Liver health: a list of the best and worst foods for the liver
The main job of the liver is to filter the blood from the digestive tract before it travels to the rest of the body. Maintaining a healthy liver that is efficient in its detoxifying function requires a healthy and balanced diet. Foods high in fiber and essential nutrients protect the liver, while sugars and fats can overwork it.
The liver is responsible for a number of biochemical and metabolic functions essential for the proper functioning of the body. It stores nutrients provided by digestion such as glycogen, iron and vitamins; is involved in the metabolism of carbohydrates and fats; processes wastes in the blood such as alcohol, drugs, and medication to detoxify the body; and synthesizes bile and many proteins. To help you stay healthy, here are the foods you should eat and those you should avoid.
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Good foods for the liver
Eating foods high in fiber helps the liver to function optimally. Start your day with a bowl of sugar-free oatmeal which, in addition to lowering cholesterol, can also help reduce visceral fat and prevent liver disease. Add a few blueberries to your bowl of oatmeal to benefit from the polyphenols which are very beneficial nutrients for the liver.
Taking coffee helps protect the liver from damage caused by drinking too much alcohol or eating poorly. Some research suggests that coffee may also reduce the risk of liver cancer. If you don’t like coffee, a cup of green tea, which is rich in antioxidants, will do.
Add more vegetables to your diet. Some studies suggest that broccoli is a great ally in preventing liver disease. Spinach is also a good option: the antioxidants it contains help keep your liver functioning properly. Sprinkle your meal with oregano, sage or rosemary to add beneficial nutrients. For dessert, a handful of almonds will help protect your liver and cardiovascular system.
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Consider adding more garlic to your diet as it helps your liver activate the enzymes responsible for eliminating toxins. Garlic also contains selenium and allicin, two nutrients that help the liver to detoxify.
Avocado is also an excellent food for the liver because of its cleansing and detoxifying power. Avocado has a high concentration of L-Glutathione, an antioxidant essential in the process of removing toxins from the liver.
Turmeric, a popular spice that has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, making it an excellent ally in the fight against many diseases, with special mention for the liver. Animal studies have confirmed the protective effect of turmeric against the toxic effects of certain drugs and substances harmful to the liver.
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Grapefruit is another food that helps prevent liver damage. It promotes the production of detox enzymes in the liver and contains a flavonoid component known as naringenin, which allows the liver to burn fat instead of storing it.
Lemon is a natural diuretic. It promotes the elimination of impurities from our body. Consuming lemon juice increases the amount of urine and thus helps flush out toxins faster. Plus, citric acid helps stimulate and detoxify the liver.
Studies have shown that beets help fight the onset of certain types of cancer (liver, lung and skin), mainly thanks to the pigment betacyanin, which gives it the red color. Red beets also stimulate the liver and keep it functioning properly.
Also, consider black radish as a powerful liver detoxifier as it can help drain the liver and promote bile production, which allows for better elimination of toxins.
Artichoke leaves are particularly effective in helping detox the liver and stay healthy. Cynarine artichokes contain actions on bile secretion which promotes digestion.
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Finally, the only drink essential for the body and the liver is water. Try replacing sugary drinks, such as soda, with clean, filtered water.
Foods that are harmful to the liver to avoid
Part of the liver’s job is to convert sugar into fat. Eating too many sweets makes the liver too fatty, which ends up piling up. Oily meals are also a bad choice, as these foods make the liver work harder and can lead to inflammation in the long term. To detoxify the body without weighing it down, try reducing your salt intake. Avoid processed foods and choose fresh vegetables over canned vegetables.
Too much alcohol can also damage the liver and lead to cirrhosis. Occasional alcohol consumption can also be harmful. Ideally, you should avoid drinking alcohol altogether, but if you can’t, try to limit your intake and consider getting help to quit smoking as well.
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