The liver is the body’s most important detoxifying organ. If you’ve read previous blog posts you know the liver plays a dual role of both a detoxifying organ and a digestive organ. See: Be kind to your liver
Maintaining proper liver function is essential for staying healthy; improving digestion; supporting natural immunity against pathogens and keeping your body strong. During detoxification (Phase I to Phase II) the liver’s job is to convert fat soluble nutrients to water soluble nutrients in order for them to be excreted from the body as waste. When the liver is unable to do this properly toxins get stored in fat reserves. This can lead to an overall toxic feeling, low energy, digestive problems and weight gain. Long term poor eating and lifestyle habits can lead to NAFLD (Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease).
Periodically detoxing can be an important part of supporting your liver, however, many people approach this in ways that actually make them more toxic and increase risks. This is because the first step to detoxification is to reduce your toxic load by simply minimizing the toxins you are exposing yourself to on a daily basis. This eases the burden on the liver.
Toxins come from both food and from your environment. Read more about how you can begin to reduce your toxic load in this post: http://nourishholisticnutrition.com/what-happens-when-you-detox/
Once you have weeded out unhealthy foods (and life habits) it’s time to replace them with better, more nutrient dense, liver supporting foods.
Here’s some excellent foods to include to help you support improved liver function and overall health:
Liver Loving Foods
Apple cider vinegar (natural and without sulfites); helps alkalize the body and has live digestive enzymes
Avocado and Asparagus – high in glutathione which is the body’s most potent detoxifying agent. Glutathione is produced inside the cell from precursor’s glycine, glutamate and cysteine so foods that contain these amino acids are essential to help support the liver.
Beets and beet greens – juiced or eaten raw beets and beet greens are high in betaine which acts to defend the liver and bile ducts, which are important if the liver is to function properly.
Berries; strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries – high in phytonutrients, which promote liver health and help prevent urinary tract infections.
Brazil nuts – high in glutathione the body’s most powerful detoxifying nutrient.
Cabbage and all cruciferous vegetables; kale, broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts – these foods are all high in glutathione.
Celery – has both lipid and cholesterol lowering properties and is naturally alkalizing.
Eggs (free range/pasture raised) – one of nature’s most perfect foods and very healthful to the liver as it is high in cysteine and amino acid that is a precursor required to make glutathione.
Naturally fermented foods; fermented vegetables; yogurt; kefir, assist in the proper breakdown of foods so nutrients can be absorbed.
Green foods like spirulina – high in GLA and amino acids.
Oils; extra virgin olive and coconut oils; flax seed oil; walnut oil and sesame seeds.
EFA’s are required for proper cell signalling, hormone and neurotransmitter production.
Onions and garlic – high in sulphur, which helps the liver to wash away heavy metals like mercury, lead and excess estrogen.
Parsley – high in chlorophyll which acts as a natural cheating agent to help bind to and remove toxins from the body.
Seeds; flax seeds; pumpkin seeds, chia seeds; hemp seeds – these are high in selenium and minerals and are required co-factors for detoxification.
Seafood from clean cold water fish; tuna, salmon, mackerel, sardines. High in Omega 3 Essential fatty acids help keep cholesterol number healthy and are required for proper cell signaling; hormone production and healthy neurological function.
Spices & herbs; cayenne pepper and chilies, cilantro, ginger, turmeric, parsley. Don’t forget herbs like milk thistle, chamomile, artichoke, licorice root, dandelion root, yellow dock, chicory, cascara sagrada for added liver detoxification support.
Healthy Liver Do’s and Don’ts
Eat a diet low in carbohydrates. This means no refined sugar; no pastries or other baked goods; no junk foods. Fatty liver is actually due to too many simple carbohydrates! Get carbohydrates from vegetables and fruit instead.
Eliminate all artificial sweeteners, colorings and additives. Avoid pesticides; GMO’s; and other toxins and buy organic!
Eliminate junk foods; fast foods’ sodas and alcohol from your diet. These tax the liver and elevate triglycerides contributing to fatty liver and poor overall health.
Drink more filtered water! At least 50 oz. per day. Avoid water in plastic bottles and buy a refill able stainless steel water bottle.
Switch to stevia and use raw honey – minimize these as much as possible.
Eliminate all fried foods and foods. These foods are toxic to the liver and contain little nutrition.
Eliminate unhealthy oils from canola, soybean, corn oil. Replace with olive oil, flax seed oil and coconut oils. Butter from pasture raised cows, organic only.
Maximize green leafy vegetables. Eat at least five servings (1/2 cup) of leafy greens; spinach, swiss chard, dandelion greens, beet tops, and cruciferous vegetables broccoli, kale, Brussel sprouts, cabbage a day. If you have hypothyroid limit cruciferous vegetables and always cook them first.
Increase brightly colored vegetables – carrots, beets, peppers, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. These are high in anti-oxidants.
Eat more of apples and berries; but keep fruits to a minimum of two a day until your liver is healed. This typically takes several months.
Make the switch to better oils. Extra virgin olive and coconut oils, flax seed oil, walnut and avocado oils.
Eliminate processed meats and eat more organic/pasture raised poultry and wild caught, cold water fish.
Anne’s Liver Lovers Raw Juice Recipe
- ½ lemon peeled
- 2 carrots
- 2 stalks celery
- ½ fresh ginger root
- ¼ beet (peeled) with tops
- handful of parsley
- Optional – 1 apple for sweetness
Put everything through a juice extractor (not a blender!) Drink immediately by chewing the juice. Best taken on an empty stomach. Be sure to use organic produce!
Think you might need a liver tune up? Let me help you get started with a healthy make over. Fill out my Are We A Fit? form and let’s talk about it.