For the first half of his 58th year, my friend Jim’s life was pretty ideal. His kids were grown and out of the house, he was getting close to retirement and his golf game was the best it had ever been.
Then he had a stroke and, overnight, everything changed.
Thankfully, Jim survived… but the “healthy” guy I once knew was gone.
From the get-go, he was put on blood pressure meds, cholesterol meds and blood thinners. A few months later, his joints started giving him trouble… so his docs tacked on arthritis and pain pills.
You know those day of the week pill holders? His cups runneth over…
Sadly, Jim’s reliance on prescription meds isn’t uncommon. 75 percent of Americans over 50 take multiple pills daily.
This prescription overload is putting major wear and tear on people’s livers…
But it’s important to remember that everything you eat or drink must be metabolized by your liver. So it’s not just prescription drugs that attack it… it’s also alcohol, environmental pollution, junk food, pesticides… well you get the picture…
Most people don’t even think about their liver until something is wrong… but by then is it too late?
Thankfully not. The liver is a resilient little bugger… actually not that small, it clocks in at close to 3 pounds!
And, you can undo the damages of prescription and over-the-counter drugs… alcohol… and the American diet and get yourself back on track.
There are many foods that can provide the necessary nutrients to keep your liver working efficiently.
Here are the top 6 foods that boost liver health:
#1 — Garlic
Garlic is a detox favorite that has many sulfur-containing properties that fight harmful yeast and bacteria in the liver. Garlic should be chopped or crushed to release its beneficial sulfur properties.
Also, garlic can enhance the ability of your liver to cleanse by encouraging the production of glutathione, an essential component for eliminating toxins.
Garlic also contains allicin, which can be broken down and protect your body against diabetes, arthritis, cancer and heart disease.
#2 — Quinoa
Gluten- and wheat-free, quinoa is a great food that can help to cleanse your liver. It is a great source of protein, with nearly 6 grams in a cooked cup. Compared to grains, quinoa contains more nutrients, especially amino acids, making it a great alternative to animal protein. Also, it’s rich in lysine, which can help with tissue repair.
#3 — Coffee
If you start every day with a cup of Joe, good for you.
The results of scientific studies have shown that adding two to three cups of coffee to your day can guard your liver against damage caused by alcohol or a poor diet… so drink up!
#4 — Almonds
Almonds are high in vitamin E, fiber, veggie protein and monounsaturated fats. All of these nutrients are essential in the process of cleansing your liver.
#5 — Spinach
The glutathione found in leafy greens such as spinach and kale revs up your body’s master antioxidant to guard against free radical damage and keep your liver functioning optimally. Go fresh, sauté them or add them to pasta recipes. The key is to do what your mother always told you… eat your greens!
#6 — Blueberries
A true superfood, berries are full of vitamin C and fiber, low in calories and rich in antioxidants. They get their blue color from anthocyanins, an antioxidant pigment that helps fight against damages caused by free radical cells, improve the production of glutathione, and prevent heart disease, cancers, diabetes, allergies or Alzheimer’s. Other rich sources of these liver-boosting nutrients include plums, cocoa powder, dark chocolate (my personal favorite!), sweet cherries and apples.
On flip side, there are some foods you need to avoid to ensure your liver lives long and prospers…
#1 — Fried foods
If you want to keep your liver healthy, wave goodbye to the drive-thru.
Foods like French fries and burgers are high in saturated fat which makes your liver work overtime. And overworking your liver means higher levels of inflammation, which can lead to liver scarring and cirrhosis.
#2 — Sweet stuff
You may not know this, but one of your liver’s most important jobs is to convert the sugar you eat into fat.
While a little sugar is okay, if you eat too much, that fat your liver makes can end up sticking around your mid-section and could lead to a fatty liver.
#3 — Salty snacks
Salty foods can be another liver time bomb, leading to scarring of your liver. While your body needs a little salt each day, skip the high sodium foods like deli meats, salty snacks and canned veggies and think twice before reaching for the salt shaker.
Remember, everything that goes into your body eventually affects your liver in some way — good or bad. If your liver was a member of a football team… it would be the captain!