As one of the “big 5” most vital organs in your body, your liver performs over 500 vital functions.
Essentially, it’s the primary gatekeeper that decides what your body needs and doesn’t need to stay healthy. It’s like your very own personal filtration system!
Your liver is responsible for detoxing and eliminating foreign toxins by turning them into water soluble forms and excreting them from the body. Sounds pretty important, right?
Unfortunately, liver health is one area of our health that we often ignore until a problem arises. But the truth is that as our society becomes more and more advanced, we are increasingly being exposed to more toxins in our environment.
Foreign chemicals from air pollution, pesticides, beauty products, and more all make their way onto our skin and eventually into our bloodstream. This leaves the liver having to work even harder than ever before.
This is then made worse by unhealthy lifestyle habits such as heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, junk food binges, drug use, and chronic sleep loss. Prescription drugs and overuse of over the counter pain medications can also put heavy strain on your liver.
A weakened liver is unable to properly expel toxins from the body and can lead to a long list of health issues and illness.
Liver disease is the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, killing more than 35,000 people each year.
According to the BMJ and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, liver disease is rapidly increasing in the United States. Between 1999 and 2016, deaths from cirrhosis increased by 65 percent.
Even worse, deaths from liver cancer doubled, from approximately 5,100 to more than 11,000 deaths during this time span.
The reasons behind this increase are still being studied but cultural, societal, and lifestyle influences are definitely at large when it comes to these frightening statistics.
The good news is that protecting your liver is largely in your own hands.
With a healthy lifestyle and the right foods, you can naturally cleanse your liver and help keep it functioning properly well into old age.
Your liver is actually a highly intelligent organ that possesses the ability to cleanse and repair itself if treated well. That’s why the effectiveness of trendy “liver cleanse” programs are highly debated and many experts argue they aren’t needed and can be dangerous if not supervised by a medical professional.
Instead, nutritionists and medical professionals tend to recommend adding plenty of liver-healthy foods into your diet if you believe your liver may be in need of some extra support.
Here are 12 of the most beneficial health foods that your liver will thank you for!
1. FERMENTED FOODS: Gut-healthy fermented foods such as kimchi and kombucha can help promote healthy elimination and detoxification by introducing friendly bacteria that move things along in your intestines.
2. GARLIC: Fresh garlic contains a powerful compound known as allicin that helps kill bacteria and other harmful toxin-causing organisms that may enter your GI tract. Garlic can also activate healthy liver detox enzymes that help your liver eliminate toxins more efficiently.
3. AVOCADO: The high amounts of healthy fats, vitamins, and fiber in avocado make them an excellent addition to any liver-cleansing meal!
4. NUTS: Excellent sources of vitamin E, unsaturated fatty acids, antioxidants, and a wide variety of nutrients, nuts like walnuts and almonds work wonders when it comes to protecting your liver. Certain nuts can increase healthy blood flow and circulation and aid in toxin removal. A handful each day within the recommended calorie range makes the perfect liver healthy snack!
5. BROCCOLI: This healthy superfood is packed with the antioxidants and fiber needed to keep your liver strong and healthy! Broccoli can support multiple phases of liver detoxification by boosting glutathione levels in the body.
6. FRUITS (ESPECIALLY WATERMELON, GRAPEFRUIT, BLUEBERRIES, AND ORGANIC APPLES): A medical journal known as the Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine reported that as a whole, fruits and plant-based foods are excellent liver-protecting diet choices. Fruits assist with delivering fiber, vitamins, and gut-friendly bacteria, as well as properly cleaning out your bowels.
7. BEETS: This highly nutritious food helps activate healthy liver enzymes and positively affects bile. Not to mention that beets are jam packed with vitamins, nutrients, and tons of antioxidants!
8. CERTAIN SPICES (ESPECIALLY TURMERIC, CINNAMON, AND CUMIN): Certain spices have potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant powers that can help reduce inflammation in the body and protect the liver when taken as a supplement or added into various recipes.
9. COFFEE: Good news for coffee lovers! Some studies, including a 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology have reported that coffee seems to have a protective effect on the liver by reducing fat buildup and increasing antioxidant content in the liver.
10. FATTY FISH: Consuming fatty fish provides essential omega-3 fatty acids that have been shown to help maintain healthy enzyme levels in the liver and prevent excess fat buildup. A study conducted by the World Journal of Gastroenterology recommends taking a quality fish oil supplement if you’re not consistently eating oily fish a minimum of two times per week.
11. GREEN TEA: Evidence suggests that this antioxidant-packed tea might help reduce signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as well as combat free radical damage and oxidative stress.
12. OATMEAL: Some studies have found that certain fibers in oats can help promote healthy digestion and toxin expulsion. One 2017 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences found that the beta-glucans found in oats may help reduce fat storage in the liver and have a protective effect.
According to the American Liver Foundations healthy eating guidelines, it’s also important to boost your water intake, exercise regimen, and sleeping habits, as well as avoiding alcohol, sugar, and fatty, starchy, or processed foods.
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