food cleanse liver

Ten Delicious Foods That Help Cleanse Your Liver

What if certain foods could help cleanse your liver?

Chances are, you never give a second thought to your liver unless you got a little too festive and overdid it on alcohol. A hangover is a painful reminder of all the wonderful things your liver does to keep you feeling good.

The liver has the complex job of helping your body cleanse toxins such as alcohol. Consider that detoxification is just one of the jobs of the liver:

  • It regulates blood sugar levels, releasing glycogen (sugar) stores to give you energy.
  • The liver produces enzymes involved in fat burning.
  • It regulates immune function and fights infections.
  • It plays a role in balancing hormones and stores vitamins and minerals.

With all the wonderful things the liver does, you need your liver in tip-top function!

Use Food To Protect From Liver Disease

Unfortunately, due to the increase in poor dietary choices and obesity, liver problems are skyrocketing in the western population: As much as 30 percent of the population has fatty liver disease. Fatty liver is a precursor to cirrhosis (a fatal liver disease), and a condition that used to only occur in alcoholics. Known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), it has a bunch of gnarly effects on health:

  1. Increases fat storage, especially around the abdominal organs, leading to belly fat.
  2. Causes mitochondrial dysfunction so your body isn’t able to produce energy efficiently.
  3. Makes your cells resistant to insulin so that you can’t burn sugar effectively and you drastically increase your diabetes risk.
  4. Inflammation builds up, exacerbating fat gain and insulin dysfunction.

The good news is that there are many foods to help clean your liver. The following are 10 foods to plan your diet around for a healthier liver:

#1: Broccoli & Other Cruciferous Vegetables

Broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage contain sulfurous compounds that attach to toxins and set them on the road to elimination from the body. They also contain nutrients that activate enzymes so the liver is better able to get rid of stuff you don’t want circulating around and causing damage to cells.

How To Get Them

Eating cruciferous vegetables at every meal will provide fiber along with other liver-protecting nutrients for better detoxification. Additional cruciferous veggies are bok choy, Brussels sprouts, and leafy greens like kale and collards.

#2: Garlic & Onion

Garlic and onion are “super foods’” that provide powerful antioxidants that cleanse the liver. They also protect the liver from a build up of inflammation.

How To Get Them

Cooking with garlic and onions will provide a healthy dose of liver-loving compounds.

#3: Green Tea

One of the most harmful things about the Standard American Diet is the large amount of fructose most people eat in soda and processed foods. Fructose is especially bad news for the liver because unlike other sugars like glucose, fructose is entirely processed in the liver. Too much fructose impairs liver function. It also leads to fat accumulation in the liver.

Green tea can counter all of these effects. For example, drinking green tea after consuming a large amount of food containing fructose has been shown to reduce fat deposition and cleanse the liver.

How To Get It

Drinking green tea is a great way to get a healthy dose of antioxidants.

#4: Turmeric

Turmeric may be the most popular spice due to a little compound called curcumin that has incredible anti-inflammatory properties. Curcumin is especially beneficial for liver function, having an ability to improve activity of detoxification enzymes. It also suppresses enzymes involved in fat gain. For example, curcumin supplementation can prevent the abdominal fat gain that typically coincides with a high-fat, high-fructose diet.

How To Get It

When cooking with turmeric, always pair it with black pepper because this improves absorption of the liver-promoting compounds in the gut.

#5: Eggs

When most people think “liver cleanse” they picture foods like green smoothies with no animal protein in sight. Actually, a high-quality protein is an absolute must for any cleanse because the body requires the amino acids to complete the second phase of detoxification. Without adequate protein, you’re stuck with a bunch of toxic compounds traveling around in your blood causing damage to cells.

Eggs are a perfect protein source that provide choline, which is a nutrient that helps the liver to detoxify and avoid accumulating fat. Eggs also contain loads of antioxidants and B vitamins, which attach to toxins before they get sent on their way out of the body.

How To Eat Them

Whether hard-boiled, over easy, or steamed with greens, eating three eggs a day can improve cholesterol levels and improve insulin health in multiple studies.

#6: Olives

Olives are one of the healthiest foods on the planet due to their high concentration of antioxidants that cleanse the liver. Olives contain oleic acid, which can prevent fatty liver disease. It also has compounds that improve liver enzymes for faster removal of toxins.

How To Eat Them

Olives are a great addition to salads and can be tossed on a stir-fry after you’re done cooking for a fresh, cool flavor and texture. Olive oil can be used raw in salad dressing or for light to moderate cooking temperatures.

#7: Probiotics

Probiotics are live active cultures present in fermented foods such as yogurt, pickled ginger, kefir, and Korean kim chi. Probiotics have an antioxidant effect on the liver and can prevent fatty liver.

How To Get Them

Including probiotic foods in your diet is a good start, but if you’re seriously concerned about GI function or liver health, it’s worth it to invest in a high-quality probiotic because there’s no guarantee the live cultures in food will survive the production process in sufficient numbers. You need a LOT of these little guys to make a difference. Try a high-potency probiotic that contains a minimum of 1 billion active live cultures.

#8: Resistant Starch

Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that bypasses digestion and makes its way into the intestinal tract where healthy bacteria use it as food. A diet high in resistant starch has a therapeutic effect on liver function. Not only can resistant starch prevent fat accumulation in the liver, it is also a treatment to excess belly fat.

How To Get It

Found in starchy foods like green bananas and potatoes, resistant starch is created any time you cook carbs and then cool them. For example, cooked and cooled rice or spaghetti are both high in resistant starch. The easiest way to get resistant starch is to supplement with unmodified potato starch, which can be purchased in most grocery stores or online.

#9: Water

It’s very important that the whole detoxification system work to completion and not break down near the end because this will result in harmful compounds entering back into circulation via the blood stream, which can cause havoc on cells and DNA. Make sure you are getting 2 to 4 liters of water a day. Sedentary people can be on the lower end of that range and active people who sweat a lot on the higher end.

How To Get It

Unfortunately, contaminated water is not just a third world problem: Pesticides, hormones, PCBs, dioxins, benzene, and lead are just the tip of the iceberg. Therefore, it’s worth getting a water filter. Even a filtering pitcher can make the difference in keeping dangerous toxins out of your body so your liver never has to deal with them.

#10: Vinegar

Vinegar increases your cell’s sensitivity to insulin and counters oxidative stress. Vinegar also protects the liver from damage and fat accumulation.

How To Get It

Make a salad dressing out of balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and herbs, or add apple cider vinegar directly to foods like mixed greens to help cleans your liver.

 

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