Do you want to make a big difference in your health in one simple step?
Yes you say!
Then take better care of your liver!! (Yes, TWO exclamation points)
Ok, I get that liver health may not be the most exciting topic, but it is one of the BEST ways to boost your overall health.
This is because the liver not only metabolizes all the toxins we encounter on a daily basis, but it also regulates or contributes to a number of critical functions.
Want better skin? Take care of your liver!
Want to boost your metabolism? Take care of your liver!
Want better blood sugar regulation? Take care of your liver!
Did you know that there are over 500 biological functions tied to the liver (source), including:
- Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Production of certain proteins for blood plasma
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Conversion of excess glucose into glycogen for storage. (This glycogen can later be converted back to glucose for energy.)
- Balancing and production of glucose as needed.
- Regulation of blood levels of amino acids, which form the building blocks of proteins
- Processing of hemoglobin for distribution of its iron content. (The liver stores iron.)
- Conversion of poisonous ammonia to urea. (Urea is one of the end products of protein metabolism that is excreted in the urine.)
- Clearing the blood of drugs and other toxic substances
- Regulating blood clotting
- Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing certain bacteria from the bloodstream
Yep! The liver is that important!
FIRST, GIVE YOUR LIVER A BREAK
Unfortunately, our modern world is LOADED with toxins. Holy mole it’s bad out there!
These harmful toxins come at us through our air, our products, and our diet,and that means that our livers have a much higher workload than ever before.
Because of all this I truly believe that liver care needs to be on everyone’s radar. Because if the liver is sluggish, inefficient, or damaged then your health will take a serious nosedive.
Basically you can’t thrive with a sluggish liver.
So while I’m about to cover some amazing supplements to give your liver some serious love, it’s important that FIRST you cover the basics including:
#1: Eating a toxin-free/toxin reduced diet
That means avoiding conventional pesticide-laden toxin-loaded packaged/processed foods in favor of organic whole foods. Think fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, spices, and fresh pressed juices and teas.
This also means drinking safe toxin-free water.
Your best bet here is an under the sink reverse osmosis water filtration system that also filters out fluoride. You can also buy a countertop system like the Berkey. But avoid most countertop pitchers and bottled water as they typically do NOT get most of the toxins out.
If you need to learn more read my post, The Beginner’s Guide to Clean Eating or join my premium course Detox Your Diet for all the details and step-by-step guidance to thrive with your toxin-free diet.
#2: Avoiding toxic body products
This can be done in one fell swoop BUT the hardest part is typically knowing WHICH products are the safest alternatives.
I’ve made this as easy as I can for you by creating the Filtered Living Beauty & Body Shop, full of links to vetted products that are safe alternatives to the toxic conventional formulas.
From shampoo to deodorant to toothpaste, check out the Filtered Living Beauty & Body Shop for better options.
#3: Avoiding toxins in your home
This is a tricky one to tackle because household toxins are EVERYWHERE.
Whether you are renting a studio or remodeling your dream home, toxins are found in everything from flooring to paint, to furniture to cleaners. Most homes really are toxin soups.
But for those who need a solution right now, my best recommendation is to get a high quality air purifier. Now each situation is different but in general my favorite brands are Air Doctor, Austin Air, and Blue Air. But do avoid any of the new Wi-Fi based systems, and make sure your air purifier is designed for the square footage of your chosen room.
THE BEST SUPPLEMENTS FOR LIVER HAPPINESS!
Now that you know HOW to best avoid the toxins in the first place, it’s time to look at the specific supplements that can make a big difference in your health.
Milk thistle is THE liver protecting herb. If there was just one supplement to add in for liver protection it would be milk thistle. It’s that impressive!
Milk thistle is so effective it has been clinically shown to have a therapeutic effect in hepatitis C patients (source 1) (source 2). Hepatitis C is a virus that often causes liver damage in patients.
The active components in milk thistle have also been shown to be anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and radioprotective (protects against radiation). (source)
Anecdotally I recommended milk thistle to my father who had liver cirrhosis and was being referred for the liver transplant list. After only two months on milk thistle his liver function had improved enough to be taken off the transplant referral list!
I was in the room when his doctor showed a pleasant shock at seeing the liver function improve.
Now just to clarify my dad wasn’t “cured” of liver cirrhosis (and frankly he managed to do everything wrong in terms of his liver health) but his liver function test did show enough improvement to have their recommendation for a liver transplant rescinded. Not too shabby for a little plant!
As with all supplements quality is key. Avoid any supplements with additives, and in general you get what you pay for.
I personally avoid super cheap (and chain store) supplements as they are likely to be of low quality, contain additives, and be contaminated with heavy metals.
Personally I buy the Herb Pharm brand of milk thistle capsules, you can get them here. You can also get tincture and tea. But personally I prefer the capsules.
One note, while milk thistle is considered safe and well-tolerated milk thistle does interfere with iron absorption (source). Sometimes this is a good thing (excessive iron is problematic and carcinogenic in some cases) but if you have anemia because of low iron levels, then you may consider avoiding milk thistle.
Also, those who are allergic to members of the Asteraceae plant family (daisies, sunflowers, ragweed..) may react to milk thistle.
Lastly, according to the Herbal Academy of New England milk thistle may activate the cytochrome p450 pathway in the liver which may interfere with levels of certain pharmaceuticals which are metabolized via this process.
Dandelion root is another great herb to add to your liver love regimen.
Dandelion root is hepatoprotective (liver protecting) and specifically has shown promise is reducing chemically induced liver damage as well as being highly antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (source 1) (source 2) (source 3).
Most noticeably dandelion root is a great diuretic, so if you need to flush excessive water retention, a cup of dandelion tea is a good way to do it. And also for this reason avoid drinking or taking it just before bed, unless you want to up all night.
Even more exciting is that dandelion root shows promise as an anti-carcinogenic substance. In particular inducing selective apoptosis (programmed cell death or cell “suicide”) and autophagy (controlled digestion of damaged organelles within a cell) in human pancreatic cancer cells (source).
So my favorite way of getting my dose of dandelion root is by brewing a steaming cup of dandelion root tea. You can but pre-made tea bags from Traditional Medicinials or buy bulk herb and brew your own in a french press.
In general dandelion is a safe tonic herb however according to the Herbal Academy of New England dandelion is not recommended for people who have obstruction of the bile ducts, gall bladder empyema, and ileus.
Dandelion is not recommended in the case of acute gastric inflammation because it stimulates stomach acid. It is also not recommended for those on blood thinners or diuretics.
Finally, those who are allergic to members of the Asteraceae plant family (daisies, sunflowers, ragweed..) should may react to dandelion.
Turmeric is one of those plants I truly consider a gift to humanity. It is a highly researched natural substance that is credited with everything from being anti-carcinogenic, anti-inflammatory, and you guessed it, liver protective.
Specifically, it turns out turmeric has been shown to heal and protect the damaged and diseased liver.
A clinical trial published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed that 3.0 grams per day of fermented turmeric powder was able to reduce three significant markers indicative of liver damage (ALT, AST, and GGT) (source1).
Another study published in the Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand indicated turmeric’s potential to protect and regenerate the diabetic liver (source).
As if that wasn’t impressive enough, there are over two dozen preclinical studies showing turmeric or its active components ability to kill liver cancer cells and tumors.
Green Med Info cites one case study involving a 6-month old infant with a life-threatening liver vascular tumor (hemangioendothelioma) who was reported treated successfully with a dietary supplement of curcumin, with 6-year follow-up (source). That’s quite impressive!
I think I’ve made the case as to why you should incorporate this gorgeous golden spice into your routine.
There are several ways to get turmeric into your diet. You can take a liquid glycerin of whole turmeric extract, you can take capsules of the potent and patented BCM-95 (often recommended for those battling cancer or with severe inflammation, as in the case for arthritis) or you can simply cook with it using the organic whole spice.
Personally I recommend rotating through all three methods for optimum health and cancer prevention.
But regardless of which method you choose make sure your turmeric is of a high quality, preferably organic, and ideally 3rd party tested for heavy metals and contaminates.
This is a necessary step because turmeric is often sourced from contaminated areas in India and China.
I personally use and recommend the following
According to the Herbal Academy of New England, turmeric should not be used medicinally by those with congestive heart failure.
Additionally those prone to kidney stones, gallstones, bile duct obstruction, or certain GI disorders should not use turmeric.
Finally it’s important to note turmeric is a blood thinner and as such it should not be used by those who have bleeding disorders, are on blood thinners, or who are within two weeks of scheduled surgery.
Now the three supplements above are hands down the best options for boosting liver function, protecting the liver, and in some cases even reversing liver damage, however adding a few liver protective foods can add an important extra layer of liver protection.
The first food to consider is artichoke. It’s important to note that artichoke is actually a relative of the milk thistle I talked about earlier. So no surprise this other thistle has also been shown to be liver protective.
In particular one in vivo study done on rats indicated that artichoke extract may be useful for the prevention of oxidative stress-induced hepatotoxicity (source).
Additionally, artichoke has also been shown to benefit other areas including improving gut health, possibly preventing cadmium toxicity, and the ability to reduce heartburn (source).
My favorite way to get artichoke is to simply steam the artichoke and dip the leaves and heart in a little herb infused (rosemary and thyme anyone) grassfed dairy butter (like Kerrygold). Easy and delicious!
The rule in my house is whomever cooks the artichoke (usually me) gets the first heart!
Asparagus is another food to include in your liver protective rotation.
In particular asparagus has unique compounds (including asaparin A) that have been shown to be anti-carcinogenic.
A 2009 study found that one of these active components, asparanin A, was able to induce apoptosis in human hepatocellular carcinoma (cell “suicide” in liver cancer) (source). That’s pretty impressive for a simple vegetable.
Since asparagus is grown in the ground it’s extra important to choose organic whenever possible. Buying thinner stalks will yield the most tender asparagus vs the thicker tougher woody stalks. Go thin or go home!
My favorite way to eat asparagus is after a light roast with olive oil, pink salt, pepper, and a touch of crushed red pepper. Om-nom-nom!
Sometimes I whip up a quick dip of grassfed full fat yogurt mixed with a touch of Dijon mustard for an extra tangy dip. (Insert image of Homer Simpson drooling! Yeah it’s like that!)
Keeping your liver in tip top shape should be at the top of everyone’s list. Seriously who wants a beat up liver?
Make the obvious good choices by avoiding excess alcohol (I know, I know, it’s for the best), staying away from unnecessary pharmaceuticals, and trying to avoid as many toxins as possible.
And remember, while the supplements listed above are all generally considered safe, they each have contraindications (even water is dangerous if you have too much) so always use common sense, check for contraindications unique to you, and remember to listen to your body. If something doesn’t feel right, skip it. When in doubt talk to your trusted healthcare professional.
I hope you enjoyed this list of the best supplements for liver health! Don’t forget Filtered family is full of resources to help you avoid unnecessary toxin exposure if your food, water, products, and home (have we met). So have a look around and start your journey toward better health. No really, go eat some asparagus!
Stay healthy out there!
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IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: None of the health topics presented on Filtered Family have been evaluated or approved by the FDA. They should not replace personal judgment nor medical treatment, nor are they intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always talk to your physician before including alternative or complimentary modalities. Reading this website denotes your understanding and agreement to our full disclaimer.
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