Your liver detoxifies and cleanses your body by continuously filtering your blood of bacteria and toxins that enter it through the digestive tract, the skin, and the respiratory system. When your liver becomes overworked as a result of stress or excessive exposure to toxins, your entire system can be thrown off balance, and your health can be severely compromised.
Your liver is also responsible for producing bile. Bile is another form of detoxification that is metabolically necessary for the breakdown and assimilation of fats and proteins from your food. It is exceedingly important that your liver be properly maintained because without a well-functioning liver, your body will be unable to cleanse itself or absorb nutrients properly.
When you overeat food, or eat highly processed foods, and any time you are exposed to environmental pollutants or stress, your liver can become overworked and overloaded. When the liver is taxed, it can’t process toxins and fat in an efficient way. There are many foods that can help detox your liver naturally by stimulating its natural ability to clean toxic waste from the body.
Grapefruit is an excellent source of vitamin C as well as antioxidants, which both help support the immune system and two powerful liver cleansers. 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. Grapefruit increases the natural cleansing processes of the liver. It also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to burn fat rather than store it.
Beets are a unique source of phytonutrients called betalains (betanin and vulgaxanthin). Betalains provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and Phase 2 detoxification support for the liver. Phase 2 is the metabolic step that our cells use to hook activated, unwanted toxic substances up with small nutrient groups. This “hook up” process effectively neutralizes the toxins and makes them sufficiently water-soluble for excretion in the urine. Beets are also a very good source of the antioxidants manganese and vitamin C.
Carrots are extremely high in antioxidants, like beta-carotene, and phytonutrients. The rich carotenoid content of carrots helps prevent oxidative damage inside our body. Carrots are very high in Vitamin A, as well as vitamin K.
Green tea is loaded with catechins, a type of plant antioxidant that has been shown in studies to eliminate liver fat accumulation and promote proper liver function. This powerful herbal beverage also protects the liver against toxins that would otherwise accumulate and cause serious damage.
Apples are high in the soluble fibre pectin, which can help detox metals and food additives from your body. Apples also contain many beneficial phytochemicals used in the detoxification process, including flavonoids that help stimulate bile production which helps with detox as the liver gets rid of some toxins through the bile. Make sure to eat only organic apples because the non-organic varieties are among the top 12 foods that have been found to contain the most pesticide residues.
Broccoli contains anti-inflammatory nutrients, antioxidant nutrients, detox-support nutrients, and anti-cancer nutrients. Broccoli contains phytonutrients in a special combination that support all steps in body’s detox process, including activation, neutralization, and elimination of unwanted contaminants. Broccoli is also extremely rich in vitamin K, vitamin C, chromium and folate.
Lemon stimulates the release of enzymes and helps convert toxins into a water-soluble form that can be easily excreted from the body. Lemons contain high amounts of vitamin C, which is needed by the body to make glutathione. Glutathione helps ensure that phase 2 liver detoxification keeps pace with phase 1, thereby reducing the likelihood of negative effects from environmental chemicals. Drinking lemon water, which is alkaline-forming, first thing in the morning will help stimulate the liver.
Argula/rocket and other Bitter Greens
Bitter greens include arugula, endive, dandelion greens and spinach. The bitter flavor in these foods actually detoxifies your liver by increasing bile flow, while the greens themselves flush out toxins.
Walnuts and Brazil Nuts
Walnuts contain the amino acid arginine, which is necessary to help the liver detoxify ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, both of which are known to support healthful liver detoxification. Brazil nuts are one of the most concentrated food sources of selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant that helps protect against damage to liver cells, mobilizes cancer-fighting cells, strengthens immunity and contributes to tissue elasticity – an essential for healthful liver tissue.
Cabbage contains sulforaphane, a substance that can increase the production of antioxidant and liver detoxifying enzymes. Sulforaphane works by stimulating the production of glutathione, the body’s most important internally produced antioxidant which plays a role in liver detoxification.
Cauliflower helps your body’s ability to detoxify in multiple ways. Cauliflower contains antioxidants that support Phase 1 detoxification along with sulfur-containing nutrients important for Phase 2 detox activities. The glucosinolates in cauliflower also activate detoxification enzymes
Spinach is very rich in vitamin K, and an excellent source of antioxidant nutrients — including vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), and manganese — as well as being a very good source of the antioxidants zinc and selenium.
Garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that activate the liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins from the body. This bulbous relative of the onion also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from toxic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.
Herbs & Spices to Support Liver Function
Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage, and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.
Silymarin is a strong anti-oxidant extracted from the seeds in the Milk Thistle plant. Silymarin provides protection from the damaging effects of free radicals. It helps repair damaged liver cells, keeps new cells from being destroyed, and helps reduce inflammation of the liver. Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding.
This article is for informational purposes only, and is educational in nature. Statements made here have not been evaluated by the FDA. This article is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. Please discuss with your own, qualified health care provider before adding in supplements or making any changes in your diet.