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What I Tell My Patients To Eat For Liver Health

August 22, 2016

The liver is the largest internal organ we've got — but few of us pay it any mind until we've got a serious health problem. While we're busy ignoring our liver, it's busy managing hundreds of bodily functions, including supporting metabolism, controlling blood sugar, and regulating fat storage.

One of its biggest jobs? Breaking down everything you put down your gullet and deciding whether something is a nutrient to be absorbed or a toxin to be sent on a one-way trip out of your body.

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How to treat your liver right:

If you "feed" your liver a steady diet of junk food, alcohol, and prescription and OTC drugs, it can get overwhelmed with toxins and have problems processing nutrients. Instead of bombarding your liver with toxins it has to work overtime to eliminate, simply feed it well. Don't wait until your doc says you have a serious liver problem. Show your liver some love now — and it will return the favor.

In addition to laying off the bad stuff, be sure to supply your liver with a steady stream of nutrient-dense, plant-based foods, good fats, and high-quality animal protein. Make the produce aisle your second home (preferably in the organic section) or hit up the farmers market and look for foods that support optimal liver function. Here are a few of my favorite detoxifying, liver-lovin' foods:

1. Fermented foods

Sauerkraut, kimchee, kombucha, and other fermented foods are loaded with good bacteria, which, in addition to their immunity-boosting powers, also help usher out heavy metals.

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2. Cruciferous vegetables

Broccoli and cauliflower contain glucosinolates, which aid in the removal of toxins from the body.

3. Sea vegetables

Sea veggies like nori, dulse, and kelp contain detoxifying alginic acids that absorb and remove toxins from the digestive tract.

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4. Dark green leafy vegetables

Leafy greens like spinach, arugula, kale, and dandelion greens contain plant chlorophylls, which help remove chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals from the bloodstream.

5. Other veggies and fruits

These are all simple — and delicious — foods that support your liver:

  • Apples
  • Artichokes
  • Asparagus
  • Avocados
  • Beets
  • Berries (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberry)
  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Cilantro
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Onions
  • Parsley
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6. Oils

The healthy fats found in coconut oil and cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil are natural detoxifiers.

7. Seeds

Hemp, flax, and chia seeds are rich in antioxidants and fiber, help cleanse the colon, and facilitate toxin removal.

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8. Spices

Healing spices like ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric have helped support liver health for thousands of years — so pour them on.

For more ways to show your liver some love, check out our best ways to naturally cleanse your liver.

Frank Lipman, M.D.
Frank Lipman, M.D.

For Dr. Frank Lipman, health is more than just the absence of disease: it is a total state of physical, mental, emotional, spiritual and social wellbeing. Dr. Lipman is a widely recognized trailblazer and leader in functional and integrative medicine, and he is a New York Times best-selling author of five books, How to Be Well, The New Health Rules, Young and Slim for Life, Revive and Total Renewal.

After his initial medical training in his native South Africa, Lipman spent 18 months working at clinics in the bush. He became familiar with the local traditional healers, called sangomas, which kindled his interest in non-Western healing modalities

In 1984, Lipman immigrated to the United States, where he became the chief medical resident at Lincoln Hospital in Bronx, NY. While there, he became fascinated by the hospital’s addiction clinic, which used acupuncture and Chinese medicine making him even more aware of the potential of implementing non-Western medicine to promote holistic wellbeing.

He began studying nutrition, acupuncture, Chinese medicine, herbal medicine, functional medicine, biofeedback, meditation, and yoga. Lipman founded the Eleven Eleven Wellness Center in 1992, where he combines the best of Western medicine and cutting edge nutritional science with age-old healing techniques from the East. As his patient, chef Seamus Mullen, told The New York Times, “If antibiotics are right, he’ll try it. If it’s an anti-inflammatory diet, he’ll do that. He’s looking at the body as a system rather than looking at isolated things.”

In addition to his practice, he is also an instructor in mbg's Functional Nutrition Program.

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