Many of us are familiar with that post-weekend feeling when we've overindulged on cheese platters and wine. While the experience of sharing it over conversation and friends was 100% worth it, that dairy hangover is all too real. Add a stressful workweek into the mix, and you have a recipe for liver breakdown. And while we certainly don't think an extreme detox approach is the answer, incorporating some low-intensity detox rituals and shifting your diet to a liver-friendly one will give your body the boost it needs, and your most important (and biggest) organ will thank you.
So why do you need to look after it? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, the liver converts nutrients in our diet into substances the body can use, but perhaps one of its most important functions is its ability to convert toxic substances into harmless substances, which it then releases from the body. It's like our body's very own superhero, sweeping in to save the day, so it really does deserve our attention. Ahead, Carly Brawner—holistic nutritionist, health coach, and founder of Frolic and Flow—shares the foods we should eat every day to naturally detox our liver.
Eat Foods High in Vitamin C and E
In good news, the liver was designed for detox. It is remarkably efficient at cleansing and renewing itself, so when you give it a little love and attention, it bounces back real quick. Brawner says the liver has a two-phase detoxification process, and there are certain foods that can assist each of them. Phase one uses special liver enzymes to break down toxic chemicals and subtract molecules from substances so they are easier to process in phase two. Phase two turns chemicals from a fat-soluble substance to a water-soluble substance so it can be excreted through bile or urine.
"Foods high in antioxidants are extremely important for phase one detox," she explained. "Free radicals are produced during the phase one process, and the body relies on antioxidants to excrete them. If toxin exposure is high and antioxidants are lacking, it can be harmful to the body."
Some of the liver-supporting foods you should eat to help this two-phase process are:
• Red peppers
• Kale (vitamin C)
• Activated almonds
• Spinach (vitamin E)
Eat Foods Containing Vitamin B2
If you want to support the detoxification process, then Brawner says to ramp up the B vitamins. "Vitamin B2 is a cofactor for the enzymes (P450) that break down toxins in phase one of liver detox," she explained. "This means that vitamin B2 must be present for P450 enzymes to do their job."
Some food sources of B2 are:
• Animal protein
• Green vegetables
• Natural yogurt
Eat Foods Rich in Sulphur
It might seem unusual to see sulphur in the mix, but Brawner says foods containing this property are important for liver detoxification because they "stimulate and enhance phase two of the detox process."
Some commons foods that have sulphur are:
• Cruciferous veggies
• Raw onion
Eat Foods Sources With Betaine
If you're reading this next food source with a quizzical look, don't worry, we did too. What is betaine, you ask? Brawner says it's a special substance that helps stimulate bile flow. "Bile is a crucial part of phase two detox as the liver metabolizes toxins and excretes them through bile," she said. "When bile flow is encouraged, the liver can remove toxins more efficiently.
Good food sources of betaine include:
• Sweet potatoes
• Sweet potatoes