The liver is one of the largest organs and performs many functions. As the organ that takes on a heavy load of toxins, the liver is an easily damaged organ. From the overconsumption of alcohol and heavily processed foods to a sedentary lifestyle, there are many things that can harm your liver.
When not taken care of liver diseases such as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or alcoholic liver disease can require drastic measures such as a liver transplant. However, it is possible to repair your damaged liver and there are many ways in which you can help to improve your liver health and boost your overall health.
Keep reading if you want to know:
- What causes liver damage?
- Can liver damage actually be reversed?
- What you can do to help your liver
What Causes Liver Damage?
First, it’s important to know what causes liver damage. Once you know what causes liver damages you can take steps to prevent more damage as well as repairing the damaged cells. The most common causes of liver damage include:
- High alcohol intake
- Smoking cigarettes
- Diets that are heavy in sugar and trans fats
- A sedentary or stressful lifestyle
Dehydration can also play a large role in liver damage. With 75% of our bodies made up of water, extreme dehydration can put lots of stress on all organs, so it’s important to keep drinking water!
Treatment for liver diseases and conditions can vary depending on your diagnosis. However the most common forms of treatment come in lifestyle changes such as cutting out alcohol or implementing new dietary restrictions. Doctors may also recommend an increase in exercise or daily movement.
Foods that improve liver function
There are a few foods that doctors recommend avoiding or limiting when diagnosed with a liver condition or disease. However there are also many foods and drinks that can help to improve your liver function.
- Coffee and Tea - both of these morning brews have been linked to helping to prevent fat build up in the liver and coffee has been linked to reduction of inflammation of the liver in some studies. It is important to note that using green tea supplements are not recommended for those with liver damage, as green tea extract has been known to result in more damage to the liver.
- Grapefruit - While many of the studies surrounding the effects of grapefruit have been done on animals, studies suggest that grapefruit’s antioxidant properties can help to protect the liver from such disease as hepatic fibrosis which typically results from chronic inflammation in the liver.
- Blueberries and Cranberries - Like many berries, these fruits are high in antioxidants, which can help protect the liver from damage. Antioxidants found in blueberries were also found to slow the development of lesions and scar tissue in the livers of rats, according to one study.
- Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, and Mustard Greens - While brussels sprouts are some of the most controversial vegetables on the market, they are high in health benefits. In one study brussels sprouts and broccoli extracts helped to increase detoxification enzymes in the liver.
Exercise and movement in general are already known to bring major benefits for both physical and mental health. While there are few exercises designed specifically for liver function, the recommended amount of exercise to improve your overall health is 30 to 60 minutes, three to four times a week, of moderate activity.
Moderate activity is typically expected to mean aerobic exercise. While aerobic exercise is typically the standard for exercise with the goal of cutting down on fat, an analysis found that participants who did resistance training done for 40 minutes, three times a week, also helped to decrease the amount of fat found in the liver.
Some types of aerobic exercises include:
- Jogging or running
Examples of resistance training or anaerobic exercises include:
- Exercises involving free weights such as dumbbells or kettlebells
- Exercising with weight machines
- Exercising with medicine balls
While moderate to high exercise is thought to be the standard for cutting down on fat, the most important factor in improving your liver function with exercise is staying consistent with your routine. Making sure to work out at least twice a week can show improvement in liver health.
Supplements that May Help Reverse Liver Damage
Natural supplements are a great way to improve your liver health and reverse liver damage. Supplements like milk thistle, artichoke leaf, and dandelion root are extremely beneficial in boosting liver function and preventing further damage or the development of diseases.
Milk Thistle or Silymarin
Sought after for it’s active ingredient, silymarin, the ancient milk thistle herb is one of the most popular and sought after supplements for fatty liver disease. It’s antioxidative qualities are great for repairing liver cells damaged by disease, alcohol, and drugs.
Another important function of milk thistle is its ability to increase the production of glutathione, sometimes referred to as “the mother of all antioxidants”, glutathione is a very important antioxidant and is known as a detoxification agent.
Another powerful agent in improving liver health, artichoke leaf is helpful with increasing the production of bile in the liver, making the detoxification process more efficient. Artichoke leaf can also help with overall health and maintaining healthy cholesterol levels in those at risk for coronary heart disease.
High in antioxidants and excellent at helping the body to remove toxins, dandelion root was found to prevent liver cell damage caused by environmental toxins such as alcohol and chemicals. It has also been shown to be good at warding off free radicals that try to attack healthy liver cells.
In one study involving rabbits kept on high cholesterol diets, dandelion root was found to reduce oxidative stress on the liver. Aside from its detoxification qualities, dandelion root is also high in vitamins and nutrients that cleanse the liver and keep it functioning properly.
Making lifestyle changes such as increasing and maintaining a regular exercise routine and cutting out unhealthy foods can be difficult. While adding a natural supplement may feel like one more added step, they can be a little easier to implement into your daily life and can act as another lifeline to lean on as you adjust to such significant life changes.