Updated: Sep 2, 2019
To be healthy you have to look after your liver. Therefore, the first step I always suggest to my clients is to clean up their diet and adopt a way of eating that supports liver health.
Eating for liver health is a way of eating, it's not a diet. It's about enjoying plenty of yummy, healthy, fresh foods. It's not about dieting, starving yourself or eating lentils 24/7. You simply change your food choices to foods that are healthy, tasty and nourishing to your body from ones that are processed, toxic and unhealthy. This is what supports the long-term optimal health of your liver and general health.
As a naturopath providing liver detox support, I can offer my the top 10 dietary tips for supporting your liver.
1. Eat a whole foods diet For the liver to function well it needs lots of good quality nutrients, and the best way to do this is to adopt a whole food diet. A whole foods diet is a way of eating that focuses on eating foods that come as nature grows them “whole” not packaged and refined.
Eat lots of leafy greens, fresh fruit and good quality fresh meats. This is the easiest way to limit exposure to liver burdening chemicals and toxins that are put in food such as preservatives, flavourings and colourings
2. Avoid processed foods Another reason you’re best to avoid processed foods is due to the effect that manufacturing process has on food quality. Foods lose their nutrients, vitality and health providing qualities when heavily processed and they are fill with with chemical flavours, colours, preservatives, sugar, bad fats and additives so to extend shelf life, to reduce price, enhance flavours and improve visual appeal. These chemicals build up in the liver and over time contribute to health conditions.
3. Include sour and bitter foods When it comes to liver detoxification bitter and sour are the flavours you want to consume more of as they support liver, gallbladder and digestive health.
Sour foods, drinks and herbs stimulate the liver to produce and release bile from the gallbladder, this aids detoxification. Examples include: lemon water, fresh grapefruits, sorrel, vinaigrette over salad or lemon juice over salad greens.
Bitter foods improve digestive function, aiding the elimination of toxins, this reduces the backflow of toxins to the liver. If your digestion isn’t eliminating properly the toxins released in the bile can be reabsorbed by the intestinal lining and taken back to the liver instead of being released from the body via the stool. Examples include: dandelion leaves chopped in salads, most salad greens and green vegetables are bitter.
4. Eat organic fresh produce and meat The cleaner your foods are (meaning organic, biodynamically grown, spray free) the better. Homegrown is best or fresh from the local markets is a good second option. Clean foods have less chemicals, reducing the burden on your liver they also tend to have higher nutritional value which equals more healing potential and more energy and as an added bonus and they also taste better :)
5. Take a break from alcohol Your liver can only cope with drinking a small amount of alcohol at a time. As alcohol is broken down in the liver, a number of potentially dangerous by-products are generated which over time can lead to the liver becoming burdened, fatty and damaged. Fatty liver is very common and causes inflammation and scarring in the liver. Even though alcohols is accepted in many cultures it is a potent liver toxin and best avoided as much as possible.
6. Only use good quality cold pressed oils Oils made from olives, seeds and nuts need to be cold pressed as these oils are easily damaged by the heat caused by other extraction styles. When an oil isn’t cold pressed it’s more like to have an increased level of trans fats present. Trans fats or damaged fats are linked to increased likelihood of heart disease diabetes, gallstones, and they put an increased burden on the liver to process them.
7. Fry in a small amount of saturated fat The reason for this is liquid oils are unstable when heated and turn to trans-fats so the best was to fry is to use a small amount of butter, ghee, coconut or lard. Too much fat burdens the liver so it’s best to limit fat intake, that being said some saturated and plant fats are required each day. Having 1 teaspoon of fat per meal is an good average.
8. Eat cruciferous vegetables They contain high levels of sulphur which aids liver detoxification and are rich in diindolylmethane (DIM), which is effective in detoxifying excess oestrogen aiding hormone balance. Examples include: cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, swede, turnips, kale and watercress.
9. Avoid plastics as much as possible Plastics are made of chemicals that leech into your food and drinks these toxins called xenoestrogens mimic oestrogen in the body, contributing to hormonal imbalance. It’s important to not use plastic water bottles, cling film or to heat or freeze food in plastic container or use plastic coated cookware such as teflon.
10. Drink 8 glasses of clean, purified water per day
We have all heard it many times here’s why; water flushes the liver of toxins, it aids digestion and prevents constipation. If you are dehydrated your also more likely to overeat, and quench your thirst with alcoholic or sugary beverages.
Your water has to be clear from common toxins found in city water supplies such as chlorine and fluoride pesticides and heavy metals. There is no point trying to improve your health while your putting dirty water into your system. One of my favourite sayings is get a filter or become a filter. I know what I’d prefer.
What you eat 90% of the time results in either good or bad health. So it makes sense that if you eat good quality, healthy foods you get healthy or if you choose to eat poor quality, junky foods you become sick. The tips given above combine to provide you a simple and healthy way of eating that supports optimal liver health, vitality and longevity!
If you want to know how naturopathy can help you further improve your health please feel welcome to book a 20 min complimentary health spark session with me at https://www.hmnaturopath.com.au/book-online