When I was a kid, my granny used to tell me a story of a superhero who used to chase all the monsters away. And then she used to tell me that superheroes are so very powerful, that they help the society by protecting it from all dangers and chase away the monsters. When I grew up, I got to relate this with my biology classes with various organs that do the same job. Take liver for example. It protects our body, carries out its duties like storage of glycogen, vitamins and minerals, production of bile, regulation of enzymes in the body, and driving away dangerous toxins from the system. Liver, hence is no less than a superhero for the body isn’t it so?
How so ever powerful they might be, superheroes too need their share of care and strength. Likewise, for the liver, it might be in the form of diet regulations, supplements and medications which help it to remain in proper order and carry out its functions in a smooth manner.
Diet regulations do not need to be extreme- simple and doble changes in the daily lifestyle are enough if there are no major complications involved. Addition of what works for our benefit and omission of what does not solves half of the problem. This brings us to the important question as to what to consume, and even more important question, what to avoid?
For a healthy liver, and healthy body overall, there are a few items that are best avoided or consumed in very minimal quantities. These include:
- Alcohol: When we talk about liver problems the very first thing that comes to mind is - ban on alcohol. Liquor leads to cell damage, inflammation, fibrosis and cell death in cases where the liver tries to break down alcohol. If alcohol consumption is continued for a prolonged period it might block the absorption of nutrients and increase the chances of liver cirrhosis.
- Aerated beverages: Soda/caffeinated drinks are okay to be consumed once in a while, however regular consumption of fizzy drinks is not the good thing to do if you want to shield your liver from unwanted pressure. A large intake of soda might also lead to weight gain which in turn contributes to excess fat accumulation in the liver. Empty carbs in soda bundles up with extra sugar to become a destroyer of liver health.
- Salt laden foods: Too much salt does more harm to the liver than good. It can cause extra pressure for the liver by increasing water retention. Processed foods are high in salt content and are best avoided or consumed in moderation. Same goes for canned food items. All of these put excessive pressure on the liver which harms it in the long run.
- Red meat: Most of us love red meat for its flavor and prefer it for the protein, however digesting red meat is troublesome for the body. Accumulation of fat in the liver leads to fatty liver disease, negatively impacting the body.
- Baked foods: Bakery items like bread, pizza, donuts, cakes and all are too difficult to not relish. However, all the extra sugar and fat present in these items is a disaster for the liver as digesting them takes more time. And some bad fats like hydrogenated vegetable fat, lard etc. are difficult to consume too. All of these hinder the digestive process and hamper the liver.
- Fast food: All the white flour used in these food products makes it difficult to be digested well. The fat content puts extra pressure on the liver and sugar makes the liver highly vulnerable. They’re best avoided or had only once in a while, if we want the liver to be healthy.
Coming to the next half of the story, now we know what to abstain from, but most of us might not be aware of what foods to include in the diet if we want the liver to be healthy. These foods are easily available without much of a hassle. Some of the food items that are good for liver health are:
- Green tea: Owing to its antioxidant properties and health benefits, green tea is said to increase metabolism. It is rich in catechins that help in prevention of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLD).
- Leafy greens: The liver loves all things green. Truly, green leafy veggies like mustard, spinach, etc. get the liver in action and stimulate the bile flow, helping the liver health restoration.
- Grapes: Both grape and grape seed extracts protect liver from cellular damage as they contain resveratrol, a compound that reduces inflammation and increases antioxidants.
- Fiber to the rescue: Increase in the daily fiber intake tremendously benefits the liver by easing the digestion process, supporting the digestive tract and flushing out toxins from the body.
- Turmeric: A widely used spice across the globe. It is rich in curcumin, keeps the liver healthy and prevents liver cell damage. It enhances bladder functions and stimulates bile production, all the while helping with liver health restoration. It helps in fat digestion and prevents accumulation in the liver thereby keeping fatty liver diseases at bay.
- Citrus fruits: Fruits rich in Vitamin C such as lemon, lime, orange etc. are rich in antioxidants and cleanse the liver effectively. They help in detoxification and production of glutathione.
- Nuts: Incorporating a handful of nuts in your meal everyday is wonderful for gut health. Nuts, especially almonds are a great source of Vitamin E and unsaturated fats both of which help eliminate toxins from the body, eliminate bad cholesterol and benefit against fatty liver diseases. Walnuts too are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids and glutathione.
- Garlic: A very common ingredient throughout the world kitchens, garlic is rich in Sulphur and selenium both of which help in detoxification, thereby improving liver health.
- Beetroot: A beautiful red colored veggie that is extremely beneficial in reducing inflammation in the body and preventing oxidative damage.
- Pear: A fruit loved by many, pear helps in reduction of inflammation too and prevents cell damage due to alcohol.
- Berries: All berries namely raspberry, strawberry, blueberry, blackberry, mulberry etc. are wonderful sources of antioxidants, all of which help in reduction of cell damage due to oxidation and improve immunity.
- Papaya: We have been advised to eat papaya on a regular basis as it helps in detoxification of the liver and burns dietary, thereby protecting against fatty liver diseases. It should, however, be avoided by pregnant ladies.
- Olive oil: A great replacement of normal cooking oil that has taken over many kitchens owing to its healthy properties. It helps in improving liver enzymes and prevents fat accumulation.
- Amla: It is hands down, one of the best remedies against fatty liver diseases. Amla helps in natural detoxification of the liver. It can be either consumed as it is or in powder/capsule form. Nirogam Store has an entire range of Ayurvedic medicines composed of Amla.
- Apple cider vinegar: Many of us drink Apple cider vinegar with water first thing in the morning due to its fat cutting properties. It helps in removing toxins from the liver and brings down inflammation in the body.
- Coffee: All coffee lovers, rejoice!! Studies have shown that consumption of coffee in moderate amounts throughout the day can help prevent buildup of fat in the liver and reduce the risk of liver cancer. Morning cup of coffee didn’t sound any better earlier!
What’s better than finding remedies to some very complex problems in one’s own kitchen? Nature has the key to every lock, the solution to every problem. Small modifications in diet and lifestyle ensure that we are healthy with no major ailments touching us. We just need to trust nature and all it has to offer!