Dedicated to preserving your health? Into detoxification techniques? Then likely you know all about your liver, and want to do everything you can to protect it.
In the rush of your daily life, however, you may be consuming some foods that are overtaxing this important organ, even though you don’t mean to. Keep reading to find out if any of these items have been on your menu lately, and which foods can counteract any unhealthy indulgences.
Quick Recap on Liver Function
Just to review—the liver sits on the upper right side of the abdomen, just below the diaphragm. It’s the largest internal organ of the human body. Blood has to filter through the liver before it travels anywhere else in the body.
What the liver does: removes toxins from the body, processes food nutrients, and helps to regulate body metabolism.
“Without the liver, you can’t live,” said Leonard Seeff, M.D., senior scientist for hepatitis research at the National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases. “It’s the metabolic factory of the entire body.”
Five Foods Toxic to the Liver
- Fast Food: No surprise here, right? A study from Europe showed that eating too much fast food—a diet high in fat and sugar (including high fructose corn syrup)—could cause serious damage to the liver. Follow-up studies also showed, however, that that damage could be reversed by giving up the unhealthy diet.
- Alcohol: Another no-brainer. Too much alcohol can lead to liver disease.
- Salt: You know that too much salt can increase blood pressure, but did you know that it can also lead to fatty liver disease? Look out for high-salt processed foods like bacon and sausages.
- Artificial Sweeteners: Aspartame, Splenda, NutraSweet, and Equal can all create toxic reactions in the body. The government advises pregnant woman and children to avoid them.
- Monosodium Glutamate (MSG): A form of concentrated salt, MSG was found in a 1994 study to cause headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, and asthma attacks, and in animal studies, to be toxic to the liver. Researchers commented, “There is considerable evidence to suggest that consumption of MSG is a serious public health problem….”
Raw Foods to Clean Up the Damage
Fortunately, even if you fall off the wagon now and then, raw foods can bring you back.
- Garlic and onions: they help rid the body of toxins, assisting the liver in its cleansing duties.
- Freshly squeezed lemon in hot water: drink it first thing in the morning to encourage detoxification.
- Beetroot: it’s got the antioxidant anthocyanidin, which has shown some anti-tumor effects in studies. Healing phytonutrients help counteract the bad effects of fatty foods.
- Apples: they contain pectin, which helps escort heavy metals like mercury out of the body.
- Artichoke: it actually increases bile production, revving up the toxin-cleansing engine.
What foods do you avoid for a healthy liver? Which do you include on your menu?
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Photo courtesy nicknamemiket via Flickr.com.
Michael Tennesen, “The silent alarm: your liver filters the fallout from a toxic world, but symptoms of disease can stay dormant for decades.” CBS Interactive Business Network, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0NAH/is_7_35/ai_n6116715/.
Saint Louis University Medical Center (2008, April 30). Fast-Food Liver Damage Can Be Reversed, Experts Say. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 9, 2012, from http://www.sciencedaily.com /releases/2008/04/080430204519.htm
Hanaa F. Waer and Saleh Edress, “The Effect of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) on Rat Liver,” The Egyptian Journal of Hospital Medicine 2006, Vol. 24: 524-538. http://egyptianjournal.net78.net/24_10.pdf