Your liver is a natural detox because it removes toxins and cleanses the blood. If you don't take care of it, your entire body could suffer. Around 100 million Americans suffer from fatty liver disease, and there is no known treatment, according to the American Liver Foundation.
If you want to prevent liver disease or stop it from growing into cirrhosis or cancer, it can be a good idea to focus on your diet. A quick change to your cooking oil or bread can improve the organ in the long run. Learn which fruits, vegetables, nuts, and drinks can help to naturally cleanse your liver.
Crack Walnuts For Liver Health
Compared to other nuts, walnuts have a higher amount of omega-3 fatty acids. For fatty liver disease, this is a huge health benefit. Walnuts can improve cholesterol levels, and they provide antioxidants for the liver, according to the World Journal of Gastroenterology. Both may soothe symptoms of fatty liver disease.
In 2015, study participants who ate walnuts experienced better liver production, according to scientists. Plus, according to research in BMJ Open, nut-eaters have a lower risk of getting fatty liver disease. Go nuts for walnuts!
Cook With Olive Oil
In 2017, Chilean researchers discovered that olive oil might reduce the amount of fat in the body. This is good news for the liver. Hydroxytyrosol, a compound in olive oil, stabilizes the enzymes that would otherwise cause fatty liver disease. The obese rats that took hydroxytyrosol had the same liver enzyme markers as normal rats.
Olive oil may also protect the liver, says 2018 research. The chemicals in oil stop harmful chemicals and release antioxidants, which lowers the inflammation in the liver. That said, too much olive oil may increase your risk, so you should watch your portion sizes.
Juice A Lemon For Your Liver
Adding lemon to your water isn't just tasty; it can benefit your body. In mice, lemon juice can alleviate injuries in the liver, according to BioMed Research International. Researchers say that lemon has "numerous beneficial bioactive compositions," including vitamin C, pectin, calcium, and B vitamins.
Although some health websites encourage a lemon detox for the liver, there is no scientific evidence that these detoxes work. Lemon has promising antioxidants that can lower inflammation, says the Frontiers in Physiology. You can sprinkle some lemon juice into salads or drinks, but don't overdo it.
Go Grapes Or Go Home
For improved liver function, eat some grapes. During a 2010 study, participants with fatty liver disease ate grape seed extract for three months, and they experienced better organ function. Grapes supply resveratrol, an antioxidant that does wonders for the liver.
In 2011, researchers at the University of Queensland found that grapes may remove some of the burden your liver is taking on. According to scientists, grapes may ease disease symptoms and delay the progression of liver failure. For more anti-inflammatory powers, buy red or purple grapes.
Switch From White Bread To Whole Grains
If you haven't switched from white pasta and bread to whole wheat, you may want to do so for your liver. According to a 2019 study in JAMA Oncology, whole grains can lower your chance of liver cancer by 37%. The nutrients in whole grains stabilize inflammation and insulin, which are both markers of liver cancer, says epidemiologist Xuehong Zhang.
Whole grains can also reduce your risk of fatty liver disease, says the International Journal of Endocrinology. Oats, rye, barley, brown rice, and wheat pasta may significantly improve your chances of avoiding liver disease.
Carrots Help Your Liver Function
Carrots are incredibly healthy, and eating them can improve your liver. During a 2016 study in Preventive Nutrition and Food Science, carrots supported liver function in rats. Vitamin A can also protect your liver, according to the European Journal of Immunology, and one medium carrot contains 203% of your daily recommended vitamin A.
The orange color of carrots comes from the pigment beta-carotene, which removes wastes from the body. According to a 2013 animal study in Hepatobiliary Surgery and Nutrition, beta-carotene flushes waste out of the liver. That's all the more reason to eat carrots.
Wake Up And Smell The Coffee
According to research, coffee supplies antioxidants that may protect your internal organs. Scientists reviewed 20 years' worth of studies in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, and they determined that coffee could slow the development in cirrhosis. It also lowers inflammation in those with chronic liver disease.
After performing a 2016 study, researchers saw a lower mortality rate among coffee-drinkers. When patients with fatty liver disease drank at least three cups of coffee per day, they were less likely to acquire cirrhosis. Not bad for your morning cup of joe.
Grapefruit Guards Your Liver
Grapefruit has two antioxidants; naringin, and naringenin, which can guard the liver. During a 2011 animal study in the European Journal of Nutrition, scientists saw that grapefruit blocks certain chemicals in the body. In particular, it stops chemicals that oxidize in the liver, which prevents damage over time.
If you take certain medications, grapefruit may interfere with them, warns the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. Before you eat grapefruit for your liver, talk to your doctor. It's not the only fruit that can improve liver function!
Assuage Fatty Liver With Soy
Tofu and soy milk have many benefits other than being a lean protein. In 2012, researchers at the University of Illinois discovered that soy could reduce fat in the liver. Assistant professor Hong Chen said that soy might alleviate symptoms of fatty liver disease, such as lessening triglycerides by 20%.
In 2019, a scientific review in Nutrients explored over 130 studies. According to the researchers, soy can improve insulin, lower lipid levels, and improve liver function. You don't have to go vegetarian to enjoy the benefits of soy.
Drink Green Tea, But Not The Supplements
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants called catechins. During a Japanese study, patients who drank five to ten cups of green tea per day had healthier blood markers in their liver. In 2015, a PLoS ONE study noted that green tea soothes the symptoms of fatty liver in rats.
However, green tea extract--the supplement used in weight loss pills and vitamins--harms the liver. According to the National Institutes of Health, green tea extract accounts for 20% of liver injuries. If you don't want too many catechins to damage your liver, drink the tea.
Eat Turmeric, And Your Liver Will Thank You
The orange color of turmeric stems from a chemical called curcumin, which also provides many health benefits. According to research in Nutrients, curcumin inhibits enzymes that would otherwise damage the liver. This could guard against fatty liver disease, says Integrative Medicine Research.
Like green tea, turmeric can damage the liver in large doses. In 2018, a woman who took turmeric supplements for eight months experienced symptoms of hepatitis. While the increased enzymes are great in moderation, they should be consumed through the actual spice, not a supplement.
Order That Side Of Broccoli
Among the many health benefits that broccoli offers, you can add "liver support" to the list. Eating broccoli can reduce the chance of liver cancer in mice, according to the Journal of Nutrition. Elizabeth Jeffery, a professor at the University of Illinois, recommends eating broccoli with your meal if you can.
Science has established that cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, may prevent fatty liver disease. During a 2015 animal study, broccoli extract quickened the healing of a liver injury. There's no reason not to eat more broccoli.
Do The Cranberry Cleanse
In animal studies, cranberries have noticeable effects on the liver. Research in The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry stated that cranberries soothe inflammation in the liver. During another animal study, cranberries prevented toxicity and injury in the liver.
Cranberry juice can also cleanse the liver, according to the Journal of Medicinal Food. The berries raise triglyceride levels, which could build up fats over time and cause atherosclerosis. With a high amount of vitamin C, cranberries can also prevent excessive fat in the liver.
Livers Love Legumes
What do beans, lentils, and peas have in common? They're all legumes. These high-protein, high-fiber foods have a positive effect on the liver. In February 2019, Indian scientists discovered that eating legumes lowers one's chances of getting fatty liver disease.
For patients with the disease, legumes provide a liver-healthy source of protein, says registered dietitian and nutritionist Annie Guinane. Researchers add that obesity heightens a person's risk of fatty liver disease, and legumes can help someone manage weight while supporting their liver.
Garlic May Prevent Liver Disease
In Jiangsu, China, residents have low chances of liver disease. Researchers believe that they have garlic to thank. During a 2011 study, people who ate two or more servings of raw garlic had a lower chance of developing fatty liver disease. Garlic can also reduce fat mass, according to Advanced Biomedical Research.
Like many liver-helping foods, garlic assuages the oxidative stress in the body. In the Journal of Nutrition and Wellness, researchers reported that the amino acids in garlic protect the liver from toxins. As if anyone needs more reasons to eat garlic!
Cut Fat With A Spinach Salad
Spinach has a high amount of vitamin E, which is essential for liver health. In 2013, researchers announced that vitamin E could reduce the amount of harmful fat in the liver. Over time, this may prevent fatty liver disease, says associate professor Danny Manor.
In April 2019, research in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences also found spinach to be promising. Spinach decreased the weight of the liver in rats by lowering cholesterol and metabolizing fat. Although it doesn't affect inflammation, spinach still makes a noticeable difference in the liver.
Blueberries, The Ultimate Superfruit
Blueberries have been called a "superfruit" for their powerful antioxidants. According to research in the World Journal of Gastroenterology, blueberries may prevent and protect against hepatic fibrosis. In the same year, another study determined that blueberries can remove stress from the liver.
Blueberries may even guard against certain cancers. During a study in Food Chemistry, the berries inhibited dangerous activity in the liver and cancer cells. Eating blueberries could provide enough antioxidants to keep your liver safe. And they're just tasty!
Enjoy Avocado In Moderation
Like olive oil, avocado hosts healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. In 2000, scientists from the American Chemical Society presented the benefit of chemicals in avocados. According to them, the chemicals in avocado lowered liver damage in rats. "Besides offering taste and nutrition, avocados seem to improve liver health," says lead researcher Dr. Hirokazu Kawagishi.
But before you make avocado toast every morning, know that too much isn't a good thing. Scientists from the University of California, San Francisco, discovered that too many healthy fats might cause fatty liver disease. As the researchers say, everything in moderation.
Nothing Beats Beets
Beetroot, especially beet juice, has many anti-inflammatory benefits. According to a 2018 animal study in Nutrients, beets soothe oxidative stress in mice. During an earlier study, beet supplements reduced inflammation and increased detoxifying enzymes in the liver.
Because red beets remove cell damage, they can also protect the liver from disease, says the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Beets contain betaine, an amino acid that helps to remove fat from the liver. This may clean the liver and guard against disease, says The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Cabbage Has Liver-Healthy Compounds
Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage, contain a natural compound called indole. In February 2020, researchers announced that indole might prevent fatty liver disease, and it could also null some of the disease's effects. One head of cabbage provides 1200 mg of indole.
Scientists from Texas A&M AgriLife Research add that cabbage can reduce inflammation in the liver. Indole even has cancer-fighting properties, according to the National Cancer Institute. If you like leafy greens, try chopping some more cabbage and adding it to your diet.
Watch Out For Supplements With Green Tea Extract
Dietary supplements aren't hard to get, but they can harm your liver over time. In 2017, the National Institute of Health conducted a study linking liver damage to dietary supplements. According to the research, weight loss and bodybuilding supplements pose the most risk.
But those weren’t all. Some supplements made for depression, sexual performance, and digestive issues were also flagged. Of all the ingredients, the two most dangerous were anabolic steroids and, oddly enough, green tea extract. Check with your doctor if you’re concerned about your current supplements.
Even Herbal Supplements Can Hurt
Yes, some organic herbal supplements can damage your liver. "All-natural" does not mean non-toxic. In a 2017 study in Hepatology, researchers reported that herbal supplements caused 16% of liver disease cases in the past eight years. And more supplements are sold every year.
Which supplements pose the biggest threat? WebMD lists the main culprits: aloe vera, comfrey, cascara, chaparral, black cohosh, ephedra, and kava. Before you begin taking herbal supplements, talk to your doctor. Many of them can negatively interact with medications, as well.
As Always, Drink More Water
The liver processes your body's waste, and it needs water to flush the toxins through. As a result, dehydration can war out the liver. "As the liver loses hydration, it also loses its organ reserve, or what it uses to take care of the rest of the body," explains osteopathic physician Michele Neil-Sherwood.
Not only does water help liver function, but it also sweeps away toxic tissues, essentially cleaning the organ. According to liversupport.com, the best times to drink water are after waking up, before meals, and before and after exercise. These will nourish your liver when you're likely to be dehydrated.
It's Okay To Drink Coffee
Believe it or not, research has shown that drinking coffee may prevent liver disease. In 2016, the British Liver Trust examined several studies and concluded that coffee might protect against fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, and liver cancer. In one study, drinking two or more cups of coffee a day reduced the risk of cirrhosis by 66%.
That's not to say that you should over-caffeinate. Researchers agree that a moderate coffee intake is all you need, which the European Food Safety Authority defines as three to five cups a day. Just make sure your coffee isn't loaded with sugar!
Limit Sugar — Especially Corn Syrup
You've probably heard the health advice "don't eat too much sugar" before. But you may not have known that over-indulging in sugar could result in trouble. The biggest danger is high fructose corn syrup, another word for 55% fruit sugar and 45% glucose. According to Harvard Health Publishing, this chemical results in many liver complications.
The liver is the only organ that can process high fructose corn syrup. As a result, it builds up in the liver quickly. Through a process called lipogenesis, the liver cells create a fat, which can eventually add up to cause fatty liver disease.
Don't Procrastinate On Oral Health
Skipping a dental checkup may have more dire consequences than a cavity. Research suggests that there's a connection between tooth health and liver disease. In 2015, scientists examined thirteen studies and reported that oral disease was found in over 70% of patients with cirrhosis.
More research is needed to clarify the link between liver disease and oral health. Although researchers don't understand the connection, inflammation in the gums and teeth seems to affect the liver. Prioritize your dentist visits because those will help your liver, too.
Don't Lean On Over-The-Counter Painkillers
For years, researchers have warned people that taking too many over-the-counter painkillers can cause liver damage. The culprit is acetaminophen, which is found in drugs like Tylenol and Aspirin. When acetaminophen breaks down, it produces the compound NAPQI, which is harmless until it interacts with a compound in the liver.
The FDA recommends staying under 325 mg per dose. The daily maximum is 4,000 mg, the same amount as one Extra Strength Tylenol pill. To be safe, follow the dosage recommendations. "Even a small amount more than directed can cause liver damage," the FDA announced.
You're Likely Eating Too Much Salt
The recommended daily amount of salt is between 2,000 and 2,400 mg. Unfortunately, most people eat more than that. Kristen Roberts, a clinical professor of Internal Medicine at Ohio State University, says that most Americans consume over 5,000 mg of salt per day.
How does this affect the liver? An over-salted diet creates water retention, which overworks and inflames the liver. People with pre-existing liver conditions have to adhere to a low-sodium diet. To prevent this, watch out for processed foods that often use salt as a preservative.
Don't Eat High Glycemic Foods Before Bed
High glycemic foods are those which contain a high amount of carbohydrates, including white bread and potatoes. Their makeup can put the liver into overdrive, but especially at night. According to Dr. George Kosmides, the liver mainly works at night, and sleeping after eating these foods forces it to work harder.
Foods that contain vegetable oils--such as margarine and shortening--can also produce this effect. Instead of snacking on late-night cereal, opt for fruits, vegetables, or dairy, says Dr. Kosmides. In particular, beets and carrots can help the liver rebuild overnight.
Exercise Every Week — Not Just During A Diet
Exercise isn't just for dieting. It also helps your body detoxify, which improves your liver. During a 2015 study in Biomolecules, rats who ran frequently ran had fewer fatty deposits and inflammation in their liver. The exercise even prevented fatty liver disease from chronic drinking.
More research is needed to determine how much exercise is needed. The study focused on aerobic exercise, also called "cardio," which includes running, walking, and swimming. In general, try to work out at least two to three times per week.
Make Sleep A Priority
Everyone has a sleepless night once in a while. But if you're consistently getting under seven hours of sleep, your liver may suffer the consequences. Researchers from the Baylor College of Medicine explain that chronic sleeplessness creates its own set of genes. These genes interrupt acids that promote healthy liver function.
The study, published in Cancer Cell, concludes that abnormal liver function may prompt the development of tumor cells. Concerningly, 80% of Americans have their sleep disrupted regularly. Remember that your liver works mostly at night, so make those seven to nine hours of sleep a priority.
Cut Out Sugary Drinks
Yes, sugary drinks are yummy. But the more you drink, the more you could potentially damage your liver. During a 2015 study, researchers linked the consumption of sugary drinks to a higher risk of fatty liver disease. Diet sodas did not have this effect, states the research in The Journal of Hepatology.
How much is too much? According to research in Pediatric Obesity, drinking two sweetened beverages a day is dangerous for your liver. Replace your sweet iced tea with unsweetened tea, and your juice with herb-infused water.
Eat More Fruits And Vegetables
For the sake of your liver, you'll want to eat a fruit and vegetable during every meal. Produce contains high amounts of antioxidants, which are essential for liver health. In 2015, scientists connected oxidative stress with a higher risk of liver disease. It also restocks the liver's natural antioxidants that it uses to detoxify chemicals.
High-antioxidant foods include blueberries, strawberries, spinach, green beans, artichokes, beets, and kale. The research, published in the World Journal of Gastrointestinal Pharmacology and Therapeutics, also recommended turmeric and green tea as a source of high antioxidants.
Trans Fats Scar The Liver
Artificial trans fats are unsaturated fats found in hydrogenated oils (as opposed to naturally-occurring trans fats in animal and dairy products). Although trans fats are in a lot of processed foods, they're not healthy for your liver. During a 2010 study by the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, researchers recorded that trans fats scar your liver.
In particular, combining trans fats with fructose and sucrose--which many processed foods do--increased the risk of fatty liver disease in mice. According to BMC Nutrition and Metabolism, trans fats create oxidative stress in the liver, which inflames it. That's another reason to limit trans fats in your diet.
Why You Should Monitor Your Weight
Although many people see weight as a self-esteem reflection, doctors view it as a health predictor. An often-overlooked consequence of obesity is developing fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Remember that an "unhealthy" weight varies from person to person.
Weight-based fatty liver disease is distinguished from that caused by drinking. But according to doctors, it causes the same amount of liver damage, even in patients who have never had a drink. Eating well and maintaining exercise will prevent this illness. Talk to your doctor about your range of healthy weight.
It's Time To Tackle Chronic Stress
The mind and body are so intertwined that prolonged stress can cause disease, including liver disease. In 2015, researchers from the University of Edinburgh discovered that those who suffered from psychological distress were more likely to get fatty liver disease. "Psychological distress" includes anxiety and depression.
Earlier findings back up this conclusion. According to the World Journal of Gastroenterology, stress increases inflammation that may lead to cirrhosis. While stress isn't a daily habit per se, not seeking a cure could injure your liver over time.
Are You Getting Enough Vitamin B12?
Vitamin B12 is essential for healthy liver function. It helps the flow of bile in the liver and decreases the likelihood of liver disease and hepatitis. The recommended daily dose of vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg. Many people get this amount through foods like eggs, tuna, beef, cheese, chicken, and pork.
If you follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, however, you're at risk of a vitamin B12 deficiency. Some breakfast cereals and brown rice are fortified with vitamin B12. If you're under 50, you may not need a supplement, but talk to your doctor if you're worried.
Beware Of Heavy Drinking
Chronic drinking remains the biggest cause of fatty liver disease. According to the American Liver Foundation, 15% of heavy drinkers develop liver scarring, a precursor to liver disease and cancer. Once you have an illness like cirrhosis, your only remedy is to limit your drinking.
"However much is 'too much' for you can result in ongoing [liver] inflammation and overwork," says gastroenterologist Dr. John Iskander. If you're a legal adult, it's safe to drink in moderation. But beware of binging and overdoing it during your nights out.
Put It Out
Lighting up doesn't just harm your lungs; it also hurts your liver. According to a 2018 research in the American Journal of Gastroenterology, smoke increases the risk of fatty liver disease by up to 46%. The more dominant the habit, the higher the risk becomes.
Like other liver-damaging habits, smoke raises oxidative stress. As the liver works to break down the toxins, these dangerous chemicals kill off healthy liver cells. If you're at risk of liver disease, you'll want to make a change soon.
Don't Ignore Your Cholesterol
Unfortunately, many Western diets include high cholesterol. If you're ignoring how much you're eating, you might be at risk for liver disease. Specifically, LDL is "bad" cholesterol that leaves fats around the liver, while HDL is the healthy type. Too much LDL could produce liver disease, which, in turn, creates more LDL.
Although the liver normally processes cholesterol, too much of it can build up to create the harmful compound NAFLD. As your liver struggles to process cholesterol, it produces more cholesterol. If you already have high cholesterol, you'll want to monitor it, as you have a greater risk of liver disease.