As many of you know, I've been a health enthusiast for years, a journey that began with my introduction to CrossFit in 2008. My nutritional explorations have included everything from the Paleo and Zone diets to macro counting and a few other methods. My diet has evolved a lot since my days of canned beans and chips. Recently, I've adopted a more holistic approach, focusing on the quality of what goes into my body (and on it), not just hitting macros.
Today, I want to share a unique part of my daily routine that I haven't talked about much. It's a bit unconventional and may raise some eyebrows, which is probably why I've hesitated to share it until now. I'm prepared for a mix of reactions, so here's a quick disclaimer: Everything you read here is purely my personal journey. I'm not a medical professional. My dedication to understanding health has led me to countless hours of research, reading books, listening to podcasts, and applying this knowledge to my own life. This became even more important to me in the past two years, during my mom's battle with cancer, when researching optimal health became an utmost priority.
I'm all about experimenting and finding what works best for my body. Only a few of these experiments make it into my daily routine, and it's these gems I'm excited to share with you. Please remember, what works for me might not work for everyone. I encourage you to do your own research, consult healthcare professionals, and consider your own health conditions and dietary needs before trying anything new.
So, without further ado, here it goes.
Around 4-6 days a week, I start my day with 1 ounce of raw beef liver – yes, raw organic, pasture-raised beef liver! Before you judge, let me explain why I've adopted this unusual practice and the surprising benefits it offers.
Liver piqued my interest because of its dense nutrient content. It's often hailed as a superfood in many cultures, rich in Vitamin A, B vitamins (especially B12), iron, and trace minerals. It's one of the most nutrient-dense foods out there.
My Initial Experiments with Liver
At first, I tried incorporating liver into various cooked dishes, like liver meatloaf, eating a piece daily. However, like many, I found the taste challenging. I experimented with different cooking methods, but the liver flavor always prevailed, making it hard to enjoy. Funny side note, my husband, who's from Denmark, loves 'Leverpostej,' a Danish liver pate made from pork liver – they practically eat it like candy there!
Realizing that my cooked liver dishes were often going to waste, I switched to liver pills – dried, crushed liver in capsule form. I noticed that my energy seemed to have boosted, and with its natural origin, it quickly became a staple in my supplement drawer.
Transitioning to Raw Liver
You might wonder, why shift from convenient liver pills to raw liver? As I said, I like to experiment, and one day I stumbled upon a source claiming that raw liver retains more nutrients than its cooked or processed counterparts. Since cooking liver can, and likely will, diminish its valuable nutrients, consuming it raw seemed to make sense. I also take countless supplements everyday so it makes sense to consume liver in it's whole food form.
So now, about 4-6x a week, I consume an ounce of raw liver. I'll detail the exact process shortly, but first, let's talk about what liver to buy and then let's look at the benefits. When shopping at the store, look for organic, pasture raised and or grass-fed beef liver. I can only imagine how ludicrous you must think I am, so if I share some of the ‘why,’ maybe you’ll start to understand just a little bit.
1. Increased Energy Levels: One of the first things I noticed after incorporating liver into my diet was a significant boost in my energy levels. This is likely due to the high levels of Vitamin B12 and iron, both crucial for energy production in the body.
2. Improved Skin Health: The high dose of Vitamin A in liver supports skin health. I've observed a clearer complexion and more vibrant skin since making this a regular part of my diet.
3. Enhanced Immune Function: Liver is rich in trace elements such as copper, zinc and chromium. And one of the best sources of folic acid. This has been a game-changer, especially with my extensive travels. I rarely get sick.
4. Mental Clarity: As someone who's always juggling multiple projects and trying to be at my best in the gym, staying mentally sharp is crucial. The liver, with its array of B vitamins, supports brain health and cognitive functions.
5. Anti-fatigue factor. A 1975 article published in Prevention magazine described the experiment as follows: "After several weeks, the animals were placed one by one into a drum of cold water from which they could not swim out. Ras in the first group swam for an average 13.3 minutes before giving up. The second group, which had the added fortification of B vitamins, swam for an average of 13.4 minutes. Of the last group of rats, the ones receiving liver, three swam for 63, 83, and 87 minutes. The other nine rats in this group were still swimming vigorously at the end of two hours when the test was terminated. Something in the liver had prevented them from becoming exhausted. To this day scientists have not been able to pin a label on this anti-fatigue factor."
Addressing Safety Concerns
Now, let's talk about the elephant in the room – safety. Consuming raw liver does come with concerns about bacteria and parasites. That's why I only source high-quality, fresh liver from trusted, grass-fed sources! And to further increase safety, I freeze the liver.
I buy fresh liver, cut it into one ounce pieces, and put it in the freezer. A good trick I’ve found is using an ice-cube tray for easy measurement. Simply fill each tray with liver and place it in the freezer, just make sure that the size of each cube is roughly one ounce. Then when I want to take it, I take out a cube from the freezer and let it thaw.
How I Consume It
Alright, let’s talk about the other elephant in the room - how do I actually eat it? No, it’s not some blood bath feasting on raw organs like you see in the movies. I take a big breath and then swallow the liver followed by water. I make sure to cut the pieces relatively small before freezing them, so I don’t end up with a large one ounce chunk. Instead, I try to have it split into two or three smaller pieces which are much easier to swallow.
Yes, this was hard at first! I started with smaller portions and gradually increased until I became accustomed to this routine. Now it goes down no problem.
As mentioned I aim for about 4-6 days a week. So roughly a total of 4-6 ounces of raw liver per week. I'm not super strict about it and some weeks I end up with 4 ounces, other weeks I end up with 6 ounces. It depends what I got going on.
At the end of the day, my focus is on fostering a healthier lifestyle without adding any stress. It's all about finding that balance that works for me, contributing to my overall well-being.
Incorporating raw liver into my diet might not be for everyone, but it's been a transformative part of my health regimen. When traveling, I switch to liver pills, finding THIS ONE to be of high quality.
If you're curious, you might start with liver pills and see if you notice any benefits. Then, perhaps, you might explore the more nutrient-rich raw version.
Always do your research, source carefully, and listen to your body. Your health journey is unique to you!
Stay healthy and adventurous, and feel free to share any holistic health approaches that work well for you.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this blog post about consuming raw liver is based on personal experiences and research. It's important to note that eating raw or undercooked animal products can pose health risks, including the potential for foodborne illness. Before making changes to your diet, especially incorporating raw animal products, consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian to ensure it's appropriate for your health status and dietary needs. This post is not intended as medical advice or a dietary guideline. Readers should exercise caution and consider personal allergies, intolerances, and dietary restrictions. Remember, what works for one person may not be suitable for another.