Make Your Liver a Rock Star With These Healthy Foods
If you have liver disease, your doctor may recommend a specialized diet to ensure your liver isn’t overtaxed by the food it must process.
However, you can take advantage of several healthy foods to keep your liver in good shape even if a doctor hasn’t diagnosed you with liver disease.
What Purpose Does Your Liver Serve in Your Body?
A healthy liver in an adult weighs about three pounds and sits protected under the rib cage on the right side of the belly.
With its two lobes, the liver works with the gallbladder, pancreas, and intestines to digest the food you eat.
The liver must filter the blood that travels through the digestive tract before the blood may return to circulation within the body.
The liver must also process any chemicals that enter your body, as well as drugs that you take. The liver creates proteins that are essential for clotting the blood.
Think of the liver as the body’s official filtering system. By producing proteins known as metallothioneins, the liver can metabolize important nutrients like zinc and copper while also helping to eliminate harmful substances like mercury and lead from the body.
Most people know that excessive alcohol consumption may lead to a damaged liver, but cirrhosis of the liver is just one of the conditions that you may develop with a poor diet. Genetics can impact your liver health, but the food you eat can also play a major role.
Don’t Buy Into the Liver Cleanse and Detox Diet Hype
It’s important to understand the words detox and cleanse as they impact your health. Companies selling diet products and food manufacturers will use these words to convince you that their products or services will improve your health.
However, most reputable medical organizations use words like a detox in a different and medically appropriate way.
An article published by Harvard Health Publishing reveals that “detox” in the medical world refers to a procedure that eliminates life-threatening drugs, poison, or alcohol from the body. Medical detox usually happens in a hospital or clinic.
The authors explain that detox diets as they are advertised in popular media don’t accurately describe what may happen when you adhere to a particular diet.
In fact, no evidence currently exists that proves popular diets like the “Master Cleanse” diet actually cleanse or detox the body.
The best way to approach a healthy liver diet is to think of it as a diet that keeps your liver in good condition rather than one that would have any measurable effect on the number of toxins present in the liver.
The liver is an effective and efficient machine at removing toxins. After all, eliminating toxins and cleansing is its job!
Try These Diet Changes to Make It Easy for Your Liver to Cleanse Your Body
You can approach your liver cleanse in one of two ways. One way is to eat specific foods that have a positive impact on liver function.
The other is to adopt an overall dieting strategy that focuses on whole body health.
The American Liver Foundation offers several general food tips for a healthy liver.
The foundation recommends avoiding foods that are high in fat, sugar, and salt. Raw and undercooked shellfish are also important to avoid, as well as fried foods and almost anything from fast food restaurants.
Eating a diet that’s high in fiber can help you reach optimal liver function. Fiber from vegetables and fruits, as well as whole grains, are healthy for your liver.
Avoiding dehydration and drinking a lot of water also helps your liver function efficiently.
Increase the Effectiveness of a Healthy Diet With These Foods
Focusing on including the following foods in your diet can help reduce the stress your liver is under by activating beneficial enzymes, aiding in the removal of toxins, and neutralizing metals and chemicals you may ingest.
Leafy Greens: Eating dark lettuce and spinach may help the liver process fewer chemicals and pesticides because they may neutralize those harmful agents in the body before they reach the liver for processing.
Walnuts: As a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts may increase the cleansing efficiency of the liver.
Walnuts also feature glutathione, which is an anti-oxidant and one of the molecules stored in the liver that acts as a detoxifier.
Tumeric: Usually found in food as a spice, turmeric increases the production of bile in the liver which can help improve the body’s ability to digest fat.
A low-fat diet helps maintain liver health, but turmeric can help further in improving the digestion of fat you do eat.
Lemons: The acidity of lemon juice can help break down food in your stomach before it heads into the rest of the digestion system for processing.
When your stomach is more efficient at breaking down food, your liver doesn’t have to work as hard.
Beets: High in plant-flavonoids, beets may help the overall function of the liver. An article in Current Medical Chemistry by scientists at Campus Universitario in Spain suggests research shows using natural compounds may benefit those suffering from a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Grapefruit: A study published in Endocrinology and Metabolism in 2010 suggested that nootkatone, a substance found in grapefruit, helped control obesity in a laboratory setting. Losing weight and avoiding obesity is an important step in avoiding fatty liver disease.
Garlic: The liver’s role in breaking down ingested and natural toxic chemicals can place a significant strain on the organ, but eating garlic may help protect the liver from ingested toxins with its impressive levels of proteins, antioxidant compounds, and amino acids.
If your doctor has diagnosed you with liver disease, you may need to take your diet a step further with a special diet for liver disease.
If you don’t have liver disease, it’s not necessary to adhere fully to this diet, but examining what the U.S. National Library of Medicine has to say through its MedlinePlus health information website can help.
General advice regarding a diet for liver disease include eating a large number of carbohydrates, eating a moderate level of fat, and eating less protein than the average diet may require.
Reducing salt in the diet is also important, as well as considering a vitamin supplement.
Eating a Healthy Liver Diet Can Reverse or Prevent Fatty Liver Disease
Your diet and the chemicals that enter your body can have a dramatic impact on the amount of effort your liver requires to cleanse the blood, and eating foods that tax the liver may eventually result in cirrhosis or permanent damage to this vital organ.
A poor diet may also cause you to develop a nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Dr. Saleh Alqahtani, the director of clinical liver research at Johns Hopkins Gastroenterology & Hepatology explains in a YouTube video called Fatty Liver Disease | Q&A.
“Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which there’s accumulation of excess fat in the liver not due to excessive alcohol consumption.
It’s a very common condition in clinical practice. It affects about twenty percent of the world’s population.”
In severe cases, a fatty liver disease may cause liver failure or liver cancer, as well as the eventual need for a liver transplant.
Fortunately, changing your diet can help. Causes of the fatty liver disease include anyone with diabetes, people who are overweight, and individuals with high cholesterol.
Earn a Healthy Liver Through Simple Lifestyle Changes
In addition to adopting a diet that includes foods that are friendly to the liver, you have two simple lifestyle changes that you can make to improve your liver’s health.
The University of Michigan Health Department explains that lifestyle changes can increase the effectiveness of foods that help the liver cleanse the body.
The first piece of advice is to shop multiple times a week for fresh food rather than making a monthly grocery run to secure a bunch of processed food for the cupboard and to fill the freezer with TV dinners. Avoiding vending machines is an additional step you can take each week.
The other piece of advice advocated in the article is increasing the amount of physical activity engaged in each day.
Engaging in aerobic exercise may help the liver process fats, proteins, and carbohydrates with greater efficiency since exercise uses those macronutrients.
The liver removes sugar from the blood after you eat a meal and stores it as glycogen.
When you exercise, you use this glycogen until it’s depleted. Your liver then scours your body for extra energy from the carbohydrates and protein you recently consumed.
Keep Your Health by Keeping Your Liver Healthy
Did you know that your liver handles more than 500 tasks to keep the body functioning?
It’s also your body’s largest internal organ and weighs about the same as a teacup Yorkie or around three pounds.
The foods you eat may help improve your liver’s function, as well as reduce the effort it must use to perform its vital functions.
Treat your liver well with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and it will thank you with many decades of uninterrupted and hard work.