Worried About Liver Health? Here Are Foods to Include In Your Diet

Worried About Liver Health? Here Are Foods to Include In Your Diet

Worried About Liver Health? Here Are Foods to Include In Your Diet

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Functioning as both an organ and a gland, the liver undertakes numerous tasks, including protein and hormone production essential for bodily functions. 

4 June 2024

By Sukhmani Kooner 

The liver, a crucial organ in the human body, serves multifaceted roles vital for sustaining life. It possesses a spongy texture, sporting a reddish-brown hue, and typically measures about the size of a football. Its dimensions vary depending on an individual’s height and weight. 

Functioning as both an organ and a gland, the liver undertakes numerous tasks, including protein and hormone production essential for bodily functions. It typically weighs around three pounds in adults, making it the largest internal organ.

The liver plays a central role in maintaining the chemical balance of blood and producing bile, which aids in the removal of waste products from the body. It receives all blood from the stomach and intestines and processes it, breaking down, balancing and synthesising nutrients. Additionally, the liver metabolises drugs, converting them into forms that are either more usable by the body or less toxic. Identified as performing over 500 essential functions, the liver is indispensable for sustaining overall bodily health and functionality. 

Among its myriad responsibilities, some of the most crucial include:

·        Detoxification: The liver acts as a filtration system, removing toxins and harmful substances from the bloodstream, safeguarding the body from potential harm.

·        Red Blood Cell Recycling: It plays a pivotal role in the disposal of old or damaged red blood cells, ensuring the efficient recycling of vital blood components.

·        Bile Production: A key function of the liver involves the synthesis of bile, a digestive fluid that aids in the breakdown of fats during the digestion process, facilitating nutrient absorption.

·        Metabolism Regulation: The liver metabolises proteins, carbohydrates and fats, converting them into usable energy sources for the body’s various physiological processes, ensuring optimal metabolic function.

·        Blood Clotting: It produces essential substances necessary for blood clotting, crucial for wound healing and for preventing excessive bleeding.

·        Blood Volume Regulation: The liver regulates the volume of blood circulating in the body, maintaining the balance between blood flow and blood pressure to support overall cardiovascular health.

·        Glycogen and Vitamin Storage: Acting as a reservoir, the liver stores glycogen, a readily accessible energy source, and vitamins, ensuring a continuous supply for the body’s energy needs and metabolic processes.

·        Infection Resistance: Resisting infections by making immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream.

·        Ammonia Conversion: Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea (urea is an end product of protein metabolism and is excreted in urine).

The liver is susceptible to various conditions, with some of the most prevalent including:

·        Toxicity-related Diseases: These ailments arise from excessive toxin consumption, such as alcohol-related liver disease and fatty liver disease, characterised by an accumulation of fat in the liver cells.

·        Inherited Disorders: Conditions like hemochromatosis, involving an overload of iron, and Wilson disease, characterised by excess copper in the body, are inherited disorders that can impact liver function.

·        Liver Cancer: Rapid proliferation of abnormal cells in the liver can lead to liver cancer, posing a significant health risk.

·        Autoimmune Disorders: Problems arise when the immune system erroneously attacks liver cells, resulting in autoimmune hepatitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis and primary biliary cholangitis.

·        Viral Infections: Hepatitis A, B and C are viral infections that can affect the liver, potentially causing inflammation and damage to liver tissue.

Many of these conditions can progress to cirrhosis, wherein scar tissue forms in the liver, impairing its function. While the liver possesses some capacity for regeneration, severe liver diseases may manifest as serious symptoms and pose life-threatening complications, necessitating timely medical intervention and management.

According to research conducted at AIIMS and published in the Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hepatology in June 2022, over one-third (38%) of Indians are affected by non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This condition is not exclusive to adults, as it also impacts nearly 35% of children in India.

These food items are a must to cleanse the liver- 

·        Garlic: It is rich in sulphur compounds that stimulate liver enzymes involved in eliminating toxins from the body. It contains allicin and selenium, which are potent nutrients that safeguard the liver from harm and assist in the detoxification process.

·        Green Tea: This drink is rich in catechins, antioxidants renowned for their ability to enhance liver function and shield against liver ailments. Consistent consumption of green tea can lead to decreased levels of liver enzymes, indicative of improved liver health.

·        Cruciferous Vegetables: Vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower contain glucosinolates, which assist the liver in producing detoxifying enzymes. These vegetables promote liver detoxification and diminish the likelihood of liver disease.

·        Apples: These timeless fruits contain pectin, a fibre type that aids in liver cleansing by eliminating toxins from the digestive tract. Regular consumption of apples can enhance liver health and bolster its detoxification capabilities.

·        Turmeric: It contains curcumin, an potent compound with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that enhances liver detoxification. Curcumin has the ability to shield the liver from harm and enhance its functionality.

·        Grapefruit: It is abundant in antioxidants, notably naringenin and naringin, which have demonstrated protective effects on the liver by mitigating inflammation and averting cellular damage. These antioxidants play a crucial role in preserving liver health by diminishing oxidative stress.

·        Leafy Greens: Those like spinach, kale and arugula are abundant in chlorophyll, a compound that aids in liver detoxification by neutralising heavy metals, chemicals and pesticides.

·        Walnuts: Walnuts contain arginine, an amino acid that assists the liver in detoxifying ammonia. They are also abundant in omega-3 fatty acids and glutathione, which aid in liver cleansing. Consuming walnuts can enhance liver function and lower the likelihood of liver disease.

·        Citrus Fruits: Citrus fruits such as lemons, oranges and limes are rich in vitamin C and antioxidants that promote liver function by aiding in the conversion of toxic substances into water-soluble compounds.

·        Olive Oil: Olive oil, particularly extra-virgin, is renowned for its health-promoting properties, including its support for liver health. It offers a lipid base that can absorb harmful toxins within the body, thereby alleviating the liver’s burden.