Healthy liver – do you know what foods benefit it?

January 16th, 2024

Certain foods put an excessive strain on the liver, while others support its function. What should you pay attention to in your diet, and what should you regularly include in your diet?

The liver assists in hundreds of vital functions daily. It produces proteins, hormones, releases vitamins into the circulation, cleanses the blood of toxic substances, manages our energy, and much more.

It breaks down toxins when we have our favorite drink with an artificial sweetener, when we have a glass of alcohol with friends, or have a portion of food fried in sunflower oil for lunch.


So how do we maintain a healthy organ that detoxifies us?

The answer sounds like a shabby phrase: a balanced, natural diet. However, this is doubly true for the liver. Everything we eat, the liver must deal with. If we eat food that does not burden the liver, we are serving our overall health. That’s worth considering, isn’t it?

Dr Nikolaos Dimitrakos from WeCare Medical Centre will guide us through foods beneficial to the liver and will point out the harmful foods.


The key to a happy liver is hidden in the use of the correct oils

The liver does not like fried food and burnt fat. It also does not like vegetable oil that has been in the air for a long time and has oxidized. On the contrary, if we want to make the liver happy, we should prepare meals by cooking or stewing with a small amount of fat.


What fats are healthy?

“Healthy vegetable oils are olive, rapeseed, flax, and hemp oil. The most consumed – sunflower oil, is unsuitable for the liver due to the wrong ratio of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, so we should mix it with other oils, ” explains Dr Nikolaos Dimitrakos from WeCare Medical Centre.


Animal proteins can cause gallstones

Meat, eggs, dairy products are rich and balanced sources of protein on one hand, however their frequent presence on a plate, along with fats – overloads the liver.

“Fat accumulates and disrupts the normal functioning of the liver. The most common cause is obesity combined with increased alcohol consumption. At an early stage, this process can be reversed. If left untreated, it can lead to fibrosis or cirrhosis of the liver, ” Dr Dimitrakos explains how extra pounds can harm us.

Excessive consumption of animal proteins and fats along with other risk factors (age, smoking, lack of dietary fiber, hereditary predisposition) can also cause gallstones and block the bile duct or cause inflammation of the pancreas. These diagnoses can also be confirmed by laboratory blood tests focused on the liver function.


Processed food and dietetic products

In addition to animal proteins, the liver can also be affected by the toxins from industrially processed food and semi-finished products, addictive substances, and alcohol. Experts recommend consuming only organic wine that is not exposed to chemicals during cultivation.

The harmful effects of dietary products are less well known. Low-fat products often contain sweeteners. In addition to placing too much strain on the liver, sweeteners also stimulate the appetite. Diet drinks support the development of the metabolic syndrome as well as their non-dietary version.

“Metabolic syndrome is a set of risk factors including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar (glycemia), and a fat metabolism disorder. Patients with this syndrome have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type II diabetes, ” Dr Dimitrakos explains.

We should also avoid energy drinks, which serve only as stimulants and a source of temporary energy thanks to sugar, caffeine, and other unhealthy components. And still, in the long run, they weaken us and increase the toxicity in the body.


Liver as the main tester of healthy food

In short – the liver never chooses harmful food. It is especially fond of the natural, unprocessed food: fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, quality wholegrain foods, and neglected legumes – which can replace white flour products.

“We should also increase the intake of fluids in the form of water, mineral water, herbal teas, and unsweetened drinks,” says Dr Dimitrakos.

To support the detoxifying and enzymatic abilities of the liver, you can reach for the following natural sources: garlic, carrots, beetroot, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, avocado, lemons, grapefruit, olive oil, walnuts, green tea.


A natural antioxidant for the liver and gallbladder

The liver cleanses our blood but also needs a cleansing treatment itself from time to time. If the liver could choose its favorite, which would regenerate it most thoroughly, it would undoubtedly choose the herb Milk thistle (Silybum Μarianum).

Milk thistle is a powerful antioxidant and has a beneficial effect on the gallbladder and digestive system in addition to the liver. It restores liver cells, promotes bile production, lowers blood sugar and cholesterol levels.

“It helps with cirrhosis, fatty liver, inflammatory diseases of the liver, gallstones, but also with poisoning by alcohol, drugs, or mushrooms. Many studies have also confirmed the positive effects of variegation. Its active substance, silymarin, can also be found in some drugs for liver protection. They are so-called hepatoprotectants, some of which are even subject to a prescription,” Dr Dimitrakos explains the numerous healing effects of milk thistle.

Every day, the liver fights with a tangle of toxic substances: it processes them, neutralizes them, and helps us keep our body in balance.

Therefore, if we really want to help the liver, we must know its condition. This we will find out by doing the blood test, and then we can make a responsible approach to our everyday diet.

Remember: The golden rule of a non-toxic diet for the liver is a natural, non-industrial diet with a higher proportion of plant products.

The article was created thanks to professional cooperation of Dr Nikolaos Dimitrakos, MSc who is based at WeCare Medical Centre.