Natural Ways to Improve Liver Health

An array of high-fiber, healthy-fat foods.

The Role of the Liver

The liver is responsible for the body’s metabolic processes, including breaking down or converting substances like fats and proteins, removing toxins from the bloodstream, and extracting vitamins and minerals. 1 It also produces bile, which helps to break down fats into digestible fatty acids, and gets rid of waste. 2 

Common Liver Issues

Hepatitis

There are different types of hepatitis (hepatitis A, B, C, D, and E) that vary in severity, but they are all viral and affect the liver through inflammation and subsequent infection, potentially resulting in liver damage and/or failure. Hepatitis A is most commonly caused by contaminated drinking water, while hepatitis B and C are predominantly spread through blood and body fluids. 3 4 5 Hepatitis D and E may occur as co-infections with the other forms of hepatitis. No vaccines exist for hepatitis C, D and E.

Fatty Liver Disease

Fatty liver (hepatosteatosis) disease occurs when excess fat is stored in the liver. It affects 25 to 30 percent of people in the United States and Europe. 6 Fatty liver disease can cause discomfort due to enlargement of the liver and can lead to other complications, including cirrhosis, liver failure, and metabolic syndrome. This disease is most common in people with obesity and type 2 diabetes, but it can affect anyone at any age. 7

Cirrhosis 

Cirrhosis of the liver occurs when healthy liver tissue is replaced by scar tissue. This impedes regular function and causes chronic liver failure. Cirrhosis most commonly occurs as a result of hepatitis B, hepatitis C, fatty liver disease, and excessive alcohol consumption. 8 

What You Can Do to Improve Liver Health

There are a lot of unproven “liver detox” products on the market, but the best thing that you can do for your liver is to embrace a liver-healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise and a high-fiber diet, low in saturated fats, to help reduce fatty liver disease and prevent cirrhosis. 9 

Liver-Healthy Foods to Add to Your Diet

  • Legumes
  • Artichoke
  • Fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines
  • Leafy greens
  • Fruit
  • Oatmeal
  • Nuts
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Green tea
  • Milk thistle
  • Dandelion greens and root (organic only) 

Foods to Avoid

  • Alcohol
  • Salty foods such as potato chips
  • Sugary foods such as candy, cookies, and soda
  • Fried foods
  • Red meat
  • Deli meats
  • White flour
  • White rice

If you are concerned about liver health, speak to a naturopathic doctor. They can help you develop a diet and lifestyle plan based on your individual needs and risk factors in order to help you improve your liver health and feel your best.

 

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