Your liver is important, really important, so keep it in tiptop shape.
What’s the largest organ in your body?
What’s the largest gland in your body?
What is the only organ in your body that can regenerate?
If you answered liver, liver and liver, then you have more understanding of your digestive system than most people. And perhaps you’re not one of those people who regularly offers the line: “I gave my liver a pounding last night.”
Excessive alcohol consumption is one of the major causes of liver problems in the modern world, and if your liver starts having problems, the repercussions are almost too numerous to mention.
The liver is, you see, a massive filter. Weighing around 1.5 kilograms, it lives on the upper right side of the abdomen, just under the diaphragm. All blood in your body must filter through it before it goes anywhere else and, like any filter, it can get clogged up.
This is called “fatty liver” and it is the most common form of liver disorder. Too much alcohol, too much fatty food, too much weight being carried and the liver starts to collapse from the stress.
But there are things you can do to help your liver in this battle and even to repair it. Things that do not require having to give up alcohol or the occasional bowl of chips. Things you might refer to as “healthy foods”.
Here’s a list of the best foods to eat to give your liver a fighting chance.
1. Garlic. Small amounts can activate enzymes that help flush out toxins and cleanse the liver.
2. Grapefruit and other citrus fruits. A small glass of grapefruit juice daily is ideal for cleansing the liver, but don’t add sugar.
3. Green tea. A drink full of plant-based antioxidants. A Japanese study suggests five to 10 cups a day, less, presumably, if you’re having grapefruit juice too.
4. Coffee. Yes, studies have shown that coffee protects the liver from disease by lowering the risk of cirrhosis.
5. Beetroots and carrots, although most studies suggest drinking them as a juice as few studies have been done on their benefits as food items.
6. Blueberries, cranberries and grapes. All can protect the liver from damage.
7. Brussels sprouts, even when cooked, so thankfully we don’t have to eat them raw.
8. Nuts, preferably unsalted and not washed down with a few beers. Almonds, for example, are full of protein and unsaturated fats.
9. Oats, brown rice or couscous. If you’re eating breakfast cereals, for example, read the box carefully because many are full of sugars and salts.
10. Olive oil. Not only good for the liver, but the heart also likes it.
There are many other things – salmon, broccoli, kidney beans, spinach, pumpkin – that can help protect your liver, so if you’re prone to a piece of cake with your morning coffee, lashings of butter on your toast, sour cream with your chips or a handful of lollies after dinner, make sure you balance it with some of the good things, otherwise you might form a closer relationship with your doctor than you might prefer.
Do you consider your liver when you eat what you eat? Are you conscious of the effect of alcohol on your liver?
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