The Liver Diet

The great news is that you can easily help your body work better by choosing tasty food that gives you the best nourishment.

The more plants you eat the healthier you will be. Your gut bacteria, immunity, liver function, skin, eyes, cholesterol, blood sugar, energy levels and more will thrive if you add in plants. By plants, I mean everything from herbs and spices to grains such as rice and wheat, as well as nuts, seeds, and fruit – not just salad!

There are lots of tips in this article. Take what works for you. You don’t have to do it all at once! If you need support to change your lifestyle then you could try a health coach.

There are recipes on the site and more information about nutrition that could help you find what works. Explore further, and share your ideas in the comments.

Think Raw
Eat lots of raw fruits and vegetables, especially dark green leafy vegetables and orange, yellow, purple and red coloured fruits and vegetables. Try to eat some raw fruits or vegetables a few times a day as they contain living enzymes, vitamin C, natural antibiotic substances and anti-cancer phytonutrients. Snack on a carrot, have an apple after breakfast, add berries to your dessert, add a tomato to your sandwich, squeeze lemon juice on a salad, garnish a curry with fresh coriander…

Oil but Don’t Grease Your Body
If your liver needs some help then I recommend avoiding all animal milks and substituting them with oat, rice, almond or soymilks. Avoid the fats that make life hard for the liver and gall bladder. These are full-cream dairy products, margarines, processed vegetable oils (hydrogenated fats), deep fried foods, foods that are not fresh and contain rancid fats, preserved meats, animal skins and fatty meats.

Eat the “good fats” which contain essential fatty acids in their natural unprocessed form. These are found in cold pressed vegetable and seed oils, avocados, algae oil, raw fresh nuts, raw fresh seeds such as flaxseeds (linseeds), sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, alfalfa seeds, pumpkin seeds and legumes (beans, peas and lentils).

Seeds such as flaxseeds can be ground freshly everyday (in a regular coffee grinder or food processor) or bought ready ground, and can be added to cereals, smoothies, fruit salads and vegetables.

Spirulina, evening primrose oil, black currant seed oil, borage oil and lecithin also contain healthy oils to help the liver.

Do not use butter and/or margarine on your breads and crackers. There are so many tasty replacement options with added nutrients that are great for you. Replace them with tahini, humus, pesto, tomato paste or relish, freshly minced garlic and cold pressed oil (chilli or other natural spices can be added if enjoyed), nut-spreads, fresh avocado, cold pressed olive oil or yeast extract.

Good fats are essential to build healthy cell membranes around the liver cells. We need to “oil” our bodies and not “grease” our bodies.

Think Natural
Avoid artificial chemicals and toxins such as insecticides, pesticides, and artificial sweeteners and colourings, flavourings and preservatives. The easiest way to do this is to prepare meals from plants yourself. It doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming, or cost a lot of money. In fact, if you eat seasonal food it can be much cheaper than including more expensive animal products and pre-prepared packets in your shop.

Just google ‘easy plant based recipes’ for tons of ideas. You can start here

Be Diverse
Consume a diverse range of proteins from grains, raw nuts, seeds, legumes (lentils and every type of bean) and soya products such as tofu. It is both safe and healthy to be a vegan, so long as you are eating a diverse range of plants, however you may need to take supplements of vitamin B 12 and be sure to eat healthy essential fatty acids perhaps in the form of an algae oil supplement (walnuts, flaxseed and other nuts and seeds also help keep up the protein and essential fatty acid levels).

Let Food Be Your Medicine
Many diseases can be overcome by eating healing foods that contain powerful medicinal properties. Optimal health and the prevention of disease is only possible by including these healing foods regularly in the diet.

The healing substances found in certain foods or therapeutically active chemicals are known as phytochemicals. The culinary habits of different cultures have been recognised for decades as being influential in the incidence of diseases. Mediterranean countries have a lower prevalence of cardiovascular diseases because of the protective effect of traditional Mediterranean foods, such as olive oil, tomatoes and legumes.

Broccoli and other vegetables in the cruciferous family are known to reduce the risk of bowel cancer, but it is only recently that scientists have isolated the phytochemicals which confer this protection. Broccoli has been found to contain a phytochemical called sulphoraphane, which enhances the phase two-detoxification pathway in the liver.

Tomatoes contain a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (1997:66:116-22), is the most powerful of all the dietary carotenoids. The researchers found that the dietary intake of lycopene was linked to a lower risk of prostate problems. They also found that higher levels of lycopene in the blood lowered the risk of cell proliferation, which would theoretically exert a powerful anti-cancer effect. Cooking or chopping tomatoes increases the absorption of lycopene into the body. Cooking tomatoes in oil increases the availability of the lycopene to the body, which is another reason that Mediterranean cuisine confers health benefits.

Beetroot is a beautiful deep purple colour because it contains the antioxidant anthocyanidin. Constituents of beetroot have been shown to exert anti-viral and anti-tumour effects in animal studies. Other foods, which have these properties, although to a lesser degree, are red and green peppers, red onion skins, paprika and cranberry. These foods contain healing phytonutrients such as carotenoids, capsanthin and anthocyanins.

Certain foods have high concentrations of plant hormones, which are known as phytoestrogens. Examples of these are the isoflavones genistein and daidzein (found in soya beans and red clover), and lignans (found in flaxseed).

Asian communities consume a high intake of soy (approximately 25 – 50 grams daily), and have a significantly lower incidence of hormone dependent cancers of the prostate, uterus and breast. All legumes such as beans, peas and lentils contain beneficial phytoestrogens.

A study published in the British Medical Journal in 1990, looked at a group of postmenopausal women who were given 45 grams of soy flour for 2 weeks, followed by 25 grams of flaxseed meal for 2 weeks, and then 10 grams of red clover sprouts. This produced improvements in various blood hormone levels and menopausal symptoms.

Asian and Mediterranean cuisines are now integrating themselves into the old fashioned Western diet consisting of meat, bread and a limited range of vegetables. This culinary multiculturalism has enormous and proven benefits for our health and also for our enjoyment. We all know that variety is the spice of life, and Asian and Mediterranean foods can add spice to our often-bland ways of eating.

A wide range of Asian foods is now available from supermarkets and greengrocers as well as Chinese grocery stores. Typical Asian foods and vegetables such as ginger root, chilli, garlic, Chinese water spinach, bok choy, lemongrass, coconut, tumeric, curry, Chinese mushrooms and many others can be experimented with, and gradually introduced into the diet if you want to expand the horizons of your taste buds.

Watch That Sweet Tooth
Use natural sugars from fresh fruits and juices, dried fruits, molasses, fruit sorbets, fruit cakes, fruit jams, carob, date sugar, maple sugar or syrup or rice syrup. Avoid refined white sugar and candies, fizzy drinks, cakes and biscuits made with refined sugars.

Pre diabetes and Type II diabetes are spreading like wildfire thanks to western style diets high in processed sugar and fat.

Balanced blood sugar helps your liver work better and supports your energy levels. Fresh fruit and vegetables and natural sources of sugar will help you from see-sawing blood sugar.

Rehydrate Your Body
Drink large amounts of fluids such as water, raw juices and teas (green tea, herbal and regular weak tea is fine). Aim for 2 litres of fluid daily and this will avoid constipation problems and help your kidneys to eliminate the toxins that the liver has broken down.

The liver is the major organ involved in detoxification, however it is still important to support the other body organs of elimination. The skin and the kidneys eliminate toxins through sweating and urine and this is why some people suggest that saunas and a high intake of filtered water can reduce symptoms of toxic overload.

Some people think it’s important to have a water filter, and depending on what is in your water where you are, this may help you.

Go Organic
Although it is ideal to be able to buy organically grown food it’s not always possible. Don’t worry if you can’t manage to include organic food in your life, it’s important to do what you can, and not stress about what you can’t. It’s much more important to focus on the right types of food.

Not many people want to eat fruits and vegetables that have been sprayed repeatedly with insecticides and fungicides, ripened with ethylene gas and perhaps waxed with an insect secretion. Livestock animals may have been fed antibiotics and the ground-up remains of thousands of dead animals, and had potent sex hormones implanted to accelerate growth.

Organic food is sometimes called biodynamic food and should be produced without synthetic herbicides, insecticides, fertilisers, post-harvest fungicides, antibiotic growth-promoters, or size enhancing hormones. Foods certified as organic must be grown on farms that are inspected and fully certified according to a stringent set of standards.

It’s a positive choice if you can make it, and it protects the environment. You could also try growing your own with a packet of courgette seeds in a window box!

Pamper Your Liver
Eat foods to increase nutrients beneficial to liver function. Here are some more tips:

  • Vitamin K – green leafy vegetables and alfalfa sprouts.
  • Arginine – this helps the liver to detoxify ammonia, which is a toxic waste product of protein metabolism. Arginine is found in legumes (beans, peas, and lentils), carob, oats, walnuts, wheatgerm and seeds.
  • Antioxidants – found in fresh raw juices such as carrot, celery, beetroot, dandelion, apple, pear and green drinks like wheatgrass and barley-grass juice, and fresh fruits, particularly citrus and kiwi fruit.
  • Selenium – sources of the antioxidant selenium are brazil nuts, brewers yeast, designer yeast powders (very good source), kelp, brown rice, molasses, seafood, wheatgerm, whole-grains, garlic and onions.
  • Methionine – is essential for detoxification. Is found in legumes, garlic, onions and seeds
  • Essential fatty acids – Fresh avocado, fresh raw nuts and seeds, legumes (beans, peas, lentils), wholegrain, wheatgerm, green vegetables such as spinach, green peas and green beans, eggplant/ aubergine, cold pressed fresh vegetable and seed oils, freshly ground seeds, especially flaxseeds (linseed), evening primrose oil, black-currant seed oil, star flower oil. Essential fatty acids are required for healthy membranes in every cell of the body and plentiful amounts are required for healthy liver function. This is why strict low fat diets are not beneficial for general health, weight control or liver function.
  • Natural sulphur compounds – are found in garlic, onions, leeks, shallots and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and brussel sprouts.

So – the take away here is ‘eat a diverse range of plants’. Just add more plants and you will feel and be healthier. You can focus on areas where you need to bring in more nutrients – such as cruciferous veg and essential fatty acids, or reducing processed sugar and fats. If you need support then you can work with a health coach. If you have particular questions then do post in the comment!

3 Replies to “The Liver Diet”

  1. Hello
    Put myself on a strick diet to help alleviate the GS I also have systemic candidiasis and ibs although I suspect this is a side affect of the other conditions
    So my general rules are
    no sugar
    No potatoes
    Low carbs
    Low fibre
    Low fat
    And eat protein with everything

    I’ve just had a whole week without crashing and having to sleep for a day! Just wanted to share it might help someone.

    1. You could use hemp oil such as ‘Good Oil’, or other blends of oils that are high in omegas. Have a look in the oil and vinegar isles of your supermarket.

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