In our new column, Elevate Your Plate, we’re bringing you Amie’s favorite ways to literally elevate-your-plate with anti-inflammatory foods + detoxifying ingredients for your liver so you can feel good about what you’re putting in your body.
A few times a week I get asked the question, “Amie, what are the best foods for liver detox?” Because this is such a popular question, we decided to create a feature for you to read and reference back to when needed to keep your liver in tip-top shape. We’re also addressing foods that are bad for the liver and talking about how to improve liver health.
Why Focus on the Liver?
The liver, in case you didn’t know, is in charge of filtering out ALL of the toxins you come into contact with ALL DAY LONG! The key hours for liver detoxification are between 1-3AM as seen on the chart in our feature 4 Small Changes to Transform Your Sleep, which means your sleep is super important. Your organs all detox when you are sleeping, which is why I went into great detail about the circadian rhythm in that article so you can understand the link between your sleeping hours and your health.
Liver Toxicity Symptoms
Your liver is what gets backed up with toxins, hormones, chemicals, anger, etc. + causes PMS, headaches, bad breath, edema, bruising, hyperpigmentation on your skin, brain fog and many other serious conditions. From my experience of going through 12 years of chronic health issues including elevated liver enzymes in the 400’s for over 6 years + having misdiagnosed fatty liver disease for 11 of those years, I know a thing or two about the liver.
The Best Foods for Liver Detox
Today I’m sharing a few of the foods you can include and exclude when you’re focused on healing your liver. In my opinion, the liver is the first thing that should be addressed before gut health when a patient is unwell because in order to heal, you must remove the toxins. Trying to fix gut health first will backfire if your liver detox pathways are not working properly and toxins will recirculate throughout your body. All of this and more are covered and addressed in my 30-Day Reset.
The best liver support comes from the sulforaphane, which is easily found in cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and arugula. Diindolylmethane (also known as DIM) is the compound in cruciferous vegetables that many Functional + Integrative MD’s give their clients as a preventive measure.
DIM pulls excess estrogens out of your cells and sends them to the blood for elimination. If you’ve taken DIM you may feel awful because all those toxins are circulating throughout your body, which is exactly what happens with any detox. When you start to remove chemicals, heavy metals, mold toxins and more out of their hiding place in your body, you may feel awful (people often do), which is why it is so important to support your body’s detox and elimination systems while you’re taking DIM or doing other detoxes. The foods and supplements listed below are helpful for removing toxins from the liver. If you do need extra support while detoxing because you experience die-off symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and nausea, you can use the suggestions in the Extra Liver Detox Support section below.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous veggie, just like the veggies listed below, which is ideal for supporting your liver. Cauliflower can be made steamed and sautéed on the stove top or roasted and baked in the oven. It’s incredibly versatile and is ideal when pureed after cooking and used to replace cream in soup.
RECIPE TO TRY: Creamy Roasted Cauliflower Soup
Broccoli is another cruciferous veggie and tastes best when it’s roasted with olive oil, sea salt and pepper in the oven at 450 degrees F for about 20 minutes or until tender and crispy.
RECIPE TO TRY: Rainbow Swiss Chard Salad with Hemp Seeds
Red cabbage, which looks purple to me, is ideal served raw to add a crunch to salads, tacos and fajitas. If you have a thyroid condition such as Hypothyroidism, I suggest you do not eat more than 1 cup of raw cabbage per week.
RECIPE TO TRY: Stuffed Quinoa Sweet Potatoes with Hummus Sauce
Arugula is one of my favorite cruciferous veggies because, for those of you who have SIBO or Candida, many of you cannot handle gassy veggies like the ones above, which is what makes arugula a star. It has all the qualities of a cruciferous veggie, which supports liver detoxification, but isn’t gassy and doesn’t cause bloating. Serve arugula in your favorite salad recipe or tacos to add a touch of peppery taste.
RECIPE TO TRY: Gorgeous Apple + Arugula Salad
I discovered the wonders of burdock a few years ago and I love using it in juices and recipes. It has a bit of a nutty flavor, which is delicious when roasted in the winter. Burdock aids in the removal of waste products and can be found in health foods stores. It looks like twigs so don’t be alarmed when you see a twig named burdock next to your lettuce in the produce aisle. I suggest peeling the burdock.
RECIPE TO TRY: Slice the burdock root into 1/4 inch pieces widthwise and lay them flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle with 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil and some sea salt and bake for 15 minutes, then flip the pieces and bake for another 10-12 minutes. If you can’t find fresh burdock in your produce aisle, you can try this organic Burdock Tea that I use a few times a week at night before bed.
Dandelion Root Greens //
Dandelion root greens are delicious to add to stir-fries and salads. I finely chop a large head of these greens and add them to a large skillet with extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, and pepper and saute it for 10 minutes on medium-low heat on the stove top. You can also eat these greens raw in salads when the temperatures are warmer in the summer and late spring. Note: these greens are a little bit bitter so if you prefer you can serve them with kale or spinach to lessen the bitter taste.
RECIPE TO TRY: If you cannot find fresh dandelion root greens, you can purchase roasted dandelion root tea for liver detoxification, which I use daily. This is also a wonderful option for a coffee alternative when you are cutting out coffee during your detoxification process in my book, Eating Clean.
Lemon is not a cruciferous veggie but it is helpful for supporting the liver and kidneys. Try adding 1/2 lemon to your glass of room temperature or warm water and sip it throughout the day. Or add a squeeze of fresh lemon to your favorite salad with olive oil, sea salt and pepper for a simple and clean dressing. This is the lemon squeezer I use so that the lemon seeds don’t end up in my food!
RECIPE TO TRY: Lemon Basil Millet Burgers
Extra Liver Detox Support
As I mention every week, food is only a small percentage of what it takes to be truly healthy. I highly suggest you look into Castor Oil Packs + Coffee Enemas to help support the detoxification of toxins from your liver. Infrared Saunas, which heat the body from the inside out to secrete toxins, are another great option.
If you’re looking for more support, our 3 Month Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan is the perfect place to start detoxing your liver.
Fatty Liver Foods to Avoid
When I had fatty liver disease, I learned quickly what foods to avoid. Yes, there are a lot of foods to avoid with liver disease and below are a few to help you get started. I highly suggest tossing these from your pantry and fridge and replacing them with items on our anti-inflammatory grocery guide.
Some foods that are bad for the liver include fried foods, any food made with HFCS (high fructose corn syrup), sugar (including candy + desserts), processed foods, white bread/white flour/white flour products, alcohol and table salt.
For more support, check out our 3 Month Anti-Inflammatory Meal Plan, which is only available for a limited time through April. We
The views expressed in this article intend to share alternative treatments to bring about conversation and are for informational purposes only even if this article features advice from M.D’s and medical practitioners. This featured article is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, treatment or diagnosis and should never be used for specific medical advice.