One of the largest and most important organs in the human body is the liver. This football-sized organ that sits under the rib cage on the right side of the abdomen is extremely vital for our health and is considered the powerhouse of the body as it performs many vital roles essential for the smooth and proper functioning of the body.
It is the primary organ of detoxification and is responsible for metabolizing fats, proteins and carbohydrates, making glucose, balancing hormones, stabilizing blood sugar and aiding in the formation of ketones. It also stores vitamins, minerals, and creates bile, which is necessary to digest and absorb the nutrients in food efficiently.
Functions of the Liver
You might not pay much heed, but your liver is working hard ceaselessly to keep you up and running. The food that you eat is broken down into the stomach and intestine by various proteins, enzymes, and bile produced by the liver. In addition to this, it also helps filter out toxins from the body, which is extremely crucial for health. Below are an in-depth explanation of some of the important functions of the liver –
Besides keeping the blood pure by scanning and identifying toxins in plasma, the liver also detects toxic substances and converts them into mild and favourable substances that can be released and removed by the kidneys or the gallbladder.
Another important function of the liver is that it produces bile essential for fats absorption. The bile secreted by the liver is stored in the gallbladder, which helps in the elimination of fat-soluble toxins and excess substances such as hormones from our bodies.
It stores the vitamins and minerals, such as iron, copper and vitamins A, D and B12, and converts them into essential blood components, which is then released into the blood when needed.
By converting amino acids in the foods, the liver helps metabolize proteins for energy production. The liver helps remove the toxic ammonia produced during this process by converting it into a benign substance called urea. Likewise, it also helps metabolize carbohydrates and ensures stabilized blood sugar levels. The liver removes the sugar from the blood and stores it as glycogen if the blood sugar level rises or breaks down glycogen and releases blood sugar into the blood if low.
The liver also manages hormones and directs them to perform their proper function in the body. In addition to this, it also supports the immune system in fighting infections and removing microorganisms from the body.
Now that you know its incredible functions, let us discuss ways to take care of this incredible organ. We are all aware of how our diet plays a huge role in our health, especially the liver. And since it is the only organ in our body that cleanses itself, it is crucial to maintain a well-balanced, liver-friendly diet to keep our liver fit and healthy.
Here are some foods to help support and protect your liver:
Garlic is considered an excellent food for liver support due to its rich nutrient content, including allicin, selenium, vitamin C, vitamin B6, etc. These nutrients help activate the enzymes needed to flush out toxins from the body. The presence of Selenium, a naturally detoxifying mineral, and Allicin, a sulphuric compound with antioxidant, antibiotic and antifungal properties, is what makes garlic a great food for the liver and overall health.
2. Leafy Greens
Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, lettuce, arugula, bok choy, mustard greens, etc, are incredibly good for the liver. They are great sources of potassium, magnesium and manganese and are exceptionally rich in chlorophyll, which is beneficial in protecting and assisting the liver in flushing out toxins from our bloodstream by neutralizing heavy metals and toxic chemicals.
3. Citrus fruits
When it comes to boosting liver health, citrus fruits are the way to go. Lemons, limes, orange, grapefruits, and other citrus fruits are great sources of citric acid, folic acid, phenolic acid, iron, calcium, vitamin C, potassium, bioflavonoids and antioxidants that are beneficial in boosting the liver’s cleansing ability and in improving the liver’s health and functionality. Studies have found that antioxidants in citrus fruits may help protect the liver from injury.
Nuts, especially walnuts, in particular, are an excellent source of healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats that help protect against fat accumulation, which is also beneficial in protecting against fatty liver disease. They also contain arginine, an amino acid that is necessary for removing ammonia from the body. They also contain vitamin E, glutathione as well as omega 3 fatty acids, essential in improving lipid profile, hepatic steatosis, and inflammation.
High in antioxidants and a good source of vitamin, beetroots are a boon for the liver. They contain plenty of nutrients such as fibre, potassium, manganese, pectin, folate, betaine, betalains, and vitamin A that help stimulates bile flow and boost enzymatic activity, which is essential in breaking down toxic wastes so that they are excreted quicker from the body.
6. Green Tea
The high catechins present in green tea is known to help enhance the liver’s detoxification ability and reduces inflammation of the liver. Green tea’s high antioxidant levels also help reduce body fat percentage and fat in the blood.
Turmeric, thanks to its potent compound Curcumin, is known to help reduce the amount of radical damage in the liver as well as in regenerating healthy liver cells. It also helps increase the natural production of bile and acts as a natural detoxifier for the liver. In addition to this, turmeric also helps prevent the accumulation of fat in the liver, a problem that could lead to issues like liver cirrhosis and fatty liver.
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The role the liver plays in keeping us healthy by eliminating toxic wastes from our body is undeniably important. And while it largely takes care of itself, it is never a bad idea to give the extra support and boost it needs for carrying out its function efficiently –and you can simply do this with the list of foods mentioned above.
Disclaimer- Keep in mind that while many foods may be beneficial for liver health, there are also certain foods that may harm the liver. Choosing foods that are good for the liver can help a person avoid potential health issues in the future. Always consult with your doctor before making a dietary change if you are under medication.
Aloe vera is an evergreen, succulent, perennial herb that grows in tropical climates and has its origins in the Arabian Peninsula.
Withania Somnifera or Ashwagandha is the most common herb used in traditional medicine systems like Chinese.
Fenugreek or Trigonella foenum-graecum (triangular shape seeds) is a spice and a medicine used in India, Middle East and Egypt.
Giloy aka Tinospora Cordifolia, is a beautiful heart-leaved plant. It is a herbaceous vine from the family Menispermaceae.
Ginger, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale, belongs to the plant family Zingiberaceae. Turmeric and cardamom also belong to the same botanical family.
Green Green tea is the most preferred tea by the health-conscious community all over the world. It is derived from Camellia sinensis plant.
Citrus limon or lemon belongs to the citrus family Rutaceae. It is one of the most useful crops that provide valuable essential oils and juice for medical, food and beauty industry.
Tulsi is an aromatic plant belonging to Lamiaceae family.
Curcumin is a bioactive ingredient of turmeric and is known for its medicinal properties. Turmeric is a familiar dietary spice.
Fennel is scientifically used as Foeniculum vulgare. It is a flowering plant with feather-like leaves and umbrella-like yellow flowers.
Papaya leaves are the leaves of the Papaya tree. The botanical name of Papaya tree is Carica Papaya & it belongs to the Caricaceae plant family.