What to eat and drink to take care of our liver, helping it purify the body of toxins and preventing any damage to it? Today we talk about this very interesting topic referring to a review published in the journal Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine by a Chinese team (Guan et al, Evid Based Complement Alternat Med, 2015).
Liver, what are its tasks
The liver is a very important organ of our body and responsible for various processes essential for our survival. First of all, the liver is the largest digestive gland in the body, it produces bile, it guarantees detoxification, transforming toxins into waste substances to be eliminated, it participates in the synthesis of proteins and hormones, it stores glycogen, which is the reserve of glucose, and represents a blood reserve. Any disease that can affect the liver affects its functionality with important consequences on our health. What we eat affects the liver and can help it perform its tasks, or, conversely, can cause damage to the liver gland. Today we will talk about how some foods interact with the liver determining its health.
Foods that protect the liver
Most chronic liver diseases can be traced back to an excess of free radicals. Hence the importance of consuming foods rich in antioxidants, such as broccoli, sweet potatoes, carrots, kale and cabbage in general, figs, avocado, cherries and pomegranate. Even green tea, rich in epigallocatechin gallate, watermelon and cooked tomato which provide lycopene, garlic, onion, leek and cumin seeds are useful in fighting free radicals, helping to prevent any cellular degeneration in the liver. All green leafy vegetables are good for the liver. Moreover, it should be borne in mind that, in ancient Chinese medicine, the liver meridian is associated with the dark green color, just like that of these vegetables. The apple, as well as mandarin and citrus fruits in general protect the liver from damage that can be caused by exposure to chemicals but also by aflatoxins, which are carcinogenic mycotoxins for the liver. Soy contains isoflavones, such as genistein, which are antioxidant substances that help fight hepatitis B infection. Other hepatoprotective foods are amaranth, buckwheat, asparagus, watercress, dandelion, kiwi, mango, papaya and olives. Finally, turmeric, thanks to its active ingredient curcumin, protects the liver from damage.
Habits that protect the liver
Not only foods, some habits can also protect the liver. For example, it is important to drink in order to stay hydrated. In fact, taking a fair amount of liquids, but without excesses, helps to stimulate the digestive functions of the liver and the excretion of waste products in order to cleanse the hepatic gland of accumulations of toxins. Don't forget the importance of good sleep since a short and disturbed sleep increases the risk of liver disease.
Foods harmful to the liver
Now let's delve into foods and cooking methods that can be harmful to the liver. Pesticides are hepatotoxic, hence the importance of preferring fruit and vegetables of organic origin and in any case washing them very well. Not only that, even smoked and grilled foods are harmful to the liver, since they increase free radicals and the risk of liver damage. In addition to this, a risk to the liver is also represented by spoiled or rotten food, as can happen in summer due to the heat. In fact, these foods develop fungi and molds. Ginger, when rotten or otherwise deteriorated, produces a substance called safrole which is a toxin harmful to the liver, capable of inducing cellular mutations, necrosis of the liver tissue and, following exposure for long periods of time, even tumors. Rotten or moldy potatoes are toxic to the liver due to the presence of mycotoxins. Also pay attention to cereals, legumes, spices and dried fruit, they should be of good quality and well preserved. In fact, these foods can develop aflatoxins, which are liver carcinogens.
Today's article clearly presents the foods and drinks that protect the liver and stimulate its detox function, and, conversely, those foods that instead increase the risk of liver damage. These are precautions or really small changes in the daily diet that, however, can bring important benefits, preserving the health of the liver.