Your liver performs over 500 functions, and it filters one liter of blood each minute. The liver is involved in the maintenance of over 2000 internal enzyme systems. Amazing isn’t?
If we lose this handy organ, we will die within 24 hours, so it is a must that we take good care of our liver. Listed in this article are 12 liver friendly foods and some great tips that’ll significantly boost your liver health.
Structure and Function of Liver
The liver is a large reddish brown organ or accessory digestive gland that sits on the right side of your belly. It weighs about 3 pounds.Your rib cage protects your liver, and so you can’t feel it. The liver has two large sections called the right and the left lobes.
Gall bladder sits under the liver and stores the bile produced by it. The liver consists of highly specialized tissue which is made up mostly of hepatic cells that perform a wide variety of high-volume biochemical reactions.
- The liver detoxifies the blood that comes from your digestive tract before passing it to the other parts of the body.
- Produces bile which increases the absorption of fats.
- Stores vitamins, iron, and sugar glucose
- Breaks down hemoglobin, insulin and other hormones
- Converts stored sugar into functional sugar when your body’s blood glucose levels fall below normal.
- Destroys old red blood cells
- Converts ammonia into urea which is vital in metabolism.
How to Keep Your Liver Healthy
“It’s an organ you could easily trash if you don’t take good care of it,” “And once you trash it, it’s gone, ” says Rohit Satoskar, MD, of the MedStar Georgetown Transplant Institute to WebMD.
Avoid or limit alcohol. Alcohol damages liver cells which lead to scarring or swelling and cirrhosis of the liver. According to US Government guidelines, men can drink up to two drinks a day and women only one.
Certain medications can be harmful. The painkiller Tylenol can harm your liver if you take too much of it. You can find Acetaminophen (Tylenol) in many medicines such as cold drugs and prescription pain medicines. Without your knowledge, you may be taking in more of acetaminophen.
Some cholesterol drugs may hurt your liver. Some medications may be harmful if you consume alcohol or combine with other drugs.
Eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly. These healthy habits help to keep your weight in check and prevent fatty liver disease, a condition that leads to cirrhosis.
Prevent viral hepatitis.
- Hepatitis A. You can catch this disease from drinking water that’s been contaminated. Get yourself vaccinated if you travel to places where there is an outbreak.
- Hepatitis B and C. Hepatitis B and C can spread through blood and bodily fluids. Never share your toothbrushes, razors or needles with others to reduce the rate of infection.The vaccine is present for hepatitis B, but you don’t have one for hepatitis C.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is better to get tested for hepatitis C if you were born between 1945-1965.
Herbs and dietary supplements. Be careful with herbs and supplements because some of them can harm your liver. Few of them have caused problems namely chaparral, cascara, kava, comfrey, and ephedra.
Some herbs and supplements like the milk thistle seed, Chanca Piedra, and Borotutu bark have hit the market promising to restore the liver but be wary of them. There’s no high-quality evidence of such claims, and some may even harm your kidney.
Avoid touching or breathing in toxins. Some aerosol products, cleaning products, and insecticides contain chemicals that harm your liver. Cigarette Additives can also damage your liver.
Drink coffee. Studies show that drinking coffee reduces your chances of getting a liver disease. Experts say that chemical compounds in coffee may help protect your liver.
Liver Friendly Foods
Hepatology experts agree that anyone worried about their liver’s health is served well by cooking with garlic. Garlic is rich in a variety of Sulphur containing compounds, selenium, arginine, vitamin B6 and vitamin C. Taiwanese researchers found that the phytochemical allicin found in garlic induced cancer cell death in human liver cells.
Australian researchers found that garlic is effective in reducing total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol in individuals with total cholesterol levels. Because high cholesterol levels link to fatty liver disease, regular garlic consumption could prevent or even reduce fatty liver.
Scientists found that garlic can reduce liver toxicity caused due to oxidative stress when mice overdosed with acetaminophen.Fresh garlic extract contains high levels of antioxidants which protect your liver from natural and environmental toxins.
Drinking lots of water enhance your liver detoxification process. Water flushes out the tissues of the liver and makes them free of toxins. Experts recommend that you drink eight glasses of water daily to fully clear toxins from your body.
The other benefit of drinking water is that it allows the kidneys to filter properly. Adequate water helps the kidneys to filter waste products so that your liver can focus on metabolizing its waste.
If you drink lemon water early in the morning, it may promote liver detoxification. Lemon contains vitamin C and other antioxidants which promote liver health. Adding lemon juice to water stimulates gallbladder contractions.Now, these contractions allow the bile from the liver, which accumulates toxins overnight to flow to the duodenum from the small intestine and from there out of the body.
Broccoli has a host of good-for-your nutrients from proteins, fiber, vitamins C, A and B6, potassium, magnesium,calcium, and iron as well as antioxidants that protect you against cancer-causing free radicals.
A study published in the Journal of Nutrition says,just adding broccoli to your typical Western diet which is high in processed sugars and fats may adequately protect you against cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Broccoli is rich in glucoraphanin— a compound which is not found in most other foods. After you ingest it, glucoraphanin gets converted to sulforaphane which links to cancer prevention. The researchers found that broccoli significantly optimized liver health.
Seaweed is a great detox food. They contain the broadest range of minerals about 10 to 20 times more than in vegetables. Algin present in seaweeds absorbs the toxins found in the digestive tract.This element can remove heavy metals and radioactive particles from your body. Kelp contains high amounts of algin.
The chlorophyll present in green seaweed is a potent detoxifier. Chlorophyll contains special fibers that bind and remove various unwanted substances thus helping the liver in its detoxification process. You can consume the sea vegetables either fresh or dried. Drying doesn’t reduce its nutritional value. Make sure to rinse well if you consume fresh seaweed.
Turmeric is possibly one of the healthiest spices in the world. The primary substance in the turmeric is the curcumin. It is responsible for this yellow herb’s health promoting properties.
The antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activity of curcumin reduces the amounts of molecules that promote liver damage. Curcumin activates the programmed cell death in the liver stellate cells that cause liver fibrosis.
It reduces oxidative stress by increasing the amounts of glutathione in the cells. Glutathione fights reactive oxygen species in the liver tissue and prevents them from causing damage. Curcumin stimulates bile production and flow and thus helps to metabolize and eliminate fat.
Researchers from the University of Iowa say that ursolic acid, found in apple peel partially protects mice from obesity and fatty liver disease. The investigators found that ursolic acid increased brown fat and lean muscles in mice. Brown fat helps to retain body heat by burning calories.
Apples are rich in pectin which helps to remove toxins and cholesterol from your blood. They are also rich in malic acid which contributes to removing carcinogens and other toxic substances from your blood.
Slightly bitter and peppery with a tinge of citrus cumin significantly boosts your liver health. Indians, Mexicans and Middle Easterners use cumin in their cuisine. Research studies say that cumin helps to reduce weight gain, enhance digestion and energy production and improves your blood sugar level. Above all, it is useful in liver detoxification.
Cumin stimulates the function of pancreatic enzymes which strengthens the liver’s function in digestion and absorption.Researchers from Annamalai University, India found that cumin extract can reduce pancreatic inflammatory markers as well as total cholesterol and triglycerides.
Artichoke is a fibrous green vegetable containing cynarine. It’s a phenolic compound that has cholagogues and choleretic properties. Cholagogue purges the downward movement of the bile, while choleretica is a substance that stimulates the production of bile in the liver.
Researchers from Turkey found that artichoke leaf extract decreased fat and cholesterol levels in the liver. It prevents liver injury when administered before the exposure of a known liver toxin.
Artichoke extract contains sufficient antioxidant activity to protect your liver from damage. It also fights against liver cancer. Always choose fresh and pesticide free artichokes for optimal liver health.
Avocado provide roughly 20 vitamins and minerals and significantly boost your liver health. They fight off inflammation and assists in detoxification.
The healthy fats in avocados improve your cholesterol profile by lowering LDL’s and increasing the high-density lipoproteins or the good cholesterol.
Avocados are the leading food source of the master antioxidant glutathione. It filters out harmful substances and protects your liver cells from damage.
Avocados are rich in both vitamin E and K which fight cellular inflammation. Anti-inflammatory intervention is a trusted approach towards your liver health support.
Avocados are also good sources of vitamin C and E that neutralizes free radicals. Neutralizing harmful free radicals prevents liver cells from damage.
Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamins C,K, folate, manganese, and fiber. The fiber-related components present in Brussels sprouts bind together with bile acids in your digestive tract. With this binding activity, these bile acids are readily excreted, and this action lowers your cholesterol levels.
Brussels sprouts provide great detox support to your body. Firstly they are an excellent source of glucosinolates which are required by your cells for detoxification of cancer-causing substances.
Secondly, your body’s detox system needssignificant amounts of sulfur to work efficiently. Brussels sprouts are rich in sulfur-containing nutrients and helpin liver detox.
Thirdly detoxification process requiresadequate antioxidant support. Brussels sprouts provide them because they are an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of manganese.
Asparagus increases the levels of ADH and ALDH the two liver enzymes that help metabolize ethanol (the alcohol you might have drunk last night). Thus asparagus reduces the symptoms of alcohol hangover and protects your liver against toxic contaminants.
Researchers found that asparagus leaves have therapeutic value. The aminoacid and inorganic mineral content werehigher in the leaves than the shoots.
Asparagus contains glutathione a potent antioxidant famous for its detoxifying properties.It is a natural diuretic and is an excellent source of folate, fiber, and iron. It is also rich in vitamins A,C,E, and K.
Wheatgrass juice is a good source of vitamins B, A,C,E and K. It also contains potassium, iron, calcium and aminoacids making it one of the most natural detoxifiers.
Wheatgrass is a plant carbohydrate food. It is said to be more nutritious for the liver than other fruits and vegetables. A study published in Phytotherapy Research says that some types of wheatgrass help lower the buildup of fatty lipids in the liver of rats.
Wheatgrass has a high saponin content and offers excellent support to your lymphatic system helping it to carry hundreds and thousands of toxins out from the cells of the body.
For a healthy liver drink clean water, check for parasites, and reduce your red meat and saturated fat consumption. Include extra virgin olive oil, nut and seed oils and fish oils in your diet.
Good old fashioned Epsom salts can help detox your liver. Include lots of green salads and vegetables in your diet. They help correct alkalinity and boost your metabolism. Destone your liver by drinking a potent mixture of Epsom salt, olive oil, and grapefruit. The mixture clears out the gallstones and improves bile flow.
Oxygenate your blood and liver with regular exercise. Keep toxic residues and pesticides out of your system. A healthy liver will help in weight loss, increase energy and boost your vitality, so take good care of it.