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by Nadia Kumentas September 07, 2017

Your liver works hard to keep you healthy, and one of the best ways to help it keep running in tip-top shape is to help support it with these powerful liver detox foods!  As you may know, the liver is a key player in detoxification — its role is to convert nutrients from our diets into substances that the body can use and to remove toxic substances and convert them into harmless ones. It is found in the upper abdomen right below the diaphragm and flows bile and blood through to the gallbladder.

How does your liver help you detox?

Blood from the digestive organs flows into the liver, carrying nutrients, medication, and toxic substances. This is how your liver removes alcohol from your blood and gets rid of byproducts.  By including the following detox foods in your regular diet, you can help protect your liver from damage as well as help it function optimally. The liver is necessary for metabolizing fat, as well as many other roles central to the metabolic processes in the body.

Liver cells produce bile which is passed to the main bile duct, which carries it to the small intestine, where the bile is useful in the breakdown and absorption of fats. The liver also helps to regulate the level of sugar in your blood by storing excess blood sugar as glycogen. So, as you can see the liver is pivotal in running the body, helping you digest and absorb nutrients. One sign of an unhealthy liver is if your ability to digest fats is significantly affected. But what do you do then? Well, there are a number of foods that support liver detoxification and help bring your liver back to top health.

Liver Detox Foods: Garlic

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A lot of people have an opinion about garlic, whether they love to put it on everything or they hate it for its ability to stink up our breath. But the truth is that garlic is good for you, and especially your liver. It contains selenium, arginine, vitamin B6, and vitamin C. Selenium helps the liver in the detoxification process by increasing the action of antioxidants.

Arginine is an amino acid that relaxes the blood vessels which helps with blood pressure in the liver. Vitamin B6 acts as an anti-inflammatory in the liver, and vitamin C prevents cellular oxidation that leads to liver cell damage. 

Liver Detox Foods: Turmeric

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You might have heard of the magic of turmeric, but probably didn’t know it was also great for your liver. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent. It supports liver detoxification by rejuvenating liver cells and preventing toxins and alcohol from being converted into harsh compounds that damage the liver. It may also help increase the flow of bile, acting as a liver cleanser.

Liver Detox Foods: Matcha Green Tea

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Green tea is well known for its anticancer properties, and new research has shown that green tea helps support liver and detoxification function as well. According to researchers at Arizona Cancer Center, concentrated compounds found in green tea dramatically boosted production of a group of key detoxification enzymes in people with low levels of these beneficial proteins. The study found that catechins in amounts equal to that found in 8-16 cups of green tea boosted production of the enzymes, which belong to the glutathione S-transferase (GST) family, by as much as 80 percent in some participants.

 

These findings suggest that a green tea concentrate or even daily consumption of matcha, a more potent form of green tea,  might help some people strengthen their defense against toxins capable of causing cancer.

Liver Detox Foods: Avocados

liver detox foods, detox tea

Already considered a superfood by some, the avocado has more to offer than almost any other food. They contain glutathione which is necessary for detoxing the liver, as well as vitamin C and vitamin E which act as antioxidants to neutralize free radicals and protect liver cells from damage. Additionally, the vitamin E and vitamin K serve anti-inflammatory purposes, helping to protect the liver. 

Liver Detox Foods: Cruciferous Vegetables

liver detox foods, detox tea

Vegetables are also great for your overall liver health, especially from the cruciferous family. Ones to eat include, spinach, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts. Anything green and leafy helps protect the liver by protecting the liver against free radical damage as well as helps the liver to product key detoxification enzymes.

Liver Detox Foods: Grapefruit

liver detox foods, detox tea

Grapefruit is a sweet citrus fruit that packs a real punch when it comes to liver health. It contains vitamin C which is key to preventing cellular oxidation, and glutathione, which is involved in assisting the liver in the production of detox enzymes. There are 70 milligrams of glutathione in a single grapefruit, and it is used in several processes in the body, like tissue repair, and production of chemicals and proteins that the body needs. 

Liver Detox Foods: Beets

liver detox foods, detox tea

Regular consumption of beets which contain betaine and polyphenols in this study enhanced the liver’s ability to produce glutathione and superoxide dismutase, both key factors in daily detoxification.  Because of their powerful ability to enhance detoxification, this study showed a protective benefit against toxic chemicals, like carcinogens. Betalains, the antioxidant in beets, has been shown to have anti-cancer effects —  t his study showed the antioxidant from beets caused death of leukemia cells.  And another study suggested beet juice consumption may prevent lung and skin cancers.

Bonus detox support: Walnuts

You might not regularly eat walnuts but you definitely should because they contain arginine, glutathione, omega-3 fatty acids, as well as being chalked full of antioxidants. The walnuts ample antioxidants neutralize free radicals, and they help protect against fat accumulation in the liver. It’s also important to eat walnuts because they assist in building strong cell membranes around the liver cells. 

So, if you plan on helping to support your liver — a major detoxification organ —the best place to start is with these foods.  Your liver needs arginine, and glutathione as wells as a wide variety of antioxidant, nutrients and vitamins. Oh and of course there's always our nifty 14 or 28 Day Detox programs formulated by myself, a naturopathic doctor to help you kick start some lean, clean detoxing goodness.  

 

liver detox foods, detox tea

 

 

Sources: 

  1. PubMed Health. How does the liver work?  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0072577/ Published: August 22, 2016. Accessed: November 30, 2016.
  2. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070810194923.htm
  3. Youtube. 16 foods that detox/cleanse liver naturally  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fzfYX5GKcm0 Published: November 18, 2015. Accessed: November 30, 2016.
  4. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/jnme/2015/760689/
  5. http://www.acudoc.com/phytonutrients%20and%20detoxification.PDF
  6. http://www.jillcarnahan.com/2014/07/13/5-scientific-benefits-beets/  
Nadia Kumentas
Nadia Kumentas

Naturopathic doctor, tea drinker, yoga doer, animal lover, and plant enthusiast. Nadia is also the co-founder of two kick-ass start-ups: Affect Health a medicinal tea company, and Mingo a UTI defence drink mix.



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