Protein synthesis and blood purification are the two important functions of liver. Liver produces certain important biochemicals and promotes digestion. It plays an important role in metabolism of cholesterol. Bile and certain blood clotting agents are synthesized in the liver. Bile helps digest fat and fat-soluble vitamins. Dysfunction of liver can lead to serious health complications. Accumulation of toxins in the liver can affect its function significantly. Incorporating natural liver cleansing foods in your regular diet helps remove the toxins from the liver. Infection by viruses like hepatitis B, hepatitis C, metabolic disorders, alcoholism, excessive iron deposition in liver cells are some of the causes of liver damage.
Symptoms of Unhealthy Liver
- Dark circles under eyes
- Irregular bowel movements (not everyday)
- Skin problems like dry skin, itching, eczema, acne, psoriasis, etc.
- Bloating, gas, indigestion after eating
- Unpleasant body odor and bad breath
- Feeling tired, sluggish, lethargic, depressed
- Frequent infections
- Protruding belly
- Shoulder pain or pain in the upper arm and upper back
- Pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen
Liver flush is a very simple procedure which helps improve digestion significantly. Removal of toxins considerably reduces the chances of cancer and other diseases. It enhances the function of the liver. You may expect pains and allergies to disappear after liver cleanse. Before opting for a serious liver detox program, it is necessary to perform a colon cleanse. You should first get rid of the residual substances from the body, then only liver detox will work properly. If colon cleanse is not done before liver detox, you may feel worse than before and it may cause excessive strain on your liver.
Remember, fresh and organically grown foodstuff should be used for cleansing the liver. Nutrients from natural foods promote liver detoxification. For example, powerful enzymes like glutathione peroxidase help remove potentially harmful molecules from the liver. Selenium promotes the function of such enzymes. Even if a person is diagnosed with a liver problem, antioxidants from healthy food can help prevent further liver damage. Fresh vegetable juices and fresh fruit juices are the best liver cleansing drinks. They boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes.
List of Liver Cleansing Foods
- Consumption of milk thistle extract helps prevent liver problems. Toxic chemicals and medications can damage your liver over years. This herbal remedy has been used for thousands of years to repair such damage to the liver. If you consume milk thistle seeds directly, your body won't be able to digest them. The 'silymarin' present in these seeds is available in capsule form.
- Selenium rich foods like tuna, cod, halibut, turkey, shrimp, salmon, button mushrooms, Brazil nuts, mustard seeds.
- Foods rich in beta carotene for example, cilantro, kale, beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, turnip greens, winter squash, collard greens, fresh thyme, cantaloupes, romaine lettuce and broccoli.
- Vitamin E rich foods like olive oil, spinach, Swiss chard, sunflower seeds, papaya, turnip greens, mustard greens, avocados (at least one or two avocados per week), pumpkin and almonds help prevent cell damage from free radicals and help the liver to cleanse itself. You can avoid liver or gallbladder problems by incorporating these foods in your regular diet.
- Garlic contains selenium and allicin which help activate liver enzymes.
- Ginger carries antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which can help maintain the health of the liver.
- Walnuts are high in amino acid 'arginine' which helps the liver to detoxify ammonia. Omega-3 fatty acids and glutathione from walnuts enhance the process of liver cleansing.
- Cashew nuts are high in copper, manganese and magnesium. The antioxidant properties of copper and manganese help eliminate free radicals.
- Leafy green vegetables packed with chlorophyll can neutralize heavy metals. They promote removal of environmental toxins like chemicals and pesticides from the liver.
- Food rich in riboflavin like calf liver, lean beef tenderloin, boiled eggs, low fat yogurt, cow's milk, cooked soybeans, almonds, boiled green peas, spinach, tempeh, shiitake and crimini mushrooms.
- Foods that are high in niacin like chicken, tuna, beef, turkey, salmon, asparagus, halibut, venison, calf's liver, and turkey.
- Fruits packed with Vitamin C like grapefruits, limes, oranges, strawberries, lemons, papayas and vitamin C rich vegetables like broccoli, bell pepper, parsley, cauliflower, kale, etc. help reduce and even reverse the effects of free radicals on cells.
- Glucosinolates from cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage can trigger the body's detoxification systems. You may consume 2-3 tablespoons of broccoli sprouts a day.
- Brown rice is rich in selenium, fiber, manganese and magnesium. It prevents gallstones and promotes liver detoxification, easy digestion and stable blood glucose levels. You should consume whole grains or whole wheat products as they provide ample B complex vitamins and improve overall fat metabolization. They promote liver function and detoxification.
- Foods rich in flavonoids help enhance the function of vitamin C and protect body cells from oxygen damage. Onions, parsley, pears, apples, apricots, fresh berries, cabbage and tomatoes contain high amount of flavonoids. Legumes like black beans, kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans are also good sources of flavonoids. Pectin from apples helps soften and flatten the stones in the gall bladder and liver.
Taking certain drugs (for example, psychotropic drugs) over an extended period of time can bring about oxidation of lipids which can seriously affect the function of the liver. N-acetylcysteine (nac), a powerful antioxidant is administered to patients diagnosed with drug-induced hepatotoxicity. It also helps prevent alcoholic liver damage and reduces the effects of environmental pollutants like carbon monoxide and chloroform. It lowers the effects of free radicals on liver. In infants, it even helps clear bile duct blockage.
It is safe to conclude that antioxidants from food help increase the production of enzymes that promote liver detoxification. The aforementioned foods can help flush out carcinogens and other toxins from the liver. These foods can also help get rid of gallstones from the gallbladder and intrahepatic stones (stones from the liver). This helps maintain the flow of bile. Accumulation of bile may result in inflammation or cirrhosis of the liver. Consumption of natural nutrient-rich foods promotes removal of toxins and fatty acids from the body. You can lead an active and healthy life thereby.
A number of liver detox recipes are available on the Internet. Drinking a mixture of olive oil, fresh grapefruit juice and lemon juice late at night before sleeping enhances the process of elimination of stones from liver and gallbladder. After taking the drink, you should lie down immediately in bed. This allows the oil to reach the liver and gall bladder quickly. In addition, Epsom salts taken with water help widen the bile duct and facilitate the passage of stones. Before opting for such detox recipes and processes, you should consult your physician as they involve strict diet. The size and nature of stones also needs to be checked.
Those who want to reap the benefits of a liver detox diet should quit smoking and avoid alcohol abuse too. Otherwise the diet will be of no use. You should inform your physician about your routine medication and should strictly follow his/her instructions while following the diet.
Disclaimer: This HolisticZine article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.