What Foods Are Best?
There are plenty of foods that support liver detoxification. But people often go overboard, adopting overly restrictive diets that end up doing more harm than good.
For example, trying a juice fast deprives your body of the nutrients necessary to detoxify. When your body lacks what it needs, it stresses the liver. Toxins remain in circulation, harming health and making you feel blah.
Because your liver is always in detoxification mode, it’s worthwhile to use habits that support the liver on a daily basis. Nutrition is a key aspect of this process. Here are foods and nutrients to focus on for optimal liver detoxification.
The Three Phases of Detoxification
Detoxification is a vital physiological task. You would die if your body wasn’t detoxifying daily. It all revolves around your liver. The liver processes all the waste products, foreign compounds, and other toxins, such as spent hormones, that your body no longer needs.
There are three phases of detoxification:
In phase 1 detoxification, the liver filters and transforms toxic substances by removing them from the blood. Enzymes act on toxins to neutralize them by binding them with an antioxidant. This process produces toxic free radicals, which can damage liver cells and other tissues if not shuttled into phase 2 detoxification right away.
In phase 2 detoxification, the new molecule produced in phase 1 binds with an amino acid or sulfurous compound, producing a water-soluble molecule that is easier to eliminate.
In phase 3, the liver passes the job off to the kidney and intestines to be excreted through the urine or feces.
Enzymes play a primary role in detoxification. Food supplies the raw materials for enzymes. Food also provides the antioxidants, amino acids, and fiber necessary for liver detoxification. And certain plant extracts, such as chlorella or cilantro can help prevent toxins and heavy metals from taking hold in the body.
Adopt A Detoxification Lifestyle
If you’re making the effort to embark on a nutrition plan for detoxification, it’s worth it to expand your efforts to adopt a “detox lifestyle.”
The first step is to avoid toxins. Eat organic whenever possible. Scrub produce well to remove any pesticide residues. Limit your intake of medications. Choose natural cleaning and personal care products. Stay away from BPA, chemical scents in air fresheners, and other petroleum-based products. Avoiding smoking and alcohol is a no-brainer.
Managing stress and getting restful sleep is important. The stress hormone cortisol has to be detoxified, which means that if you aren’t sleeping or feel like you’re always at your wits end, your liver is unlikely to be able to keep up.
Another important habit is mobilization of toxins through exercise. Studies show that physical activity improves the body’s ability eliminate toxins safely.
Foods For Liver Detoxification
A food plan for liver detoxification should be designed to meet your individual macronutrient needs and support all three phases of detoxification. The foods listed below are organized according to the specific detoxification pathway they influence.
Phase 1 Detoxification Foods
Cruciferous vegetables: Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chard, kale, radish, and turnips.
High-quality protein: Eggs, seafood (halibut, mackerel, salmon, sardines), grass-fed meat (beef, lamb, pork, venison, wild game), organic poultry (chicken, turkey), organic soy, beans, and nuts.
Phase 2 Detoxification Foods
Beta Carotene-rich fruits and vegetables: Pumpkin, carrot, squash, sweet potato, spinach, mustard greens, chard, dandelion greens, and romaine lettuce.
Quercetin-rich foods: Apple, onion, kale, cherry, extra virgin olive oil, beans, and broccoli.
Luteolin-rich foods: Celery, chili pepper, and rosemary.
D-glucaric-acid-rich foods: Alfalfa sprouts, adzuki beans, tomato, cauliflower, mung beans, apricots, and artichokes.
Citrus foods: Tangerine, orange, lime, and lemon.
Magnesium-rich foods: Soybeans, oatmeal, black-eyed peas, almonds, cashews, avocados, pinto beans, and lentils.
Sulfur-rich foods: Cheese (cheddar, parmesan), onion, cabbage, seafood (scallops, crab, shrimp, mussels, sardines, cod, oysters, haddock), potato, endive, and leeks.
Vitamin B9- and B12-rich foods: Liver and other organ meats, egg yolk, split peas, asparagus, banana, peaches, yogurt, rainbow chard, and ham.
Cysteine-rich foods: Duck, whey protein, ricotta and cottage cheese, red pepper, garlic, and sprouted lentils.
MCT and monounsaturated fat: Coconut oil, coconut milk, olives, olive oil, avocado, nuts, and sesame seeds.
Antioxidant-rich spices: Turmeric, ginger, and cinnamon.
Here is how to use the list to devise a liver detoxification food plan:
1. Include a variety of high-quality proteins to provide the array of amino acids necessary for both phases of detoxification. Shoot for 20 to 40 grams of protein per meal.
2. Provide a minimum of 4 servings daily of non-starchy vegetables to get the antioxidants and fiber for detoxification. Non-starchy vegetables include the cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens (collards, dandelion, parsley, spinach, cilantro), thiols (garlic, onion, leeks), asparagus, and artichokes.
3. Include organic dairy daily to provide the antioxidant selenium along with amino acids and sulfate to support phase 1 and 2.
4. Include 1 to 4 servings daily of dark-colored fruits to provide phytonutrients.
5. Include fiber-rich grains and legumes according to carbohydrate needs. For vegetarians, plant-based proteins can be included at every meal, whereas for omnivores, 1 to 2 servings daily should be sufficient.
6. Provide high-quality filtered water at a dose of 0.5 oz. per pound of bodyweight.
7. Consider supplementation: Many nutrients play a role in detoxification and can be taken in supplement form. Some to consider based on your specific needs include:
Curcumin is great for individuals fighting high levels of inflammation in the liver.
Desiccated Liver supplies DNA and RNA that helps the liver regenerate. It is ideal for people who suspect their liver could use a boost. It is also good for individuals with a history of alcohol or medication use or who are concerned about chemical exposure in food and water.
Liver Detox supplies the full gamut of nutrients that support detoxification and liver regeneration.* It contains milk thistle to quench free radicals during phase 1, chlorella that inhibits absorption of heavy metals and organic pollutants from the intestines into the body, and cilantro that has a direct chelating effect on heavy metals such as mercury and lead. It is great for people concerned about poor liver function due to use of medications, alcohol, or chemical exposure.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Consult with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new supplement. Individual results may vary and results are not guaranteed. The provided information is for educational purposes only. Poliquin Group does not provide medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis.