Keep reading to learn about the important foods to eat and avoid for the best liver detox diet.
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In this article:
- The Importance of Liver Detoxification
- What to Eat
- What to Avoid
- How to Do a Liver Cleanse
- Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Liver
Food Guide for a Liver Detox Diet
The Importance of Liver Detoxification
It’s essential to go on a natural liver detox diet at least twice a year. That’s because the liver is the body’s processing plant.
A healthy liver can filter the environmental toxins and impurities that enter the body. Too much alcohol and fatty foods may lead this organ to malfunction, causing all kinds of problems with your metabolic digestion.
A problematic liver may cause inflammation in the digestive tract and issues with blood content. Some symptoms of a poorly functioning liver include:
- Jaundiced skin
- Bloating or swelling
- Production of gallstones
- Diarrhea or constipation
Detoxify the liver to keep it in tip-top shape by eating liver-friendly foods and avoiding those that may harm it. But, what’s the best liver detox guide to follow?
Here is a list of liver detox foods you should add to your diet and those you should eliminate for your meal plan to work.
What to Eat
1. Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts aren’t just tasty vegetables. They’re also rich in sulforaphane.
What Is Sulforaphane? This is a sulfur-rich compound naturally found in cruciferous vegetables. It is believed to have heart health and digestive benefits.
Brussels sprouts can increase the liver’s natural enzymes responsible for detoxification.
Another cruciferous vegetable you should add to your diet for your liver detoxification program is cabbage.
Cabbage can detox the liver and reduce side effects like headaches and dehydration. The fiber content of cabbages also promotes good digestion and detoxes the colon.
Cauliflower supports healthy detoxification. It’s rich in beta-carotene, protein, fiber, potassium, and vitamins C, B6, and K.
These nutrients are needed during a liver flush.
Leeks are rich in selenium and allium, which help cleanse your liver and get rid of excess fats. Other allium-rich foods like garlic and onion can also boost the immune system.
You can add leeks into soups, quiches, omelets, or stews. You can even eat them raw!
Shallots are effective food for liver detox and boost the body’s circulation and overall detoxification. They help the digestive tract get rid of toxins and carcinogens.
They’re loaded with antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals and are considered an important plant in Ayurvedic healing processes, along with garlic.
Green leafy vegetables help tremendously in detoxing your liver. That’s why kale should be added to your liver detox diet plan.
Kale is very rich in sulfur compounds that are important in helping the liver detox. It’s also rich in nutrients like protein and vitamins A, C, and K.
Radishes can stimulate the liver’s bile synthesis to help with detoxification and digestion. They are also a great source of potassium that helps maintain the body’s fluid balance.
You can consume them pickled or as on their own as a salad.
Beets are rich in antioxidants that help get rid of toxins and free radicals. Their betaine content aids the liver cells in releasing toxins.
You can add beets to your liver flush recipe to give it a touch of color and some added antioxidants.
Broccoli has compounds that can help neutralize toxins. It can also increase the liver’s enzyme production because of its glucosinolates content.
It is also a cruciferous vegetable, which means it contains sulforaphane for better liver health.
10. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes are rich in immunity-boosting and cleansing nutrients that help detox the liver. They are also rich in fiber and vitamin C.
Lemon juice helps the liver flush out toxins to avoid the body from absorbing them. Mixing lemon juice with water lessens its acidity without decreasing its nutrients.
You can drink lemon juice cold or make it hot and enjoy it as tea.
Lentils are a natural source of protein and fiber. They contain enough protein for the liver and aid digestion for better nutrient absorption.
Plus, lentils are easy to cook, compared to other legumes. They’re great for breakfast recipes, too!
Apples have fiber content that helps digest foods with heavy metals. It binds to them and removes the heavy metals before they enter the bloodstream.
You can consume the fruit itself raw. You can turn it into juice or cook it into a dessert.
Garlic can cleanse and nourish the entire body. It helps the liver by protecting the immune system, relieving the liver of stress and toxins.
Include at least a bulb of garlic in a liver detox diet.
Onions help flush out toxins from both the liver and digestive tract. They are rich in flavonoids, phytonutrients, fiber, and potassium.
16. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens such as kale, mustard, and dandelion are rich in nutrients and antioxidants. The chlorophyll in these vegetables counteracts toxins during digestion and increases bile production.
Try to include many leafy green vegetables into your daily diet to improve your digestion.
Avocados increase the body’s glutathione production. Glutathione is a compound that aids the liver in removing stress-related toxins, environmental pollutants, and heavy metals.
Walnuts are rich in arginine that helps the liver get rid of ammonia. These nuts are also rich in glutathione and healthy fats.
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It’s been reported that drinking 2-3 cups of coffee per day can reduce the harmful effects of alcohol and unhealthy eating habits on the liver.
20. Fresh Mint
Fresh mint leaves can improve the functioning of the liver and gallbladder. It’s also beneficial for muscle relief and stomach cramps. You can simply add some fresh mint leaves into your tea and enjoy it.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice that can balance the immune system and clean your liver.
22. Dandelion Root
Dandelion has been used to treat liver-related health issues for centuries. The best way to consume is to drink dandelion root tea.
23. Green Tea
Green tea is one of the best plants for liver cleansing. It can protect your body from tumors, hepatitis, and the harmful effects of alcohol. Green tea is highly beneficial to liver fattening.
Grapefruit is rich in vitamin C and antioxidants, and it helps clean the liver naturally. It can also strengthen the liver by neutralizing the free radicals with its glutathione and antioxidant components. Glutathione helps clean the heavy metals in the body. Drinking fresh grapefruit juice every morning can promote liver health.
What to Avoid
1. Foods High in Trans Fat
Trans fat has no nutritional benefits but is found in a lot of different foods like:
- Non-dairy creamer
- Baked goods
- Fried foods
- Refrigerator dough
- Pie crust
2. Artificial Sweeteners
Artificial sweeteners are chemically manufactured and create toxins in the body. Avoid foods that contain sweeteners like Aspartame, NutraSweet, and Equal.
To add sweetness to your food, use raw honey, fruits, or natural sweeteners instead.
3. Chemical Preservatives
Avoid packaged foods that contain artificial ingredients and refined vegetable oils. This also includes fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed with chemical pesticides and herbicides.
Wash fruits with baking soda to make sure you get rid of the chemicals brought by pesticides.
4. Sugary Food and Drinks
Too much sugary food and drinks cause a fatty buildup that can turn into liver disease. Limit foods and drinks with refined sugar and high-fructose corn syrup.
5. Dairy Products
Dairy products like cheese and milk can cause poor cell function and increase acidity in the body. They can also slow down the detoxification process in the liver.
Alcohol is one of the worst drinks for the liver. Avoid drinking alcohol during a liver detox diet.
Drink it as rarely as possible.
Alcoholic drinks can intervene with the normal functioning of your liver. Consuming alcohol excessively can cause chemical imbalance and hepatitis or cirrhosis by killing liver cells.
Consuming too much salt will increase your blood pressure and the risk of fatty liver syndrome. You can check the sodium level of the salt by reading the tag on the product.
8. Spicy Foods
Consuming spicy foods can harm your liver and cause digestive problems. In severe cases, your liver can be damaged beyond repair.
How to Do a Liver Cleanse
There are a lot of liver detox formula options online, including juice fasting and taking dietary supplements to boost liver function.
What’s clear is you can cleanse the liver by eliminating toxic substances like alcohol from your diet as well as adding the liver-friendly foods mentioned above into it.
Lifestyle Changes for a Healthy Liver
On top of eating foods healthy for the liver and avoiding those that may cause harm, it’s also essential to keep a healthy lifestyle to avoid damaging the organ over time.
1. Stop Smoking
Smoking does not do any good to not just the liver but also your overall health and well-being. Toxic chemicals in cigarettes can cause eventual cirrhosis and inflammation.
Liver Cirrhosis Definition: A higher stage of liver fibrosis with the formation of regenerative nodules encapsulated and separated by fibrotic septa
Smoking also increases cytokines in the body; these are chemicals that can do more damage to the liver cells by causing more inflammation. It can cause serious damage to people with hepatitis B and C as well because it triggers the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma, a type of liver cancer.
Quitting smoking can be difficult, so you might need the help of your medical doctor to do this. You can also try joining communities that support people who want to quit smoking.
2. Be Careful If You Have High Cholesterol Levels, Hypertension, or Diabetes
Any of these diseases can cause a metabolic syndrome with obesity which poses a major risk of developing fatty liver disease. Keep cholesterol levels, hypertension, and diabetes under control by taking medications as prescribed by your doctor, regularly working out, and eating a well-balanced diet.
Just be careful with medications though because some anti-cholesterol drugs can occasionally cause side effects to the liver. Other drugs can do the same, too, especially when taken with alcohol.
Discuss your schedule of intake with your doctor.
3. Protect Yourself from Hepatitis C
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes the liver to become inflamed, and it can sometimes lead to serious liver damage. This infection can be transmitted through blood-to-blood or sexual contact.
Avoid sharing needles, razors, toothbrushes, and other personal care tools, and practice safe sex to prevent hepatitis C. If you have a family history of hepatitis B or C, visit your doctor and get screened to spot problems early.
4. Be Watchful of Fad Diets and Weight Loss Pills
Over-the-counter weight-loss pills may contain toxic ingredients that can cause harm to the liver over time.
Fad diets can also cause your weight to swing up and down, which can be stressful for your liver. Be mindful of diets that cause you to lose weight quickly in a short period because these don’t benefit the liver and lack nutrients.
If you want to control your weight through drinking pills or following diets, be sure to consult with your doctor first so you know if these are beneficial for you.
5. Be Careful with Traditional Remedies and Medicines
Some over-the-counter traditional remedies or medicines possess unknown toxins or heavy metals that are harmful to your overall health. These substances can negatively influence the normal function of your liver and can lead to liver toxicity.
Too much of these traditional medicines can result in liver failure or irreversible liver damage and may cause inflammation of the liver. Always consult your doctor about these traditional medications for safety reasons.
6. Get Vaccinated
Vaccines for hepatitis A or B can help protect your liver from viral infections. Hepatitis A can be taken from contaminated water or food, while hepatitis B can be transmitted by used needles, contaminated blood, or sexual intercourse.
Make sure to avoid eating raw or contaminated shellfish and other types of seafood and practice safe sex. Prioritize talking to your doctor about getting vaccines.
7. Control Your Weight
Obesity, specifically abdominal obesity, is a major risk factor of fatty liver disease. Eating a balanced diet and following regular exercise are effective ways to naturally manage your weight.
Make sure your diet consists of the right amounts of protein, healthy fats, carbs, and fiber. Load your meals with more vegetables, especially green leafy ones.
You can start with a light exercise if you’re a beginner, such as walking or jogging for at least 30 minutes a day. You can also do daily household chores as another form of light exercise.
Check your body mass index regularly and aim for the normal range.
8. Manage Stress
Chronic stress triggers natural killer cells to spread to the liver that can make liver disease worse or cause liver cell death. Stress can also weaken the blood flow in the part of the brain that manages the liver, leading to improper liver function.
There are many factors that contribute to stress like work, family, or relationship problems. But, there are also healthy ways you can reduce stress levels, such as:
- Going on a short vacation trip
- Spending more time with the people you love
- Connecting with nature like camping or hiking
- Taking an aromatic bath
- Having a massage
- Playing with pets
- Listening to your favorite music
- Writing a journal
- Reading novels
Make sure to spare time to relax every day to avoid increasing stress levels. It’s also important to avoid people and situations that are stressful for you.
If stress is already overwhelming, you can always seek professional help, like a psychologist, to help you figure out the cause of stress and find ways to deal with it properly.
9. Make Your Own Garden at Home
Having a garden at home allows you to grow healthy plant-based foods. It also reduces the chances of you buying unfresh or processed foods and is cost-effective.
Gardening is another way of reducing stress as the process switches your attention from life problems to growing your food. It also provides more opportunities for you and your family to spend time together.
Make sure to include leafy greens, fruits, and herbs in your garden. You can do your own research on how you can start gardening correctly or ask friends who have experience.
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The liver is an important part of the body that helps detoxify alcohol and filter out toxins and wastes. An occasional liver detox diet will help the organ replenish and stay healthy.
What other foods boost a liver detox diet and need to be avoided? Share them with us in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 10, 2018, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.