As we enter into the new season of winter with all of the holidays, parties, unhealthy foods, sleep-less nights, and crowded inside conditions, we realize that this is also the season for catching illnesses and getting sick. While we may think that we can get beyond the season without ruining our diet or our health, even the die-hard raw vegans will likely celebrate by making more nut-based recipes and other “treats” that will introduce more fructose and fat into their bodies than normal.
While we cannot change the cold temperatures and the germs that the family gatherings bring, we can begin the season with a true attempt at keeping the liver cleansed so it can withstand a little more work as you go through the holiday season.
Try to begin to eat from this list of foods that naturally cleanse the liver every day. If you can maintain some balance with these foods and retain some control over your stress, you will likely have a chance at enduring the holidays without getting sick or creating a toxic liver overload.
The Liver Needs Attention—Every Day!
This is about detoxing the body’s largest gland, the liver. Without a liver, a person cannot survive. It has a number of functions including, but not limited to:
- Detoxifying the blood to rid it of harmful substances (like toxins, drugs, alcohol, pesticides, and more)
- Stores vitamins and iron
- Converts stored sugar to usable sugar when the body’s sugar levels fall below normal
- Produces bile, a substance needed to digest fats
- Breaks down hemoglobin as well as insulin and other hormones
- Destroys old red blood cells
The liver performs so many vital functions, and as a result it is very prone to disease.
Foods To Eat To Cleanse The Liver Naturally
The warm heat of ginger doesn’t just spice up your meal with its earthy heat, but can also be really good for the liver. It acts on your digestive system, increasing secretions and boosting metabolism and circulation. As one study on animal test subjects noted, ginger helped improve the histological liver profile. Lipid peroxidation (free radical damage resulting in oxidative degradation of the lipids in your body) markers went down while the level of antioxidant enzymes in the blood went up. This led the researchers to conclude that ginger could be quite effective in helping alleviate liver damage (resulting in this case from exposure to a fungicide).1
Separate research showed ginger’s ability to lower hepatic triglyceride levels and demonstrated its antidyslipidemic properties and antioxidant effects. If you suspect you could be at risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, ginger would be a good addition to your diet, according to this study. Even otherwise, it will help keep up the overall health of your liver.2
Omega-3 Rich Food
Get your daily dose of omega-3 to ensure good liver health. You could include some fish oil, flax seed oil, or even walnuts in your diet. They inhibit triglyceride synthesis in the liver. Triglycerides are basically fats that can potentially damage your liver tissue and are bad for cardiovascular health in overly high amounts. In one study, patients with hyperlipidemia were given 5 ml of omega-3 fatty acids twice daily as treatment for 24 weeks. When checked with ultrasonography, the fatty liver had normalized.3
Yes. Odd as it may seem, all those odorous vegetables like garlic and onion are great for liver health. The sulfur in them, responsible for that distinctive smell, helps stimulate liver enzyme production. Your liver needs these enzymes to eliminate toxins from your body.6 Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that also aid in liver cleansing.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy Greens are extremely high in plant chlorophylls that absorb environmental toxins, increase bile production, and neutralize heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides, which lowers the burden on the liver. Raw spinach is also a major source of glutathione, triggering the toxin cleansing enzymes of the liver.
Eating broccoli and cauliflower will increase production of glucosinolate in your system, which helps flush out carcinogens and other toxins.4 Brussels sprouts are high in sulfur and glucosinolate, which forces the liver to release enzymes that block damage from environmental or dietary toxins. The isothiocyanates (ITCs) made from cabbage’s glucosinolates provides liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins as well.
Beets and Carrots
Carrots are rich in Glutathione, a protein that helps detoxify the liver. Both are extremely high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene. Eating beets and carrots can help stimulate and improve overall liver function.
The flavonoids in beetroot are good for liver health in more ways than one. Beetroot juice has been studied for its role in protecting the liver against oxidative stress from carcinogens or cancer causing agents. Some researchers suggest that the changes the long-term consumption of beetroot brings to your body’s metabolism could also help offer protection against liver damage.5
A natural herbal remedy, the milk thistle can be enjoyed in an herbal tea that’s great for your liver. Some fans of the ingredient also use it in smoothies and salads. Silymarin, an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory flavonoid in the seeds, is also hepatoprotective. It can offer protection not just from toxins in your diet, but also from drugs like Tylenol that cause damage to the liver when taken in high doses. Research suggests it may even help rejuvenate and repair your liver by aiding the growth of new cells.
No cleanse list would be complete without the anti-inflammatory and natural healing spice turmeric. Ayurveda and Chinese Medicine have both been using it to treat liver problems for centuries. The curcumin in turmeric prevents fat accumulation in the liver, as seen in several animal studies. Test animals consuming curcumin through their diet had lower cholesterol and triacylglycerol concentrations in the liver, showing the potential of including the ingredient in your diet. 6
Walnuts are a good source of glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids, and the amino acid arginine, which supports normal liver cleansing actions, especially when detoxifying ammonia.
Cleanse your body naturally by giving it plenty of berries rich in polyphenols and anthocyanins. These nutrients are potent anti-inflammatory agents and powerful antioxidants. One study found that lingonberries, black currants, and bilberries were especially effective in preventing hepatic lipid accumulation; lingonberries in particular decreased body fat significantly in animal test subjects on a high fat diet.7
Whether or not it is the holidays, our bodies are bombarded daily with impure air, water, toxic clothing, foods and stress. To give our liver what it needs to continue to flush out those toxins, we may just want to add more of these ten foods into our daily diet and offer our body some rich rewards that will last throughout the year.
- Sakr, Saber A. “Ameliorative effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on mancozeb fungicide induced liver injury in albino rats.” Aust J Basic Appl Sci 1 (2007): 650-656
- Sahebkar, Amirhossein. “Potential efficacy of ginger as a natural supplement for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” World J Gastroenterol 17, no.2 (2011): 271-272.
- Hatzitolios, Apostolos, Christos Savopoulos, Georgia Lazaraki, et. al “Efficacy of omega 3 fatty acids, atorvastin and orlistat in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with dyslipidemia.” Indian J of Gastroenterology 23 (2004) 131-134.
- Hodges, Romilly E. and Deanna M. Minich. “ Modulation of metabolic detoxification pathways using food and food-derived components: a scientific review with clinical application.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism 2015.
- Krajka-Kuzniak, Violetta, et. al. “Beetroot juice protects against N-nitrosodiethylamine-induced liver injury in rats.” Food and chemical toxicology 50, no. 6 (2012): 2027-2033.
- Asai, Akira, and Teruo Miyazawa. “Dietary curcuminoids prevent high-fat diet-induced lipid accumulation in rat liver and epididymal adipose tissue.” The Journal of Nutrition 131, no. 11 (2001) 2932-2935.
- Heyman, Lovisa, et.al “Evaluation of beneficial metabolic effects of berries in high-fat fed C57Bl/6J mice.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism. 2014.