The first step in supporting proper liver function is following a diet high in organic, plant-based foods such as colorful vegetables, whole grains, legumes, fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, and cold pressed oils. Such a diet provides a variety of essential nutrients that the liver needs to clear toxins from the body, balance the immune response, and promote optimal digestion and nutrient assimilation.
The following substances may interfere with healthy liver function:
- Excess saturated fats (especially from animal products like butter, cream, and fatty meats)
- Hydrogenated fats/oils (also known as trans fats)
- Non-orgnaic meats, poultry, eggs, and dairy
- Refined sugars
- Alcohol, drugs, and coffee
- High sulfur-containing foods like garlic and onions
- Water-soluable fibers such as pears, oats, apples and legumes (beans)
- Cruciferous vegetables: Brussel sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kal
- Artichokes, beets, carrots, dandelion
- Herbs and spices such as turmeric, cinnamon, and licorice
Other potentially helpful foods and herbs:
- Chicory root
- Citrus fruit oils
- Green tea
- Jerusalem artichoke
- Parsley leaf
- Stinging nettle
- Red beet and carrot juice: red beets and mixed with 1/2 cup carrots
- Dandelion or Burdock root tea: steep 1 teaspoon in 1 pint boiling water for 20 minutes
- Water with fresh lemon juice
- A high potency multivitamin and mineral can help protect against toxin exposure. Antioxidants like vitamin C, beta-carotene, and vitamin E protect the liver against damage, as well as aiding in the liver’s detoxification process. B vitamins, calcium, and trace minerals also play a role in the elimination of heavy metals and other toxic compounds.
- Lipotropic nutrients (compounds that stimulate the flow of bile and fat to and from the liver) such as choline, betaine, methionine, vitamin B6, folic acid, and vitamin B12 are important. They have a “decongesting” effect on the liver, promoting both improved liver function and fat metabolism.
- Milk thistle (Silybum marianum), also known as silymarin, is a group of flavonoid compounds that exerts a protective effect on the liver against damage and enhances the detoxification process.
- Silymarin prevents liver damage and promotes live regeneration by acting as an antioxidant; this has been demonstrated in numerous experimental studies.
- Schisandra chinensis promotes detoxification and also stimulates liver regeneration.
- Deep breathing exercises: inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 12, and exhale for a count of 8. Start with 2 minutes and work up to 5-10 minutes each day.
- Take a brisk wak or engage in other cardiovascular exercise 20-30 minutes each day.
- Drink clean filtered water (at least 2 quarts a day).
- Avoid aluminum cookware; try stainless steel instead.