Poor dietary and lifestyle choices may be pre-disposing you to a fatty liver and future liver disease. Learn to look after your liver before it’s too late.
The liver is a very complex organ that is involved in over 500 functions in the body, including digestion, controlling the balance of the blood sugar, and the metabolism of protein and fat. More crucially, the liver plays a major role in helping the body to eliminate waste and toxins.
When the body is burdened with more chemicals than it can efficiently eliminate, toxicity can lead to chronic conditions, including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and some cancers.
If you believe you have a compromised liver, due to some form of toxic burden such as alcohol, illegal drugs or a very high fat or high sugar diet, it is important to have the necessary liver function tests carried out through your GP. If your liver is becoming fatty or inflamed, then your GP may recommend medication. Whether you need medication, or not, take steps to protect your liver by following my liver support plan.
Foods to keep your liver fighting fit
To ensure the liver is functioning optimally, it is important to provide it with the nutrients it needs, to help reduce the burden of the toxins we ingest. The following is a guide to helping to maintain good liver function – it is not a diet plan for a liver problem, which must be managed and overseen by a healthcare professional.
- Avoid or reduce foods that place an unnecessary burden on liver functions such as: sugar, alcohol, caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
- Ensure good sources of protein are included in the diet such as chicken, turkey, oily fish, beef and lamb.
- Include an array of colours within your daily diet that provide an abundance of phytonutrients, vitamins and a high level of anti-oxidants that help to protect the liver from damage. Good choices include: broccoli, garlic, linseeds, blueberries, sweet potatoes, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), omega fatty acids (oily fish), tomatoes, cranberries, red grapes and red wine, papaya, carrots, brassicates (kale, cabbage, brussel sprouts, cauliflower), nuts and seeds, artichokes, onions, apples, spinach, mangoes, shiitake mushrooms, aubergine, dried apricots, squash such as pumpkins and courgettes.
- Drink green tea which is also rich in phytonutrients.
- Drink at least 2 litres of filtered water, including herbal teas, per day. Try my Tummy Tea as an alternative to single-herb teas.
- Water and juice-only fasts are not recommended unless you are in a residential clinical setting and are being regularly monitored by a healthcare professional. Such fasts, if not carried out correctly, can have the effect of depleting the body of the essential nutrients needed for balanced detoxification to take place.
Supplements to support your liver
- Consider taking a Milk Thistle supplement when you know you’re going to eat, or drink, too much, to help support your liver to eliminate the alcohol and fat from your body the morning after. My Milk Thistle tablets are a high quality botanical formula made up of a combination of Milk Thistle extract, herb and seed powders.
- Also consider taking a plant-based digestive enzyme tablet that contains lipase with meals, such as my Digestive Enzymes. This will further help support the liver, particularly in the breakdown of dietary fats.
- A high-strength multi-strain live bacteria (probiotic), such as my Live Bacteria capsules, will balance the natural gut flora and prevent pathogenic bacteria from putting further strain on the liver.
Lifestyle tips to protect your liver
- It is important to remember that if you are not efficiently eliminating your wastes because you suffer with constipation or you have IBS, bloating or diarrhoea, then your liver function may be compromised. Endotoxic (toxins from intestinal bacteria) substances from the intestines can travel to the liver and further burden it. If you have such symptoms and you feel that your liver is not in tiptop condition, seek help from a registered colon hydrotherapist.
- Some people attempt to detoxify the liver using extreme measures such as fasting and liver cleansing. You need to be very familiar with these protocols to use them safely, and it is important to seek guidance from a registered healthcare professional if this is a route you would like to try. A colon hydrotherapist, nutritional therapist or a medical herbalist should be your first port of call. Do not try fasting or cleansing your liver based on something you have read in a book or seen on the internet.
- Toxins to avoid or eliminate: pollutants from the atmosphere (air) and water; pesticides, particularly those used in agriculture; heavy metals (eg mercury – pregnant women should not consume fish such as shark, swordfish and tuna because they may contain high levels of mercury); food additives and preservatives; over-reliance on pharmaceutical drugs.
- Finally, limit your consumption of alcohol – this can significantly deplete the nutrients necessary for supporting detoxification, so try to limit intake to one glass of wine per day, ideally red wine.