Taking Care of Your Liver

The liver performs a number of essential functions in the body. It is vital for overall health. 

The liver is responsible for producing proteins, cholesterol and bile, and for storing vitamins, minerals and even carbohydrate. It also breaks down ingested toxins such as medications, alcohol and natural byproducts of your metabolism. Taking care of your liver is vital to stay healthy.

1. Coffee

GREAT news for the coffee lovers among us: the research indicates that coffee may be good for the liver, especially because it may protect against conditions such as fatty liver disease and even cancer. 

A 2014 study in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology suggested that the protective effects of caffeine are due to its influence on liver enzymes.  Coffee seems to reduce the buildup of fat in the liver, as well as increase the number of protective antioxidants (including glutathione) in the liver. Finally, coffee has been shown to decrease inflammation, which is a well-known risk factor for many conditions. 

2. Green Tea

Green tea may be more of an acquired taste for some, but there is no discounting the many health benefits it offers. Green tea has been shown to help with weight management, blood sugar balance, cancer-prevention and more. In relation to liver health, a 2015 study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology found that green tea may help with reducing overall fat content of the liver, improve liver enzymes and may fight against oxidative stress.

Similar benefits have been found for black tea, but green tea seems to have more potent effects. 

3. Grapefruit

Once touted as the ultimate “diet-friendly” breakfast food, grapefruit contains antioxidants that naturally protect the liver. Grapefruit has been shown to protect the liver in two ways: (1) reducing inflammation and (2) protecting the cells of the liver. The antioxidants in grapefruit are responsible for preventing the development of fibrosis in the liver, and in animal studies they have been shown to improve the liver’s ability to metabolize alcohol. Sadly this benefit has not been seen for humans as of yet. 

It is worth noting that Grapefruit may interfere with some common medications including Statins, certain Blood Pressure medications and more. It is worth checking with your healthcare practitioner if increasing your grapefruit intake will interfere with your medications. 

4. Berries

Berries are packed full of antioxidants that are liver protective. Whole berries, or even their extracts, may also improve the livers immune and antioxidant responses. Whilst more human studies are needed on the specific mechanisms of how berries impact liver health, as low-calorie but nutrient-dense foods it seems wise to include them regularly as part of a healthy diet. 

5. Beetroot Juice

Beetroot juice is naturally rich in both nitrates and antioxidants. These may benefit your heart health and reduce both oxidative stress and inflammation. We often recommend beetroot juice for lowering blood pressure and increasing blood flow around the body. 

Beetroot juice seems to carry the same benefits for liver health. Research has also shown an increase in natural liver detoxification enzymes following beetroot juice ingestion. Whilst eating whole beets may carry the same benefit, more research has been conducted on the juice itself, which fortunately is relatively easy to find.

6. Oats

Oats are a staple breakfast in many households, and they have been proven time and time again to be a healthy, fibre-rich option. Whilst fibre is important for gut health, it seems that specific fibres in oats called beta-glucans may be especially helpful for the liver. 

Beta glucans are very biologically active in the body. They are well known modulators of the immune system, they fight inflammation and may help with weight management and blood sugar balance. In animal studies beta-glucans also appear to reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver, which would be beneficial for those with fatty liver disease. However more studies are needed.

7. Nuts

Eating nuts may be the most simple way to keep the liver healthy and prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Nuts contain unsaturated fatty acids, vitamin E and antioxidants. All of these reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Enjoy a handful a day to experience the benefit.

8. Fatty Fish (or plant-based sources of Omega 3 Fatty Acids)

A study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology showed that consuming fatty fish or fish oil supplements may reduce the impact of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Fatty fish is rich in Omega 3 fatty acids which reduce inflammation in the body. These fats are particularly helpful for liver health as they prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver, and maintain enzyme levels. 

As a heath tip, try to consume fatty fish such as salmon or herring two or more times per week. Alternatively, consider taking a fish oil supplement. For vegans and vegetarians, plant-based supplements are available. 

9. Generally: Fruits and Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are rich in fibre, vitamins, minerals and many antioxidants that generally improve overall health including your liver. Particularly Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to improve liver detoxification processes and decrease oxidative stress. 

Final Thoughts

Protecting your liver is important for long term health. It is an important organ that performs many essential functions in the body. It’s wise to do what you can to protect your liver. Aim to include as many of the foods above as possible, or consider supplementing with high quality extracts that can give you the same benefits. 

Here are some of our favourite liver support supplements:

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