The liver has many functions. Your liver is the largest solid organ in your body. You may have heard that …
The liver has many functions.
Your liver is the largest solid organ in your body. You may have heard that the liver helps remove substances like alcohol from the body. But a lot more happens in the liver, which performs more than 500 functions for your body.
The functions of the liver include:
– Filter your blood. During this filtering process, the liver removes toxins such as alcohol, chemicals, or drugs.
– Processing of glucose or blood sugar. The liver removes excess blood sugar and can convert it to glycogen, the stored form of glucose. When your body needs it, it can convert this glycogen back into glucose.
– Production of bile, which aids digestion.
– Storage of vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A, D and E as well as the minerals iron and copper.
The liver does practically everything but breathes for the body, quips registered nutritionist and nutritionist Jana Mowrer, owner of HealthWins Coaching and Consulting in Fresno, California. Still, it’s not far from the truth.
Keeping the liver healthy
Because the liver is such an important organ, it makes sense to eat foods that keep the liver healthy and avoid foods or drinks that interfere with its functioning. This is true both if you are generally healthy and if you have some forms of liver disease, such as: B. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), which is where fat builds up in your liver.
Eating a healthy, liver-friendly diet can help control or reduce diseases like NAFLD, says gastroenterologist Dr. Vishal Gupta of Gastroenterology of Greater Orlando in Orlando. The number of people with NAFLD is growing rapidly in the US and is often linked to being overweight or obese. With NAFLD, it’s possible to develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, a more aggressive form of liver disease that can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure.
“If you already have liver problems, one of the first things you need to change is your diet,” said Jamie Hickey, certified trainer and registered nutritionist, founder of Truism Fitness in Philadelphia. “As your liver disease progresses, it cannot filter waste and toxins out of your diet.”
Here are seven foods and drinks for better liver health.
Need an excuse to drink that cup of joe? Please. According to Hickey, coffee can lower the risk of chronic liver disease, cirrhosis, and even liver cancer.
Coffee helps the liver by inhibiting the production of fat and collagen, which are two common signs of chronic liver disease, says Hickey. Coffee also has an antioxidant called glutathione that helps fight aging. “Free radicals that cause cell damage are killed by antioxidants,” he says.
The benefits of coffee are most evident when consuming three to four cups of coffee a day. Try consuming it without cream and sugar, which can add extra calories and fat. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about the caffeine content in coffee. The liver benefits are associated with caffeinated coffee, not decaf.
Blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries – all berries can improve your liver health, says Mowrer. That’s because they’re full of antioxidants, including vitamin C, and berries are high in water. All of these qualities can contribute to a strong liver.
Berries also contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that can fight against NAFLD. The next time you’re looking for a sweet treat, grab a cup of berries instead of a sugary dessert.
When planning your dinner, consider oily fish such as salmon or albacore tuna. That’s because oily fish can help protect your liver, says Kyle Harris, a medical assistant at Gastro MD in Tampa.
Oily fish are usually high in one type of “good” fat: omega-3 fatty acids. This is better for the liver than other types of fats, such as saturated fat, Harris says.
In patients with NAFLD, omega-3 fatty acids can help lower triglycerides. Triglycerides are a type of fat in the body that can increase your risk of heart disease.
Other examples of oily fish include:
Two 3.5-ounce servings of oily fish per week can provide you with general health benefits, according to the American Heart Association.
Drinking water is good for so many organs in the body, including the liver. Because if you don’t drink enough water, you can become dehydrated. Dehydration affects how the liver functions, says Mowrer. Water also helps the body digest your food more easily, and that helps the liver do its job.
A population-based study of more than 16,400 participants published in the April 2021 issue of the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that drinking more water was linked to a lower rate of newly diagnosed NAFLD in men. The same effect was not found in women.
Most adult women should be getting 91 ounces of fluids per day; for men, it’s 125 ounces daily, according to the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine. However, this can also include sources of liquid other than just water.
Another liquid to consider, according to Mowrer: ginger tea. It has been linked to decreased inflammation and protection against cell damage. These benefits can help improve your liver health.
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and cauliflower. These vegetables are good for the liver because they contain fiber that can aid digestion. They also have compounds that could help slow liver cancer development, according to a 2016 report in the journal Nutrients.
Other types of cruciferous vegetables are:
Try to find creative ways to make cruciferous vegetables that don’t rely on high-fat sauces. Get creative with garlic, herbs, spices, and ginger.
Nuts and legumes
Nuts and legumes (a category that groups together beans, lentils, and peanuts that aren’t actually nuts) are high in healthy plant compounds and the antioxidant vitamin E. This is beneficial not only for the liver but also for the heart, says Hickey.
Walnuts in particular can help help people with NAFLD, according to a 2015 report in the World Journal of Gastroenterology.
According to the authors of the study, walnuts have significantly more omega-3 fatty acids than other tree nuts. They also have the highest levels of polyphenols.
Much like oily fish and walnuts, olive oil is on the list of foods for a healthy liver because it contains unsaturated fat, Harris says. This is much better for the liver and the body in general than other types of fat, such as saturated fats or trans fats.
A 2019 study in the Journal of Nutrition found that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil was linked to a lower incidence of fatty liver disease in the elderly, who were also at higher risk for heart disease.
Use olive oil on salads, in stir-fries, or as a substitute for butter or margarine when dipping bread.
Foods that can harm your liver health
In addition to the foods that you should include in your diet for better liver health, there are also some foods and drinks that you should try and avoid. This includes:
– Alcohol, which can lead to irreversible scarring and fibrosis of the liver and increase the risk of liver cancer, Harris says.
– Fried dishes. These usually use oils high in saturated and other types of fat that can cause inflammation and excess fat in the liver, says Gupta.
– Foods high in saturated fats, such as bacon, cheese, and fatty sauces. These could contribute to obesity and make you more prone to NAFLD.
– foods high in sugar.
Other ways to keep your liver healthy
In addition to eating a healthy diet, there are a few other steps you can take to keep your liver in tip-top shape:
1. Exercise regularly. Exercise can benefit your liver, says Mowrer.
2. Do your best to manage your stress.
3. Get enough sleep. Believe it or not, when you don’t get enough sleep, your liver is affected.
4. Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight or obese can increase your risk of NAFLD.
Good foods and drinks for a healthy liver:
– Oily fish.
– cruciferous vegetables.
– nuts and legumes.
– olive oil.
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7 Foods That Are Good For Your Liver originally featured on usnews.com