Your liver is critical for keeping your body detoxified. One of its most important functions is cleansing. A healthy liver is supposed to cleanse toxicants (toxic substances in food, water, and air) that you intake as well as toxins that your body creates. For instance, the liver flushes out excess hormones like estrogen and a vast array of unnecessary metabolites produced by normal living.
Your liver has many other purposes besides detoxification, but this ability is especially important in modern times because of all the environmental pollutants we are exposed to.
Our ancestors’ livers did not have to process nearly as many toxic pollutants as our livers process today
So in order to keep our livers healthy and toxic things moving out of our bodies, it is imperative that we treat our livers right!
One way to treat your liver right is to eat foods that enhance your liver’s cleansing abilities.
Here’s a list of helpful foods:
Cruciferous vegetables are well known for having detoxification effects on the liver. In test tube experiments, science has recently demonstrated the incredible effects of cruciferous compounds—wide ranging abilities—like those against excess cell growth 1,2.
But importantly, broccoli has powerful detoxification-supporting effects on the liver, and scientists have identified the active compounds that are responsible for these effects. Glucosinolates are compounds in broccoli that are transformed to indole-3-carbinol (I3C) and diindolylmethane (DIM) when humans ingest them 1.
I3C and DIM induce phase I and Phase II detoxification enzymes that are crucial for the clearing of toxins from the liver and body 3. Phase II enzymes especially help transform dangerous toxins and carcinogens into compounds that can be safely excreted in urine or feces.
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Garlic has long been considered a cleansing and therapeutic food in many respects. It contains sulfurous compounds in it, and importantly, sulfur feeds the main detoxifying antioxidant in the liver, glutathione 5.
When carcinogens were given to rats, garlic reversed the decrease in the glutathione level in the liver 4. Garlic extract was also evidenced to speed up the detoxification of carcinogens from the liver 4.
In addition, garlic promotes detoxifying phase II enzymes 6. This action has also been evidenced to speed up the detoxification of carcinogens from the liver 6. Garlic also contains a substantial amount of selenium, which is helpful with detoxification and facilitates the creation of glutathione 6.
3. Leafy Green Veggies
Our closest relatives in nature, primates, eat lots of leaves. So should we! Because they’re really good for us.
Leafy greens like lettuces contain plenty of chlorophyll (the green stuff) which has demonstrated the ability to bind to numerous carcinogens that humans might be exposed to, such as those in tobacco smoke or cooked meat 7.
The detoxification abilities of chlorophyll, in this sense, are more direct than foods that enhance liver detox enzymes. Perhaps by soaking up toxins, chlorophyll can aid and relieve the burdens the liver endures to clean up these poisons.
There is some evidence that cabbage has profoundly protective effects on the liver 8. It may be able to lower liver inflammation, and it is thought that cabbage might have “potential therapeutic effects”, thus protecting against liver “injury” 8. The colorful antioxidants in red cabbage were thought to be responsible for the therapeutic effects in this case.
Cabbage also contains sulfurous compounds that are precursors to the liver antioxidant glutathione 9.
Lemons are rich in vitamin C, which has shown efficacy in improving fatty liver disease in humans 12. Researchers went as far as to say that vitamin C and vitamin E represent “safe, inexpensive and effective” options for improving liver health 12.
One part of effectively detoxifying the liver involves the successful release of bile (which carries toxins) from the liver and gallbladder into the intestines. Artichoke has long been thought of a stimulating food that releases bile, and modern research supports this view.
In one human case study, artichoke tea might have improved the liver health of a woman who developed liver toxicity from an antifungal drug 15.
Dandelion is another food that gets bile moving! It’s a little bitter, but that bitter taste triggers the release of bile. This green can be a nice compliment to many meals.
If bile isn’t released from the liver and gallbladder, toxins can build up in the liver and cause damage 16. Researchers claim the following about dandelion: “[I]ts regular ingestion helps the flow of bile and thus reduces the adverse effects of bile stagnation” 17.
8. Cooked Tomatoes
Tomatoes contain a carotenoid antioxidant called lycopene.
Lycopene is known for its ability to induce phase II detoxification enzymes 18. It’s also important to note that lycopene is well absorbed throughout the human body, so it definitely “circulates through and accumulates” in the liver where it can activate phase II enzymes 18. We absorb more lycopene, though, from cooked tomatoes 18. So enjoy some pasta with tomato sauce.
Apples are another food that have been shown to increase phase II enzymes in the liver 19. So munch away!
Soybeans might be able to improve various parameters of liver health 20. After gathering evidence from tests on rats, researchers say that soy might decrease excessive fat content in the liver as well as reduce “oxidative stress and inflammation” 20.
Does your liver need a detox?
Poor diet and lifestyle choices, as well as everyday pollutants and toxins can have a harmful effect on your liver.
After all, it’s job is to act like one big detox factory. But sometimes it can get overloaded and could use a little help.
Help your liver perform at its best with a clean and natural detox.
Click here to download the FREE report by Nutritionist Evan Burns, which reveals how to cleanse and detox your liver in 3 steps. Yours FREE for a limited time.