The liver is an essential organ responsible for removing toxins from our body and promoting overall health but poor dietary and lifestyle habits can cause damage to the liver, which can have severe health implications. However, natural remedies derived from diet can play an essential role in supporting liver function and reducing the risk of liver damage.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Saloni Jhaveri, In-House Nutritionist at Conscious Food, shared, “Several natural remedies can promote liver function. Milk thistle, a herb with a flavonoid complex called silymarin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that can protect the liver. Turmeric, a spice containing curcumin, can prevent liver damage caused by toxins and enhance liver function. Green tea has catechins, compounds that have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and can help protect the liver from damage caused by toxins.”
She revealed, “Garlic, which contains allicin, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that protect the liver from toxins and improve liver function. Beetroot, which contains betaine, is a compound that can protect the liver from toxins and enhance liver function. Besides incorporating these natural remedies into your diet, maintaining a healthy lifestyle is crucial for promoting liver health. This includes eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, avoiding smoking and alcohol, and managing stress levels. If you have liver disease or suspect that you may have liver damage, it is essential to consult your healthcare provider for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.”
Dr Manoj Kutteri, CEO and Medical Director of Atmantan Wellness Centre, said, “Liver health is one of the most important determinants of the health of a person. Most of detox programs are focusing on cleansing the liver. The liver is the key organ in our body that helps to filter harmful toxins and to metabolise them. Detoxification is the most important function of the liver and they convert the toxins such as environmental toxins and various drugs into less harmful substances which can then be eliminated from our body. A healthy liver also contributes hugely to the metabolism of nutrients, the digestion of fats by producing various enzymes, and also for the storage of critical nutrients in our body. The liver plays a major role in improving our immune functions and regulating blood sugar levels. When there is ill health of the liver, it can lead to fatty liver and followed by a series of disorders.”
He suggested the following tips to ensure liver health:
- Reduce the intake of Omega 6 fats and increase Omega 3 fats
Omega-6 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fatty acid that is important for good health, but they should be consumed in moderation. Intake of too many Omega 6 fats that comes from refined and processed oils can have major ill effects on liver health. Excess consumption of Omega 6 fats can lead to liver inflammation causing the liver to poorly function. Omega 3 fats such as chia seeds, flax seeds, fatty fish, etc. on the other hand help to reduce inflammation.
- Maintain a low BMI or keep a healthy weight
The main cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver is Obesity and overweight, which can in turn lead to liver damage including cirrhosis and liver cancer. Excess weight can lead to insulin resistance, an increase in visceral fat, and damage to normal liver functions. Avoiding sugary and processed foods and drinks and exercising regularly helps one maintain optimum weight.
Lack of exercise can create adipose tissue accumulation within the liver and abdominal organs. This can cause toxic deposits and weight gain. Higher levels of intra-abdominal or intra-hepatic fat can cause deposition of the same within the adipose tissue and this can push the nucleus of these cells toward the cell membrane. This shift of the cell nucleus initiates an inflammatory process and releases inflammatory markers such as macrophages and cytokines. These cytokines can alter the structure of insulin receptors causing resistance to insulin.
- Adopt a low carb moderate fat and high-protein diet
Insulin is a hormone that is essential for maintaining blood glucose levels to normal. Insulin is secreted whenever there is plenty of carbs or simple sugars such as glucose in your meal. Insulin can also cause the conversion of this excess glucose and store them as glycogen in the liver and muscles. Glycogen storage can also impede the function of the liver badly. Fructose also does not usually yield ATP, the entire fructose is converted to fat and this gets deposited in liver cells. Also, high levels of carbohydrates also get converted to fat when taken too much at one time.
- Consume adequate prebiotics
Prebiotics are nothing but soluble fibers such as Isabgol or Inulin and these are required to produce the short chain of fatty acid in our gut. Usually, bile acids are produced from Cholesterol. 70% of the cholesterol gets converted to Bile acids and 30% of cholesterol is absorbed in the cell membrane. A very minute quantity of bile acids is excreted from the gut and the rest are reabsorbed and reach back to the liver. Pre-biotics increase the excretion of bile acids and thereby reduce the amount of bile returning to the liver. This will result in more depletion of cholesterol and reduce liver cholesterol levels.
Excessive alcohol consumption is a leading cause of liver problems. The liver is meant to work as a detoxifier and breaks down and removes toxic substances in alcohol and other drugs. When the consumption of these toxins is beyond the threshold liver can handle, the system fails to lead to liver complications. The size of the drink, frequency of consumption, type of drink, etc are all important while we try to make a change in this habit.
- Consume Vitamin C rich food or Apple Cider Vinegar
Vitamin C is a great antioxidant that helps to prevent oxidative stress in our bodies. Besides preventing oxidative damage, it also helps to prevent fat accumulation in the liver leading to fatty liver.
Sleep disorders such as insomnia, sleep apnoea, oversleeping or poor sleep, etc. are linked to chronic liver diseases. It is important for us to get 6-8 hours of uninterrupted sleep every night and preferably at the same time to make this a regular practice. Sleep deprivation can cause major problems in the body including digestion issues, skin changes, toxic deposits, and poor liver detoxification
While the Liver is a critical organ meant to do detoxification, sufficient water intake only helps to support the liver in removing these toxins. During the detox process, the liver helps to convert the fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble ones which can then be eliminated through a water medium.
- Avoid exposure to toxins:
There are two different types of toxins that can be seen in our bodies. The endotoxins are those that are generated within our body and the exotoxins are those that we consume from the food and drinks we intake and also from our environment. Exposure to various environmental toxins such as chemicals and pesticides can damage the liver. It’s important to prevent and avoid such exposure to support liver health.
Tanisha Bawa, Certified Nutrition Coach and Founder of TAN|365, advised, “Including antioxidant-rich fruits such as kiwi, papaya, and celery in your daily diet can be beneficial for maintaining good liver health. Polyphenols found in green tea and black coffee can also be a great source of antioxidants. Omega three fatty acids are also important and can be obtained through fish oil supplements or fatty fish consumption. Vegetarians can consider incorporating flax seeds and walnuts into their diet for this purpose.”
She added, “Cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower, as well as ingredients like onions and garlic, can also have positive impacts on liver health. Turmeric is another antioxidant that can be consumed as a part of your daily diet. In addition, it is recommended to stay active throughout the day by aiming for 10,000 steps and at least one hour of structured exercise, which should include strength training to ensure that every organ in the body is repairing itself.”