Liver Health | Liver support should be considered part of a wellness lifestyle. The liver is one of your hardest working organs. Your liver not only helps break down toxins so they can be excreted but helps methylate b-vitamins too. B-vitamins are a group of water soluble nutrients that support your brain, mood, energy, and overall cell health. Real liver support includes quality nutritional supplements, strategic food choices, and lifestyle supports that aid in good detoxification. Particularly if you drink alcohol, have been exposed to heavy metals, or mold, extra liver support is needed. Genetic testing can also reveal if your ability to make enzymes necessary for optimal methylation and detoxification is impaired.
There are many different ways to support the liver and four specific nutritional compounds and definitely get the job done.
- Selenium– this is a trace mineral that also functions as a powerful antioxidant. This antioxidant function protects the liver from free radical damage caused by foods, chemical exposure, processed foods, and the myriad of common liver toxins. Selenium also jumpstarts glutathione production which is the potent antioxidant in the body.
- Milk Thistle– this is an herb long known for liver support. For over 2,000 years milk thistle has been used because it contains silymarin that naturally works very efficiently within the liver cells. Milk thistle protects the liver cells from damage and supports the hard work of detoxifying. Healthy levels of inflammation and good bile flow are also supported by this herb, both of which are crucial for good liver function.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid is a free radical scavenger that is unique because it is water and fat soluble so it can get into all types of tissue to protect from oxidation. Additionally it helps the regeneration of other antioxidants such as CoQ10, vitamin C, and glutathione to make them more usable by the body. This antioxidant is also a big part of the body’s ability to get rid of heavy metals which are particularly problematic for the liver.
- N-Acetyl-L-Cysteine (NAC) is a precursor for glutathione production. Glutathione is the body’s most powerful free radical scavenger. It is made in the liver and a critical part of detoxification, cell health, the elimination of mycotoxins and heavy metals.
There are many ways in which food can contribute to or impair liver health. Food is the primary fuel for your body and directly affects your liver. While supplements and lifestyle are part of the liver health equation, without the strategic support of food, great liver health doesn’t stand a chance. In fact, food is a primary contributor to liver impairment because of the potential for food to contain chemicals and additives that require the liver to work overtime to break down and excrete toxins. There is a lot that can be done with food to support the liver. Here are four tried and true food strategies to use food to support your liver.
Increase Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables provide antioxidants and many compounds that support great liver function. Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and more provide enzymes that help the liver detoxify. They also contain sulfur compound which help with oxidative damage and support glutathione levels. Choosing organic and consuming these types of vegetables raw, or gently cooked is the way to get the most out of these powerhouse foods.
Decrease Processed Foods
There’s really no way to talk about getting the right fuel for your body without recommending decreasing processed foods. It is one of the most basic nutrition principles that all experts can agree on, yet many people continue to buy and eat highly processed foods on a regular basis. Salt, sugar, and trans fats all add to the overall burden on your liver. Processed foods also replace foods in the diet that support good liver function.
Food Chemicals and Additives
Many food chemicals that are tested for safety are done so in low doses, and in isolation. This testing does not take into account frequency of small doses nor how food chemical mixtures may affect the overall outcome on the body. Particularly food chemicals that affect hormone changes cannot be considered safe, even in small doses. It is becoming increasingly more clear that even small amounts of chemicals can cause liver damage1.
Limit Sugar and Alcohol
Alcohol is of course the most well known way to damage the liver. However, some would consider sugar2 to be on par with alcohol in regard to the toll it can take on the liver. Particularly fructose is the type of sugar that is processed in the liver. Both alcohol and sugar require a lot from the liver when in concentrated forms. Fructose is a type of sugar that is in most fruits, however the amount of fructose alongside the fiber in fruit make it completely different in the body than the highly concentrated fructose from processed foods. Limiting sugar and alcohol is an important part of liver health.
Simple lifestyle factors can support your liver health. Drinking enough water daily and adding citrus to it helps to gently detox the body. Moving the body and sweating also supports good detoxification which takes the burden off the liver and kidneys. Infrared saunas also support good detoxification. Just 10-20 minutes 2-3 times a week in the sauna can make an impact on your detox. Epsom salt baths, oil pulling, and dry brushing will also strengthen the liver through their gentle detoxification abilities.