Ask yourself this: When you treated your body “less than ideal,” where did all those toxins go? What organ in your body helped filter these contaminants, and prevented them from entering your bloodstream? The answer: Your liver. We know you probably don’t think about your liver too often, but the truth is that it’s one of the most important organs in your body.
So whether you’re currently dieting or not, your liver holds vast amounts of toxins, produced by years of filtering the salt, fat, and other chemicals from the food you ate. In order to keep your liver functioning in tip-top condition for many years to come, and to prevent liver disease as you age, we’ve outlined a few tips to help you along the way. Many you may have read before, and some may even sound cliché—but all of them are proven, natural methods of making your liver healthier.
Hydration, Hydration, Hydration
In case you missed it, hydration is a major component of cleansing your liver. Drinking at least two quarts of water per day vastly increases your liver’s ability to regenerate cells, as well as its ability to flush toxic chemicals out. As an added bonus, drinking plenty of fluids also increases your overall energy level.
When Life Gives You Lemons…
Since you’re now drinking at least two quarts of water per day, you can add a small amount of lemon juice to help stimulate liver function, prevent the formation of gallstones, aid in digestion, and boost your vitamin C levels. Lemon juice is easy to find at your local grocer and can be an ideal way to filter additional toxins from your liver.
Minimize Caffeine and Alcohol, Maximize Liver Function
Yeah, yeah, we know—having to say no to a refreshing “adult beverage” at the end of the day, or to a hot cup of coffee early in the morning is no fun. But here’s the truth: Alcoholic and caffeinated beverages deposit more toxins into the liver than anything else, which results in inefficient functioning. So if you’re serious about cleansing your liver, caffeine and alcohol need to be minimized.
The good news is that if you enjoy the taste of beer or coffee, you can continue to drink them, but just in their non-alcoholic/decaf versions.
Fast Food = Slow Liver
Sure, fast food is delicious, but only because it’s engineered to be as tasty as possible. From a nutrition standpoint though, it’s anything but. Fast food contains extremely high concentrations of artificial ingredients, preservatives, fats, and cholesterol, all of which interfere with your liver’s efficiency.
On the other hand, replacing fast food with natural nutrition from fruits and vegetables helps speed up your metabolism, and keeps your liver functioning at its maximum capacity. Which leads us to our next point…
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
It may be a bit cliché, but your mother was right: Eating plenty of fruits and vegetables has a wide variety of health benefits, including keeping your liver in tip-top shape. Fruits are high in fiber and chock full of vitamins—all of which increase your liver’s ability to flush toxins—though the best for your liver are lemons, limes, grapefruits, and apples. Liver-friendly vegetables include tomatoes, avocados, garlic, cucumbers, and cabbage.
The best oils for your liver include olive, sunflower, and corn oils, and the recommended dose is 1 to 2 tablespoons before breakfast. (Note: If you choose olive oil, it’s important that it be cold pressed.) If you’re unable to ingest these oils by themselves, simply adding them to a healthy salad is always a viable option.
While many nuts can be high in fat, walnuts are one of the best when it comes to increasing liver efficiency. And should you ever get food poisoning, walnuts are a good alternative to help you recover.
Surf and Turf
Red meat, fish, and dairy are all great sources of protein, which boosts liver function. However, not all are ideal in every circumstance. For instance, seafood can contain high levels of mercury, which goes directly to your liver. When eating seafood, the lowest-mercury options include carp, cod, and trout.
The best red meat options include veal and turkey, as they both contain very low levels of bad cholesterol. Recommended dairy products include non-fat Greek yogurt, reduced fat cottage cheese, as well as kefir-based drinks.
Lastly, one teaspoon of honey before each meal (three times daily) can also help cleanse your liver, primarily due to its high levels of fructose and glucose, which are two sugars known for their ability to replace damaged liver cells.
A Big Commitment with an Even Bigger Payoff
The subject of liver cleansing certainly isn’t sexy, and it definitely doesn’t evoke images that most of us would find appealing. However, because your liver is such a crucial organ, it’s of the utmost importance that you learn how to help it function at its highest level. From a dieting perspective, there are certainly a wide variety of pills and routines you can adhere to, but almost all fail to cleanse your liver.
But with the liver-cleansing tips above, you can start taking care of your liver one small step at a time. Some of the foods mentioned may not be considered the most appealing or delicious, but remember: You don’t have to do it for life—just long enough to keep your liver clean and functioning.