Liver Supportive Foods
The first step in supporting proper liver function is following a health promoting diet low in animal foods and sugar, and high in whole plant foods such as vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Such a diet will provide a wide range of essential nutrients the liver needs to carry on its important functions. In addition, it may be helpful to take a high potency multiple vitamin and mineral supplement, use a special nutritional and herbal supplement to protect the liver and enhance liver function, and go on a 3 day fresh juice fast at the change of each season. To have a healthy liver, these are some things to definitely stay away from:
- Saturated fats, hydrogenated fats/oils
- Non-organic meats, poultry, eggs and dairy
- Refined sugar, refined and processed foods
- Alcohol, drugs, and coffee
- Special foods rich in properties that help protect the liver from damage and improve liver function include:
o High sulfur containing foods like garlic, legumes, onions, and eggs
o Good sources of water-soluble fibers such as pears, oat bran, apples, and beans
o Cabbage family vegetables especially broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage
o Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion
o Many herbs and spices like turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice.
- Red beet mixed with carrot (1/2 cup) once a day.
- Dandelion root tea: steep 1 teaspoon in 1 pint boiling water for 20 minutes. Take once a day.
- A high potency multiple vitamin and mineral is helpful to deal with the toxic chemicals we are exposed to. Antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E are important in protecting the liver from damage as well as helping in detoxification mechanisms. Also important are nutrients like B vitamins, calcium, and trace minerals; they are critical in the elimination of heavy metals and other toxic compounds from the body.
- Choline, betaine, methionine, vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are important as well. These nutrients are referred to as “lipotropic agents.” Lipotropic agents are compounds, which promote the flow of fat and bile to and from the liver. In essence, they produce a “decongesting” effect on the liver and promote improved liver function and fat metabolism.
- Formulas containing lipotropic agents are very useful in enhancing detoxification reactions and other liver functions. Lipotropic formulas have been used for a wide variety of conditions by nutrition-oriented physicians including a number of liver disorders including hepatitis, cirrhosis, and chemical-induced liver disease.
- It is important to take enough of the formula to provide a daily dose of 1,000 mg of choline and 1,000 mg of either methionine and/or cysteine.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum) known as silymarin – a group of flavonoid compounds – exerts a tremendous effect on protecting the liver from damage as well as enhancing the detoxification processes.
- Silymarin prevents damage to the liver by acting as an antioxidant. Silymarin is many times more potent in antioxidant activity than vitamin E and vitamin C. The protective effect of silymarin against liver damage has been demonstrated in a number of experimental studies.
- Adopting a healthy lifestyle that will support a healthy liver includes avoiding alcohol and exercising regularly. Some helpful ideas are:
• Deep breathing exercises: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 12, and exhale for a count of 8. Start with 2 minutes and work up to a goal of 5-10 minutes each day.
• Take a brisk walk or another form of cardiovascular exercise 20-30 minutes each day.
• Drink clean filtered water (at least 2 quarts a day).
• Avoid aluminum cookware; try stainless steel instead.