After we have had our fair share of a good meal, we wash our hands and wrap up. But, the real work starts when our body begins the process of digestion. The liver is one such organ, the largest in fact, that actively helps in removal of toxins, and it absorbs the nutrients of the food you eat.
But, due to factors like obesity, excess fat in the liver or consumption of alcohol, the liver is prone to inflammation and injuries. These injuries and inflammation lead to liver diseases — fatty liver disease, cirrhosis, or alcoholic steatosis. And we believe in the adage that prevention is better than cure, so here’s a list of foods that can help you turn back time and fight liver disease if you are a victim. Or it could just save you from being one.
1. Black Seed Oil
Black seed oil works wonderfully to reverse oxidative stress (the production of excess oxygen radicals in the cells, which overshadow the regular antioxidant capacity) and protects the liver from injuries caused by general wear-and-tear and exposure to chemicals (1). The oil is loaded with antifungal, antioxidant, antibacterial, analgesic, anticancer, and anti-inflammatory properties (2). The use of this oil protects the liver from injury caused by toxic metals like lead.
There’s a reason why turmeric is an important ingredient in most of the Indian cooking. Its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and healing properties make it a mighty weapon against liver diseases. It drastically reduces inflammation and helps in battling digestive ailments. In fact, turmeric has been an age-old remedy to treat digestive and liver issues (3). To be specific, turmeric fixes the liver injuries that are caused by overconsumption of iron or alcohol.
Ginger, when used in combination with other beneficial herbs and spices, can be a great deterrent of liver diseases (4). Researchers have also found that ginger can fight liver fibrosis (5). These roots are high in fiber and thus, actively flush out toxins from the body. Consuming ginger is easy — you can brew some hot tea for yourself and add some ginger to it, or just use chopped ginger in your dishes. Ginger is highly effective in treating jaundice and other bile duct problems too (6). When combined with garlic and vitamin E, ginger can be used as a great prevention against carbon-tetrachloride-induced liver damage (7).
Eating bananas is the easiest way to fight fatty liver disease. This is because it can be readily consumed, unlike the other foods. The high potassium and oligosaccharide (a prebiotic that increases the good bacteria in the gut) content in bananas makes it an important food in the army of foods trying to reverse liver disease. These dietary fibers help in lowering the liver triglyceride levels (8). Additionally, bananas naturally detox our bodies and flush out toxins. So, if you have a digestive problem, it’s always good to keep some bananas handy.
Did you know that beets are one of the 10 most potent antioxidant vegetables and one of the best sources of glutamine (9)? It’s not rocket science to understand that beetroots are good for the blood. Additionally, beets are also a great friend to our liver. The beets help in digesting the fats or lipids and also aid the liver in the detoxification process (10).
Lemons are brilliant cleansers — they can remove stains from your clothes and also flush the toxins out of your body. And they do exactly that for the liver. Drinking a glass of lime water in the morning will help you stimulate the bile juice production, which is essential for breaking down of lipids and fats. Lemons also have a compound called ‘naringenin,’ which helps in preventing any inflammation of the liver (11). Additionally, the vitamin C in lemon helps in the production of an enzyme called ‘glutathione,’ which neutralizes the toxins in the liver.
7. Sweet Potatoes
For those who suffer from the fatty liver disease, sweet potatoes can rid you of the disease. According to a study published in the Journal of Medicinal Food, the sweet potato was found to have exceptional anti-inflammatory effects (12). It basically mops up free radicals. Sweet potatoes are loaded with magnesium, vitamin B6, iron, and vitamin C, all of which prove beneficial in dealing with fatty liver disease.
8. Vitamin E
In addition to being essential for healthy skin and eyes, it is a powerful antioxidant too. Vitamin E improves the immune system significantly (13). So, it treats fatty liver disease by reducing inflammation and supplements for the overall well-being (14). You can either go the natural way and get your vitamin E from foods like spinach, avocado, and peanuts or you could also buy the supplement off the shelves.
Furthermore, foods that are low in the glycemic index and high in detoxifying properties are great to treat liver diseases. These could be simple foods like whole wheat bread, pasta, beans, fish, soy milk, etc. Other non-food supplements like L-carnitine can be consumed to help the liver perform its functions efficiently. Just be mindful of your diet and lifestyle, and that can keep the liver diseases at bay.