should you do when you’re faced with chronic illness and you often don’t have the energy to do much more than get out of bed in the morning?

Not surprising then that the most commonly avoided part of the autoimmune protocol is exercise.

There are lots of ways to incorporate light activity into your day. For some it might be just a reminder by way of a timer on your phone to get up and stretch or move around a little. Short walks, yoga, rebounding and stretching might be as much as you can achieve, while others may feel they’re capable of more but are unsure of how to approach an exercise program safely so they don’t face setbacks.

Thankfully there’s an amazing program, called Autoimmune Strong, that’s available to help us add a healthy, balanced routine of exercise to our lives without making things worse.

Autoimmune Strong will help you break the cycle of flares and recovery caused by over-exercising or exercise intolerance – it helps you find the “sweet spot” that’s right for YOU and YOUR autoimmune challenges. It’s the only online exercise program tailor-made for YOUR condition, even if you have limited mobility, are bed-bound or in a wheelchair!

You can sign up for a 7-day FREE trial and decide if it’s right for you.
If you decide Autoimmune Strong is right for you, you can sign up for the program monthly, by the year or join a small group coaching program for 12 weeks! Check it out and get Autoimmune Strong!