When it comes to detoxing, our liver is one of the most important organs. The primary role of our liver is to filter out toxins and to convert them into waste, and to process nutrients that we consume. While our body is already extremely powerful and knows innately how to support and cleanse and bring us back into balance, we still come into contact with substances found in our beauty products, furniture, household items, cleaning items, in the water we drink, and in the food we eat. So its extremely important to we prioritize liver detox foods into our diet!
Our liver is responsible for literally hundreds of bodily functions. It performs so many different vital jobs – some of the most important being producing bile to digest fats, helping our body convert stored sugar for use when our sugar levels drop, and storing vitamins and iron for our body to utilize.
Our liver also houses mitochondria (it is one of our organs that is PACKED with these powerhouses). Mitochondria provider energy to us (specifically our cells), and as we age, our mitochondria can start to decrease in effeciency – adding to the list of factors I discussed above that can contribute to a sluggish liver.
Let’s face it, it can be challenging to eat a whole foods based diet always, and many times we tend to fall off the wagon and consume processed foods in higher quanities than we strive for. Many of us are also completely unaware the toll that the products we use in our environments and in our skin can also put extra stress on our liver.
We need to care for and support our liver so that we can be continually eliminating and keeping our body in homeostasis. The good news is that if your liver needs some tender love and care, there are many ways to do so, with my favorite way focusing on liver detox foods.
If you are suspecting that you need to give yours a little bit of extra love, check out the below liver detox foods that you can easily incorporate into your diet.
The Best Liver Detoxing Foods
Our liver needs high quality minerals, antioxidant and vitamins in order to perform optimally. When our diet starts to decrease in quality in combination with being exposed to toxins from products, environmental pollution and viruses, it can create a concoction that can create a sluggish liver (meaning our liver is not performing at 100% capacity).
When you focus on nourishing your liver with specific foods and nutrients, you can breathe life back into this important organ. Here are the best liver detox foods:
Turmeric is an all star superfood and has been used for centuries for various medicinal purposes. The active ingredient in turmeric, curcumin, has extremely powerful antioxidant properties that helps stimulate the enzymes in our body that flushes out waste, all while helping repair the cells in our liver. It can also help stimulate bile production. You can check out a turmeric milk recipe here.
Walnuts are a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, glutathione (the master antioxidant that promotes vitality throughout all systems in our body), and an amino acid caled arginine that supports normal liver detoxing functions.
This healthy fat also helps the body create glutathione which is essential for the liver to detox effectively. You can also turn avocado’s into a delicious chocolate pudding, try the recipe.
Apples have wonderful little chemicals that helps our body cleanse and dispel toxins from our gut which gives the liver extra support during the detoxification process.
5. Leafy greens
Leafy greens like arugula are extremely high in chlorophyll which help mop up toxins and pathogens within the bloodstream. Leafy greens are extremely nutrient dense and contain many different minerals, vitamins and phytonutrients. Try this de-bloating arugula salad bowl recipe.
6. Lemons and limes
Both lemons and limes contain vitamin C which helps our body dispel toxins into our bodies water storage so that they can be easily flushed out. Consuming lemon water in the morning has also been studied to help stimulate liver function.
7. Green tea
There have been quite a few studies on the effectiveness of green tea and its ability to support liver function. Some studies showed that individuals with fatty liver disease had improved liver enzyme levels from consuming green tea for 12 weeks.
Cabbage contains substances that helps stimulate liver enzymes that support detoxification. My favorite ways to consume cabbage is by making cabbage soups, sauerkrat, and kimchi. There can be many different ways you can incorporate this veggie into your diet.
9. Milk thistle
Milk thistle contains an antioxidant called silymarin that has been studied to show that it can prevent toxins from attaching to liver cells, as well as keeping free radicals at bay from causing inflammation in the body. The most popular way to consume milk thistle is as an herbal tea.
10. Additional cruciferous veggies
Consuming cruciferous vegetables like brussels sprouts, kale and broccoli also helps the liver properly detox hormones like excess estrogen from the system. I always suggest cooking cruciferous veggies to make them more bioavailable for the body to absorb the beneficial nutrients. This cream of broccoli soup that is completely vegan can definitely satisfy.
Grapefruit contains antioxidants called naringenin and naringin that both protect the liver by protecting liver cells, and by reducing inflammation. Add grapefruit to your salad – try this grapefruit and avocado salad recipe.
Berries like cranberries and blueberries contain antioxidants called anthocyanins and polyphenols which helps keep the liver healthy and protects it from damage. Try out this vegan and gluten free blueberry muffin recipe.
One of my favorite fruits, grapes contain many different beneficial compounds, especially resveratrol – which protects and increases antioxidant levels to protect the liver.
14. Olive oil
Some studies on olive oil showed that it can help improve liver enzyme levels, and better blood flow in the liver. You can also use it on your face.
15. Dandelion root
Dandelion root is actually an extremely delicious leaf to saute in olive oil and is pretty popular in Greece, known as Xorta. Dandelion greens support liver detoxification as they contain polysaccharides that help reduce stress on the liver.
16. Fatty fish
Fish that contains omega-3 fatty acids like salmon and sardines also helps the body reduce inflammation levels as well as lower triglyceride levels.
17. Bioavailable proteins
The liver runs most effectively when it is nourished with all the amino acids such as glutamine, cysteine, taurine and glycine. These amino acids helps the liver go through phase II liver detoxification. These amino acids are most commonly found in animal based protein sources such as eggs, cottage cheese, greek yogurt, bone broth, collagen, gelatin, grass-fed meat, shellfish and seafood.
Make this recipe with bioavailble protein AND cruciferous veggies: Buttery, parmesan cauliflower rice with garlicky chicken
18. All Fruits
The liver requires glucose in order to create energy within our body – meaning that it needs to store glucose in the form of glycogen. When we provide our liver with adequate amounts of glycogen from the sugar found in fruits (fructose), we are alowing the liver to focus on its detoxing process. All fruits provide this important nutrient for the liver in addition to having many different mineral and vitamin quanitites that adds to our all over health.
What do all of these liver detox foods have in common?
So what does the majority of these foods have in common? That they are primarily plant-based! Consuming a plant based diet has so many benefits, one being that it helps naturally support liver detox. When we focus on consuming plant based foods, while eliminating and minimizing processed foods like refined grains and refined sugars, we are creating an environment in our body that helps support all of our bodily functions (liver detox included).
One interesting thing to notate is that high quality protein from animal sources also provides benefits to liver function. The right types of animal proteins in general can also be very healing to the body, which is why it can be beneficial to incorporate small amounts of animal protein into your diet while focusing on primarily eating plants. This is why I created the online course, Part Time Plant-Based!
Part Time Plant-Based teaches you everythingh you need to know to create a nourishing, plant forward diet to help your body get back into balance while still allowing a bit of wiggle room (specificaly for the healthiest types of animal products). Eating primarily plant-based allows your body to utilize all of the important nutrients from plants (especially when it comes to giving your liver some extra support). The most important thing though, is knowing that you do not have to restrict or eliminate ENTIRE whole food groups to be eating healthy. Want to learn more? Check out the course here.