Sunday, January 13, 2013

15 Foods that Benefit Your Liver

My last post was about the liver and how certain herbs can benefit or ever cure certain liver conditions. The liver is truly the master organ of the immune system, the detox "powerhouse" of our body, producing chemicals to combat viruses (including the HIV virus) and bacteria and producing antihistamines to neutralize substances that promote the growth of cancer. When the liver is not functioning properly - and is over-blocked by toxins - the body's immune system is severely weakened leading to chronic illness.
Because the liver is responsible for at least 500 functions within your body, keeping it in optimal condition can help you in a number of ways. The American Liver Foundation indicates that keeping it strong and unpolluted can increase your energy level, boost your immune system and regulate your system's natural metabolic process. According to The New York Times, a healthy liver can even affect your mood, making you less agitated and more focused. According to Dr Leo Roy MD, "No disease, especially degenerative diseases including cancer and AIDS, could survive longer than a few weeks in the presence of a healthy liver." 

We are what we eat! What we choose to put in our bodies determines to a level our health condition (emotional and psychological factors play a huge role in that too!). I am not the kind of person that would support anything extreme as far as food is concerned; “never eat sugar”, “never eat fried food”, “never eat white flour”, “never drink alcohol and coffee” etc, etc. It’s important to be aware of what’s good for you or not, know how your body works and learn to listen to its needs and yes, sometimes it might need a rich chocolate mousse, for emotional support! Always remember that your emotional, psychological and sociological needs are as equally important. And the key to all that is nothing but humble B A L A N C E! 

Along with the herbs listed in the previous post, there are certain foods that really aid and detoxify your liver. When eating for a healthy liver, the most vital thing to remember is to include variety in your daily diet. Consuming plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds is the best way to provide your body with the nutrients you need to keep all of your organs healthy. It is also important to remember to use alcohol and coffee in moderation, as these items do not offer nutritional benefits to the body, but do put stress on the liver.

Liver is the only organ that can actually regenerate! So, give it a chance! As Hippocrates nicely  put it “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”!

1. Carrots
Scientists in India have discovered that carrots afford significant protection for the liver, at least experimentally in laboratory animals. When liver cell injury was induced experimentally with chemicals, paralleling the liver damage inflicted by chemical pollutants, experiments showed that lab animals could recover with the help of carrot extracts. These extracts increase the activity of several enzymes that speed up detoxification of the liver and other organs.

2. Beetroots
Packed with iron, calcium, betaine, B vitamins and antioxidants, beets are one of the liver's best resources for maintaining optimum health. They detoxify the liver and spleen, they are great for toning and rebuilding the liver, they are suitable in cases of anemia, and help to treat many liver ailments, including jaundice, cirrhosis and other liver diseases. Some herbalists use it to treat liver problems induced by alcoholism. Emily A. Kane, N.D., Lac, explains that "Beets improve liver function largely by thinning the bile, allowing it to flow more freely through the liver and into the small intestine." Check out this tasty juice recipe, recommended for a liver cleanse & boost: Detoxing and Nourishing Juice with Beetroots, Carrots, Radishes, Parsley and Lemon

3. Lemons
The Ancient Egyptians believed that eating lemons and drinking lemon juice was an effective protection against a variety of poisons. Lemon juice is often called the liver's best friend. It is one of the only foods on the planet that has an atomic structure similar to that of digestive juices. As a result, putting lemon juice in your water can provide your liver with some relief as it filters toxins and processes nutrients.
Lemon juice supports liver function by strengthening liver enzymes, regulating blood carbohydrate levels and serving as the basis for new enzyme creation. According to A.F. Beddoe, author of "Biological Ionization in Human Nutrition," fresh lemon juice works better at helping your liver make more enzymes than any other food. In addition, lemon is a natural antiseptic that kills harmful bacteria. 

4. Extra Virgin Olive Oil (cold pressed)
In a study conducted  at the University of Monastir in Tunisia and King Saud University in Saudi Arabia, researchers discovered that extra virgin olive oil provides powerful antioxidant protection against toxins that cause oxidative stress (the physiological stress on the body caused by free radical damage, which is linked to a host of health problems as well as agingand damage to the liver.
When we combine extra virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice together, they act as a potent liver and gallbladder flush, detoxifying the liver, lowering biliruben levels, removing heavy metals, increasing the production of bile from the liver, stimulating lymphatic flow, and restoring the pH of your saliva, which in turn helps you to absorb the nutrients from the food you eat. 
Olive oil with lemon helps the body by providing a lipid base that can suck up harmful toxins in the body. In this way, it takes some of the burden off the liver in terms of the toxic overload that many people suffer from. 
Just make sure that it's good quality and always remember you must consume it raw!

5. Artichokes
A member of the milk thistle family that helps control blood sugar levels, the artichoke is a fibrous, green veggie containing cynarin. Cynarin is a phenolic acid compound that experts believe is responsible for its cholagogue and choleretic properties:
•    Cholagogue – a medicinal agent, which promotes the discharge of bile from the system, purging it downward.
•    Choleretic – a substance that stimulates the production of bile in the liver.
if the bile is not transported adequately to the gallbladder, the liver has an increased risk of being damaged.
Clinical studies indicate its benefits to the liver ranging from protecting it from damage, lowering the risk of liver fat accumulation to hindering liver cancer cell growth. Thus, those with chronic liver disease have every reason to choose artichokes as their number one vegetable pick.

6. Garlic 
This superfood, known for its ability to fight infections and cancer, is also among the many great liver cleansing foods as it is very useful in repairing a compromised liver. The main reason for its superior effects on the liver have to do with the fact that garlic contains numerous sulfur-containing compounds that are known to activate the liver enzymes responsible for expelling toxins from the body. In addition, garlic contains both allicin - an antioxidant - and the mineral selenium, both of which are important for the protection of the liver and assist in the removal of heavy metals from the liver.

7. Onions
Onions contain sulphur compounds, which are important for aiding the liver in its detoxification process.More specifically, these are called methionine and cystine and, among other things, they are good at detoxifying the body from heavy metals, like mercury and cadmium. The vitamine C also found in onions is excellent at detoxifying the body and is effective in moving lead, arsenic and cadmium. So increasing consumption of onions can help the body to get rid of these harmful metals. 

8. Grapefruit
Phytonutrients in grapefruit called limonoids inhibit tumor formation by promoting the formation of glutathione-S-transferase, a detoxifying enzyme. This enzyme sparks a reaction in the liver that helps to make toxic compounds more water soluble for excretion from the body. Grapefruit, like other citrus fruit, provide an excellent source of vitamin C, an important antioxidant nutrient that protects our liver cells from free radical damage.

9. Leafy Dark Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Among the most powerful allies in cleansing the liver. They can be eaten raw, cooked or juiced. Extremely high in plant chlorophylls, greens literally suck up environmental toxins from the blood stream. With their distinct ability to nuetralize heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides, these cleansing foods offer a powerful protective mechanism for the liver. Broccoli and spinach contain B-complex vitamins which improve liver function and promote liver decongestion. Vitamin B12 helps to metabolize fats and improves liver health. Enrich your salads with bitter greens (which are even more effective) like arugula, fresh dandelion leaves, chicory, endive, mustard greens, and watercress. Cruciferous veggies like broccoli, brussel sprouts cauliflower, lettuce, kale, and cabbage also increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion.

10. Radishes

Radish juice helps to soothe the digestive system and detoxify the body. The leaves are also edible and very nutricius indeed!
Radishes are beneficial for both the gallbladder and liver functions, as they act as a cleanser. they contain sulphur based chemicals, which regulate the production and flow of bilirubin and bile, enzymes and acids and also helps remove excess bilirubin from the blood. This makes them an excellent detoxifying agent for the body. They protect and soothe the gallbladder and liver, while protecting them from infections.
They are also highly effective in treating jaundice, as they halt the destruction of red blood cells and increase the supply of oxygen to the blood. For this treatment however, the black radish is preferred.

11. Nuts, legumes and seeds
Beans, soy beans, lentils and peas, raw nuts (especially walnuts) and seeds (especially flaxseeds, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds), should be included in your daily diet. These are detox foods that help the liver to flush out unwanted toxins. Walnuts, are high in glutathione (like avocados) and omega-3 fatty acids, which help support our liver through its cleansing process.

12. Avocados

Researchers in Japan have discovered that avocados contain potent chemicals that may reduce liver damage. According to the same research, avocado extracts may be especially promising for the treatment of viral hepatitis.
Avocados can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials. In addition, they contain essential fatty acids, which are absolutely necessary for healthy cell membranes. The liver requires abundant amounts of essential fatty acids to function properly. 

13. Apples
Apples prevent the formation of gallstones. In addition, they provide an excellent source of pectin, a type of fiber which binds with toxins and heavy metals, aiding their excretion from the body. This helps to reduce the amount of detoxification that is needed to be completed by the liver. When on a liver detox, the malic acid in apple juice will help to open the bile ducts that run through your liver and will begin to soften and release the stones.

14. Red Grapes
Grapes activate liver to glycogenic functions and bile secretions and are highly beneficial for all types of liver disorders.

15. Berries
A daily diet rich in berries may reduce an enzyme called alanine aminotransferase (ALAT), a well-established marker of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and metabolic syndrome by 23%, according to new research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition.



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