The liver is a powerhouse organ. It’s the body’s main detoxifier and is in charge of filtering blood coming from the digestive tract and getting rid of harmful, unwanted substances. The liver also has many other functions, however. Hundreds of other functions, in fact, including the regulation of the body’s supply of vitamins and minerals, the breakdown of fats for energy, and the production of protein.
All pretty important stuff, right?
So, it’s crucial that we keep this precious organ in tip-top shape. Unfortunately, things like environmental pollutants, prescription drugs, stress, and overly processed foods can all cause it to quickly become overworked. When the liver is taxed, it simply can’t do its job(s) in an efficient way.
"When you become toxic, the mechanism for detoxification in the liver gets sluggish, and certain toxins can remain active longer than we want or than our systems can handle,” explains Mark Hyman, M.D. Since the liver plays a role in so many different tasks, what this means is that if your liver is out of whack, your entire mind-body system will suffer as a result. This could show up in the form of skin issues, moodiness, or mental drowsiness. More seriously, it can lead to liver disease, metabolic disorder and even type 2 diabetes.
Signs that you’re in need of a liver cleanse
Although we can’t fully control all of the pollutants that wreak havoc on our bodies on a daily basis, we can help give our liver a boost by incorporating lots of nourishing foods into our diet.
First, let’s look at some common signs that your liver may be strained. They include:
- Abnormal fatigue
- Sugar cravings
- Itchy skin
- Joint pain
- Body odor
- Stress and anxiety
- Bad breath
- Frequent gas and bloating
Now that you know what to look out for, let’s explore what a liver cleanse diet looks like.
Foods that are good for liver repair and vitality:
The liver requires large amounts of micronutrients to be able to perform its processes well. Luckily, there are many foods, herbs, and supplements that can help to naturally cleanse the liver and stimulate its ability to expel waste. Here are five of the best liver cleansing foods (good news: They’re pretty tasty, too):
Turmeric – also sometimes referred to as Indian saffron – is a vibrant, golden spice that originates from Asia and Central America. It adds a delicious kick to all kinds of dishes and has become a bit of a modern-day health fad. You’ll find it included in everything from crackers to protein bars, and it’s the all-star ingredient in the ultra-trendy golden milk latte.
While its popularity only came about recently, medicinally, turmeric has been used for thousands of years. This is because it has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties that lend it powerful, dynamic healing abilities. Its benefits in a liver cleansing diet primarily come from an active compound known as curcumin, which contains antioxidants that can repair liver cells and boost bile production. Try including some of this detoxifying knobby root into your next curry or stew for an instant pick-me-up.
You probably aren’t shocked to see veggies make a list of foods good for the liver since they’re generally always encouraged for good health. Cruciferous vegetables can play a particularly impressive part in proper liver function.
Not exactly sure what falls under the category of cruciferous vegetables? Some of the most common include kale, chard, cauliflower, watercress, broccoli and Brussels sprouts. Famously low in calories and high in nutrients, they’re beneficial to the liver because they’re a major source of glutathione, which triggers enzymes of the liver that flush toxins. They also contain quercetin, which has been shown to have several positive effects on the liver. Throw a bunch of these green beauties together for a big salad, stack them onto a sandwich, or hide a few within your next smoothie to enjoy an easy and delicious natural liver cleanse.
Beets are emerging as one of nature’s most potent superfoods, as they contain an array of nutrients and antioxidants. For example, they’re packed with iron, calcium, and B vitamins needed for everyday activities and overall immunity and wellness.
When it comes to their role as a liver cleansing food specifically, they’re high in vitamin C and fiber, both of which are natural cleansers and detoxifiers for the digestive system. Beets aid in helping to increase oxygen by cleansing the blood, thin bile to allow it flow more freely, and also contain betalains, which studies show promote normal inflammatory processes.
How can you incorporate beets into your liver cleanse diet? Juice them to drink as a healthy beverage to kickstart the day, include them in sauces, or roast them along with other vegetables for a delicious side dish.
As if we needed another reason to love garlic, the nutritional superstar is antiviral, antibacterial, and antibiotic. In regard to the liver, it contains a high amount of allicin, selenium, and sulphur, which encourage the production of white blood cells, activate liver enzymes, and fight off undesirable toxins in general. Even just a tiny pinch of this pungent white bulb has the ability to work wonders for a liver cleanse – and more.
Never feel guilty about pasta night again! When possible, opt for fresh and organic garlic for optimal results. “When eating garlic fresh, the allicin compound can help kill unfriendly organisms in your intestines that produce toxins in your gastrointestinal tract,” Dr. Charles Passler says.
Milk thistle – also sometimes referred to as Mary thistle or holy thistle – is a flowering plant originally from the Mediterranean region. It may be the most well-known herbal supplement for liver protection, detoxification, and health. You can consume its seeds, leaves, roots, and flowers.
The active ingredients that place milk thistle among foods that are good for the liver are a group of plant compounds collectively known as silymarin. These powerful ingredients support antioxidant activity, preserve liver cells and regenerate damaged ones, and may help reduce the risk for cancer development. Historically, milk thistle has been used to treat a variety of liver diseases including acute and chronic viral hepatitis.
There are many ways to incorporate milk thistle into your diet, whether it be through pill, powder, tincture, or tea form.
Foods to avoid for a healthy liver
While there are foods that are good for liver repair and can boost liver health, there are of course foods that can wreak havoc on its ability to function. As always, it’s all about balance. Food groups that the liver finds harder to process include:
- Fatty foods (like fast food)
- Fried or salty foods
- Overly processed foods
- Sugar-laden items (like baked goods, soda and candy)
- Refined grains (like white starches)
- Red meat
It’s also necessary to note here that certain lifestyle factors can play a major role in the strength and well-being of your liver. Avoid smoking, watch your weight, stay active, and practice mindfulness!
The bottom line of a natural liver cleanse
“Your liver is all that and more,” says Saleh Alqahtani , director of clinical liver research for Johns Hopkins Medicine. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. With it being such an important organ with many essential jobs, it should be a no-brainer that you should try and be kind to it as much as possible and do what you can to protect it.
Incorporating more of the liver cleansing foods and herbs listed above is a great start! Make it even easier with Dose for Liver shots. Containing potent, always-organic ingredients like Turmeric, Dandelion, Milk Thistle and more, they’re a convenient and tasty way to show your liver some love and help it love you back.