Maximize your weight loss and keep diseases at bay with these foods good for liver cleansing. Read on to find out what foods you need to add to your diet to keep your liver healthy.
Why You Need to Eat Foods Good for Liver Cleansing and Detox
How the Liver Works in the Body
The liver is a vital organ that serves a multitude of functions. It cleans the blood of toxins and poisons, synthesizes proteins, stores energy, creates cholesterol, processes hemoglobin, aides the immune system, and helps with digestion.
This small, three-pound organ wears many hats and works constantly to keep us healthy. Functions of the liver include:
- Cleans the blood of toxins and poisons
- Synthesizes proteins
- Stores energy
- Creates cholesterol
- Processes hemoglobin
- Aids the immune system
- Helps digestion
Blood flows into the liver from two sources: from the heart as oxygenated blood and from the intestines as nutrient rich blood. These are combined in the liver, filtered, and regulated.
Poisons and harmful toxins are absorbed by liver cells and transformed into safer compounds. These are then sent either back into the bloodstream to the kidneys or back to the intestines to be removed as waste.
Drugs are also processed by the liver, broken down into what the body can use and then packaged for removal.
The liver cells combine the amino acids they find in our bloodstream to make different types of proteins that we need, releasing them back into the blood so they can make their way to where they’re needed.
What are amino acids? These are organic compounds that comprise a protein.
Fats and sugars from digestion are also turned into cholesterol by the liver to help carry energy and certain vitamins throughout the body. The liver stores iron and glycogen for use carrying oxygen and for extra energy.
The liver also releases bile that goes to the intestines, aiding in the digestion of fats.
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The liver holds about 13% of the body’s blood supply at any given time and performs over 5,000 biochemical functions each day. Working constantly, not tirelessly, the liver often needs a break from its labors to focus on cleaning itself, especially since our modern diet can be overwhelming.
Pesticides, herbicides, preservatives, artificial flavors, artificial colors, other chemicals, refined sugar, and high amounts of fat flood the liver from the food we eat. This vital organ can’t always keep up.
Environmental pollutants and chronic stress don’t help it out either.
How to Detox Your Liver Naturally
Give your liver a break so it can catch up on its important work, rest, and detoxify itself. Doing a liver cleanse is easy and here’s how:
- Avoid processed foods, fats, animal proteins, and refined sugars for a few days.
- Eat healthy, fresh, and a good amount of raw fruits and vegetables that help the liver clean itself faster.
- You can also consume many fresh juices to give your digestive system a short break at the same time.
- Choose organic food that’s free of pesticides and chemicals.
If you’re taking medications, get medical advice from your doctor on how to proceed with detoxification.
15 Foods Good for Liver Cleansing and Better Health
1. Alliums (Garlic, Onions, Leeks)
Some of the foods good for a liver detox are alliums. These liver-cleansing foods contain allium and selenium, both of which help the liver rid itself of internal and environmental toxins and excess fats.
They also boost the immune system, helping to clear out bacteria, viruses, and fungi.
One of the best foods for liver health, cleansing, and detoxification is apples.
Apples contain pectin, a fiber that binds to heavy metals in digestion.
This helps remove them from the body during digestion before they even enter the bloodstream so you put less of a load on the liver to do the usual clean-up.
Another of the foods good for liver detoxification, artichokes increase the production of bile.
Bile helps digest fats but also flushes toxins, excess fat, and waste from the liver.
Avocados are one of the foods that cleanse the liver because of their healthy fats and micronutrients. They also help the body produce glutathione, a compound that helps the liver remove heavy metals, environmental pollutants, and toxins produced by stress.
Another of the cleansing foods for the liver are beets. These bright roots are filled with beta carotene and other antioxidants that combat toxins, oxidative stress, and free radicals.
What is oxidative stress? It refers to the disruption in the balance of free radicals and antioxidants.
They also contain betaine, which encourages liver cells to release toxins, and pectin, which binds to toxins in the intestines so the body doesn’t absorb or reabsorb them.
6. Broccoli and Cauliflower
These and other cruciferous vegetables, like cabbage and Brussels sprouts, are good foods for liver cleansing.
They contain compounds that neutralize many toxins. They also contain glucosinolates, which increase the enzyme production in the liver. These liver enzymes then aid in the flushing of carcinogens and toxins.
Like beets, carrots are liver detox foods rich in antioxidants like beta carotene that mop up many toxins and prevent damage to liver cells.
Liver damage is a serious medical issue due to the type of work the organ does.
When the cells no longer function well, it increases your risk of certain diseases.
For example, it may lead to liver cirrhosis or scarring of the liver. In time, it can progress to liver cancer.
8. Citrus (Grapefruit, Lime, and Lemon)
These are rich sources of vitamin C, making citrus foods good for liver detoxing.
Vitamin C helps the body turn toxins into substances that can be dissolved in water for easy removal.
They also stimulate bile production to flush more toxins and excess fat from the system.
9. Leafy Greens
Greens are packed with a host of nutrients and antioxidants. Chlorophyll lessens the toxic load on the liver by counteracting the toxins during digestion.
The more bitter greens, like dandelion, mustard, endive, rocket, and kale, also increase the production of bile.
10. Olive Oil
Cold-pressed organic oils, like olive oil, coconut oil, or hempseed oil can help remove toxins that dissolve in fat instead of water. These detoxifying foods should be used in moderation though. They are high in calories and make the liver work harder to use them.
11. Plants and Spices
Turmeric, a spice found in curry, stimulates enzymes in the liver that remove toxins. It lowers cholesterol levels and is also a powerful antioxidant that neutralizes carcinogens and other toxins.
All these make it one of the foods good for liver repair.
Milk thistle is also a powerful plant for detoxifying your liver. In a 2016 study, thistle helped improve the organ’s function for those with liver diseases.
Another food rich in healthy fats like avocado, walnuts help the liver flush fat-soluble toxins.
They are also a good source of arginine, which the liver uses to remove ammonia and glutathione, which also assists the liver in removing many toxins.
13. Whole Grains
You can also cleanse your liver with whole grains. These are rich in B vitamins which improve liver function and fat metabolism.
Choose healthy whole grains, soaked, sprouted, or fermented to get the most out of them, like groats and brown rice.
White flour, pasta, rice, and potatoes shouldn’t be eaten when you are cleansing the liver. They are processed and high in sugars without the natural aid of fiber to slow absorption and protect the liver.
High amounts of sugar can impact your blood sugar or glucose. If you have diabetes, sugar can worsen your condition.
Without fiber, your body absorbs sugars and starches faster. They can then spike up your insulin levels.
Good, clean water is essential to all body functions. Water is especially important in the removal of wastes from the body.
Water assists the kidneys in removing all toxins the liver has broken down and packaged for them.
It’s always a good idea to support the other organs that detoxify the body, like the kidneys and the skin, with clean water, fresh fruits and vegetables, and fresh juices. Avoid processed juices and sodas.
15. Green Tea
In a study, people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) showed improvement in their levels of liver enzymes when they consumed green tea.
It can also potentially decrease oxidative stress and even reduce the build-up of fatty deposits. The latter is a precursor for NAFLD.
Fat oxidation of green tea can also help speed up your metabolism. You may trigger weight loss or regulate your weight, according to a study.
Know more about your liver from Dr. Weston in this video from Sunwarrior:
Organs work hard to keep your body healthy, but they also need support from you. Begin by incorporating these foods good for a liver detox and cleansing into your diet.
They will not only help improve your liver. They will also nourish your body with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients.
Have you done a natural liver flush? Share your stories and tips in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This article was originally published on June 2, 2014, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.