Before we being to talk about the 12 best foods to cleanse your liver, let’s talk about the importance of a healthy liver. Not only is your liver the main filter of your body, it is also the work-horse for your body. It is the largest solid organ of your body weighing in at approximately 3.5 pounds. Many natural health practitioners including myself believe that a sluggish or unhealthy liver can actually be the underlying cause of many diseases. Below are some of the many important day-to-day functions of your liver.
- Immunity against infection.
- Regulates blood clotting.
- Bile production & excretion.
- Excretion of bilirubin, cholesterol, excess hormones & drugs.
- Metabolizes fats, proteins & carbohydrates.
- Enzyme activation.
- Stores glycogen, vitamins & minerals.
- Performs over 500 different chemical functions.
- Blood detoxification & purification.
- Filters over a liter of blood each minute.
How to Support a Healthy Liver
There are many things you can start doing right now to support healthy liver function including:
- Eating a healthy & organic diet
- Drinking clean water
- Consuming smaller amounts of protein.
- Watching carbohydrate intake.
- Avoiding antibiotics and antacids.
- Eliminating alcohol and acetaminophen.
- Performing a liver cleanse two-three times yearly.
- Being aware of possible prescription medicine effects on the liver.
- Avoiding environmental toxins.
DID YOU KNOW? A healthy liver has
an anti-depressant effect on your brain!
Signs Your Liver May Need Help
Everyone is exposed to toxins every day. These toxins can come from water, food preservatives, air pollution, chemicals, pesticides, personal care products, and electromagnetic radiation all of which can greatly affect your liver health. Below are several signs to be aware of regarding a sluggish liver.
- Overheating of the body resulting in excessive perspiration
- Inability to digest fatty foods
- Acid reflux
- Gallbladder removal
- Liver inflammation
- Dark spots on skin, usually referred to as liver spots
- Weight gain or the failure to lose weight after restricting calorie intake
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Abdominal fat around the upper part of the abdomen
- Pain over or around the liver
- High blood pressure
- High levels of triglycerides
- Mood swings and depression
- Sleep apnea
- Acne, rosacea and/or itchy, blotchy skin
- Fatty yellowish lumps around eyes
12 Best Foods to Cleanse Your Liver
It is always wise to make sure that all foods consumed are organic and/or locally grown and non-GMO.
- Avocado – Avocados contain a good amount of glutathione-producing compounds which can help boost the ability of the liver to cleanse itself. Researchers in Japan have discovered that avocados contain potent chemicals that may reduce liver damage. It has also been suggested that eating one or two avocados per week for as little as 4 weeks can make a tremendous difference in one’s liver health. While avocados are high in fat, much of the fat is of the monounsaturated variety, which has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels.
- Beets – There is evidence that a chemical found in beets can help fight fat deposits (fatty liver disease) in the liver. Beets also contain a chemical that might have antioxidant effects. Beets can also increase nitric oxide in the body.
- Olive Oil – Extra-virgin olive oil and its extracts protect against oxidative damage of hepatic tissue. Some research shows that olive oil contains powerful antioxidant protection against toxins such as herbicides that can damage the liver.
- Garlic – Reduces lateral side effects of hyperlipidemia (high lipid levels). Contains many sulfur-containing compounds that are known to activate the liver enzymes responsible for expelling toxins from the body. Another benefit lies in the presence of both allicin and selenium in garlic, two important nutrients that play an integral role in the protection of the liver from damage. See Health Benefits of Garlic
- Apples – According to one study, apple polyphenols have a significant protective effect against acute liver toxicity which may be due to their free radical scavenging effect, inhibition of lipid peroxidation, and there ability to increase antioxidant activity.
- Lemon/Lime – A.F. Beddoe author of Biological Ionization as Applied to Human Nutrition, stated that the liver produces more enzymes in response to water with lemon than to any other food. It is said that a morning glass of warm purified water with lemon juice is a natural liver detoxifier.
- Leafy Greens – Leafy greens contain high antioxidant levels. Among the best are kale, spinach, collards, leafy lettuce, etc.
- Green Tea – Green tea contains catechins which support liver detoxification and reduce liver redness. Green tea seems to protect the liver from the damaging effects of toxic substances such as alcohol. See Health Benefits of Green Tea
- Walnuts – Walnuts are a source of arginine which helps the liver detoxify ammonia, a waste product in the body; they are also a rich source of glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids. Black walnuts help oxygenate the blood and the extract is often used in parasite cleansing formulas.
- Turmeric – Turmeric is believed to not only protect the liver from damage, but also encourage regeneration of liver cells. In addition, turmeric increases natural bile production. See Health Benefits of Turmeric
- Grapefruit – Phytonutrients in grapefruit called limonoids inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of glutathione-S-transferase, a detoxifying enzyme. This enzyme sparks a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water soluble for excretion from the body.(1) Grapefruit also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to burn fat rather than store it.
- Okra – Okra helps to cleanse the liver: The slimy substance in okra contains substances that bind bile acid and cholesterol to detoxify the liver. Okra contains glutathione which is a protein molecule that is produced naturally in the body. Glutathione is a powerful antioxidant that helps the body fight against the harmful effects of germs and bacteria. See Health Benefits of Okra
EXTRA INFO. Using a liver detox fresh juice recipe is also an effective way to help cleanse and detox your liver. Check out my special recipe for Liver Detox Juice Recipe – Carrot, Beet, Apple, Celery.
Organic Herbs to Cleanse Your Liver
Incorporating organic herbs in your cooking is another advantageous way in which to cleanse your liver. The following herbs are some of the most effective in cleansing and support your liver.
- Milk Thistle seed
- Wildcrafted Chanca Piedra
- Fringetree bark
- Dandelion root & leaf
- Nettles root & leaf
- Turmeric Root
- Marshmallow root & leaf
- Yellow Dock root
- Barberry root bark
- Blue Flag
There is always a safe and effective solution to most every health concern, if you approach your body as a whole – mind, body, spirit. We are not just “livers”, “hearts”, pancreases”, “minds”, “intestines”, “stomachs” or “bones and joints” that act alone. That is the mind-set of conventional medicine. It’s time to rethink the role of drugs and harmful toxins in our lives in relationship to natural health actions that can be taken to prevent disease and maximize wellness, such as the suggestions that are mentioned in this article. Of course, prescription medications can be life saving and stabilizing for out-of-control health conditions and trauma; but in most circumstances, choosing to make healthy lifestyle changes will produce lasting and satisfying good health, vibrant energy and over-all well-being.
(2) Baker, A. “Ten Signals Your Liver Needs to Detox.” Nourish Holistic Nutrition.
(3) “Liver: Anatomy and Functions.” John Hopkins Medicine. hopkinsmedicine.org.
(4) McClees, H. “How to Detox Your Liver the Natural Way: A 5 Step Guide.” One Green Planet.
(5) Gao, B. “Basic Liver Immunology.” Cell Mol Immunol. May 2016; 3(3), 265–266.