Saturday 20 May 2023

7 Foods That Are Good for Your Liver

 YOU MIGHT NOT express gratitude for your liver (or even think about it) much, but it’s working around the clock for you.

It's a very impressive organ, says Meena B. Bansal, M.D., professor of medicine, and director of translational research in liver diseases at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. It's the first line of defense for any toxin that may try to make its way into our system.

The liver is incredibly resistant to injury, and seriously resilient. Did you know your liver can grow back to a normal size even after up to 90 percent of it has been removed?

Still, it’s important that you avoid things that hurt your liver such as excess alcohol, recreational drugs, and some dietary supplements, said Bansal. “Moderation is the key to everything."

Ahead, a primer on all the liver’s incredible functions and top foods to eat to support the star organ.

What Does the Liver Do?

You can consider the liver as the gatekeeper to everything we intake, Bansal says. When you eat food or take medications, all the blood flow from the stomach and intestines is first filtered through the liver which then detoxifies medications, metabolizes carbohydrates, lipids and clears bacterial products that may have escaped the gut.

“In addition, it makes proteins like clotting factors and maintains healthy blood sugar levels,” she adds. “It produces bile that is needed to help us digest and absorb fats in the small intestine.”

The liver is your body’s “metabolic powerhouse,” says Kim Yawitz, R.D., a gym owner in St. Louis, Mo. Everything you ingest passes through this gate. The good stuff, like food is broken down into energy and nutrients, then distributed throughout the body or stored away for later use. The bad stuff, like toxins, are filtered out of the blood to be excreted via urine or stool.

“The liver is responsible for hundreds of life-sustaining functions, so it’s really important to take good care of it,” Yawitz says.

What Makes a Food Good for the Liver?

There are several things that make foods liver-friendly.

Bansal says foods that are anti-inflammatory or have antioxidant properties are beneficial to the liver. Foods that are high in fiber and promote a healthy weight are also helpful to the liver.

“Highly processed foods that contain fructose corn-syrup are bad for the liver as they cause the liver cells to make unhealthy lipids (fat). As this fat accumulates, it can cause liver injury and inflammation,” she says. Basically, the less processed and unadulterated the food you eat, the better. “Think farm to table.”

As a rule of thumb, Bansal says that foods that you think of as good for your heart are also ones that are good for your liver. Just as the Mediterranean Diet is known to support cardiovascular health, so does it for your liver. There is no one food in this diet plan that is driving the beneficial effects, but rather it's the combination of its multiple components, says Bansal.

“Conceptually an overall diet that is 50 percent fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lentils, legumes; 30 percent healthy fat (think avocados, extra-virgin olive oil); 20 percent lean protein from chicken and fish containing omega-3 fatty acids is considered the best combination,” she says.

While there’s no single food that will magically improve liver health, foods high in fiber, healthy fats, and certain antioxidants support optimal liver function. Not surprising— alcohol and drugs can damage the liver, as can eating too much sugar, salt, and saturated fat.

Overall, healthy lifestyle choices are healthy liver choices. “The best ways to protect your liver are to eat a well-balanced diet, exercise, and maintain a healthy body weight,” says Yawitz.

1) Coffee

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