The liver is undoubtedly one of the most vital organs in the body, as it is responsible for hundreds of essential tasks. Everything that we consume, including medicine, passes through it. The liver plays a major role in functions such as detoxification, digestion, metabolism, storage, production and immunity among hundreds of others.
Point being, the liver is one of the body’s hardest working, major multitaskers and because it performs so many critical functions, it’s important to keep it healthy. A poor diet and lifestyle combined with all of the environmental toxins that most of us encounter on a daily basis can really put our livers on serious overtime, negatively affecting every other system in the body. Luckily, there are several things that we can do to help keep our liver in tip-top shape, with the main focus being on eating right. The best regimen for the liver is one that has a focus on natural foods and is filled with protein from plant-based sources, loads of vegetables and fruits, unprocessed whole grains and of course plenty of water and exercise.
Check out these superfoods and quick strategies that help to detoxify the liver naturally:
Leafy greens consist of many types of chlorophyll that have the ability to absorb toxins that contaminate the body, including various chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides. Spinach and arugula in particular help to strongly increase bile flow, ridding the body of waste products. Looking for an easy way to boost your leafy greens intake? Our Epic Protein Green Kingdom is packed with an exotic blend of land and sea greens, including spinach, kale, Indian moringa and spirulina, and serves as a great addition to any smoothie!
Beets and carrots are both great sources of glutathione, a protein that helps to aid the liver to detox. They are also high in plant flavonoids, beta-carotene and many other vitamins which stimulate and improve overall liver function. It’s best to eat beets and carrots raw to maximize nutrient absorption. Try dipping them in hummus, adding them to a smoothie or check out this Superfood Lemon Kale Beet Salad for some simple, healthy inspiration!
Brussels sprouts are a rich source of the sulfur and glucosinolate, which encourage the liver to produce enzymes that are preventative to damages caused by both dietary and environmental toxins. It’s important not to overcook them, as they will lose both their nutritional value and taste.
Tomatoes are rich in a compound known as glutathione, which is essential in helping the liver to neutralize free radicals and extract toxins. The benefits of tomatoes don’t stop there either. The lycopene in tomatoes has an antioxidant effect that has been proven to block cancer cell growth. This Fresh Raw Salsa uses an abundance of raw grape tomatoes as well as a few other liver protecting ingredients!
The avocado is a nutrient-dense superfood that is another great source of glutathione. Moreover, avocados contain many minerals and vitamins that support overall liver health. As if we need another reason to eat more avocados!
Apples contain high levels of pectin, which helps to support the liver and facilitate the cleansing operation. Simply put, the nutrients found in apples make it easier for the liver to handle toxic loads during the removal process. Eat one or drink a glass of fresh apple juice daily.
Lemons, limes and grapefruit contain a ton of vitamin C, glutathione and antioxidants, which boost overall liver function and increase the production of specific enzymes that transform toxins so that they can easily be absorbed and eliminated by water. Drink a glass of warm lemon water or freshly squeezed grapefruit juice with your breakfast daily.
Alternative grains such as buckwheat, millet and quinoa help lighten the load that the liver has to take on. Ordinary grains on the other hand, like wheat, rye and flour, contain rich amounts of gluten, which can be difficult to digest and increase the work required for the liver to detox and produce enzymes. This Cleansing Tabbouleh Salad combines quinoa and variety of fresh vegetables for the perfect light lunch or dinner.
Walnuts are loaded with Omega 3 fatty acids, glutathione and arginine, all of which enhance the liver’s cleansing powers. Munch on a handful as a snack or sprinkle them over a salad, side dish or soup! Check out this Raw Pesto Veggie Pizza that uses walnuts as a healthy alternative for the crust!
Garlic is rich source of sulfur, allicin and selenium, all of which are an important aid in helping to cleanse the liver. Garlic also helps to activate other enzymes that clear out toxins. To promote the highest liver health use fresh, raw garlic instead of processed garlic.
This bright, flavorful herb has unlimited culinary applications and has many known healing properties. Specifically related to the liver, cilantro greatly helps to remove heavy metals from the bloodstream and balance blood sugar. As a versatile herb, cilantro can be added to nearly any meal. This Pineapple Cilantro Smoothie, for example, is a refreshing anytime treat that packs an abundance of essential nutrients!
The many health benefits of olive oil are extensive, making it widely used across the world and serving as a main component of the Mediterranean diet. Extra virgin olive oil in particular has a plethora of antioxidant properties. These antioxidants work to protect against toxins that may cause stress and damage to the liver and provide a lipid base that helps to absorb them. A simple lemon and olive oil cleanse is a great way to help keep the liver performing at its best. Juice a half of a lemon and mix with 2 tablespoons of EVOO to sip on.
Turmeric is a plant stemming from the ginger family that is also universally valued for its healing powers, including treatment for digestion and overall protection of the liver. Turmeric promotes the creation of certain detox enzymes, thanks to a component know as curcumin, which builds up the production of bile by the gallbladder. Include this spice in your daily dishes to add a little flavor and reap the health benefits, or make a batch of this Pumpkin-Ginger Orange Juice for a spicy, delicious drink.
Dandelion root is an herb rich in vitamins and minerals, in which nearly every part of the plant is used for medicinal purposes. The roots of the dandelion can be boiled down to make a great tea, which serves as a digestive aid and helps improve the function of both the liver and gallbladder. Dandelion also increases the production of amino acids, essential to the detox process. Additionally, the root of the dandelion is known to relieve symptoms such as headaches, skin disorders and other ailments related to liver dysfunction.
Millions of people drink green tea for its taste and wide range of health benefits. Tea, and green tea in particular, has incredibly positive effects on the body and is therefore one of the most researched beverages on the planet. Green tea is chock-full of the plant antioxidant known as catechin, which works to protect the body from free radicals. Catechins have also been found to assist liver function and protect it from the damaging effects of toxic substances. Drinking green tea daily can help your body to further flush out these toxins as well as fat deposits, while reaping the many other benefits that come from this antioxidant and others.
Fructose is, in many ways, very similar to alcohol in terms of the damage that it can do to your body and more specifically your liver. Why? Only the liver can metabolize fructose. For this reason, fructose ends up damaging your liver in the same way that other toxins do.
Drink lots of water, a suggested 10 to 12 glasses, on a daily basis. Being properly hydrated assists liver health and function in several ways. Drinking plenty of water aids in digestion, thins the blood and removes waste from the body. Try drinking a glass of water when you first wake up, before and after each meal, before and after exercising and then again at night. This timing will provide your liver with optimal hydration.
Take time to exercise
Exercise for about an hour each day. Exercising will help to stimulate your liver as well as other internal organs. Cardio exercises in particular, such as circuit training, cycling and running, will prompt your liver to flush out toxins while also improving blood circulation, reducing total body fat and giving you a boost of energy.
As you can see there are plenty of ways to detox the liver naturally without dieting. What it all boils down to is taking care of yourself and eating the proper foods that help your body to detox in a natural way, the way Mother Nature intended it to.