The liver is an incredibly important organ that is responsible for over 500 functions in the body! One of these functions is the detoxification and neutralization of metabolic wastes and toxins. We encounter toxins everyday through the food we eat, air we breathe, water we drink, products we use, and medications we take. It’s impossible for any of us to completely eliminate exposures so the next best thing is to make sure our liver is in top condition to handle everything that comes its way. This is where liver support and detox comes in.
Think of your liver like the filter in a fish tank. The job of the filter is to remove contaminants from the water to keep the tank clean and the fish healthy. However, every so often you need to remove the filter and give it a good cleaning so it doesn’t get bogged down and can do its job effectively. The same is true with your liver. It’s your liver’s job is to filter your blood and remove wastes and toxins but because we are constantly exposed to contaminants every so often it can be helpful to take some extra steps to give our liver a little extra help.
These 8 foods have been shown to support the natural functions of the liver as well as repair any damage that has been caused along the way. Eating them on a regular basis may help keep your liver running like a well-oiled machine. For extra liver support, you can download my guide to an easy, 7 Day, Food-Based Liver Detox.
Garlic increases production of antioxidants which can help protect the liver from the harmful metabolic waste it encounters every day. The main active component in garlic is Allicin, a sulfur compound that decreases inflammation and activates liver enzymes that are responsible for removing waste from the body.
High in both vitamin C and antioxidants, citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons support the natural detoxing abilities of the liver by protecting the liver cells from free radical damage so they can do their job efficiently and effectively.
Beets activate powerful enzymes like glutathione and superoxide dismutase, that protect liver cells from damage and allow the liver to work effective to eliminate waste products and toxins.
Dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard greens, and arugula contain high levels of chlorophyll and can mop up environmental toxins like heavy metals and pesticides which reduces the workload on the liver. Leafy greens also stimulate bile flow to keep the liver running smoothly.
Avocados help our body produce the powerful antioxidant glutathione, which is a key player in our detox system. The fatty acids in avocado also work to protect the liver from wastes and repair cellular damages that has occurred.
Broccoli and its vegetable relatives like cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, and cabbage are good sources of glucosinolate, which supports the production of enzymes in the liver that process wastes and metabolizing hormones. These compounds have even been shown to help prevent liver cancer.
Polyphenols found in walnuts have strong liver protective properties and can prevent damage to the liver cells as well as repair cellular damage caused by wastes. Walnuts also contain high levels of l-arginine, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, all of which help to detoxify the liver and support toxin elimination.
Artichoke contains the compound Cynarin which promotes the flow of bile to keep the liver running smoothly. Effective bile flow protects the liver cells from damage cause by the build-up of wastes and assists in the elimination of toxins from the body.
El-Din SH et al. Pharmacological and antioxidant action of garlic and.or onion in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in rats. J Egypt Soc Parasitol. 2014 Aug;44(2):295-308. (PubMed)
Yong-Song Guan and Qing He. Plants consumption and liver heath. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2015; 2015:824185. (PubMed)
Vali L et al. Liver-protecting effects of table beet (Beta vulgaris var. rubra) during ischemis reserpusion. Nutrition. 20017 Feb;32(2):172-8. (PubMed)
Dingley KH, Ubick EA, Chiarappa-Zucca ML, et al. Effect of dietary constituents with chemopreventive potential on adduct formation of a low dose of the heterocyclic amines PhIP and IQ and phase II hepatic enzymes. Nutr Cancer. 2003;46(2):212-221. (PubMed)
Kawagishi H et al. Liver injury suppressing compounds from avocado (Persea Americana). J Agric Food Chem. 2001 May;49(5):2215-21. (PubMed)
Zhou Y et al. Dietary natural products for prevention and treatment of liver cancer. Nutrients. 2016 Mar 10;8(3):156. (PubMed)
Taha, Nael Abu. Utility and importance of walnut, juglans regia linn: a review. African Journal of Microbiology Research. 2011 Dec 5(32). (PubMed)
Ben Salem M et al. Pharmacological studies of artichoke leaf extract and their health benefits. Plant Foods Hum Nutr. 2015 Dec;70(4):441-53. (PubMed)