Diet. Treatment of liver dysfunction may center on developing healthy dietary guidelines, in addition to making some key adjustments in your relationship with food.
In order to maintain a healthy liver, it is essential to reduce your toxic load by eating foods that are known for their detoxifying powers. Below are key dietary recommendations for liver dysfunction:
- Balance your dietary intake of fats. Increase your omega-3 essential fatty acids by adding high quality fish oil to your diet. Decrease your omega-6 essential fatty acids found in corn oil, safflower oil, and sunflower oil. Eliminate trans fats (hydrogenated oils) completely from your diet. Choose healthy saturated fats like virgin coconut oil, and healthy monounsaturated fats such as olive oil.
- Eat foods that have natural antimicrobial properties such as garlic, cayenne pepper, and ginger.
- Eat foods that can help excrete heavy metals such as cilantro.
- Eat foods that boost the immune system, such as turmeric (curry powder), green tea, and blueberries.
- Increase the good bacteria in your digestive system by taking probiotics.
- Increase the vegetables in your diet, especially dark green vegetables.
- Increase fiber and omega-3 essential fatty acids by adding ground flax seed to your diet. Fiber helps eliminate toxins more effectively from the body.
- Add organic sprouted nuts and seeds to your diet.
- Drink plenty of purified water. Water is an excellent detoxifier and helps eliminate toxins.
- Eat a healthy balance of proteins, carbs, and fats. The ratio should be 40% carbs, 30% proteins, and 30% fats (40-30-30). Protein malnutrition can lead to fatty liver.
- Consider vitamin B complex supplementation, since B vitamins are known to assist liver function, and reduce homocysteine levels.
- If you’re a vegetarian, consider supplementation with carnitine (found primarily in meat and dairy products). Carnitine is essential for triglyceride and cholesterol regulation.
There are a number of substances that you should avoid if your liver is not functioning properly. The following are processed in the liver and may cause further stress or damage:
- Alcoholic beverages
- Raw shellfish. These can contain the hepatitis A virus, which can cause serious liver damage.
- Wild mushrooms. These contain toxins that can cause serious damage to the liver.
- Iron, a mineral found in meat and fortified cereals, can be toxic to the liver, especially in people who have liver dysfunction or hemochromatosis (excess accumulation of iron in the blood). Also, cooking equipment such as iron skillets should be avoided.
Other foods to AVOID:
- All simple or refined carbohydrates (white flour, white rice, white bread, pasta, cookies, cakes, crackers, processed snack foods, etc.)
- All foods containing refined sugar or artificial sugar-substitutes such as Aspartame and Splenda®. Choose a natural sweetener like Xylosweetl instead.
- Limited dairy. Dairy products can cause undue stress on the liver.
- Pickled foods
- Limited fruits that have a high-glycemic index
- Fruit juices, since they spike blood sugar levels too rapidly
- Carbonated soft drinks that cause blood pH levels to become acidic
- Seafood, such as oysters, clams, and lobster that may contain toxic levels of mercury
- Deep-sea fish such as tuna, mackerel, and swordfish that may contain toxic levels of mercury. Choose minimal-mercury tuna instead.
- Farm-raised fish that contain PCBs and not enough omega-3 essential fatty acids, due to their land-based diets. Choose wild-caught salmon instead.
- Nitrites found in processed foods such as hot dogs, lunch meats, and bacon
- Monosodium glutamate (MSG) found in many foods as a flavor enhancer
- Hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils found in many processed foods, deep-fried foods, fast foods, and junk food. Read more about trans fats.
- Limited caffeine intake. While moderate amounts of caffeine may be beneficial, excessive consumption of caffeine can disrupt the body’s systems.
Exercise. Exercise that really makes you sweat is especially important for liver health, since excess toxins can be released through the skin, relieving the toxic burden on the liver. It’s also useful to sit in a sauna, or take hot baths with Epsom salts to help facilitate the elimination of toxins.
Other Tips for Treating Liver Dysfunction
- Heavy Metal Toxicity can produce vague symptoms that sometimes are mistaken for other chronic conditions. Discuss Heavy Metal Toxicity with your healthcare professional before receiving any diagnosis or treatment for a serious chronic condition. Read more about heavy metal toxicity.
- If you have dental amalgams, or “silver” fillings, get an evaluation from a mercury-free dentist who specializes in the safe removal of mercury amalgam fillings. Find a mercury-free dentist in your area now.
- Obtain a thorough evaluation of your medications. Some synthetic medications (pharmaceuticals) put undue stress on the liver, and can even cause liver damage as a side effect and risk. Also, avoid taking any medicine (over the counter or prescription) with alcohol. The combination of drugs and alcohol can be liver toxic.