Spring is a good time of year to give your liver a helping hand. There are many foods that can help cleanse the liver naturally by stimulating its natural ability to clean toxic waste from the body. Here are some tips:
Garlic: Just a small amount of this pungent white bulb has the ability to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic contains quantities of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
Grapefruit: High in vitamin C and antioxidants, grapefruit stimulates the natural cleansing processes of the liver. A small glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice will help boost production of the liver detoxification enzymes that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
Beets and Carrots: Both are extremely high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene; eating beets and carrots can help stimulate and improve overall liver function.
Green Tea: This liver-loving beverage is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, a compound known to assist liver function.
Leafy Green Vegetables: One of our most powerful allies in cleansing the liver, leafy greens can be eaten raw, cooked, or juiced. Extremely high in plant chlorophylls, greens suck up environmental toxins from the blood stream. With their distinct ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, these cleansing foods offer a powerful protective mechanism for the liver. Try incorporating leafy greens such as rocket salad, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and radicchio salad into your diet. This will help increase the creation and flow of bile.
Avocado: This nutrient-dense super-food helps the body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.
Apples: High in pectin, apples hold the chemical constituents necessary for the body to cleanse and release toxins from the digestive tract. This, in turn, makes it easier for the liver to handle the toxic load during the cleansing process.
Olive Oil: Cold-pressed organic oils such as olive, hemp and flax-seed are great for the liver, when used in moderation. They help the body by providing a lipid base that can suck up harmful toxins in the body. In this way, it takes some of the burden off the liver in terms of the toxic overload many of us suffer from.
Alternative Grains: Quinoa, millet and buckwheat can be a valuable alternative to wheat, or other gluten-heavy whole grains in your diet,/ Give them a try! Your liver is your body’s filter for toxins, and grains that contain gluten are full of them. A study last year found that persons who experienced gluten sensitivities also had abnormal liver enzyme test results, and that’s just one of many. Rice is gluten free too and brown rice is best.
Cruciferous Vegetables: Eating broccoli and cauliflower will increase the amount of glucosinolate in your system, adding to enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes help flush out carcinogens, and other toxins, out of your body and may significantly reduce risks associated with cancer.
Lemons and Limes: These citrus fruits contain very high amounts of vitamin C, which helps the body synthesize toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in a big glass of warm water first thing in the morning helps stimulate the liver.
Walnuts: A valuable source of the amino acid arginine, walnuts aid the liver in detoxifying ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support normal liver cleansing actions. Make sure you chew the nuts well before swallowing. The recommended amount is a handful of walnuts per day.
Cabbage: Much like broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage helps stimulate the activation of two crucial liver-detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins. Try eating more kimchi, cabbage soup and sauerkraut as fermented or cooked cabbage is less likely to affect the thyroid than raw cabbage.
Turmeric: The liver’s favourite spice. Try adding some of this detoxifying goodness into your next lentil stew or veggie dish for an instant liver pick-me-up. Turmeric helps boost liver detox, by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary carcinogens. You can also drink turmeric with hot water as a tea.
Others: Other liver cleansing foods not listed above include almonds, artichoke, asparagus, brussel sprouts, blue berries, pumpkin, kale, salmon, oats, legumes and fresh vegetable juice (e.g. from Yazza cafe in Nelson). Eating the foods listed above is a great way to help keep your liver functioning properly. It can also be beneficial to do a fasting day occasionally (e.g. once a week an apple day).
Be aware that liver loaders are sugar, coffee and alcohol. Try and avoid these for a while if possible or minimize them as much as you can to give your liver a break and assist the liver cleanse.