Hello friend! I’ve written up a Seasonal Support Guide to help you transition from season to season without succumbing to the colds, flus, and general ickiness that sometimes comes with the change in temperatures/habits. Part 1 of the series is all about giving our liver some love, but I realize I only talked about herbal remedies and completely neglected one of our most powerful immune-boosting, liver-loving tools: FOOD!
So without further ado today I will share with you some of the top foods to incorporate into your diet to help your liver with its oh-so-important job of detoxifying and supporting your body.
This family of vegetables is perhaps my favourite of all and I typically eat at least one member per day. Commonly known brassicas include kale, cauliflower, broccoli, mustard greens, turnip, rutabaga, cabbages, and Brussels sprouts. Check out the recipes section for more ways to prepare some of my faves!
The reason you want to incorporate at least one cup of these delicious veggies a day is due not only to their high nutrient content, but also because they contain various liver supporting compounds such as glucosinolates, including indole-3-carbinol, and sulfurophanes.
Studies have shown that glucosinolates improve phase 2 liver detoxification by increasing the enzymes necessary for eliminating harmful toxins and byproducts of phase 1. Indole-3-carbinol in particular is highly effective at helping the liver metabolize and excrete excess estrogens to the point where they have been studied for their anti-tumour effect in such estrogen dominant cancers as breast, cervical. Since one of the primary functions of your immune system is finding and removing cancerous cells, anything you can do with your diet to help remove some of the burden is a huge bonus!
This family of veggies takes a close second for me in terms of the ones I love the most. They include some of the tastiest foods including all types of onions (red, white, pearl, green, sweet, etc.), garlic, garlic scapes, chives, leeks, ramps, and shallots.
They are great for your liver because they contain specific nutrients in the sulfur family that help with liver detoxification and have many potent anti-cancer and cardiovascular benefits in the body.
Garlic contains several organosulfurs that can help protect the liver from daily environmental damages and has a positive impact on phase 1 and 2 detoxification pathways, which both need to be running optimally in order to break down and excrete toxins.
Onions and its relatives contain complementary compounds that also help promote liver detoxification, likely by upregulating the production of our master antioxidant and detoxifier, glutathione. If you don’t know what glutathione is then you will likely want to read this article to familiarize yourself with it. I also chat a bit about it below 😉
I love incorporating lemon into my diet wherever possible because this tangy citrus fruit is an excellent source of vitamin C, which is a necessary component of the antioxidant glutathione. This master antioxidant helps neutralize toxins and free radicals in the body, enhances the immune system, and detoxifies the liver. Individuals who are deficient in this crucial molecule can suffer from the following imbalances, to name but a few:
- Chronic Fatigue
- Heart disease
But lemons don’t just contain vitamin C, they also help support the production of liver enzymes thereby improving our detoxification capacity. Due to the endogenous and exogenous toxins we encounter daily, proper detox is essential for optimal health, which includes supporting the immune system as it goes about its daily tasks.
I’ve also found that they can help improve digestion and ease common complaints such as gas, bloating, or burping. I drink a glass of room temperature water with the juice of a ¼ lemon squeezed into it to help start my day off on the healthiest possible foot!
Honourable Mention: Turmeric
This spice contains a powerful compound called curcumin, which is not only supports liver function, but also promotes anti-inflammatory states in the body. Turmeric has potent effects on phase 1 liver detoxification and its affect on glutathione production in the body. I talk about it a bit more in the next instalment of this series: Immune Supporting Foods
Well that’s our next instalment in the Seasonal Support Series. Don’t forget to check out Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, and the Bonus post to cover all your bases. Have a wonderfully whimsical weekend!