4 Liver-Healthy Eating Habits That Are Better Than Any “Detox”
“The liver has a variety of functions in the body and one of them is detoxification,” says nurse practitioner and naturopathic doctor Erica Matluck, NP, ND. Your liver detoxifies the body in two phases, she says. The first involves the use of enzymes to convert fat-soluble compounds that could be toxic (such as hormones, drugs, and pesticides) into water-soluble compounds; the second involves the binding of protective substances to the toxin. “Both phases help transform the toxic compound so that it can be safely eliminated from the body,” she says.
By now, you probably already know that drinking too much alcohol isn’t good for your liver health (and it’s not), but it’s far from the only eating habit that affects your liver. working properly, according to Matluck and Kristin Kirkpatrick, RD, author of Lean liver.
You Don’t Need a “Detox” to Support Liver Health, But Here’s What You Can Do
1. Stock up on fruits and vegetables
You knew this one was coming, right? “Colorful fruits and vegetables, especially foods like beets and crucifers, and legumes all contain high amounts of phytonutrients which, in turn, help support the liver to function at its best,” says Kirkpatrick. . Adds Matluck, “Because the enzyme systems that support detoxification require nutrients to function optimally, a healthy, nutrient-dense diet can support the liver’s natural ability to detox.” This is one of the reasons, she adds, why so many doctors recommend the Mediterranean diet; an abundance of legumes, fruits and vegetables are incorporated into the diet.
2. Cook with garlic and olive oil
If you’re the type of person who adds garlic to almost everything you eat, Kirkpatrick says you’re doing your liver a favor. “Garlic and olive oil are linked to better overall health, which helps the liver work more efficiently,” she says.
“Liver health is best supported by a diet rich in the nutrients, minerals and amino acids necessary for detoxification,” says Matluck. “Garlic is a sulfur compound, so it supports second-phase conjugation processes.” She insists on the importance of a colorful diet with lots of fruits and vegetables, as well as fish (which is rich in B vitamins).
3. Spice up your dishes with chillies
“One study linked the consumption of hot peppers — which are rich in capsaicin — with less liver damage in people with liver disease,” says Kirkpatrick. So while you’re cooking with your liver in mind, go ahead and add some spice.
4. Avoid sugar
“Sugar is perhaps the biggest threat to the liver,” says Kirkpatrick. “This is because the liver plays a major role in sugar metabolism and when sugar is not metabolized properly, the liver suffers from not being able to break down sugar efficiently.”
Eating with liver health in mind is no different than eating for overall health in mind. “Detox is more about giving the body a rest than trying to use nutrients and supplements to speed up your detox pathways,” adds Matluck. “Focus on your vegetables, cut out alcohol and processed foods, minimize unnecessary medications, increase hydration, and sweat! does not only act on the liver.”
BTW, did you know there is a link between your liver and acne? Plus, eight other foods that are good for your liver.