Why is the liver so important? It helps process nutrients in our food, makes bile, removes toxic substances from the body and is involved in the building of proteins. When our liver is not functioning properly then nutrients are no longer effectively processed and we become deficient in minerals and vitamins. The bile that is produced in the liver helps digest food (especially fat), and without sufficient bile production (due to a malfunctioning liver), this fat is no longer broken down and clogs our cells, vessels and arteries. A major function of the liver, removing toxins from blood, is especially important. If the liver is not working properly, then it cannot pull out toxins from the blood, and instead, these toxins get re-absorbed into our cells, accumulating and creating problems that manifest in forms of different illnesses and disease. Taking care of our liver is incredibly important! Avoiding alcohol, refined sugar & processed foods, and fatty foods is your first step to healing the liver. Getting rid of the root of the problem, and repairing the liver with natural foods is a recipe for liver-repairing success! When consuming alcohol, an array of chemical reactions take place in the liver resulting in damaged cells – the liver then tries to repair these cells, scarring itself and inflaming surrounding tissues. Refined sugar & processed foods as well as fatty foods create problems for the liver too – eating these foods day after day can lead to a condition known as fatty liver (also caused by excessive alcohol consumption), which is caused by triglyceride fat accumulation. This is then accompanied by progressive inflammation and scarring of the liver.
Foods to help naturally heal the liver: Dandelion Green- Leafy greens, especially dandelion greens and mustard greens are great for the liver! They are incredibly high in chlorophyll which helps remove accumulated toxins. Dandelion greens help stimulate digestion and are considered a diuretic (helps promote water loss from the body through urination) – because of their diuretic effects, dandelion greens help lower blood pressure and relieve premenstrual fluid retention. The extremely bitter taste of dandelion greens and mustard greens promotes bile flow from the liver and gallbladder, and thus allow for more efficient liver processing of nutrients. Beets are a great way to detoxify the liver. They have been used to fight liver toxins for centuries. Beets contain a substance called betaine which protects the liver and bile ducts which are important in proper liver function. This substance also encourages the liver to get rid of intra-cellular toxin buildup. Not only that, but betaine helps lower inflammation levels in the body and so it can help defend against fatty liver. Make sure to eat beets raw, or juice them raw, because this substance is most active when in its raw form. Horseradish- This root helps digest fat, so it eases any work the liver may have at digesting excess fats from your diet. Consuming horseradish also helps to regenerate and heal the liver, keeping it cleansed of accumulated toxins from a life time of bad eating habits. In addition, horseradish is a powerful diuretic, and so it helps quicken the flushing of toxins and other inflammatory agents from our liver and kidneys (via increased urination). Artichoke helps stimulate bile flow from the liver and thus it helps alleviate symptoms of heartburn and “hangovers” from alcohol consumption. Proper bile flow is essential for detoxification (a major task of the liver). Bile serves as a carrier for toxins that we breathe in through the air, eat in our food, or drink in our water – it helps to ensure that these toxins are taken to the intestine or kidneys for proper elimination from the body. Today, extracts of artichoke are used for dyspepsia and to help in the processing of fat metabolism. Celery is incredibly rich in iron and vitamins A, B and C. It is a great tonic for the liver and a mild diuretic for the kidneys. The phytonutrients in celery help protect the digestive tract and liver – specifically, researchers from Taiwan have found that when treated with celery extract, liver cells produced more of a specific liver enzyme which helps flush toxins and other contaminants from the body. The mild diuretic effects of celery also aid in the removal of bodily toxins and lowering blood pressure. Asparagus has been found to boost ADH and ALDH, two liver enzymes which help metabolize ethanol (aka. the alcohol you might have drank last night). This makes asparagus a great way to alleviate symptoms of an alcohol “hangover” and helps protect the liver against toxic contaminants which otherwise may lead to scarring and fatty liver. It should also be noted that the leaves of asparagus also have therapeutic value, and are extremely high in enzymes ADH and ALDH. Make sure to eat fresh asparagus, particularly in its raw state to help boost the enzymatic activity of this vegetable.
Sources: Live Love Fruit
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895471 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23603008 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23061292 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12405796 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23421107 http://jcb.rupress.org/content/20/3/497.abstract