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24 Natural Ways To Cleanse Your Liver

Your liver is critical in keeping your body safe and clean.

Our livers have to process metabolic waste that is created by our own cells along with an overflow of industrial pollutants that most of our ancestors never had to deal with. Toxic synthetic chemicals and dangerous heavy metals are in our food, water, and air.

These enemies of your body can cause tremendous harm and ill-health. Many synthetic chemicals can mutate your DNA, thereby changing the function of your cells and also increasing the chance that they become cancerous. Pollutants can harm the health of your organs via the damaging processes of mutation and oxidative stress throughout your body.

A healthy liver will help cleanse these pollutants out of your body.

Key Point

Pollutants can harm the health of your organs via the damaging processes of mutation and oxidative stress throughout your body.

A healthy liver will help cleanse these pollutants out of your body.

And cleansing is indeed one of the most important functions of a liver. A healthy liver cleanses out unneeded substances that your own body creates. For instance, the liver flushes out excess hormones like estrogen and a vast array of unneeded metabolites produced by normal living. And the detoxification enzymes in the liver are also responsible for cleansing toxicants from the outside world and passing them to the intestines or bladder for elimination.

The liver also has many other functions - medical textbooks put the liver’s known functions in the human body at around 500! Just a few examples of things that the liver does - stores important nutrients for months or years, manages blood sugar, synthesizes needed proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, is involved in immune function, and makes critical components of the blood.

Keep It Cleansing!

So how do you keep your liver cleansing effectively? Nutrition, natural compounds, and lifestyle play a very important role in encouraging healthy cleansing. This ebook will give you 24 steps to keep your organ healthy, happy, and working for you.

Foods that Cleanse the Liver

1. Eat Broccoli

This green veggie is famous for aiding liver health. Broccoli is one of the most powerful liver cleansing foods you can eat*. This is because it activates two detoxification pathways in the liver: the phase II enzymes and conjugase enzymes [1][2].

Phase II detoxification enzymes powerfully and effectively detoxify harmful substances from the liver. If phase II enzymes are not activated, the liver uses phase I enzymes, which are not as effective as phase II enzymes and can actually make some toxins more damaging to the body than they would have been in the absence of detoxification enzymes.

Broccoli can also stimulate and recycle the other antioxidants in your body, bolstering your protective capabilities* [2]. Because of these effects, broccoli is referred to as a “bifunctional” detoxifying agent because of the fact that it activates these two powerful detoxifying pathways.

2. Eat Omega 3 Fatty Acids (Fish, Olive Oil, Avocado, Leafy Greens etc.)

Long-chain polyunsaturated fats are found in seafood and healthy plant foods like leafy greens, nuts, seeds and olives and avocados [3]. These fats have been shown to support liver health. The mediterranean diet has been associated with healthier livers and the omega 3 fat content of these diets is thought to be responsible for much of this association [3].

Diets low in omega 3 fats may increase liver inflammation and more fat deposits in the liver [3]. Biopsies of livers have shown that lower amounts of omega 3 fats causes more severe inflammation [3]. And in children that have liver disease, it was found that few of them consumed recommended amounts of omega 3s [3].

Omega 3s are known to be integral in preventing excessive inflammation in the body and there are many mechanisms by which they exert their anti-inflammatory effects [4]. For instance, omega 3s increase anti-inflammatory signals in the body and generate resolvins, which are compounds that end inflammation once it has occurred [4].

3. Walnuts

Walnuts have been specifically shown to benefit liver health in numerous studies. Researchers cite the omega 3 fats in walnuts as responsible its liver benefits [5]. In order to build healthy cell membranes, the liver prefers healthy fats like those in walnuts [5]. With healthier cell membranes, liver will function more optimally. Omega 3 fats also decrease the inappropriate buildup of fats in the liver that signals liver disease [5].

In rats, walnuts do just that - they fight fatty liver disease and might even change the expression of genes in the liver that relate to fatty deposition* [5]. In mice, walnuts reduce the amount of fat accumulation in the liver and reduced inflammatory gene expression* [6].

An important review on the role of diet in liver disease notes that nuts in general are among the most “promising” foods for promoting liver health [7]. And out of all nuts, walnuts contain the highest amount of healthy fats and antioxidants, so they are especially helpful in promoting liver health* [7].

4. Eat Schisandra Fruit

This fruit has been used since ancient times in traditional Chinese medicine to fight a variety of disorders and is known have having a unique variety of combined flavors when eaten such as sweet, sour, and bitter.

Schisandra is great for the liver. In humans, consumption of the fruit extract clearly showed that fatty liver disease was improved, liver antioxidant defenses increased, and inflammatory markers also decreased [8]. Schisandra even promotes liver regeneration, as it stimulates the growth of liver cells [9]. Evidently, it activates “liver regeneration-related genes”  and can help liver repair after injury [9].

The fruit has also been evidenced to prevent alcohol-induced fatty liver disease [10].

5. Eat Onions

Onions protect your liver. In rats poisoned with the toxic metal cadmium, onion consumption prevented an array of biomarkers (or indications) of liver stress [11]. Researchers noted that onion might have increased the antioxidant defenses of the livers [11].

Consumption of onion and garlic together “significant decrease[d]” several signs of liver disease, and reduced oxidative stress and damage to liver cells in rats [12].

The antioxidant effects of onion might be powerful in fighting ill-health and damage to the liver. Onions contain quercetin, a flavonoid antioxidant, and have been shown to increase the antioxidant capacity (or the ability to fight damaging oxidative stress) [13].

6. Drink Organic Green Tea

Similarly to cruciferous vegetables, green tea has consistently been shown in research to activate phase II detoxification enzymes that protect and clean the liver [14].

A systematic review of green tea confirmed that drinking green tea has a protective effect on the liver and helps fight liver diseases [15]. The positive effects of green tea were seen in studies in the West and in China [15]. 

7. Garlic

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 [16].

When carcinogens were given to rats, garlic reversed the drop in glutathione in the liver [17]. Garlic extract was also evidenced to speed up the detoxification of carcinogens from the liver [17].

Garlic also promotes detoxifying phase II enzymes [18]. This action has been evidenced to also speed up the detoxification of carcinogens from the liver [18]. Garlic also contains a substantial amount of selenium, which is helpful with detoxification and facilitates the creation of glutathione [18].

8. Artichoke

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 rats, artichoke did indeed  “increase... total bile acid concentration” [19]. Hamsters also had their bile release increased by artichokes [20].

In one human case study, artichoke tea might have improved the liver health of a woman who developed liver toxicity from an anti-fungal drug [21].

9. Dandelion

Dandelion is another food that gets bile moving*! It’s a little bitter but that bitter taste triggers the release of bile and this green can be a nice compliment to many meals*.

If bile isn’t released out of the liver and gallbladder, toxins can build up in the liver and cause damage [22]. Researchers claim the following about dandelion - “its regular ingestion helps the flow of bile and thus reduces the adverse effects of bile stagnation” [23].

10. Cooked Tomatoes

Tomatoes contain a carotenoid antioxidant called lycopene.

Lycopene is known for its ability to induce phase II detoxification enzymes [24]. 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 [24]. We absorb more more of the lycopene, though, when the tomatoes are cooked [24]. So enjoy some pasta with tomato sauce.

11. 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 like those in tobacco smoke or cooked meat [25].

Chlorophyll’s detoxification abilities, in this sense, are more direct than foods that enhance liver detox enzymes. Perhaps by soaking up toxins, chlorophyll can aid and relieve the clean-up burdens of the liver*.

Herbs that Cleanse the Liver

Numerous safe, healthy, and medicinal herbs and natural compounds can give powerful boosts to liver health. Some herbs have been used for thousands of years to enhance the liver’s health and performance. Now modern research has verified traditional usage.

12. Milk Thistle

In humans, milk thistle has been shown to decrease liver weight and researchers believe this is probably because abnormal fat accumulation, a sign of liver damage, was prevented [26]. In other words, liver damage might have been stopped. In animal studies, milk thistle significantly increases the cleansing, protective, and detoxifying antioxidant glutathione in the liver [27].

Since the active component of milk thistle, silybin, can penetrate cell membranes easily, it works its protective, cleansing free-radical scavenging abilities in the inside of cells where it matters [27].

13. Turmeric

Turmeric, and its main active component curcumin, have demonstrated antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and modulates enzymes in the body that promote these healthy effects* [28].

In a placebo-controlled human trial regarding fatty liver disease, curcumin (in turmeric) was successful in causing a “78.9% improvement”  versus a “27.5% improvement in the placebo group” in relation to fat liver content (an indicator of liver disease) [29]. Numerous other liver biomarkers were positively affected as well [29]. Importantly, this study also demonstrated that curcumin caused significant reductions in body mass index, cholesterol, and triglycerides [29].

14. Selenium

Way back in 1986, researchers noted that selenium is needed for the liver to produce adequate glutathione to protect itself and detoxify harmful substances [30]. Selenium not not plays a big role in protecting the tissues of our bodies, as well as cleansing them of oxidants - it also has been evidenced to help repair damage by “increasing the activity of [DNA] repair enzymes” [31].

15. Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha Lipoic Acid naturally exists in the human body, is an important antioxidant, and plays a critical role in the production of energy inside our cells. The liver, like any other organ, needs energy to fulfill its duties.

This antioxidant is known for regenerating and increasing numerous antioxidants in human trials and it demonstrated liver-protecting effects in mice by increasing numerous antioxidants in liver tissue and decreasing signs of liver damage* [32].

16. Green Tea

The tea plant is a wonderfully medicinal herb in so many ways. And research indicates that it can benefit liver health as well.

Green tea has consistently been shown in research to activate phase II detoxification enzymes that protect and clean the liver* [33]. Phase II enzymes are needed to safely evacuate toxic substances from the body.

A systematic review of green tea confirmed that drinking green tea has a protective effect on the liver and helps reduce the chance of liver diseases* [34]. The positive effects of green tea were seen in studies in the West and in China - researchers say that there is “a significant protective role of green tea against various liver diseases” [34]. 

17. N-Acetyl Cysteine (NAC)

This sulphurous amino acid derivative is so powerful at protecting and cleansing the liver, that hospitals use it to prevent liver failure in people who have overdosed on over-the-counter painkillers [35]. NAC is a nutritional supplement and a sulfur compound that will hugely benefit your liver.

The reason why n-acetyl cysteine is so supportive of the liver is because it is a precursor of glutathione, the set of antioxidants that the liver uses to detoxify harmful and unneeded substances.

In humans, NAC improved “function” of livers in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease [36]. In rats, NAC prevented “the deleterious effects” of toxins on livers [37]. There are also indications that NAC can prevent cell death of liver cells [38].

18. Choline Bitartrate

Choline is an “essential component of the human diet” and is essential in creating healthy membranes in all human cells [39]. Way back in 1935, researchers noted the “association between a low-choline diet and fatty infiltration of the liver [fatty liver disease]” [39]. 

Researchers state straightforwardly: “Humans eating diets low in choline develop fatty liver and liver damage” [40]. Its been found that choline actually modifies genes that can determine whether the liver becomes diseased or not* [40]. And some people have genetic handicaps at related to using choline that make their need for dietary choline higher [40].

Research also seems to suggest that choline deficiency can make the liver less able to deal with and more sensitive to toxic substances [40].

19. Folic Acid

Folate is another nutrient that appears to be important in liver function and protection. Researchers say that folate deficiency “decrease[s] antioxidant defense as well as DNA stability” [41].

20. Boldo Leaf

This South American herb has been evidenced to protect the livers of mice from oxidative damage [42]. Boldo leaf also protects healthy liver cells in mice against a toxic anti-cancer drug [43].

21. Vitamin C

You know that you need this antioxidant vitamin. Your liver needs it too. Scientists have concluded that vitamin C plays an important role in protecting the liver [44].

Vitamin C has shown efficacy in humans in improving fatty liver disease [45]. Researchers went as far to say that vitamin C and vitamin E represent  “safe, inexpensive and effective” options for improving liver health* [45].

Don’t Forget to Practice a Healthy Lifestyle as Well

22. Get Sleep

    Sleep deprivation is implicated in increased damage and oxidative stress to the liver [46]. So you have to get adequate sleep for your liver to regenerate itself properly*.

    23. Get Some Exercise

      Researchers have shown that aerobic exercise can improve measurements of liver enzymes in people with fatty liver disease [47]. Researchers concluded that regular aerobic exercise “can be helpful” alongside medical treatment in improving liver function [47]. Generally, exercise relates to liver health as being, “proved safe and probably beneficial” [48].

        24. Cut Out the Stress

          Find ways to reduce stress because psychological stress can be bad for liver health. In people with liver diseases, psychological stress has been correlated with worsening condition of the liver and stress might even increase damaging inflammation in the liver [49].

          Keep Your Liver Cleansing Well

          Now that you have all this knowledge about how nutrition, herbs, and lifestyle affect your liver, implement it!

          Our bodies are at war with environmental pollutants. So you have to keep your army (your liver) strong and vigorous so that it can remove toxic enemies before they do you harm.

          Eat right, live healthfully, and utilize the herbs and natural ingredients that give your liver a boost.