The liver, the body’s largest gland, and solid organ regulate digestion; among its many tasks, it cleanses the blood of accumulated toxins, metabolizes fat, synthesizes proteins, and stores minerals and vitamins for redistribution by the body.
Because your liver performs so many functions for the body, maintaining a healthy liver is important. By choosing a healthy and natural diet, you can protect your liver and help it regenerate.
Related: 8 Smoothie Recipes For A Healthy Liver
What is currently advertised on the market as a liver cleanse or detox is a program that claims to remove toxins from your body, help you lose weight, and/or improve your health. But truth be told, conclusive evidence doesn’t yet exist for such claims, and by restricting food intake, you may be robbing your body of essential nutrients. In short, you could be doing your body more harm than good.
The reality is that our liver has the built-in capacity to defend against these toxins naturally. However, of course, there are things you can do to support your healthy liver in its filtering functions -detoxification-, such as eating cruciferous vegetables.
Cruciferous vegetables are a diverse group that includes kale, cauliflower, arugula, Brussels sprouts, watercress, radishes, and broccoli. These vegetables contain chemicals that neutralize certain toxins, such as nitrosamines found in cigarette smoke and aflatoxins in peanuts. Most of these vegetables are rich in minerals and vitamins such as vitamin K and folate. Dark green cruciferous veggies are also a source of vitamins A and C and certain phytonutrients.
Detox Function of the Liver
The liver constantly filters and detoxifies natural and environmental toxins and pathogenic organisms in the body. The liver also recognizes toxic substances and converts them into benign substances. It works through a series of enzymes, via pathways known as Phase I and Phase II detoxification. This system depends on the appropriate nutrients, antioxidants, phytonutrients, and proteins.
Once the liver correctly sieves the blood and breaks down harmful substances, these byproducts are removed from the liver to be carried by the bile or blood. The bile carries away toxins and other useless or harmful substances. Then these toxins are poured into the intestine, where they are eventually excreted together through the stool. Any substances that are carried away by the blood then enter the kidneys and are filtered again, then leave the body in the urine.
Since the average person consumes various forms of toxins from food, water, and medications on a daily basis, the importance of the liver should not be overlooked. Without the liver, the body would not store enough nutrients but would store too many toxins, leading to a variety of health problems.
Eat Cruciferous Vegetables To Support Your Liver Detox
Cruciferous vegetables include broccoli, arugula, kale, Brussels sprouts, turnips, bok choy, cauliflower, swedes, radishes, and cabbage. They contain phytonutrients, flavonoids, and carotenoids that help neutralize toxic substances.
Cruciferous vegetables like kale, bok choy, cauliflower, etc., also increase the production of glucosinolates in your system. Glucosinolates are sulfur-containing compounds that break down into metabolites that trigger specific enzymatic reactions that help detoxify carcinogens and heavy metals from the blood. They too help with digestion.
Broccoli contains vitamin E, which is a vital antioxidant for the liver. Vitamin E also supports the detoxification function of the liver by reducing oxidative stress in the body. It's important to combine cruciferous vegetables with healthy fats for better absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin E.
As a bonus, green cruciferous vegetables also contain chlorophyll, which further increases detoxification ability.
A Daily Menu For You
Adults should eat 2 to 3 cups of vegetables a day. One cup of cauliflower, cooked or raw broccoli, or Brussels sprouts counts as 1 cup of vegetables. 2 cups of leafy greens like kale or arugula count as 1 cup from the vegetable group. Your entire vegetable intake doesn't have to come from cruciferous vegetables, but they should be incorporated daily for maximum health benefits.
Here are some suggestions on how to incorporate cruciferous vegetables into your daily meal plan:
Start with green smoothies or add kale to an open egg sandwich, or mix finely chopped broccoli and cauliflower in a gluten-free crust quiche, or mix mushrooms, kale, tomatoes, and chia seeds in a buckwheat breakfast casserole, or toss radishes and radish vegetables with lemon on a slice of rye bread.
Eat a salad with lots of green veggies (kale, spinach, arugula, or a mix), add a tablespoon of whole grains or pseudocereals (buckwheat, quinoa, or chia seeds), chopped veggies, and chickpeas, with a few pieces of chopped fruit and a sprinkling of nuts, seeds, or sprouts on top.
You can add cruciferous vegetables (whole, chopped, or blended, raw or cooked) to virtually any meal you prepare.