Your liver is assigned with some pretty major housekeeping duties: It refines nutrients, metabolizes alcohol and most medicines, and converts toxic substances (like environmental pollutants)into less
This hardworking organ is extremely resilient, says Jaclyn Tolentino, DO, a family physician at Parsley Health in Los Angeles. “But it is possible to push the liver beyond its limits,” she adds.
There are bunch of protocols out there that promise to lend the liver a helping hand, by ridding your body of impurities. Some of those trendy “cleansing” techniques can be risky, though, warns Alina Allen, MD, assistant professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Mayo Clinic.
They may involve using an enema or prohibiting your diet while taking products that are supposed to flush outtoxins. The trouble is, enemas can alter or destroy populations of beneficial microbes in
the colon, and certain supplements may tax the liver even further.
Liver cleanses are not regulated by the FDA—and what’s more, most medical experts agree your liver simply doesn’t need the help in doing its job. Luckily, there are a handful of simpler, safer ways to care for this organ.
Go with the Grain
Eating plenty of whole grains is one way to reduce your risk of developing non alcoholic fatty liver disease— a condition that influences an estimated 100 million adults in the U.S. (To make sure you get enough, aim for the recommended fiber target of 25 to 38 grams a day.)
Tired of quinoa and steel- cut oats?
Mix things up with other whole grains, like bulgur, barley, and farro.
Pick Your Fats
Saturated fats—the kind found in cheese, butter, and red meat—promote storage of fat in the liver, and can cause inflammation and eventually scarring (known as cirrhosis), says Jamile Wakim-Fleming, MD, a hepatologist at the Cleveland Clinic:
“The same things that make our bodies heavy can cause our livers to become enlarged and heavy.”
Foods high in healthy monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, on the other hand, help keep your liver lean—and boost enzyme levels,too. So make room on your plate for nuts, olive oil, avocados, anchovies, and other oily fish.
NEVER BORROW A RAZOR
When you get stuck overnight unexpectedly, it may be tempting to share a friend’s toiletries. But the liver infection hepatitis C (which can lie dormant in the body for decades) is transmittable through small amounts of blood on razors, nail clippers, and tooth- brushes, says Dr. Allen.
Double Check Dosages
Who hasn’t popped an extra pain reliever when a headache just won’t quit? But taking too many of these OTC pills can do real damage.
Accidental overdoses of acetaminophen (the active ingredient in Tylenol) are actually the most common cause of acute liver failure. Consuming alcohol makes it even more difficult for your liver to break down the drug.
Hydrate, Hydrate and Hydrate
It’s one of the best ways to support your liver, says Dr. Tolentino, because H2O helps dilute and flush waste from your body. If your pee is pale yellow and odorless, that’s a sign you’re drinking enough water. But it’s still a good idea to track your intake and down about 64 ounces a day.
STICK TO ONE DRINK
A cocktail or glass of wine is nothing your liver can’t handle—but women should avoid having more than one pour a day, says Dr. Wakim Fleming. (Men can safely have two.) Your liver can only process so much alcohol at a time.
When you pass that limit, booze can harm the organ. “Alcohol inflames your liver. If you never give it a chance to heal, you’re causing damage on top of damage,” she explains.