Weighing in at three pounds, the liver is our primary filtration system and performs more than 300 functions. It cleanses our blood, metabolizes nutrients and medications, and converts toxins into waste. It aids in improving digestion, storing vitamins and minerals, and enhancing our metabolic rate. It also produces necessary substances like glucose and bile — just to name a few of its many important roles. Our liver function slows down when it becomes bombarded with environmental and chemical toxins. So what should we be doing to support a healthy liver?
A lot of people swear by cleanses, but there is a great deal of debate as to whether they actually work or if they can be harmful to the body. Going to any extreme is usually not the best idea, in my opinion, especially since some juice cleanses can be tough on your kidneys and deliver a lot of sugar to the body. But I do believe there are some ways to enhance the functioning of your liver through diet, herbs, willpower and smart daily decisions.
1. Don’t overindulge.
Excessive food and alcohol consumption is too taxing on the liver, so limit your intake and keep a healthy weight.
2. Add liver-cleansing foods to your diet.
The selenium in garlic to said to help detoxify the liver, while turmeric aids in flushing toxins and heavy metals. The omega 3s in walnuts support liver cleansing, and glucosinolate in cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower helps the liver produce detoxifying enzymes. Beets are another liver booster as they stimulate bile production, cleanse the blood and help breakdown toxic waste.
3. Drink green tea.
Sipping green tea is another a good way to flush the system. The plant-based antioxidants called catechins in green tea may help improve liver function and fight free radicals.
4. Take milk thistle.
This flowering herb’s main ingredient, silymarin, is a flavonoid complex that’s said to strengthen the liver, protect it from incoming toxins, and aid in its cleansing and rejuvenation.* It stimulates bile flow through the liver and gallbladder, reducing stagnation. Supplements like Swisse Wellness Ultiboost Liver Detox are a good source of milk thistle.
5. Drink filtered water.
Consuming water flushes the body and helps the liver do its job. While we’ve all heard, “Drink 8 glasses a day,” the amount really depends on each individual. Look for symptoms revealing you are dehydrated like headaches and dark yellow urine. Staying hydrated is another easy way to support liver function.
6. Don’t take acetaminophen with alcohol.
This combination increases the risk of liver damage and can be deadly.
7. Exercise, eat well and sleep.
Don’t waste your money on fancy cleanses and juice fasts. Your body is constantly detoxifying on its own, and your best bet in supporting your liver comes from good daily habits.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
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Journalist Ann Wycoff has written about wellness, fitness, longevity, travel, spas, food and wine for the past 20 years for magazines like Shape, Fitness, Spa, Outside, Travel + Leisure, Coastal Living, Redbook, Modern Luxury, San Diego Magazine, Redbook, Marin Magazine and more. She lives in Encinitas, California.