What is a liver cleanse? Natural liver cleanses can be done by consuming food and drinks that assist the body in cleaning and detoxifying your liver. Our livers work extremely hard every day to protect us from adverse effects from toxins and often it is easy for our lives to become overworked compromising our health significantly. Liver cleanse, as it is most commonly known, is an attempt to clean the inside of the human body. The liver, kidneys, immune system cells, lymphatic fluid, intestines, lungs and skin all work together to remove toxins; but sometimes these organs, cells and fluids can use some help.
To help the body eliminate exogenous and endogenous toxins liver cleanses have become increasingly popular.
Modern society is a sad state that produces many over-processed livers. When we overeat or eat processed or fried foods, or anytime we are exposed to environmental pollutants or stress, the liver becomes overworked and overloaded. When the liver is taxed, it can’t process toxins and fat in an efficient way. There are many foods that can help cleanse the liver naturally by stimulating its natural ability to expel toxic waste from the body.
The list in this article is a little more specific and focuses mainly on foods that can help cleanse your liver. All it takes is a few simple steps to promote normal liver health.
A natural liver cleanse can clear the liver through a simple switch in diet. A liver cleanse diet is safe, effective and won’t put added stress on the liver or the body as a whole.
What are the benefits of a liver cleanse?
There are many benefits to detoxing your liver. Firstly, many of the foods that are beneficial to your liver are also great for weight loss. This, in turn, benefits your liver. Obesity can do great damage to your liver, and so keeping your weight healthy is a great way to ensure your organs remain functional.
In addition, cleansing your liver will give you plenty of extra energy. Particularly if you have been suffering from fatigue as a symptom of poor liver function. The liver will become much better at converting food into energy to fuel your day.
A liver cleanse will also eliminate and prevent liver stones. These can build up and be undetected for a long amount of time, but they can become lodged in your ducts and cause serious abdominal pain and fever.
A healthy liver also means it can function effectively in the digestive process. This, in turn, will mean you are less likely to suffer gas, bloating and abdominal discomfort.
Finally, a cleansed liver will boost your immune system. This will leave you less susceptible to illnesses and boost your overall wellbeing.
Liver Cleanse – Foods That Cleanse the Liver
If you’re looking for a liver cleanse diet, incorporating these foods can really help speed the liver detox process:
Just a small amount of this pungent white bulb has the ability to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also holds high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
For optimal liver health, use at least four cloves of fresh garlic daily in food preparations. Add chopped fresh garlic to your cooked meals at the end of the cooking process to retain the enzymes and nutrients.
Protect Against Liver Cancer – As published in an October 2013 edition of the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, Taiwanese researchers aimed to understand the modes of cell death mechanism induced by allicin, the major phytochemical of crushed garlic in human hepatoma cells. They found that allicin induced cell death in human liver cancer cells through either autophagy or apoptosis. The researchers believe that garlic might contain a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of liver cancer.
High in both vitamin C and antioxidants, citrus fruits like grapefruit, oranges, limes, and lemons support the natural cleansing abilities of the liver.Have a small glass of freshly-squeezed grapefruit juice to boost production of the liver detoxification enzymes that help flush out carcinogens and other toxins.
Grapefruit can reduce the amount of drugs needed to get a desired effect. They contain a flavanoid called naringin that has the ability to inhibit enzyme activity both in the liver (phase 1) and the intestines, which break down these drugs for elimination. This allows higher concentrations into the bloodstream. It has been shown to have promising therapeutic use in cancer treatment to lower the amount of chemotherapy drugs needed for treatment. This effect can allow us to use fewer drugs and put less stress on your liver, allowing it to function more efficiently.
Note: Grapefruit juice interacts with a number of prescription drugs, so check with your doctor before increasing your grapefruit consumption.
Beets and Carrots
Both are extremely high in plant-flavonoids and beta-carotene; eating beets and carrots can stimulate and support overall liver function.
Beets come in a variety of colors, however, we recommend using the dark red beets – most of the time – because of their dark pigment. Highly regarded by most (well-educated) nutritionists – beets are rich in natural iron and they cleanse the blood beautifully – especially when you combine the beet greens into a freshly-prepared juice.
Although rich in folates, phosphorus, vitamin C, copper, potassium and manganese – these important nutrients are lost when you cook beets or any other vegetable. Just be careful not to keep them too long in the refrigerator, as beet greens can turn limp and almost unusable after a few days.
Carrots are one of the top sources of carotenoids called beta-carotene, which the body converts into vitamin A. Carotenoids also help keep your liver healthy. The liver produces bile, which removes wastes, but bile stays in the liver or gallbladder until fats enter the small intestine and trigger its release. Carotenoids are fat-soluble, so when you eat a carrot, they stimulate bile to flow and remove wastes.
This liver-loving beverage is full of plant-based antioxidants known as catechins—compounds known to assist liver function. Green tea is a delicious, healthy addition to any diet. Just remember that green tea offers the benefits, not green tea extract. Some research suggests green tea extract may actually have a negative effect on liver health. Keep it simple and stick to the beverage to enjoy the benefits of green tea.
Green tea is made from green tea leaves and it contains beneficial chemicals. Among them is epigallocatechin-3-gallate, also known as EGCG. It is part of a larger group of compounds called polyphenols, which exert antioxidant effects and can help to protect your cells and tissues from the damage of unstable molecules known as free radicals. Free radicals are atoms with unpaired electrons, which makes them unstable. They go around stealing electrons from healthy cells in an effort to pair with their own electrons, but this damages healthy cells and tissues. Antioxidants find free radicals and pair up with them, which neutralizes them and prevents them from causing damage.
Studies have also shown that daily ingestion of green tea blocks the amount of fat stored in the livers of obese mice that otherwise develop severe fatty liver disease; improves liver function; and reverses declines in antioxidant defences in the liver.
Leafy Green Vegetables
One of our most powerful allies in cleansing the liver, leafy greens can be eaten raw, cooked, or juiced. Extremely high in chlorophyll, greens soak up environmental toxins from the blood stream. With their distinct ability to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides, these cleansing foods offer a powerful protective mechanism for the liver.
Incorporate leafy greens such as bitter gourd, arugula, dandelion greens, spinach, mustard greens, and chicory into your diet. This will increase creation and flow of bile—the substance that removes waste from the organs and blood.
This nutrient-dense superfood helps the body produce glutathione, a compound that is necessary for the liver to cleanse harmful toxins.
Avocados are high in fat and contain approximately 22.5 grams of fat per medium fruit. However, the majority of this fat is monounsaturated fat, known as “good fat.” Consuming monounsaturated fat assists in decreasing low-density lipoproteins or “bad cholesterol” and increasing high-density lipoproteins, known as “good cholesterol.” Good cholesterol helps clean the blood and arterial walls by diverting the bad cholesterol to the liver. The liver functions to break down and remove these fats.
The avocado provides over 20 minerals, vitamins and plant nutrients. Some of the most prominent vitamins in an avocado include vitamin B6, folate, vitamin E and vitamin C. B vitamins, like vitamin B6 and folate, support overall liver health and assist in breaking down fats. Additionally, a deficiency in folate is associated with an increased risk of liver cancer. Other vitamins, such as vitamin E, can help reduce liver inflammation and scarring among children with fatty liver disease, according to Columbia University. Similarly, vitamin C aids in flushing fats from your liver, which can assist in preventing cirrhosis.
Apples are rich in pectin, the soluble fiber that helps remove toxins and cholesterol from the blood, which helps your liver big time! They’re also rich in malic acid, a naturally cleansing nutrient that removes carcinogens and other toxins from the blood.
Apples are one of the top detox foods because it contains fiber, vitamins, minerals and many beneficial phytochemicals such as D-Glucarate, flavonoids and terpenoids – all of which are used in the detox process. One apple flavonoid, Phlorizidin (phlorizin), helps stimulate bile production, which helps the liver get rid of some toxins through the bile. In addition, apples are also a good source of the soluble fiber pectin, which helps eliminate metals and food additives from the bloodstream. Because conventionally grown apples contain a great deal of pesticide residue, experts suggest consuming only organic apples.
Olive oil is the best! But not any type of olive oil: extra virgin, cold pressed (and if you can afford it, organic as it is considered the best of the best).
Olive oil has many health benefits, and it is one of the best all-natural solutions available for cleansing the liver. The theory is that drinking large amounts of olive oil sends signals to the liver to open the bile ducts. As these bile ducts open up to process the excess quantities of oil, anything that was previously stuck can more easily flow out. Most of what comes out of the liver during this process is bile, but some people see liver and gallbladder stones released from their body.
Olive oil is the staple of the Mediterranean Diet, the diet that I have followed (with slight alterations) with great results for my fatty liver. It has mostly unsaturated (healthy) fats, as well as polyunsaturated fats and a lot of antioxidants which are perfect for the liver. It also appears that the healthy fats and antioxidants from the extra virgin olive oil reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease too.
If your diet includes wheat, flour, or other standard grains, it’s time to make changes. And alternative grains like quinoa, millet, and buckwheat can help. Your liver is your body’s filter for toxins, and if you have certain sensitivities, grains that contain gluten only add to them. One study found that persons who experienced sensitivity to gluten also experienced abnormal liver enzyme test results.
Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables of the family Brassicaceae (also called Cruciferae). These include arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chinese cabbage, collard greens, daikon radish, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, maca, mustard greens, mustard seeds, radish, rapini (broccoli rabe), turnip, and watercress.
Broccoli and cauliflower are good sources of glucosinolate, which supports enzyme production in the liver. These natural enzymes flush carcinogens and other toxins from the body, and may significantly lower risks associated with cancer.
Lemons and Limes
These citrus fruits are high in vitamin C, which aids the body in synthesizing toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water. Drinking freshly-squeezed lemon or lime juice in the morning can stimulate the liver.
Many liver detoxification approaches value limes because of their high Vitamin C content: one lime has an estimated 19.5 mg of Vitamin C. Making sure there is adequate Vitamin C in the diet is standard liver-detox program protocol. This is because Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals – essentially stopping the damage free radicals can cause to the body’s tissues and organs (including the liver). Therefore, Vitamin C can scavenge inflammatory substances in the blood which will prevent damage to liver cells.
High in the amino acid arginine, walnuts support the liver in detoxifying ammonia. Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which support normal liver cleansing. Make sure you chew the nuts until they are liquefied before swallowing.
Walnuts are rich in healthy fats that have anti-inflammatory properties. American scientists have found that when high-fat diet induced fatty liver rodents were supplemented with walnut, it helped reduce hepatic triglycerides, lowered the levels of enzymes involved in liver homeostasis, and suppressed the genes involved in hepatic inflammation.
Much like broccoli and cauliflower, eating cabbage stimulates liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins. Kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage soup, and sauerkraut are great cabbage-foods to add to your diet. For many people, cabbage is synonymous with detoxification and weight balance. It cleanses the liver and it’s only 17 calories a cup! So be sure to include cabbage in your diet. There is research that has been done that confirms cabbage as among the super foods.
Cabbage is excellent when it comes to liver cleansing. Drink cabbage juice to overcome hangovers! The anti-inflammatory properties help to reduce the effects of dehydration and headache from liver intoxication.
Turmeric is the liver’s favorite spice. Try adding some of this detoxifying goodness into your next lentil stew or veggie dish for an instant liver pick-me-up. Turmeric helps boost liver detoxification by assisting enzymes that actively flush out dietary toxins. The agent that gives turmeric its bright yellow color contains a powerful phytochemical component known as curcumin.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, curcumin stimulates production of bile by the gallbladder. The liver uses bile to eliminate toxins; bile also rejuvenates liver cells that breakdown harmful compounds. For this reason, turmeric has been used in Ayurvedic and Chinese medicine to treat digestion and liver disorders.
Tips For Doing a Liver Cleanse
Other liver cleanse foods not listed above include artichoke, asparagus, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Eating the foods listed above is a great way to help keep your liver functioning properly. However, for best results, I recommend performing a liver cleanse. Performing a liver cleanse at least twice a year will eliminate any foreign substances that may be trapped in your liver.
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