Health

Eat These Foods To Help Protect the Liver

What is your liver, and what does it do? Well, the liver is the second largest organ in our body and participates in a plethora of… Trista - August 25, 2020

What is your liver, and what does it do? Well, the liver is the second largest organ in our body and participates in a plethora of bodily activities. It helps in cleansing your blood by flushing out the harmful toxins from your body. Furthermore, it also produces bile, which aids your digestive organs in breaking down the fatty components. Apart from these, it also stores vitamins, glycogens, and other essential minerals for emergency purposes.

Moreover, unlike any other organs, the liver also can regenerate itself. So, if it gets damaged by any means, it can quickly repair its cells within only a few days. However, people can also develop liver disease. Sometimes, it comes from lifestyle choices, such as what you eat and drink. Keep reading to learn about the function of the liver along with foods that can help protect it, especially if you have liver disease.

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The liver is located on the right-hand side of your body.

The liver is located in the right part of your abdomen. Furthermore, it is on top of the intestines, the right kidney, and underneath the diaphragm. Are you between 21 and 65 years old? If you are otherwise a healthy person, then your liver weighs approximately one kilogram — or a little bit more than that. It has two different lobes. Doctors refer to them as the right lobe and left lobe. If you have seen a liver, be it in a book or a lab, then you might have noticed that a ligament separates both the lobes. Medically, doctors call this a falciform ligament.

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Besides separating the lobes of your liver, this thin yet broad ligament also helps the organ stay attached to your diaphragm. The liver’s exterior is covered by the Glisson’s capsule, a membrane made of connective tissue. It also protects the portal vein, hepatic artery, and the bile ducts. The peritoneum, a large, thin tissue layer lining the abdomen, covers the Glisson’s capsule. It holds the liver in place and protects it against damage caused by friction. While all of this information may sound overly technical, the important thing is that you take good care of your liver because it is a vital organ.

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One function of the liver includes producing bile.

As mentioned above, your liver is generally associated with a wide variety of bodily functions. Here are some of them. The liver is best known for producing bile, a digestive juice that helps digest vitamins, cholesterol, and fat. Bile is made up of cholesterol, bilirubin, water, and some electrolytes. It is secreted by the hepatocytes, which get collected in a tube known as the bile canaliculi. Once the collection procedure is completed, the biliary tract in your liver carries it to the duodenum and stores it there. The cystic ducts, which are situated in the duodenum, help with the bile moving procedure.

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Bile is also known as gall, and your body produces about half a liter of it per day (less if you are a smaller person, more if you are a bigger person). Because bile is necessary to absorb fats, you need it to properly utilize the fat-soluble vitamins. That includes vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Because bile is alkaline, it has the critical task of neutralizing stomach acid before it enters the small intestine so that your body does not accidentally digest itself. Excessive bile will accumulate in the gallbladder and cause gallstones, but not enough bile will make you unable to digest anything fat-related.

The liver also produces blood cells that help with clotting. Wikimedia Commons.

The liver allows your blood to clot. 

To clot properly and stop external bleeding, the blood in your body requires some specific coagulants. It gets these from vitamin K. So if your body does not have enough vitamin K supply, then your blood will not clot. In turn, it can lead to serious health complications. However, your liver can help you in this case. As you already know, the liver produces bile, a yellowish substance, which allows your body to absorb vitamin K. If the amount of vitamin K increases in your body, the liver collects it from your blood and stores it for future use.

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In other words, you can get all the vitamin K that you want, but without a healthy liver, that vitamin K will not do you any good. Fortunately, many of the foods that contain vitamin K, such as leafy green vegetables, are also good for your liver. For best results, make sure that you eat your greens with some fats, such as salad dressing, if you eat them raw or sautéed with healthy oil, so that you can absorb this fat-soluble vitamin. The way that your body’s processes all work together and depend on each other truly is amazing: vitamin K, fats, and the liver all work together to get the job done.

Bilirubin in high doses could be detrimental to the body if the liver didn’t remove it. Shutterstock

The liver absorbs bilirubin. 

Bilirubin is a chemical component that resides inside the red blood cells and bone marrow cells in your body. When these cells die, they release it into your blood. A small amount of bilirubin is not harmful to your health. However, if the amount increases, then it can affect the functioning of several organs. Moreover, this is yet another aspect where your liver can be your savior. While cleansing your blood, it collects the extra bilirubin, metabolizes it, and stores the produced iron in its right lobe. When your body starts making new blood cells, it takes a necessary amount of bilirubin from your liver.

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High levels of bilirubin usually indicate that you have a medical condition that needs to be treated immediately. You may have gallstones, caused by too much bile that is not getting re-absorbed by the liver, or hemolytic anemia, caused by a buildup of red blood cells that have broken down. Additionally, you may have a liver condition, such as hepatitis, inflammation of the bile duct, cirrhosis, or even liver cancer. Either something outside of your liver is causing you to create too much bilirubin, or something inside your liver prevents you from absorbing bilirubin. The underlying conditions involved can be fatal if not treated.

The liver also helps with the digestion. Shutterstock

Digesting fat is a function of the liver. 

Fats, especially dietary fats, are essential for your body. They provide the much-required energy that helps you to function throughout the day. Moreover, they also support cell growth and help your body in producing several essential bodily hormones. Some people are worried about eating fats because they think that fat makes you fat, but that idea could not be more untrue. Fats are necessary for many bodily functions, as long as you are getting healthy fats. While the monounsaturated fats in avocados and olive oil, as well as the omega-3s in eggs and chia seeds, can be extremely beneficial for overall health, the artificial trans fats in margarine and potato chips should be avoided.

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As fats are somewhat heavier than other dietary components, your body requires bile to absorb them properly. It also uses some specific hormones produced by your liver to further break the fatty components and make the absorption procedure easier. The calories in these fat cells are broken down to be used as energy. Then, the nutrients in the fats are released. People who consume too many unhealthy fats put an incredible strain on their liver, and the result can be something called fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease most often develops in people who consume high amounts of alcohol, but it can also occur in non-alcoholics. Ultimately, it can lead to cancer and other deadly illnesses.

Carbohydrates, like pasta, are easily digested by the liver to produce sugar. Freepik

The liver stores vitamins, minerals, and the assimilation of carbohydrates. 

Besides aiding your body in digestion, your liver also stores essential vitamins and minerals. Moreover, it also collects copper and bilirubin from your blood and stores them. It releases all of these components in your body during essential bodily functions and emergency cases. You can think of your liver as a storehouse of extra vitamins and minerals. Your body calls upon it in case of a deficiency. One reason why the liver is considered a healthy food is that it contains so many nutrients that are stored up in the bodies of animals. If you try to get a lot of vitamins and minerals, your body will not be absorbing them at a certain point. Instead, your liver will be storing them.

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The liver stores carbohydrates and assimilates them thoroughly. These carbohydrates are then disintegrated into glucose and transported into the bloodstream to maintain a healthy glucose level. Then your body stores the glucose produced in the liver as glycogen and uses it during physical activities to provide you with the required energy. Too many carbohydrates, though, and you can put yourself at risk for fatty liver disease. One byproduct of processing carbohydrates is ammonia, which your liver converts into something much less toxic, urea. The urea is released into the bloodstream and collected by the kidneys, and you excrete it in your urine.

The liver breaks down meat to produce nitrogen, which is then removed from the blood. Freepik

The liver metabolizes proteins within the body. 

Besides all these, the liver also helps the body metabolize proteins. It removes the amino acids (which are known to be harmful to our body) from protein components during the process. Once the removal procedure is completed, the organ converts the non-nitrogenous portion of the molecules to lipids and glucose. The liver synthesizes urea, thus removing ammonia from the body. Ammonia is quite harmful to our body and can severely affect the nervous system (just think of the warning labels on ammonia bottles that you use for cleaning). Most diseases related to the central nervous system usually occur when the amount of ammonia increases in your blood.

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Your liver is a builder of proteins because it uses the amino acids in the foods that you eat to create the proteins that your body needs. It also produces the enzymes that you need to catalyze those proteins and use them properly. Furthermore, while you may think that cholesterol is a horrible thing that should be avoided at all costs, your liver creates cholesterol because your body needs a certain amount! While high cholesterol levels in food can be harmful, you need to produce some because it is a critical ingredient in hormones like estrogen and testosterone.

Defend against viral diseases with an adequate defensive system. Freepik

The liver strengthens the body’s immune system. 

The liver also helps in producing the Kupffer cells, which are a type of white blood cell. These cells aid in secreting several immune-regulatory mediators and participate in the phagocytosis procedure of the large particles. Besides these, they also help protect the liver and other nearby organs from various microorganisms and viruses. The Kupffer cells attack and destroy any harmful foreign agents that enter the liver via the gastrointestinal tract. Without these essential cells, viruses and bacteria in your food could cause you to develop life-threatening infections. By the time other white blood cells were able to come to the rescue, you could already be extremely ill.

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When a germ threat is detected, your liver will automatically undergo inflammation to try to eliminate the threat. Chronic inflammation is problematic and can create long-term health problems. However, acute inflammation is a natural way for your body to mount an immune response. Maintaining a healthy liver that is not inflamed is critical to ensure that when there is a potential infection, your liver can undergo this process of inflaming itself to fight off the threat. Eating the right foods that promote liver health will help ensure that this critical part of your body’s immune response functions at an optimal level to help keep you safe from potentially lethal infections.

Without the liver, the blood would be full of harmful chemicals and compounds. Freepik

The liver filters blood and albumin production. 

The liver helps the body filter the blood and remove the compounds that the body does not need, such as aldosterone and estrogen hormones. It also filters various dangerous substances that enter the body from the outside through drugs and alcohol consumption. As such, your liver is essential to detoxifying your body, kind of like a water filter in your house, detoxifies the water that you drink. Eating and drinking too many toxins can overwork your liver and harm its ability to work as a filter. To understand this concept, think of what happens to a water filter when too much dirt and grime buildup. You don’t want that happening inside your body.

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This organ produces albumin, which is the most commonly found protein in the blood serum. This component aids in transporting steroid hormones and fatty acids. It further helps in maintaining blood pressure and preventing the leakage of blood vessels. Your doctor may order a test of your albumin levels as part of a regular checkup; this test is designed to determine how well your liver functions. Too much albumin can cause dehydration and diarrhea, while insufficient albumin can cause fatigue, inflammatory bowel syndrome, and kidney disease. Malnutrition may also develop, not because you are not eating enough but because the nutrients are not getting to your cells.

Fatty livers make it difficult for the body to function normally. Freepik

Liver diseases include fatty liver deposits. 

The liver is a resilient organ and can regenerate quickly. Unlike other organs, it can regrow parts of itself, as long as it is healthy. When people need a liver transplant, they are usually okay with only part of a liver because it can regenerate. While this liver attribute is beneficial in most cases, the downside is that the liver usually does not show signs and symptoms of disease unless it is quite severe. You may not know that anything is wrong until the damage has already been done, so keeping your liver healthy and preventing the damage in the first place is extremely important.

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Hence, it becomes imperative for you to know about the liver’s health conditions and disorders that can affect the body. As the name suggests, fatty liver generally occurs when fat substances start to accumulate in your liver. It can be caused by various things, such as regular alcohol consumption, living a sedentary life, eating high amounts of fatty foods, and more. Sugar is stored as fat in the liver, so eating high amounts of sugar, especially in processed foods, can also lead to fatty liver disease. Fatty liver can ultimately lead to liver cancer and liver failure, both of which are life-threatening conditions. You need to protect your liver from these issues.

Cirrhosis of the liver is the result of drinking too much alcohol. Freepik

Cirrhosis of the liver is a dangerous health condition.

Liver cirrhosis, also known as hepatic cirrhosis, is a critical liver condition when your liver stops functioning properly. It is usually common among alcoholics or people who have suffered from a fatty liver for a long time. It might also occur if a hepatic infection, such as Hepatitis B or C, have severely damaged or scarred your liver. By the time cirrhosis develops, there has already been sustained. Long-term damage is done to the liver. There may be no symptoms at first, but as the condition progresses, the person may experience fatigue, itchiness, swelling of the abdomen, bruising, and jaundice (yellow skin caused by buildup bile).

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Liver cirrhosis is a medical emergency. It can lead to severe complications, including encephalopathy, which can impair your brain and nerves’ ability to function. Many people die every year of cirrhosis, sometimes from a sudden onset of bacterial infections that the liver cannot defend itself against. In fact, cirrhosis is the eleventh most common cause of death around the world. Because disease in the liver is so difficult to spot until extensive damage has already occurred, the best defense is a good offense. Maintain a healthy diet and plenty of exercise as well as regular doctor visits that include routine tests for liver function.

The liver can also be affected by diseases such as hepatitis. Wikimedia Commons.

Hepatitis viruses and autoimmune hepatitis can cause infections in the liver. 

There are five types of viruses that can cause hepatitis in your liver, namely hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E. Among these, hepatitis A, B, and C are highly dangerous. People often contract them through unprotected sex with an infected person or intravenous drug use. Thus, make sure that you are not engaging in these kinds of risky behaviors. Some of these diseases can be prevented with vaccines, but unprotected sex and intravenous drug use should be avoided at all costs. If you do not treat these illnesses quickly, then they can cause scarring of your liver, which, in turn, can lead to liver cirrhosis.

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As you can understand from its name, autoimmune hepatitis is an autoimmune disease that makes your immune system attack the liver. It subsequently causes inflammation, not the acute inflammation that is part of a natural and beneficial immune response. This chronic inflammation can cause your liver to sustain damage over the long term and inhibit the acute inflammation immune response’s ability to engage. Autoimmune hepatitis is an ailment, which means that it can last for many years. If you leave it untreated, then it can lead to liver cirrhosis. While you may not always be able to avoid these diseases, there are many things that you can do to promote your liver’s health, even in the face of them.

Swelling of the abdomen is a clear sign that something is wrong with the liver. Wikimedia Commons.

Symptoms of liver disease include swelling and pain in the abdomen.

Although several types of diseases can affect your liver, the symptoms you might experience will be similar. Keep reading to learn the common signs that almost every liver patient has experienced at least once in their life. Virtually every type of liver disease causes inflammation of the liver. Therefore, if you are suffering from a liver ailment, you might experience mild to severe abdominal pain. If your abdomen ever feels exceptionally sore to touch, you need to go to a doctor immediately. If your liver has inflamed a lot, then swelling of the right-sided abdomen might also occur. You might even lose your appetite due to the same reason.

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There can be many different conditions that are potentially causing inflammation, including cirrhosis, hepatitis, and cancer. Many of those conditions on their own can be fatal if they are not treated quickly. The inflammation itself can also be deadly, as your liver is no longer functioning and can begin to shut down. If you have reached the point where your liver is inflamed, the first thing you need to do is go to the emergency room so that doctors can determine the condition that is causing the inflammation. Once you are being treated, you will need to address your diet and make sure that you are eating foods to keep your liver healthy.

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Jaundice is the yellow coloration of the eyes and skin. 

Have you ever noticed someone with a yellowish tint where the white part of the eye should be? Maybe their skin is also yellow-y. Medically known as jaundice, this symptom generally occurs when your liver stops absorbing bilirubin. If the amount of bilirubin increases in your blood, then it can cause yellowing of the skin. Along with coloration, skin itching issues might also occur in patients. That is one of the most apparent symptoms when it comes to problems with the liver. Jaundice is not harmful in itself; the problem is the underlying condition that is causing jaundice. Think of jaundice as a symptom that alerts you to a problem.

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Infant jaundice is a normal condition, especially in babies that are born before 38 weeks of pregnancy. The situation is caused by an immature liver that cannot remove excessive bilirubin out of the bloodstream. Newborns are usually examined for jaundice before they are discharged from the hospital, but they can develop days or weeks after birth. If you touch an infant’s nose and it becomes yellow, the infant may have mild jaundice. While the condition usually goes away on its own, complications can develop if the jaundice is severe, especially if the bilirubin passes into the brain. If a baby becomes listless, has a fever, arches the back or body, or has trouble feeding, they need to be taken to a hospital immediately.

Dark urine may be a result of dehydration or some other disease. Wikimedia Commons.

Dark-colored urine and pale-colored stool is a sign of concern. 

Urine should be a light green, yellowish color. It may be evident in very well-hydrated people when someone needs to drink more water. Furthermore, some foods, like beets, can cause urine to become red, purple, or another funky color. However, there is no need for alarm unless the urine becomes brownish. Why? That is a symptom that there is too much bilirubin in the blood. Brown-colored urine can also indicate that there is an internal hemorrhage in the liver, which is a medical emergency. If you ever see brownish-colored urine, get to the doctor to have a liver function test. Better to be safe than sorry.

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Another sign of concern that you can easily spot in the toilet is if your stool is a pale color. Bile, the digestive juice produced by the liver, is dark in color and gives your stool the characteristic dark brown appearance. If your liver is not functioning properly, you will not produce the correct amount of bile and may notice the change whenever you have a bowel movement. Going to the emergency room because your poop isn’t the right color may sound a bit alarmist, but it could be a symptom of liver trouble. Moreover, bear in mind that liver trouble can be complicated to spot until the damage is done.

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Diagnostic tests are used to detect liver issues. 

Diagnostic tests are conducted to detect liver disease, determine what caused it, and monitor the organ’s condition. Early detection of liver disease is crucial because it often does not display signs of damage during the disease’s earlier stages. The liver is capable of self-healing when facing minor damage. However, if the bile duct is obstructed or the liver is scarred, as in cirrhosis, the damage may be permanent. Detecting liver disease early allows the patient to take precautionary measures. The lab tests involve measuring the levels of bilirubin, protein, and enzymes. If abnormal levels are detected, it usually indicates liver disease.

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The laboratory tests for detecting liver disease include the Comprehensive Metabolic Panel, usually a part of a routine health checkup, consisting of a series of tests that help determine whether the liver is functioning correctly. This test is done through a simple blood draw and looks for markers such as albumin and bilirubin levels. If your doctor does not order a Comprehensive Metabolic Panel as part of your regular checkup, you could request one. You may be anxious that the doctor may think that you are being paranoid and not trusting the care they are providing, but most doctors will be glad that their patients are taking so much responsibility for their own health.

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Doctors conduct a variety of tests when checking for hepatitis in the liver. 

The doctor you see for your routine checkup will generally conduct the following diagnostic procedure to detect hepatitis. An Alkaline Phosphatase Test is performed to detect bile duct blockage. If bile ducts are suffering from blockage, this enzyme increases in quantity. Bilirubin tests are conducted to measure the amount of bilirubin present in the blood. Bilirubin imbalance indicates liver disease. Increased bilirubin levels may also indicate hemolysis. A direct bilirubin test can be conducted to measure conjugated bilirubin. High levels of conjugated bilirubin indicate liver disease. Albumin test is done to estimate how much albumin protein the liver is making. 

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These tests are routine, but many people do not get them because they do not go in for regular checkups. While going in for a checkup may seem like a waste of time, especially if you feel healthy and are not experiencing any problems, the blood tests that the doctor does can prevent severe complications down the line. Getting a simple test before a problem develops or identifying that problem before the damage becomes irreversible is one of the best things you can do to control your own health. Also, eating healthy and getting enough exercise allows you to make sure that you are as healthy as possible.

Some medications may have adverse effects on the liver, such as acetaminophen. Flickr.

Medical teams often perform a total protein test, complete blood count test, and test for elevated levels. 

A protein test is done to measure the levels of all the proteins present in the blood. That includes antibodies useful for warding off infections. These are some of the major tests that can help the doctor to determine the disease. Here are some other tests that can help a doctor determine the amount of damage the ailment has caused. The complete blood count is conducted to count the amount of Red Blood Cells (RBC), White Blood Cells (WBC), and platelets. Testing for elevated levels of alpha-fetoprotein helps in indicating the cancer of the liver. Acetaminophen tests are conducted when your doctor suspects narcotics-related liver damage. 

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If you wonder why protein tests can determine if there is a problem with your liver, keep in mind that the liver is what processes proteins, and even builds new proteins out of amino acids. If your protein counts are off, then there could be many different explanations, including your diet and problems with other organs. However, problems with protein counts could also indicate problems in your liver. The same holds for blood cell counts. All of your body’s systems and functions are interdependent, so they will not work correctly unless all other systems work properly. Problems with blood cells can often be connected to problems in the liver.

Hepatitis B can be fatal if it’s not treated quickly enough. CDC.gov.

There are several causes of liver disease.

Numerous things can cause liver disease. That includes viral infections, where the liver is affected by viruses and parasites. The viruses enter the person’s body through blood or semen, coming into close contact with an already infected person, or consuming contaminated water or food. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C are the most common viral diseases affecting the liver. Severe liver diseases can be caused by cancers and tumors, including liver adenoma, liver cancer, and bile duct cancer. Genetic abnormalities may lead to some diseases such as hemochromatosis, antitrypsin deficiency, and Wilson’s disease. If you know that you have a family history of liver disease, you will want to be aware that you may be at an increased risk.

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People can get liver disease from drinking too much alcohol. Also, fat accumulation in the liver, herbal compounds, and prescription drugs may cause liver disease. To protect your liver, don’t take medications unless they are prescribed. Many people take over-the-counter medicines for minor ailments, such as trouble falling asleep and menstrual cramps. However, you need to minimize these as much as you can because, over time, they can harm your liver. While some alcohol is okay, excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver problems. Some liver diseases are caused by the immune system attacking the liver. Examples of this include sclerosing cholangitis, biliary cholangitis, and autoimmune hepatitis. Ammonia imbalance may cripple the liver’s ability to process proteins.

Exercise helps your metabolism and takes some of the pressure off your liver. Pixabay.

You can work to prevent liver disease with a healthy diet and exercise.

There are specific precautionary measures that everyone can employ to decrease the chances of developing liver disease. Following a healthy diet and exercising regularly keeps your weight in check and prevents obesity. That, in turn, can prevent fatty liver, which may lead to cirrhosis. When someone drinks too much alcohol, the liver is not able to process it. As a result of this, scarring or swelling of the liver tissue may occur. It may lead to cirrhosis as well. Cutting down on alcohol also reduces the chances of liver disease from occurring. Doctors usually suggest that men should have at most two drinks per day, while women should have only one per day.

Each exercise routine you finish is a step toward a healthier lifestyle. Shutterstock

Not everyone has the same risk factors for liver disease. Some things cannot be controlled, such as genetics. Making lifestyle changes necessary to promote liver health can be challenging, especially for people who work in an office and spend a lot of time sitting down. Furthermore, it can be challenging for people who cannot afford food that is low in sugar and low in chemicals, such as preservatives and fertilizer. However, everyone can make changes that will help promote their long-term liver health. Remember that making changes now to prevent problems will keep you from having to make massive changes, such as spending months in the hospital when problems develop and cause long-term damage.

Avoid acetaminophen as much as you can, and look to other, safer pain medications. Wikimedia Commons.

To optimize your liver’s health, it is best to avoid certain prescription drugs and toxic substances. 

Some prescription medications can harm the liver, especially those that contain a compound named acetaminophen. This compound can be found in common drugs such as cold medications and painkillers. Many females take acetaminophen every month to relieve menstrual cramps. People who deal with chronic headaches may take acetaminophen to help them manage the pain. While taking some acetaminophen-based painkillers occasionally may be adequate, relying on this drug always can be harmful to your liver. Additionally, even though acetaminophen is not nearly as addictive as opioids or alcohol, you can become dependent on the drug if you use it too much.

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Some insecticides and cleaning products contain harmful chemicals that can affect your liver gravely. Insecticides are commonly used when growing food commercially, so one way of avoiding them is to buy organic food as much as possible. If you use insecticides at home to deal with infestations, try to find less-toxic ways of getting rid of roaches and other pests. Avoid harsh cleaning products that contain chemicals like ammonia. There are many cleaning products that you can buy that do not have strong chemicals, and plain baking soda can be extremely effective at getting surfaces their cleanest. Smoking also causes liver damage due to some additive compounds that cigarettes generally contain.

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Preventing hepatitis is possible with a few safeguards. 

Hepatitis is a viral disease affecting the liver. Hepatitis A can be caught from eating or drinking contaminated food and water. If you visit a place where there is a hepatitis outbreak, you may not avoid coming into contact with the disease. In that case, you should get vaccinated so that you will not get sick. You should also be extra careful when visiting places that are prone to outbreaks of hepatitis. Ensure that you thoroughly wash all fresh produce and cook it instead of eating it raw to kill any hepatitis pathogens that may be living on it.

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Hepatitis B and C can be spread through bodily fluids and blood. Personal items such as razors, needles, and toothbrushes should not be shared between individuals. Doing this might contaminate the blood of an infected person, causing other people to contract the hepatitis pathogens. Hepatitis B and C can also be spread sexually, so condoms should always be used during sexual intercourse. Having unprotected sex with multiple partners is not advisable. There is a vaccine for Hepatitis B that most infants receive, but it can lose its potency over time. If you are at risk of contracting Hepatitis B, ask your doctor about getting boosters not to get sick from the virus.

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It is crucial to monitor the intake of supplements and herbs. 

Today, many people are very health-conscious, and they take a lot of herbs and supplements because they think that these products are entirely beneficial and carry no risk of side effects. That idea could not be more of a myth. Traditional medicine, including herbs, can be helpful, but only because some herbs have medicinal properties. Some herbs should not be mixed because of these medicinal properties because they can become toxic in combination. Many people who take herbs are not aware of what herbs should not be combined and may inadvertently be poisoning themselves when they think they are making themselves healthy.

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Some herbs such as chaparral, kava, comfrey, cascara, and ephedra may damage the liver, so you should avoid these at all costs. Some supplements and herbs are claimed to improve liver health, such as chanca piedra, the bark of borututu, and the seed of milk thistle. However, there is no evidence to support these claims, so one should be wary about taking them. Manufacturers who sell these products may claim that they promote liver health because they know that health-conscious people will buy them. While products sold in the United States are subject to advertising laws that prohibit this unethical behavior, many people go online and purchase these products from international distributors who are not bound by these advertising laws. Some of these may cause damage to the liver.

Losing weight can provide some relief for those who have fatty livers. Pixabay.

Treatment for liver disease can vary based on illness. 

If you have been diagnosed with liver disease, there are various treatment methods your doctor might discuss with you. The treatment for liver disease depends on the type of illness and the stage, and other surrounding factors. If you have hepatitis, your doctor will probably prescribe medications that address the particular kind of hepatitis you contracted. He or she may also recommend lifestyle changes, especially if you acquired it through unprotected sex or intravenous drug use. You want to make sure that you do not continue doing these things and thereby cause other people to become infected.

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In non-alcoholic fatty liver disease cases, the doctor usually asks their patients to lose weight through diet control and regular exercise because lifestyle alone is often the cause of this condition. Cutting out excess sugar, getting down to a healthy weight, and changing from a sedentary lifestyle to an active lifestyle can significantly change the prognosis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; sometimes, these changes can be enough to reverse the condition and ultimately cure it. However, other liver diseases require skilled medical care and treatment, especially if the disease has progressed so much that permanent damage has been caused.

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As a result of drinking too much for too long, you may need to take medications to strengthen, or you’re your liver. 

Cirrhosis of the liver can be treated with medications, but cirrhosis’s underlying cause is often lifestyle. Lifestyle factors that can lead to cirrhosis include consuming high sugar levels for a prolonged amount of time, chronic dehydration, too much salt intake, and eating too many unhealthy fats. Furthermore, other factors that contribute to the risk include not getting enough exercise nor getting adequate nutrition. You may also have too much stress built into your daily life, and that excessive stress can contribute to liver dysfunction. Besides taking medication that will help alleviate the cirrhosis, if your doctor diagnoses you with cirrhosis, you will probably also need to make lifestyle changes that will prevent further problems from developing.

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The doctors will advise the patient to stop alcohol intake in the case of alcoholic liver disease. They may also recommend the consumption of certain prescription drugs. For hepatitis, doctors suggest taking antiviral medications. Patients generally accept these medications to slow down the virus and stop it from causing any further damage to the liver. For autoimmune diseases, the doctor will administer medications that suppress the activity of the immune system. Bile duct blockage can be treated using drugs such as ursodiol. However, surgery may be required in severe cases, which involves opening up the blocked bile ducts. Genetic liver diseases are treated according to the type. For portal hypertension, blood pressure-lowering medications can also be used. These medicines prevent the veins in the stomach and esophagus from getting enlarged. If an infection is detected, they can prescribe drugs to treat the same. Antibiotics are prescribed for bacterial infections.

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You may require surgical procedures to address your liver issues. 

Liver disease may cause the amassing of fluids in the abdomen, also known as ascites. For this, the doctor will recommend medicines to extract the liquid from the body. The patient may be advised to limit their intake of salt. If the amount of fluid present in the abdomen is quite large, then a tube or a needle might drain the fluid. The doctor can order some tests to be conducted on the liquid to detect infection. If the blood vessels do burst, patients may experience vomiting blood or blood with stool. In such cases, surgery or endoscopy is used to stop internal bleeding.

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For liver cancer, the treatment procedure depends on the stage cancer has advanced to. In the initial stages, surgery is an option. Advanced stages may require chemotherapy and radiation therapy, both of which can have debilitating side effects and life-threatening complications. In some cases, a liver transplant might be needed. Liver transplants can be more successful than transplants of other organs because only part of a liver is required, so there are often fewer complications. For progressive liver disease, a liver transplant may be the only viable option. Especially in the case of liver disease, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Reduce the intake of salt, as this generally dehydrates the liver. Pixabay.

Try to avoid foods that include too much salt. 

Your liver cannot process some foods and drinks quickly. Thus, you should limit eating such items to help reduce liver disease risks. What should you avoid? A high in sodium diet may cause scarring of the liver, which is also known as fibrosis. Fibrosis can advance to the cirrhosis stage when it becomes a serious condition. As such, one should limit their intake of salt. Processed foods are usually preserved with the help of salt, and as such, should be avoided. Deli meats and bacon contain much salt. Canned vegetables are also preserved with salt’s use, so one should opt for fresh vegetables instead. Adding more salt to already cooked food should be avoided.

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Many people are unaware of just how much salt they are consuming because it is added to so many foods. If you are not aware of how much salt you are eating, start reading the nutritional labels and pay attention to sodium. The nutritious label percentage is based on the maximum amount you should consume; if you consume more than 100%, you are crippling your body with too much salt. Many restaurants now include the nutrition facts for their meals on the menu or online, so check your favorite restaurant’s website to see how much salt is in your favorite dish. The results may convince you never to eat out again.

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Alcohol has a significantly negative impact on your liver’s functioning.

Alcohol is one of the chief reasons why liver damage occurs. If you drink alcohol daily, then it becomes difficult for your liver to extract it from your body correctly. The alcohol builds up and can cause damage over time, leading to cirrhosis. So for that, you would have to limit your intake of alcoholic drinks. Having more than four to five drinks in one sitting is not recommended by doctors. Individuals with a family history of liver disease, or those who belong to high-risk groups, should limit their intake to two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.

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Some people think that they need to have a lot of alcohol to enjoy themselves, so limiting alcohol will require significant lifestyle changes. If you are unsure of what you should do with your free time that does not involve alcohol, trying to enjoy your favorite activities without any alcohol may not be productive. You may have to develop entirely new hobbies and probably even find new friends to spend time with so that you can begin to have a lifestyle that is not dependent on alcohol. The effort that you put in will be worth it because your health is something that you cannot put a price tag on.

Fried foods are extremely processed and oily, which is terrible for the liver. Pxhere.

Too much fried foods and red meat can be harmful to your body and liver. 

Say goodbye to these fried foods if you want to protect your liver. Red meat is high in saturated fat, and as such, not good for the liver. Thus, red meat consumption should be reduced to once or twice a week to maintain the liver’s healthy functioning. Fried foods are rich in calories and fat. They may cause obesity, which is one of the chief risk factors for liver disease. Fat might accumulate around the liver, leading to fatty liver disease. Hence, to keep your liver healthy, you should also avoid fried food items as much as possible.

Hands holding big plate with different fresh farm vegetables. Autumn harvest and healthy organic food concept
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A vegetarian or pescatarian (one that includes fish) diet is one of the best ways to take care of your liver, as long as you are not eating a lot of junk food. Getting protein from beans and bean-based products, such as tofu, and getting iron from leafy green vegetables can go a long way in helping to protect your liver from the saturated fat found in red meat. One pitfall to avoid is consuming too many carbohydrates. Many vegetarians eat far too many carbs, and those carbs can take a toll on the liver. Too much sugar, in particular, can lead to fatty liver disease.

Whole grain rice is better than white rice, as it has less sugar. Pxhere.

White rice, pasta, bread, and other fatty foods should be consumed in moderation. 

White rice, pasta, and bread are made up of processed flour. These do not contain as much fiber as whole grains do. Therefore, they might raise blood sugar in the body, which can lead to liver disease. Instead of eating starchy white grains, opt for whole grains that do not increase the blood sugar significantly. Whole grains have not been processed nearly as heavily as their white counterparts, so they maintain much more of their nutritional profile. People who eat whole grains instead of white grains tend to be leaner, and maintaining ideal body weight is also essential for preventing liver disease.

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Fatty foods are high in saturated fat, which is quite dense and convoluted. Thus, if you overeat saturated fat, it cannot be processed by the liver. Your liver might suffer from inflammation due to consuming such foods in high quantities. That might lead to scarring of the liver, also known as cirrhosis. Hence, foods rich in saturated fat, such as burgers and fries, should be avoided as a precautionary measure against liver disease. One health food trend that has become popular in the past decade is coconut oil because coconut oil is high in saturated fat, but this saturated fat is supposedly healthier. The jury seems to still be out on coconut oil’s health benefits, but the best approach is to apply the adage of everything in moderation.

Avoid sweets altogether and refined foods to give your liver a break. Pxhere.

Packaged and processed snacks and sugar can lead to an accumulation of fat. 

The liver serves the vital function of converting sugar into fat. However, consuming too much sugar can lead to fat accumulation around the liver, also known as fatty liver disease. The intake of sweets should be controlled, and sugar levels should be monitored to prevent liver disease. Like the ones commonly found in vending machines, packaged snacks are full of fat, salt, and sugar. These are not good for your liver since they are made up of processed fat, salt, and sugar in large quantities. One should limit the intake of such snacks and opt for healthier meals instead of protecting your liver.

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Most of these packaged and processed foods have very little nutritional content, so eating them provides you with nothing more than empty calories. Avoiding empty calories is essential to losing weight and maintaining a healthy body weight, so you want to steer clear of things like chips, candy, cake, soda, and other processed foods. Instead, eat yogurt with fruit added for a midday snack. Eating an omelet with many vegetables instead of donuts for breakfast will protect your liver in two ways: you will be avoiding the excessive sugar and saturated fat in the donuts, and you will be working towards a healthy weight.

Coffee in reasonable amounts can be useful for your liver. Pxhere.

Many foods and drinks are beneficial for your liver — even coffee!

Some foods are drinks that can reduce the risks of liver disease occurring. One of those items is coffee, one of many people’s favorite beverages worldwide. Scientists and nutritionists have been saying for years that coffee has high levels of antioxidants that can protect against age-related illnesses, such as Alzheimer’s disease. Some research has shown that coffee may protect you against specific liver issues such as fatty liver disease, and it may even slow down liver scarring and cancer. People concerned about their liver’s health should consider adding coffee to their daily diet if they do not already drink it.

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Coffee influences the enzymes of the liver. An enzyme imbalance in the liver may cause liver diseases, and coffee helps in preventing the same. Drinking coffee increases the number of protective antioxidants and can thus be beneficial for overall liver health. Accumulation of fat in the liver can also be reduced by drinking coffee. However, you want to make sure that you do not negate coffee’s health benefits by loading it down with sugar. Drink it black or with cream, but don’t add any sugar to it because sugar can completely derail the health of your liver. Also, avoid drinking more than two cups per day because caffeine can cause your nervous system problems and agitate symptoms of anxiety.

Oatmeal provides much beneficial fiber that helps to clean the blood and improve the immune system. Pxhere.

Oatmeal is a healthy food option for your liver.

Oats are rich in fiber. Fiber helps in digesting food. Eating oatmeal is an easy and effective way to add fiber to your diet. Fiber is a critical tool for digestion, and the specific fibers found in oats can be beneficial for the liver. Oatmeal is also enriched with beta-glucans, which are biologically active and very beneficial for the liver. Beta-glucans are useful for combating obesity and diabetes. They also help reduce inflammation and improve the functioning of the immune system. Tests conducted on mice have revealed that beta-glucans may help reduce the amount of fat in the liver.

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Instead of packaged oatmeal that contains sugar, you should opt for whole oats. Steel-cut oats are the healthiest because they have been minimally processed. They take longer to cook, but they are also much richer in nutrients and have a heartier flavor. Sweeten your oatmeal with fruit instead of adding sugar to it. Mashing up a banana into a bowl of oatmeal can add enough subtle sweetness that you do not need any additional sugar. Adding in some berries will make the oatmeal even sweeter and more flavorful while increasing the antioxidants and fibers that help you start the day off right.

This beverage is rich with beneficial qualities that are good for your body overall. Flickr.

Tea is one of the best drinks to consume. 

Tea contains antioxidants, which doctors consider excellent for your health. Why? Because they combat the effects of oxidative stress caused by toxins and a stressful lifestyle. Studies show that drinking tea could be beneficial for the liver in particular. A study conducted in Japan demonstrated that drinking green tea affects serum concentrations. It decreases the serum concentration of triglycerides and total cholesterol. That helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and liver disorders, including fatty liver disease. Green tea drinkers, especially those who drink green tea every day, have fewer chances of getting liver cancer and developing other liver problems. Some supplements of green tea are harmful, however, and one should use them with caution.

Green tea is antioxidant-rich with many health benefits. Shutterstock

Even though green tea is widely considered the healthiest kind of tea, black tea extract is also beneficial for liver health. A high-fat diet can damage the liver severely, but black tea extracts can somewhat reduce these effects. Many people drink herbal beverages labeled as “tea,” but there are only a few kinds of real tea, and they all come from the same plant. Herbal “teas” can be very beneficial for the liver, even though they are not tea. However, be careful about what you add to tea. Many people prefer to drink it with a lot of added sugar, which reverses any healthy benefits that they would receive.

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Grape and beetroot juice prevents inflammation in the liver. 

Purple and red grapes contain resveratrol, which is a plant compound that is beneficial for the liver. Consuming grape juice can help to prevent inflammation and increase the levels of antioxidants in the body. Moreover, the excellent news is that wine, especially red wine, also has high resveratrol levels! Nevertheless, be careful about how much wine you consume. One glass in the evening can help you wind down at the end of a long day while providing your liver with protective resveratrol, but more than one drink can contribute to fatty liver disease. Additionally, while grape juice has this healthful compound, it is also very high in sugar. For best results, eat whole grapes and enjoy grape juice occasionally.

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Beetroot juice contains antioxidants and nitrates, which may reverse damage caused by inflammation. Studies conducted on animals have revealed that consuming beetroot juice reduces inflammation and releases enzymes that act as natural detoxification agents. Many people are not used to drinking beet juice, but it can be mixed with other liquids, such as fresh-pressed apple juice, to make the flavor more appealing. Additionally, many recipes use beets and can supply your liver with the protection that this nutritious vegetable affords. You may find that adding beets to your diet once or twice a week will provide you with more energy. Your liver will be filtering toxins better and allowing you to better utilize the vitamins and minerals you consume.

Olive oil is a much healthier oil than canola, promoting better metabolism. Needpix.

Nuts and olive oil improve the enzyme levels in your liver. 

Nuts are rich in fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin E, and healthy fats that your body needs to function correctly. The fatty acids that they contain, along with antioxidants, help reverse the effects of oxidative stress, including the chronic inflammation that can prevent your liver from doing its job properly. Nuts can even help protect against fatty liver disease, so instead of reaching for a bag of potato chips, try snacking on some nuts instead. Add peanut butter to morning smoothies (or to your bowl of oatmeal for a creamy twist!), and swap out some of your dairy milk for nut-based kinds of milk, such as cashew milk, almond milk, and walnut milk.

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Liver fat and enzyme levels can be improved by consuming olive oil. While too much fat is bad for the liver and can contribute to disease, consuming olive oil daily can increase the protein levels that will enhance metabolism. Try swapping out salad dressing for olive oil and herbs, not to consume additional fat, and instead are getting healthy fats. Olive oil preserves most of its nutrients when eaten cold, so don’t use it as cooking oil (its low smoke point can send your smoke alarm in a frenzy). You can also eat olives to get the benefit of this healthy fat.

Garlic is a popular addition to many meals. Shutterstock

Garlic in your diet can help with the overall health of your liver. 

Here is a common addition to many dishes. Adding garlic to your diet allows your body to take advantage of its nutritional content. By choosing to add garlic to your meals, you help stimulate your liver. Garlic consumption reduces body weight and fat content in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. It is hugely beneficial as a contributing factor to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is being overweight or obese. A simple addition to your diet can have a substantial impact on your health. Not only will adding garlic to your food dishes add some flavor, but it will also help to maintain a healthy liver.

Garlic will help keep the vampires away, but it will also help boost your immune system while eating a plant-based diet. Shutterstock

Raw garlic can cause stomach upset in some people thanks to the high level of fructans. Those on the FODMAP diet to reduce inflammation from food sources may want to exclusively eat cooked garlic, as this seems to break down fructans and reduce the incidence of inflammation. If you experience a mild burning sensation with garlic, try adding ginger, turmeric, or fennel to your dish, all of which are calming to the stomach and aid in digestion. Plus, they’re all flavorful and work beautifully together to make delicious dishes! There are almost no cuisines that don’t include garlic, so the world is your culinary oyster.

There are many different types of berries, but they are all healthy. Shutterstock

Berries contain properties that assist in protecting your liver. 

There are many different types of berries, from blueberries, raspberries, and cranberries. The majority of the dark berries, such as those previously mentioned, contain antioxidants called polyphenols. These antioxidants can help protect the liver from damage. Regularly consuming berries three to four times a week, whichever kind you choose, may stimulate your overall immune system and contribute to a healthier you. Blueberries help increase immune cell response and antioxidant enzymes. On the other hand, blueberry extract helps to inhibit the growth of liver cancer cells. The types of antioxidants found in berries slow the development of lesions and fibrosis.

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Try incorporating berries into your morning Greek yogurt, or have them in the middle of the afternoon as a healthy snack! Many types of berries are considered superfoods, so in addition to helping liver cells, they can also aid with total body cell regeneration and antioxidant work. Blueberries are always a great choice, but check out some less common berries like Aronia berries, Goji berries, or even the humble wild gooseberry for high vitamin C levels and other vital nutrients for the healthiest liver possible. Berries can easily be added to a morning shake, dried in a snack mix, or even added to ice cream.

Grapes can be eaten fresh or can be used for making jam, grape juice, or jelly. Shutterstock

Grapes offer a nutritional value that can provide liver protection. 

Green, purple, and red grapes are a popular quick snack amongst individuals of all ages. Grapes, grape juice, and grape seeds offer various nutritional benefits that you won’t want to miss out on. All three items from the grape family are rich in antioxidants that can help protect your liver by reducing inflammation and preventing liver damage. Eating whole, seeded grapes is a simple way to add these compounds to the diet. A grape seed extract supplement may also provide some antioxidants, although it may not offer the same effects as consuming whole grapes. Try adding a few grapes to your morning breakfast or incorporate them into your lunch.

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If you don’t enjoy fresh grapes or find them challenging to use when fresh, try raisins! Dried grapes retain most of the nutrients of the fresh fruit. Look for raisins that are little or no sugar added for the healthiest option. Despite the typical jokes about “adult grape juice,” wine, unfortunately, does not contain the quality or quantity of nutrients in fresh or dried grapes. Also, since we’re talking about the liver, the metabolism of alcohol negates any benefit the nutrients might have on the liver. Avoid most grape juices as well, as they are typically apple juice with artificial flavoring.

Grapefruits are a common food, but they are also nutritious with several health benefits.

Grapefruit offers protective properties. 

In addition to grapes, grape juice, and grape seeds, grapefruit also has many protective liver components. Grapefruit contains two primary antioxidants: naringin and naringenin. These two antioxidants help protect the liver from injury by reducing inflammation and also protecting the liver cells. The grapefruit compounds also help reduce fat buildup in the liver and increase the enzymes that burn fat. The antioxidants found in grapefruit can also reduce the development of hepatic fibrosis, a harmful condition in which excessive connective tissue builds up in the liver. Like other foods, grapefruits are a helpful tool in the fight against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

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The one major drawback of grapefruit and grapefruit juice is its wide-ranging and powerful impact on many prescription medications. The enzyme CYP3A4 metabolizes many medicines. Grapefruit contains a chemical that blocks this enzyme’s effects, meaning that drugs will stay in your system longer, thereby increasing the effects. For medication like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), this can lead to a dangerous condition known as serotonin syndrome. Check your medication list before consuming grapefruit. If you’re lucky enough that your medications are all safe, go nuts! Grapefruit is a healthy and low-calorie food chock full of important nutrients.

Prickly pears are part of the cactus family. Shutterstock

The components of prickly pear have elements to aid in liver protection. 

Prickly pear is a popular type of edible cactus. Its fruit and juices are most commonly consumed. Long used in traditional medicine as a treatment for ulcers, wounds, and fatigue, prickly pears can help combat liver disease. Consuming prickly pear fruit and juices offer a reduction in inflammation in the liver. Also, consuming prickly pear extract helped normalize enzyme and cholesterol levels. While prickly pear extract offers many health benefits, you will receive the most health benefits by consuming prickly pear juice. With all of its positive effects on the liver, it may be beneficial to drink some prickly pear fruit juice after a night out with friends.

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Despite seeming like an exotic fruit, many Prickly Pear varieties of the Opuntia family are incredibly hardy plants and can be grown as far north as North Dakota! The fast-growing paddle cacti will shrivel up over the winter but bounce back in the spring, producing flowers and fruits in only a couple of years of growth. You can prepare your own fresh prickly pear fruit by carefully peeling the rind off the ripened pink fruits. Be careful to remove the skin to avoid any irritating tiny hairs present throughout the skin. The fruit is often compared to watermelon in terms of flavor.

Did you know that yummy beetroot juice has many beneficial health effects? Shutterstock

Beetroot juice is full of nutrients that contribute to the health of your liver. 

Beetroot juice is a source of nitrates and antioxidants called betalains, which benefit heart health and liver health. The nitrates and antioxidants reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the liver. Simultaneously, the nitrates and antioxidants increase the natural detoxification enzymes. While it is reasonable to assume that eating beets themselves would have similar health effects, you take the most advantage of the nutritional content by consuming beetroot juice. You can purchase beetroot juice from the store, or you can choose to juice beets yourself. Either way, the benefits that beetroot juice provides are not ones you will want to miss out on.

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If you wonder what to do with the root itself, beet pickles are an old-fashioned but delicious option! You can find them in most grocery stores or make them yourself. With a sweeter and spicier brine than dill pickles, beet pickles are an absolute treat and have the benefits of both beets and pickled foods. If your liver needs a hangover cure, beet pickles are an excellent remedy, with the brine’s salt restoring valuable electrolytes. In contrast, the beets themselves aid in detoxing the liver. If you follow the rainbow diet, beets are an invaluable source of rich purple, hard to find elsewhere.

Nuts are often used as a quick, on-the-go snack. Shutterstock

Nuts have many health benefits. 

Eating nuts may be a simple way to keep your liver healthy. Nuts are high in fats and nutrients, including the antioxidant vitamin E and beneficial plant compounds. Nuts generally contain unsaturated fatty acids. This composition is responsible for several health benefits for both heart and liver health. Consuming nuts help improve the levels of natural liver enzymes. Those who incorporate nuts into their daily diet have a lower risk of developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The compounds in nuts also reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. Eating a handful of walnuts or almonds each day may help maintain your liver health. 

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Walnuts are the most valuable in terms of reducing the incidence of fatty liver disease. Did you know that walnuts are also one of the easiest to find and cheaper nuts, making them an ideal choice for your diet? They can be incorporated into savory and sweet dishes, making natural companions to foods as diverse as green beans and chocolate brownies. One thing to note with nuts is that they are rich in oxalates, making them stone-forming for anyone who struggles with kidney stones. If that isn’t an issue for you, nuts are an ideal choice for snacking or adding a side dish!

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Cruciferous vegetables for the win!

Cruciferous vegetables make up a family of nutritional powerhouses with a distinctive taste that includes brussel sprouts, broccoli, and greens like mustard greens. Their bitterness is a hallmark of the family, leading some to dislike them. However, they can be prepared in many different ways that accentuate and complement, or even entirely hide, the bitterness. Even if you’ve been put off in the past, the health benefits of cruciferous vegetables are so great that you should consider giving them another try. There are dishes like Vietnamese fish sauce roasted brussel sprouts that are gourmet dishes that are as healthy as unique and delicious. 

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Studies have found that compounds in broccoli and brussel sprouts, specifically, increase amounts of a vital detoxification enzyme in the liver. They also provided protection from damage to cells throughout the liver. For brussel sprouts, this effect remained as powerful even when the vegetable is cooked, an essential factor since they are never eaten raw. Studies in rats have found that brussel sprout compounds prevented liver diseases, including fatty liver disease. Broccoli sprout extract helped increase beneficial enzymes in rat livers and reduced oxidative stress on liver cells. These results are auspicious for human health!

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Put fatty fish on your weekly menu. 

Fatty fish like salmon, including an essential nutrient: omega-3 fatty acids. The nutrient, which comprises a group of beneficial fatty acids, has been found to reduce inflammation and is associated with a reduced risk of cardiovascular and heart disease. New studies are finding that omega-3 fatty acids are also beneficial for the liver by fighting inflammation and maintaining healthy insulin levels. There is also some evidence that omega-3 fatty acids, despite being fats themselves, help prevent fat accumulation in the liver, which reduces the risk of fatty liver disease. Time to go out for some sushi!

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Interestingly, while omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial for the liver, the related omega-6 fatty acids contribute to liver disease risk. These fatty acids are found in many plant oils and are overconsumed in most American diets. Nutritionists recommend keeping the ratio of omega-6 fatty acids and omega-3 fatty acids consumed low, with omega-3 fatty acids comprising most of the fats eaten. Common plant oils like canola, corn, vegetable, and others are added to many foods, so read those labels carefully and make sure you include a lot of wild-caught fatty fish in your balanced diet.

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Olives and olive oil are healthy for you. 

Many people have heard of the Mediterranean diet and its effects on the cardiovascular system, including lower blood pressure and reduced heart disease risk. However, what’s less known is that one of the Mediterranean diet’s primary foods, olive oil, is extremely beneficial for your liver. One small study of individuals with fatty liver disease found that as little as one teaspoon of olive oil a day reduced their livers’ fat levels and improved the number of healthy enzymes. While not everyone loves the taste of olives, they have similar nutritional benefits to oil.

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Even a study of healthy adults without fatty liver disease found that consuming a small amount of olive oil daily had beneficial liver effects. How? It increased blood flow, less fat accumulation, and improved insulin sensitivity, which is a protective factor against the development of diabetes. Since fat accumulation in the liver is the first major stage of liver disease, anything that can prevent fat accumulation is incredibly valuable in the fight to maintain a healthy liver. Even if you don’t cook much, it’s easy (and delicious) to have fresh bread dipped in olive oil with garlic, salt, and pepper.

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Have you ever had milk thistle tea?

When someone is tragically poisoned by eating a destroying angel, or Amanita bisporigera, mushroom, one of the major organs affected are the liver. The poisoning’s full symptoms can take days to develop, and unfortunately, that often means permanent liver damage has had time to develop. The mushroom toxins destroy the liver cells, rendering the organ non-functional and often requiring a transplant. Even those who survive the poisoning have to live with either permanent liver damage or transplant follow-up care. Fortunately, hospitals have found that a common weed holds a life-saving potential in these cases: milk thistle.

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If a simple weed is powerful enough to help save your liver from nature’s deadliest mushroom, imagine what a simple tea can do for a healthy liver! Milk thistle works by dramatically increasing glutathione production, which is often referred to as the mother of all antioxidants. Milk thistle also prevents the depletion and breakdown of glutathione, leaving more available for your body. The highest concentrations of glutathione are found in the liver, so it is a vital liver health component. In addition to mushroom poisoning, milk thistle is also used to treat hepatitis and cirrhosis of the liver caused by alcoholism.

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Grab some artichoke leaves the next time you eat. 

When thinking of artichokes, we typically think of the bud or heart. However, people throughout Europe commonly eat the leaves, especially in the Mediterranean. In addition to being a flavorful green, there is growing evidence that artichoke leaves are beneficial for maintaining liver health. The leaves contain several compounds that increase bile production, which aids in detoxification and protects the liver by increasing healthy enzymes. Artichoke leaf also helps to maintain healthy blood cholesterol levels, which benefits the cardiovascular system and liver. Adding artichoke leaves to a salad, soup, or even a greens smoothie will give you a nutritional powerhouse.

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One of the two most active compounds in artichoke leaves is silymarin, which it also shares with milk thistle, the miracle treatment for severe mushroom poisoning. This chemical works to protect the liver from damage through a combination of antioxidant and enzyme increasing effects. Artichoke leaves also contain cynarin, an important chemical that increases the production of bile in the liver. Bile works by binding with toxins and allowing them to be processed and removed from the body through the liver. A liver that produces a healthy amount of bile functions much better and detoxifies the body much more efficiently.

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Sprinkle turmeric on your dish. 

Have you ever encountered a Middle Eastern or Indian dish that had an earthy scent and a beautiful, rich golden color? The chef likely spiced it with turmeric (mostly if it was too cheap to contain saffron!) A popular spice throughout much of the world, turmeric is also medically essential and has numerous positive effects on the liver. You can find turmeric in most grocery stores in whole root form. Also, you can buy it as a dried powdered spice, or even as pre-bagged teas. It is a warming, hearty flavor that combines nicely with ginger, another important and tasty liver boosting food.

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Turmeric is an extremely potent antioxidant, meaning that it can bind up free radicals and prevent the cellular damage they’re notorious for causing. There is preliminary evidence that turmeric’s antioxidant effects may even lower cancer risk in the liver. A study in cattle found that turmeric protected the cows from stress damage related to fatty liver disease. The turmeric effects appear to be even stronger when combined with green tea, which sounds like an enjoyable cup of tea to drink. Additional studies have found that turmeric can protect the liver’s endoplasmic reticulum from changes, reducing the overall risk of liver disease.

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Dandelion roots can help protect liver health. 

When the Union army blockaded the Confederate Army during the US Civil War, they could not get coffee for their soldiers. They turned to an old folk solution: roasting dandelion roots and using them as a coffee substitute. While it doesn’t taste exactly like coffee, the dark tea-like solution does have a bitter, warming flavor that also packs a nutritional punch. If you have a yard free of lawn chemicals, you can even forage dandelion roots yourself since they are such a common, easy to identify the plant. Dandelion leaves and flower heads are also edible, making it a useful, underappreciated weed.

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A Korean study found that consuming dandelion root helped prevent liver damage from both alcohol and other toxic chemicals. Much like many of the other items on this list, dandelion root is rich in antioxidants, meaning that it binds up free radicals in the body, which can cause serious damage to cells, including the formation of cancer. Another study found that even when fed a high lipid diet, rabbits that ate dandelion root had a healthier lipid profile and higher antioxidant levels. There is preliminary research that dandelion root also helps with arthritis, so don’t pass up that next patch of dandelions!

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Don’t forget to try dock root.

Another common weed root is dock. Many dock kinds grow wild throughout the united states, including giant dock, which most people know from its giant, thorned seeds often called cockleburs. However, the medically valuable dock roots are limited to those from the Yellow Dock plant, Rumex crispus, which is native to Europe and Asia. Commonly known as curly dock, this plant’s roots have myriad benefits for both the lymphatic and liver. In addition to being able to buy whole dried roots, you can also find pre-made teas either entirely made of or include yellow dock root.

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Yellow dock’s potent roots include anthraquinones, a powerful compound that helps control digestion flow and prevent constipation. It helps to eliminate waste more efficiently from the body. Yellow dock root is also a diuretic. That means it increases urination frequency by removing more water and toxins from the body. Be sure to stay hydrated when consuming yellow dock since it heavily uses the water in your body for several of its mechanisms of action. Another critical effect of yellow dock root is increasing mucous secretion in the colon. In turn, it improves overall colon health, and waste removal.

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Eat recipes with ginger and you can protect your liver longer. 

Ginger is present in the cuisine of countless cultures ranging from German Gingerbread to Chinese Ginger Chicken. Ginger has long been used to prevent motion sickness, and ginger chews are widely available at airports and rest stops for just this purpose. However, ginger’s benefits extend far beyond its anti-nausea properties and delicious flavor. Experts noted that ginger has several anti-inflammatory compounds. They have a profound effect on the liver as well as the rest of the body. Two of ginger’s critical chemical components, gingerol, and shogaol, have significant liver effects that make it an essential part of the diet.

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Gingerol and shogaol can reduce inflammation-causing chemicals, including, prostaglandins and cytokines. Cytokines are a part of the immune system that deal with allergies and the body’s defense to infectious agents. If either is too active, the body’s defense system can turn on itself in the form of autoimmune issues and inflammation. Reduced cytokine levels have a positive effect on both insulin sensitivity and reduced fibrosis levels in the liver. Since doctors link both of these factors to the risk of fatty liver disease, ginger can play a part in reducing the risk.

Eggs are a popular breakfast choice with a lot of nutritional value. Shutterstock

Eat eggs for breakfast. 

Choline is a vital nutrient that serves several major roles throughout the body. While it can be obtained through supplements, it’s always best to get as many vitamins and nutrients as possible through food. They often contain accompanying enzymes that help your body get the maximum value and absorption. For choline, a fantastic choice for a natural source is eggs. Eggs are easy to find, very cheap, and a great source of protein and trace nutrients, including choline. While eggs were once a cause of cholesterol concern, experts now consider them a healthy source of protein.

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Choline is a fat component, but interestingly enough, its most significant impact on the liver is preventing the buildup of fat in the liver, which causes non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Chlorine also helps in the movement of two essential fats, cholesterol and triglycerides, away from the liver to other organs where they can be far more beneficial as energy. Choline also helps prevent the buildup of toxic fats in the liver, which can hinder its ability to process and break down toxins in the body. Choline also has the additional benefit of helping the body recover from exercise, so consider some eggs as a post-workout snack!

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Legumes are great for your liver health. 

These are one of the healthiest, and often cheapest per pound, foods you can buy. Legumes are any seeds of the pea family members and include peas, beans, lentils, chickpeas, soybeans, and peanuts. Did you know that legumes are high in protein and fiber? They are low in fat, and full of essential nutrients. They’re also extremely beneficial for the liver due to their relatively high quantities of molybdenum, a vital trace nutrient and metal that helps the liver successfully and efficiently remove toxins from the body. You can cook legumes in many diverse ways. It’s almost impossible not to find a dish that will work in your diet.

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While you may have last heard of molybdenum in chemistry class, where it has periodic table number 42, it plays a vital role in the human body’s functioning. Despite being a metal, our bodies need molybdenum to help our liver function. The trace metal, found mostly in legumes and organ meat, activates enzymes that our liver needs to process and eliminate toxins. Specifically, it targets the harmful sulfites that can build up in our bodies. These compounds are toxic, so we must eat at least a little molybdenum to keep our livers running smoothly!

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Turkey isn’t just for Thanksgiving. 

Another trace nutrient and nonmetal that our bodies, and especially livers and thyroids, need is selenium. At number 34 on the period table, this element is vital in the fight against oxidation within the body. Oxidative stress and damage cause inflammation and changes to cells up to and including the formation of cancer. Selenium is an essential component for two of the enzymes that fight this harmful oxidization. Studies have found that people with hepatitis have significantly less selenium in their bodies, showing that a healthy liver requires it. Diseased livers tend to lack it in normal quantities.

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A significant source of this trace mineral is the humble Thanksgiving turkey! Their meat is relatively high in selenium while also being a healthy lean protein. Selenium also plays a vital role in the elasticity of the liver. Many diseases of the liver, including cirrhosis, cause the tissue in the liver to stiffen up, which reduces blood flow and the liver’s functioning. Selenium helps to prevent this stiffening, even in livers suffering from diseases like hepatitis and cirrhosis. Selenium helps maintain an overall healthy circulatory system within the liver, allowing it to process bile and break down toxins efficiently.

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Eat some leafy greens, at least once in a while! 

If you are a picky eater, you might not like this food option. However, everyone knows that leafy greens are a fundamental class of superfoods. Greens like spinach, kale, collards, chard, arugula, and some dark lettuces, are rich in countless nutrients vital for healthy body function. Much like beets are one of the only sources of the deep red part of the food rainbow. Leafy greens are one of the only sources for rich, dark green. That doesn’t mean you need to eat nothing but salads every day, though, as greens can be cooked in many delicious ways or even hidden in tasty fruit smoothies.

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One crucial and unique nutrient in leafy greens is chlorophyll, the chemical that means life for our planet’s plant kingdom. In the human body, chlorophyll serves to help cleanse the body of toxins, including heavy metals and even pesticides. Chlorophyll aids the liver in dealing with these harmful compounds, reducing the overall burden on the liver. Chlorophyll is also a potent antioxidant that protects the liver’s cells from damage while dealing with toxins. Leafy greens are full of much health-boosting goodness. There’s just no excuse not to try at least masking them in a smoothie!

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Replace regular spuds with sweet potatoes.

While sweet potatoes have historically been relegated to the least favorite Thanksgiving side dish or, at best, an alternative to pumpkin pie, people are rapidly beginning to realize the sweet potato, or yam’s, importance as a superfood in its own right. Despite the name sweet potato, it is not a close relative of the standard spud and is a Morning Glory family member. To add to the confusion, neither is it a true yam, indigenous to Africa and South America. The sweet potato owes its superfood status to the natural antioxidant beta-carotene, also found in carrots.

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Beta-carotene converts to Vitamin A in the body, specifically within the liver. Vitamin A is vitally essential for healthy eyesight and many other bodily functions. While Vitamin A can be taken through supplements, it is a fat-soluble vitamin and can build up in the liver and start to do the liver harm. By far, the safest, most natural way to increase your body’s levels of Vitamin A is through eating beta-carotene-rich foods like sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are also rich in Vitamin C and fiber, which help maintain a healthy immune system and digestive process.

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Lemons can do wonders for your liver health. 

Many liver and kidney diseases, as well as high blood pressure, often require a low sodium diet to help maintain health. Most of these diets recommend an unusual replacement for the sodium we crave: lemon! Lemon is chock full of electrolytes that the body needs, just like sodium, but it doesn’t dehydrate the body’s cells as sodium does. Lemon pairs beautifully in both sweet and savory dishes, so incorporating more lemon flesh or juice into your diet is a breeze. Rich in vitamin C and many important antioxidant compounds, lemons also benefit overall health through anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting actions.

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Despite being quite acidic themselves, lemons have an alkalizing effect on the body. That means it makes the body’s cells more basic or alkaline instead of acidic. Lemon and its various beneficial chemicals get to work as soon as they enter the body. What do they do? They help aiding in excreting waste, building up the immune system, and assisting the liver in neutralizing harmful toxins. Few things beat a bowl full of fresh lemons as a gorgeous kitchen accent or dining room centerpiece. Challenge yourself to buy lemons and incorporate them into your diet. While it isn’t healthy, a great first experiment would be a batch of lemon bars!

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Add avocado to your diet to help protect your liver. 

Fats are indeed a balancing act for the liver. Too much fat and can accumulate in your liver, contributing to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease development. Not enough fat means your liver doesn’t have the energy it needs to function. In turn, it won’t be able to remove toxins from the body. The best way to address this balancing acct is to ensure a majority of the fats in your diet are healthy fats. Diets high in unhealthy fats like trans or saturated fats can also inhibit bile production, which also harms the liver’s ability to process and remove toxins.

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One great source of healthy fat for your diet is avocado. While it may have briefly been the food of mocking millennials on toast, people have long viewed avocado as a superfood for its richness in healthy fats. Avocado can add a filling dose of fat to salads, sandwiches, smoothies, and many more. People commonly use it as a vegetarian or vegan substitute for mayonnaise in savory dishes. The healthy fats in avocadoes are particularly effective at helping your body to produce high levels of glutathione, an important chemical your liver relies on for assistance in processing and removing various toxins.  

Sources:

https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/11-foods-for-your-liver#section11

https://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/picture-of-the-liver

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/liver-problems/symptoms-causes/syc-20374502

https://liverfoundation.org/for-patients/about-the-liver/diseases-of-the-liver/

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/cirrhosis/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20351492

https://www.medicinenet.com/liver_disease/article.htm

https://www.emedicinehealth.com/liver/article_em.htm

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/323915#12-best-foods

https://www.fda.gov/consumers/consumer-updates/grapefruit-juice-and-some-drugs-dont-mix#:~:text=Many%20drugs%20are%20broken%20down,much%20drug%20in%20your%20body

https://balanceone.com/blogs/news/the-top-11-supplements-to-support-liver-function 

https://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/foods-to-cleanse-and-care-for-your-liver/ 

 

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