Six things you can do for liver health
If you’re feeling like it’s time to give your liver some TLC, here are some diet and lifestyle changes you can make to help support your liver health. Try some or all of them for a couple of weeks to give your liver some extra love.
1. Eat more fresh fruit and veg
Most of us in Australia don’t meet the recommended servings of fruit and veg each day.1
When thinking about ways to support your liver, choose the fruits and vegetables you eat carefully. Some are high in amines and salicylates – these are naturally occurring substances, but some people are sensitive to them and they can cause reactions if their liver has trouble breaking them down and they start to accumulate in the body. The table below lists a selection of fruit and veggies that are quite low in amines and salicylates.2
Asparagus, dried beans (all types except for borlotti), beetroot, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, garlic, green beans, lentils, leeks, mushrooms, onions, potatoes, pumpkin, rhubarb, shallots, spinach, sprouts, tomatoes
Bananas, figs, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, mango, passionfruit, pawpaw, pear (peeled), pomegranate
There’s a lot of choice there, enabling you to have a varied diet while looking after your liver. Try experimenting with foods and recipes that you wouldn’t usually try - this ginger and shiitake congee is a delicious way to get started!
2. Stop drinking alcohol and soft drinks
It’s never a good idea to overindulge on alcohol or soft drinks, but if you’re trying to support your liver its best to cut them out completely for a few weeks.
When your liver breaks down alcohol it creates a toxic substance called acetaldehyde. Then it turns this substance into something harmless that our bodies can get rid of. But when we drink too much alcohol, it’s challenging for our liver to keep up.3
Both regular and diet soft drinks can cause problems. The sugar in regular soft drink causes, as well as the artificial sweeteners in diet soft drinks, can lead to inflammation in the body, including in the liver.4
3. Eat less fatty fried foods
Trans fats are naturally occurring unsaturated fats that exist in animal fat and dairy. However, when oil is heated for a long time, some of the fats present turn into a type of trans fats called industrial trans fats which aren’t good for our health. Industrial trans fats cause more fat to be stored in the liver.5
4. Take some herbs
Milk thistle, found in Fusion Liver Tonic, has a long history of traditional use in Western herbal medicine as a liver tonic to support liver health. Milk thistle also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Other liver herbs used in traditional Chinese medicine found in Fusion Liver Tonic include bupleurum, used traditionally to maintain healthy liver function and schisandra which is traditionally taken to support liver health.
Stress can lead the liver Qi to stagnate. Meditation is an ancient practice that’s experiencing a surge in popularity. Sometimes called a mindfulness practice, meditation involves training your mind to stay in the present and stay focussed. Meditating has been shown to reduce stress,6 which can help Qi to move more smoothly.
6. Get moving
Getting your body moving helps to pump the blood and lymphatic fluid around it, delivering vital nutrients and carrying away wastes. Qigong exercises are of particular benefit to the liver according to TCM. These help your body deal with stress7 and can therefore help to prevent stagnant qi in the liver. Qigong includes movement, meditation and breathing in a specific pattern.
However, the specific form of exercise you do isn’t as important as simply getting moving! Find something you enjoy and try to move your body at least a few times a week.
Always read the label. Follow the directions for use. If symptoms persist, worsen or change unexpectedly, talk to your healthcare professional.
- AIHW 2018. Australia’s health series no. 16. AUS 221. Canberra: AIHW.
- Hechtman L. Clinical Naturopathic Medicine, 2014:1467-1468. Churchill Livingstone Elsevier: Sydney.
- Setshedi M, et al. Ox Med Cell Long 2010;3:178-185.
- Nseir W, et al. World J Gastroenterol 2010;16(21):2579-2588.
- Oteng AB, et al. Adv Nutr 2020;11(3):697-708.
- Goldberg SB, et al. JMIR Ment Health 2020;7(11):e238251.
- van Dam K. Int J Environ Recs Publi Health 2020;17(19):7342.