LOVE YOUR LIVER - RELIEVE YOUR ANGER
© Jane and Lino Stanchich, Licensed Nutritionists, Macrobiotic Counselors
Lino is also a Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist
He who knows others is learned. He who knows himself is wise.
Lao-tzu- Tao te Ching (6th century BC)
We have the ability to understand a great deal about our condition, and our life. Our body is a miraculous creation, composed of influences from our ancestors, environment, and all of nature. Many factors create our physical, mental, and emotional health. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle is the first step. Learning about our organs and body’s structure and functions is not only fascinating and empowering, it is the path to gaining personal responsibility for greater lifelong wellness. In this article we are focusing on the liver, yet the same dietary and lifestyle recommendations are highly beneficial for the gall bladder, the intimate partner of the liver. Let us learn about the liver and how to use methods of visual diagnosis and common symptoms to read signs about this vital, hard-working, miraculous organ.
We all know we have a liver, but have you learned the miraculous structure and functions of this vital organ? Located on the right side of the abdomen, just under the diaphragm, the liver extends across the upper torso above the intestines and is adjacent to the gall bladder, pancreas, and stomach. The liver is the largest organ of the body, next to the size of the skin, and is the only organ that can completely regenerate itself if a portion is removed. It has a dense, compact structure and smooth exterior surface. Each season has a special team of organs that need concerted nourishing. The liver/gall bladder come to the fore in Springtime.
Known in Macrobiotic theory and Traditional Chinese Medicine as the “Army General” or organizer of the body, the liver performs 500 vital functions, including blood detoxification, making and transporting bile, controlling blood sugar levels, storing blood, synthesizing insulin and hormones, converting carbohydrates, fats, and proteins, and the production and storage of lymph. The liver greatly influences the reproductive organs as well. Working in harmony with the gall bladder, the liver has also been called the body’s “Environmental Protection Agency.” Due to its multitude of functions and influences, the liver plays a very important role in the development and prevention of all diseases. The cultivation of a healthy liver can save your health, improve your relationships, as well as extend and enhance your life.
LIVER DISEASES (include): Hepatitis B and C, Cirrhosis, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver, Cancer of the Liver. Liver Cancer incidence has tripled since the 1980’s and has dangerously high fatality rates.
GALL BLADDER DISEASES (include): Inflammation/Infections of the Gall Bladder, Bile Duct Blockage, Gall stones, Cancer.
Macrobiotic Diagnosis of the liver is invaluable in the prevention and comprehension of health disorders and disease. Symptomatic and visual signs of liver imbalance, stagnation, or irritation include pain or swelling, tightness or soreness in the liver area. One may also experience migraine headaches (around the head or behind the eyes,) muscle cramps/pain, menstrual cramps, leg pain, tension in the mid-back, or nausea. “ Fatty Liver” is a prevalent diagnosis in recent times. Vertical lines between the eyebrows in the center reveal liver stagnation, hardness, contraction, and imbalance. If our eyes become itchy or have yellow coloration on the iris, or if one develops cataracts, eyesight disorders, blindness, these are signs of liver malfunction. Swelling, fungus, gout, ingrown toenails, thick calluses under and on a big toe, bunions on feet, and yellow coloration on the feet may indicate liver malfunction.
Our skin also reveals our liver health. Yellow coloration usually indicates jaundice, directly related to the liver. In addition, brown patches, or grey-blue color on the cheeks, rough texture, excess oiliness, pimples, cysts, moles on the skin reflect liver and digestion disorders. We can look further to other areas of our body. Dark or deep reddish lips, yellow crusts in the corner of the mouth, a yellow coating on the tongue, hair loss in the central region of the head, white or grey hair, spider veins and varicose veins on the legs relate to liver stagnation and disorder. Frequent self-examination, dietary improvements, Do-In self-massage, and detoxification are highly recommended.
Additional indications of liver imbalance include chronic disorganization or sloppiness in one’s home, auto, and workspace. Restless sleep, especially waking between 1:00 am and 3:00 am may reflect liver disorder, as do tight muscles, PMS symptoms and menopausal hot flashes. Grouchiness, especially in the morning, shows liver stagnation. (“Do you wake up Grouchy in the morning? No, I let him/her sleep!” Ha Ha.) Chronic dissatisfaction and complaining indicate liver malfunction, as does a voice that is generally shouting, harsh, loud, and demanding. If one is typically skeptical or cynical, has a chip on the shoulder, experiences frequent bursts of anger, road rage and violence, one is wise to seek ways to create balance for the liver.
Foods and substances that stress and may harm the liver include red meats, chicken/foul, eggs, hydrogenated fats, deep fried foods, greasy foods, fatty foods, dairy products (especially hard, salted cheeses), chocolate bars, nuts, and even vegan cheeses. Baked goods, toasted, hard, dry foods (chips, crackers, cookies, pretzels, rice cakes) highly tax the liver. Greasy foods such as nut butters, saturated fats, and rancid oils or palm oil also can harm our liver. For liver health, avoid refined sugar, sugar substitutes, alcohol, coffee, chemicals, and drugs. Yang/contracting foods such as excess meat, cheese, and salt create cravings for yin/expanding foods such as alcohol, sugar, and fats, also of harm to the liver.
Cooking techniques greatly affect our health. If you are experiencing illness or a mal-functioning liver or gall bladder, avoid deep frying (tempura), frying, baked, roasted, toasted, blackened, grilled, burned, the use of rancid oil, overheated oil, as well as excess pressure cooking and excess salt. Avoid eating the same foods each day. Rather, prepare a colorful, fresh variety of organic foods. Depending on your climate and condition, you may favor cooking methods such as boiling, blanching, light cooking, adding vegetables to your grains, and making pressed and raw salads. Avoid cold foods and beverages as they hamper liver digestion. As you eat, chew very well for best health of the liver and entire body.
FOODS AND COOKING STYLES THAT BEST NOURISH THE LIVER
Eat a variety of foods in balanced meals to nourish all your organs. However, foods especially beneficial for the liver and gall bladder are:
Best Grains: Barley, Hato Mugi (Not for Liver Cancer), Wheat, Oats, Spelt, Corn Grits, Quinoa, Bulgur, Boiled Rice, Long Grain Brown Rice and Brown Basmati Rice, Grain Salads
Best Soup: Barley Miso, Chickpea Miso, Light Miso, Mello White Miso
Best Beans: All White Beans, Navy Beans, Great Northern Beans, Tofu, Tempeh, Natto,
Best Vegetables: All Dark Leafy Greens (best to blanch or boil rather than eat raw,) Darker Lettuces in raw or Pressed Salads, Green Onions, Leeks, Shiitake Mushrooms, Daikon Radish, Parsley, Arugula, Wild Nettles, Carrots, Beets, Burdock
Best Seasoning: Sour flavor seasonings such as Hato Mugi Vinegar, Umeboshi Vinegar, Lemon and Lime Juice, Brown Rice Vinegar, Apple Cider Vinegar, also Ginger Root - all use sparingly or moderately, not to excess.
Best Fruits: Apples-Red and Granny Smith, Green Grapes, Lemon-Lime, Honeydew Melon
Best Oil: Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Best Pickles: Ginger Pickles, Umeboshi Pickles, Sauerkraut, Daikon or Red Radish Pickles
Best Beverages: Pre-boiled Spring water with Lemon, Umeboshi Tea, Green Vegetable Drink, Light Green Tea in the am, Carrot-Apple-Ginger Juice, Dandelion Tea, Nettle Tea, Milk Thistle Tea
Exercise is vital, especially when done in fresh air parks. Also seek the advice of a macrobiotic counselor for a personalized dietary and lifestyle program. If your liver condition or anger levels are seriously imbalanced, we recommend that you receive professional assistance to provide treatments for your condition. Among these treatments are: nutritional, acupuncture, massage/bodywork and breath work, medical, and psychological. Other suggestions for a healthy liver are: Meditation, Earthing, prayer and laughter, relaxation, visualization, Do-In Self Massage, Yoga, Chi Kung, and Tai Chi. Also, expressing yourself through talking, writing, counseling, singing, and journal keeping is greatly beneficial, as these help discharge pent up emotions and energy.
Our liver controls the emotion of anger. One’s liver condition influences the degree and intensity one experiences anger, as the emotional and physical are mutually connected. The ancient Japanese and Chinese symbol for anger, “ an shaku," is written with two characters translated as “liver pains or disease.” The Europeans often say that an angry person is “liverish.” Crimes of violence, abuse, disruptive behavior, aggression among people and nations all relate to the health or imbalance of the liver. When our liver is heathy, we often will experience greater calm and patience with others. It is like we can breathe deeply again. This can lead to a reduction in and control over our anger, resulting in a powerful improvement in our relationships and greater enjoyment of life.
Several simple, yet profoundly important recommendations to create a healthy liver, reduce anger, and strengthen the body are:
- Eat a balanced and pleasing macrobiotic diet.
- While eating, sit down, relax, and chew well.
- Eat a moderate quantity without overeating.
- Avoid eating three hours before bed.
- Avoid critical, negative, abusive persons.
- Exercise regularly and moderately outdoors daily.
- Practice gentle stretching of the muscles daily.
- Keep a clean and orderly home.
- Plan your life well each day and for the future.
- Cultivate peace, joy, and forgiveness in your relationships and your life.
As you learn about the simple, yet vital ways to care for your liver, may you and your family achieve greater health and happiness. And may you begin to LOVE YOUR LIVER AND LIFE MORE AND MORE!
Further Reading Recommendations:
- How to See Your Health, The Book of Oriental Diagnosis by Michio Kushi
- The Macrobiotic Path to Total Health, Michio Kushi and Alex Jack
- Your Face Never Lies, Michio Kushi
- Essential Macrobiotic Recipes for Energy, Health, and Healing, Lino Stanchich
- Power Eating Program: You Are HOW You Eat, Lino Stanchich
- Energize Yourself with Do-In Self Massage Video, Lino Stanchich
Also include the wide variety of macrobiotic cookbooks, cooking videos, guidebooks, and magazines.