Everyday we are exposed to toxins like contaminants/ pollutants, insecticides/ pesticides, metabolic end products, food additives, chemicals, drugs, over processed food. Not just through the food we eat, but the exposure is also through environment we breathe in, drink and live in.
Our liver is the first line of defense against these toxins. Think of it as an air filter, where all other organs bring in dirty air for filtration and processing of toxins. So, if you’re not loving your liver then you might frequently feel tired, sick and cranky, which are signs of a sluggish liver.
Learn more about the liver on this post: where is your liver and what does it do: Liver 101.
Why do you need to cleanse your liver?
The liver performs over 400 functions including, but not limited to:
- Detoxifying and circulation of the blood
- Blood sugar regulation
- Bile production needed to digest fats
- Excretes waste via bile
- Destroys old red blood cells
- Immunity against infection
The liver performs so many vital functions and as a result, it is very prone to disease. All of the toxins and pollutants that the liver filters start accumulating over time in our body.
These toxins make your body vulnerable to diseases and it starts losing its strength.
There are foods that can help cleanse the liver naturally, by stimulating its natural ability to remove toxic waste from the body.
Eating right is the key to a long lasting, healthy you. So, here is a list of some weird foods that you never thought could be so friendly to your liver.
1. Kombucha –
Adding a colony of bacteria and yeast to your drink is not everyone’s cup of tea. Fast forward 10 years and it is a trendy drink on celebrities’ favorites lists and is being referred to as ‘elixir of life’.
Kombucha is a fermented tea, that has been used since ancient times to detoxify, boost immunity and has anti-oxidant properties. It is proven to improve liver function, remove toxins and strengthen your body. Read more about the Kombucha Tea, here and its benefits here.
2. Turmeric –
This bright yellow, finger-like stalk is a spice that belongs to the ginger family. It is being studied extensively for its role in liver detoxification. It contains curcumin, which helps in stimulating the production of bile. Bile not only helps the liver in flushing out toxins but also rejuvenates liver cells that breakdown harmful cancer-causing compounds. Add dried turmeric powder to your dishes or simply take turmeric capsules to enhance liver function.
3. Seaweed –
Eating something fishy or slimy might creep some people out, but seaweed is an amazing detox food for the liver. It not only contains the widest range of minerals found in any food, but also contains sodium alginate (algin) which helps in the absorption of toxins and removal of heavy metals from the body.
Green seaweed contains chlorophyll, which contains fibers that bind to and remove numerous unwanted substances from our system, acting as a potent liver detoxifier. Dulse, kelp, nori, wakame, and agar are popular seaweeds. Sneak some seaweed into your smoothies to help cleanse your body and drastically improve your iodine intake.
4. Sesame seeds –
Considered one of the most powerful healing agents, Sesame seeds contain sesamin, a substance being studied and claimed to protect the liver from oxidative damage. Sesame seeds also help to protect the liver cells from alcohol and other substances that are toxic to the body.
5. Ginger –
Research has shown that these bizarre looking roots, have one of the highest liver protecting benefits. Ginger inhibits parasites that damage the liver and protect against liver fibrosis and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. You can add it to your tea or salad dressing to enjoy liver health.
6. Fish oil –
If something fishy doesn’t bother you, fish oil and fish oil supplements help reduce inflammation within the liver and protect against liver diseases. The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids in fish oil, are mainly responsible for its positive effects.
7. Beets –
The blood red color of beets is a little overwhelming at first. But once you understand its health benefits like cleansing blood, improving liver functioning, and boosting nutrient production in the body, you are sure to embrace it. Beets are also high in anti-oxidants, fiber, folate, iron, calcium and B vitamins, which are all helpful in flushing out toxins from the body. Enjoy them baked, roasted, grated or simply add them to your daily juice!
8. Organ Meats –
Meats like beef brain, heart and liver might make some people throw up, while for others, they sure are a delicacy. They are rich in nutrients, amino acids, B vitamins and more. They also contain Glutathione which is a powerful detoxifier. Enjoy them raw if you find them palatable or cooked.
9. Milk thistle –
This thorny plant extract is actually good for your liver! It contains anti-oxidants that promote health, liver health and protect it against liver diseases like fatty liver, drug and alcohol induced damage and more.
10. Dandelion –
Yes, this bitter weed has shown to remove the liver of toxins and other liver problems. They are used as a tonic to stimulate liver detoxification of a congested liver and promote increased bile production. Replace your coffee with dandelion root tea for liver benefits!
11. Beef or chicken liver –
Don’t be repelled by the gross looking liver and its weird taste because it is packed with nutrition. But if you can’t conquer the aversion, opt for liver pills as a supplement.
12. Bone broth –
There is something weird and gross about boiling bones until it breaks down and releases amino acids like Glycine. The glycine in bone broth helps promote healthy liver function and has even been shown in multiple studies to help recover from liver damage due to causes like alcoholism and fatty liver disease.
13. Cod Liver Oil –
It is exactly what the name suggests, oil extracted from the liver of cod fish. It is fishy, pungent and definitely not very appetizing. The anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the inflammation of the liver and help fight against liver diseases.
14. Wheatgrass –
Wheatgrass is a bitter nutritional supplement that is becoming a rage among health nuts. It not only boosts your liver, but also helps reduce the buildup of lipid fats, reducing liver damage. You can drink wheatgrass juice or add powder to power up your smoothies.
15. Hemp milk –
Hemp milk is made from the plant that is also used for making marijuana. But don’t be misled by that fact. Most liver detox diets today include hemp milk, instead of dairy or soy milk. It contains omega-6 fatty acid, which is responsible for promoting healthy liver.
16. Marmite –
The latest Superfood Marmite might be bitter, salty and made from yeast extract, but that is not any hindrance in its path to popularity. It is rich in B vitamins which are vital for liver health and functioning. Enjoy with whole wheat toast as a spread!
17. Amaranth –
Once considered a weed, this grain is loaded with goodness that can improve liver health. It decreases the damaging effects of toxins like alcohol, accumulated toxins and waste products. It is also being studied for increasing the levels of antioxidants and decreasing the levels of enzymes that when elevated, indicate stress on the liver.
18. Dragon Fruit –
This funny looking cactus fruit has potential liver benefits. Don’t go by its strange look but its liver cleansing properties and effects on liver rejuvenation and protection. Blend it with beet root and enjoy a detoxifying smoothie.
19. Blackstrap Molasses –
The black goo doesn’t just look a little disgusting but also tastes gross. It does, however, make a super liver detox drink with just warm water, lemon juice, cayenne pepper and molasses. It functions to improve signs of dysfunctional liver like anger and depression.
20. Watercress –
Give your liver a big boost with the cleansing action of watercress, which is a little spicy and odd in taste. If you’re into making smoothies for your detoxing this is a great one to blend up and drink down. You can also try adding it to a salad, but you might want to make sure you enjoy the taste first. It’s an acquired taste for some, and a source of consistent dislike for others.
21. Kimchi –
This strange fermented Asian food, might look disgusting but you can slowly acquire the taste. Different types of kimchis are made from vegetable like cabbage and raddish. It can help stimulate the activation of important liver detoxifying enzymes that help eliminate toxins.
Some tips for doing a Liver Cleanse
The world around us keeps the liver under constant pressure and these foods can help recharge it. Adopt them into your diet permanently to experience dramatic long-term health improvements.
More liver foods not mentioned above are leafy greens, avocado, citrus fruits, carrots and whole grains. Have plenty of whole foods and avoid processed foods which are loaded with chemicals. The American Liver Foundation recommends eating high fiber, low sugar foods to detox your liver.
Avoid deep-fried and fatty foods, refined carbs, soft drinks, processed and salted foods, and sweets and snacks high in sugar, because more damage is caused by sugar than alcohol in Americans. Drink plenty of water that helps flushing out toxins and remember to exercise regularly.