Seven Naturally Liver Cleansing Foods
By Amy Crawford
Okay troops – let's play an honesty game:
- Who overindulged over the festive period? (Amy: just a little. Oh ok Mum, you're right, a bit more than a little).
- Who's feeling sluggish? (Amy: me and I need to clean up my act).
- Who's jeans shrunk? (Amy: mine. Damn that washing machine ;-))
- Who's going to miss their afternoon siestas? (Amy: me, I fell asleep every afternoon with a book. Non-liver related but worth a mention. Damn I'm going to miss that siesta today!).
So, in light of my honest responses, know there is no judgement here! But read on… your liver will love us again I promise.
The primary way in which your body expels toxins is via the liver, which detoxifies and cleanses your body by continuously filtering the blood of poisons that enter it through the digestive tract, the skin, and the respiratory system. But when your liver becomes overworked as a result of stress or excessive exposure to toxins (insert festive excess here), your entire system can be thrown off balance, and in turn your health affected for the worse.
Without a well-functioning liver, your body will be unable to cleanse itself and absorb nutrients, which is a recipe for a health disaster. Dr Karl Maret MD writes about the importance of effective liver function:
"The thousands of enzyme systems that are responsible for virtually every body activity are constructed in the liver, the proper functioning of the eyes, the heart, the brain, the gonads, the joints, and the kidneys, are all dependent on good liver activity. If the liver is impaired from constructing even one of the thousands of enzyme systems the body requires, there is an impairment in overall body function and a resultant greater metabolic stress on the individual.
So, given a hefty portion of us need to show our livers a little more love right now, we list below seven important foods (and our recipes to inspire you) that you may want to consider incorporating into your diet to get you back on your way to a healthy liver.
Garlic contains sulfur-containing compounds that activate the liver enzymes responsible for flushing out toxins from the body. Garlic also contains allicin and selenium, two powerful nutrients proven to help protect the liver from toxic damage, and aid it in the detoxification process.
Grapefruit is rich in natural vitamin C and antioxidants, two powerful liver cleansers. Like garlic, grapefruit contains compounds that boost the production of liver detoxification enzymes. It also contains a flavonoid compound known as naringenin that causes the liver to burn fat rather than store it.
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.
Green Leafy Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables such as arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory also contain numerous cleansing compounds that neutralize heavy metals, which can bear heavily on the liver. Leafy greens also eliminate pesticides and herbicides from the body, and spur the creation and flow of cleansing bile. Add some extra greens to your diet by juicing them into the 'softer' green juice, but be sure to allow the juice to come to room temperature (or at least don't drink straight from the fridge) to allow for optimum digestion and nutrient absorption.
Rich in glutathione-producing compounds, avocados actively promote liver health by protecting it against toxic overload, and boosting its cleansing power. Here's our Overnight Avocado, Coconut & Lemon Cheesecake!
Walnuts, which contain high levels of l-arginine, an amino acid, glutathione, and omega-3 fatty acids, also help detoxify the liver of disease-causing ammonia. Walnuts also help oxygenate the blood, and extracts from their hulls are often used in liver-cleansing formulas. Why not make yourself a Walnut Brownie Breakfast Mousse for breakfast, a great way to prep yourself for an alert and energised day.
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. Why not add turmeric to your morning omelette, a THI fave!