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The Role of Nutrition in Maintaining a Healthy Liver

The liver is like the manager of the digestive system in our body. It filters out waste, makes sure our metabolism is regulated and takes a call on which nutrients should be eliminated, processed, or sent back into the blood. All the blood that leaves our stomach and intestines passes through the liver. And we thought our jobs were stressful! Jokes aside, the liver is one of the important organs whose smooth functioning will further ensure how capable our body is at processing the food that we eat. In contrast, the food that we eat in turn impacts how our liver functions. Let us simplify this cycle of liver health and nutrition for you. To uncover how nutrition plays a role in maintaining a healthy liver, read on!

Given that the liver plays a significant role in digestion and removing harmful substances from the bloodstream, proper nutrition is particularly crucial in preventing liver damage or slowing the progression of liver disease. Though alcohol is one of the leading factors in liver damage, good nutrition can (to some extent) help bring your liver health back to life. Here are 5 dietary modifications that will help your liver function better.

1. Eating a balanced diet

Maintaining a healthy and balanced diet is essential for the liver to function correctly, as it is responsible for digestion and removing harmful substances from the bloodstream. One of the factors that can lead to liver disease is the presence of free radicals, which can damage cells in the body. Through the intake of antioxidants, your body can eliminate these harmful molecules. Leafy greens, including spinach, kale, and collards, are rich in antioxidants that can help protect the liver. Additionally, they are a great source of fiber and other nutrients that are essential for optimal liver health. Studies have even shown that coffee protects the liver against the progression of liver diseases. If your liver health is already weakened, you can also look into complementing your diet with a liver health capsule and ensuring it has milk thistle, arjuna, berries, and other cleansing and detoxifying ingredients.

2. Not all fat is bad fat

Healthy fats are essential for a healthy liver. Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, found in extra-virgin olive oil, canola oil, nuts, and seeds, can reduce inflammation and improve liver function. Omega-3 fatty acids in certain fish and seeds can also benefit the liver. Incorporating healthy fats into your diet can be as simple as replacing unhealthy fats with healthier options, such as using cold-pressed, virgin oils instead of refined oil for cooking or snacking on a handful of nuts instead of chips. However, it is essential to monitor the amounts of healthy fats consumed, as overeating even healthy fats can lead to weight gain and fatty liver disease. This disease occurs when fat starts building up in the liver. Although this condition is reversible with lifestyle modification, it can cause liver failure if the condition worsens. Hence, consuming the right kind of fat in moderation is essential for keeping your liver healthy.

3. You’ve heard it a million times, but drink enough water!

Adequate hydration is crucial for the liver's health, as water helps dissolve fats and soluble fiber. Drinking enough water prevents constipation and assists the kidneys and liver in flushing waste from the body. Since water thins the blood and is responsible for its fluid content, staying hydrated makes the blood thinner, which ultimately eases the liver's filtering function. In fact, when the liver is dehydrated, it becomes less efficient at filtering out harmful substances, such as alcohol, which can increase the risk of toxicity. Additionally, adequate intake of water promotes healthy metabolism and keeps your weight in check, reducing the risk of developing or worsening fatty liver disease. To provide the liver with optimal hydration, it is recommended to drink a glass of water upon waking up, before meals, before and after physical activity, and before bedtime. The key is to space out your water intake during the day to avoid putting excess pressure on the liver. This timing of water consumption, therefore, ensures that the liver receives adequate hydration and helps to maintain its optimal function.

4. Don’t fall for detox diets

If you’ve already understood how our livers function, you’ll understand that it doesn’t need a detox—that’s exactly what it already does to your body daily. While the idea of a ‘liver detox diet’ or a ‘juice cleanse’ may sound appealing, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim that any specific diet can eliminate toxins from the liver. In fact, the liver is highly capable of eliminating toxins from the body on its own. If you’re looking to improve your overall health, the better idea is to focus on making sustainable, healthy lifestyle changes. For instance, reducing your intake of saturated fats, trans fats, and simple sugars can significantly improve your health and help to prevent fatty liver disease. Additionally, cutting back on alcohol consumption can reduce the burden on the liver and promote healthy liver function.

5. Read all food packaging labels carefully

Reading packaging labels can help identify ingredients that are harmful to the liver. Some ingredients to avoid include added sugars, trans fats, and excessive sodium. Added sugars, such as high fructose corn syrup, can contribute to the development of fatty liver disease and other liver problems. Trans fats, also known as partially hydrogenated oils, are often found in processed foods, and they can contribute to liver damage and increase the risk of liver disease. Apart from these ingredients, excessive intake of sodium can lead to high blood pressure and other complications that can damage the liver. Therefore, it is essential to check the packaging labels before purchasing any food product and limit the intake of harmful ingredients to maintain a healthy liver.

Wrapping Up

Maintaining optimal body weight, eliminating processed and junk foods, and staying physically active are ways to keep conditions like fatty liver at bay. Fresh fruits and vegetables that provide fiber and a dose of antioxidants also act as a liver tonic. It is through nourishing food and healthy lifestyle changes that your liver's functioning will be promoted in a restorative way.

You may further enhance your liver's health by taking milk thistle tablets every day in the form of supplements. Milk thistle is a plant species that help in eradicating toxin buildup in the liver. You also look for capsules that have the added benefits of Arjuna and Berberry to protect your liver, reduce inflammation, and even improve fat metabolism. Inculcate these practices sooner and preserve the health of your precious liver!

References:

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28468010/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3192664/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/the-dubious-practice-of-detox

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33837275/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5019889/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4862107/

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