Think of your liver like your own personal filtering system: Suck in the bad and spit out the good.
“The liver has many important functions that keeps a person healthy. It removes harmful material from the bloodstream and helps digest food,” says holistic nutritionist Hermeet Suri from Mississauga, Ont.
The liver, weighing in at an average of three pounds, is a rubbery and reddish-brown organ that sits on the right side of your stomach, according to WebMD.com.
A functioning liver works as our bodies’ fat-burning organ: It converts nutrients from the food we eat into essential blood components, storing vitamins and minerals and producing proteins and enzymes to maintain hormone balances in our bodies, Suri says. Our livers also help our immune system fight infections, remove bacteria from the blood and make bile, which is essential for digesting our meals.
Problems with your liver can be inherited or can occur if your body is infected by any viruses or harmful chemicals, according to The Mayo Clinic. Mistreating your liver can raise the risk of obesity, cardiovascular disease, chronic fatigue, headaches, digestive problems, allergies and many other ailments, Suri says.
“Although the immune system protects our body from many dangers, it is the liver that protects the immune system from becoming overloaded,” he says.
Suri says avoiding an excessive consumption of tobacco, alcohol, coffee and white sugar and adding in low impact exercises (like daily walks) and drinking lots of water are all ways to ensure good liver health.
Eating also helps: Here are 10 fresh foods that keep your liver healthy:
Garlic helps your liver activate enzymes that can flush out toxins. It also has a high amount of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing says holistic nutritionist Hermeet Suri.
Eating or drinking grapefruit juice can help your liver flush out carcinogens and toxins. This fruit is also high in both vitamin C and antioxidant properties.
Beets are high in plant-flavonoids, which can improve the overall functions of your liver.
Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce have the ability to neutralize metals, chemicals and pesticides that may be in our foods, and act as a protective mechanism for the liver, Suri says.
Green tea is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, which have been known to improve the functions of our liver.
Adding more avocados to your diet can help your body produce a type of antioxidant called glutathione, which is needed for our livers to filter out harmful materials, Suri says.
Cruciferous veggies like broccoli and Brussels sprouts also increase the amount of glucosinolate (organic compounds) in our bodies that helps create enzyme production for digestion, Suri says.
We all know citrus fruits like lemons are full of vitamin C, but lemons also help our bodies cleanse out toxic materials and aid the digestion process.
Used as a spice, tumeric has been known to help our bodies digest fats and stimulate the production of bile. It can also act as a natural form of detox for your liver.
Walnuts are also high in glutathione and omega-3 fatty acids, which help support our liver through its cleansing process.