Have you ever wondered why certain British musicians and vocalists have such an American sound? Or, why we call it a middle finger when it isn’t. (Consider that you don’t really have a finger where your thumb is.) We often think about offbeat topics, but when did you last give your liver any thought? Even though your liver is as vital to your survival as your heart and brain, you seldom give it any thought. The liver, like the appendix and spleen, is nothing more than sliced liver.
But your liver deserves your attention—your admiration, even. It’s the workhorse of your body and the second biggest organ after your skin. Scientists estimate that it is responsible for 500 essential functions. It digests food, eliminates pollutants in the blood, and eliminates any other drugs you may be taking. It helps your body absorb fats, controls your hormone levels, and keeps your cholesterol levels in check.
When something goes wrong with this unsung hero, like scarring from excessive alcohol consumption (cirrhosis) or nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), an asymptomatic infiltration of fat into the liver often caused by obesity, high triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or diabetes, the liver receives a lot of attention. Maintaining a healthy bodyweight, eating healthily, and engaging in regular physical activity have all been shown to minimize the chance of developing NAFLD and other liver diseases, just as they do for type 2 diabetes and other metabolic disorders.
Registered dietitian and nutritionist Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDCES recommends limiting processed snack foods like pretzels and avoiding “extra added sugars and alcohol” to preserve the liver.
“Benefit from anti-inflammatory and insulin-sensitizing chemicals by eating a plant-based diet. Ideally, you would get a healthy amount of disease-fighting nutrients by eating fruits and vegetables with each meal and snack “To continue, Weisenberger.
In addition to taking the above preventative measures, you can also prioritize your liver health by loading up on the following superfoods.
1. Oats and barley
Both whole grains are high in the dietary fiber that has been found to aid weight loss and promote a favorable microbiota in the digestive tract. According to the authors of a new research published in the journal Nutrients, calorie restriction is an effective therapy for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Fiber-rich meals prolong fullness, allowing you to consume less calories overall. Moreover, prebiotic fiber promotes a healthy gut flora, which in turn decreases inflammation and liver damage. Researchers showed that three measures of liver fibrosis, a development of NAFLD, were all improved by eating 7.5 grams or more of insoluble fiber per day, such that found in oats and barley.
2. Plants With a Cruciform Shape
Carley Knowles, RDN, LD, a registered dietitian, says, “If you want superfoods for liver health, I couldn’t suggest broccoli, kale, brussels sprouts, and other cruciferous vegetables, more highly.” It has been shown that a diet high in cruciferous vegetables may aid in the body’s natural detox process, shield the liver from injury, and boost its general performance.
Cabbage, kale, cauliflower, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts contain a chemical called indole, which may reduce NAFLD, according to a research by Texas A&M AgriLife Research experts. Clinically obese patients had considerably lower amounts of indole in their blood than the lean ones, the study authors reported in the journal Hepatology. Low indole levels were also associated with increased liver fat.
3. Blueberries And leafy Greens
For optimal liver function, Weisenberger suggests eating foods like blueberries and other berries, herbs and spices, leafy greens, broccoli, and other cruciferous vegetables. Phytonutrients found in abundance in these foods help keep the liver healthy.
Based on their study of obese, senescent rats with indications of metabolic illness and liver dysfunction, researchers in Saudi Arabia think blueberries, a powerful source of antioxidants, may one day be a therapeutic for treating age-related liver disease. The livers of the rats improved after being given blueberry extract for four weeks.
You should keep eating blueberries even if your doctor finds no problems with your liver enzymes. Try reading What Happens to Your Body When You Consume Blueberries Daily.
4. Coffee, Green Tea, and Water
If you want to save your liver, the greatest thing you can do is to never touch a drop of alcohol. According to the American Liver Foundation, if you want to do the next best thing for your liver, it’s drinking a lot of water to keep from being dehydrated and to aid in the processing of toxins.
“Water drinking has been shown to decrease intake of liver-damaging sugar-sweetened drinks. The caffeine in coffee and tea is also good for the liver “explains Weisenberger.
Matcha green tea, which has the highest concentration of anti-oxidant catechins, is the best tea for preserving the liver. Regular use of green tea is connected with a lower risk of developing HCC, fatty liver disease, hepatitis, and liver cirrhosis, according to a meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine. Caffeine-free coffee has the same protective effect against chronic liver disease as regular coffee. Coffee drinkers also had a lower risk of developing chronic liver disease or NAFLD, and a lower risk of dying from liver disease, according to a meta-analysis published in BMC Public Health in 2021. The study compared 384,818 coffee users to 109,767 non-coffee drinkers.
5. Argan Oil
Olive oil, according to Knowles, “improves good cholesterol,” which in turn “protects you from fatty liver disease.”
It was found in a 2018 study published in Endocrine, Metabolic & Immune Disorders – Drug Targets that the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid and phenolic compounds found in olive oil activate certain signaling pathways in the liver that help prevent inflammation, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and insulin resistance, thereby protecting against and even reversing liver damage.