Two generations of men keeping their liver health through exercise

How to Keep Your Liver Healthy

Published: July 2021 | Updated: July 2021

Ah, your liver. You may have not given much thought about this organ, but you only have one—and it's your body's second largest organ. In fact, your liver performs over 500 functions each day, so it's important to know how to keep your liver healthy so it lasts a lifetime.

With the right wellness strategy in place that incorporates a healthy liver diet, lifestyle changes and liver supporting supplements – you'll be able to give your liver a little or a lot of love day after day.

How can I detox my liver?

Woman enjoying water to help cleanse the liver

Detoxing your liver is easier than you think, with no fad diets or juice cleanses required. That's because the liver detoxifies itself—that's in its job description, in fact.
Creating healthy lifestyle habits like exercising, getting plenty of sleep, hydrating and incorporating nutrients into your wellness routine, you'll be able to help detoxify your liver day after day.

Exercise

: Breaking a sweat is not only a great way to promote weight loss and help maintain a healthy weight but can also help detoxify your liver naturally. Working out for at least 300 minutes throughout the week (5 days, 1-hour sessions) is optimal to evaluate your heart rate and flush out any toxins naturally. If you are an exercise novice, start slow and incorporate a walk or jog into your daily routine. For more advanced fitness buffs, go for a run, take a HIIT class or try a hot yoga class. Make sure to wipe away any sweat with a towel so toxins don't reabsorb back into your skin.

Sleep

: A good night's rest is important to maintain your metabolism and remove toxins from the liver and other parts of your body. When you sleep, your body restores and detoxifies naturally. Without at least 8 hours of rest each night, your body could be missing out on these detoxifying benefits.

Hydrate

: Water is a natural way to flush and detoxify your body. Make sure you are drinking at least 64 oz throughout the day. Add a little lemon juice for a delicious kick so you'll enjoy every sip; the more water you drink, after all, the more your liver can flush out those toxins.

Supplement

: Adhering to a healthy liver diet, exercising, sleeping eight hours and staying hydrated are all great ways to naturally promote liver cleansing. Take your liver health one step further with liver health supplements including milk thistle, NAC, turmeric and probiotics, which support the liver's normal function and processes.

Liver-Healthy Recipe: Apple Cabbage Slaw

A healthy liver diet isn't complicated or difficult. In fact, a well-rounded liver detox diet follows the same principles as the Mediterranean Diet: eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and lean protein.

Not sure where to start? We've combined some of the most liver-friendly nutrients in this refreshing Apple Cabbage Slaw recipe, which brings together apples, which are a rich source of liver-friendly pectin; cabbage, a cruciferous veggie that helps stimulate liver enzymes; and kale, a leafy green that's high in liver-supportive chlorophyll.

Even the slaw seasonings support a healthy liver diet—garlic encourages the liver's detoxification process, and extra-virgin olive oil promotes healthy liver enzymes. (So great are EVOO's liver health benefits that we recommend incorporating this extraordinary oil into your next sauté or dessert.)

Whether you enjoy this dish as a side dish or toss in some lean protein to make it a meal, this recipe is a delicious way to keep your liver healthy!

Apple Cabbage Slaw Recipe

Apple-cabbage slaw is a delcious way to promote liver health

Ingredients

1-2 green apples (or choose red if you like a sweeter slaw)
1 head of raw green or purple cabbage, cored and chopped into rough, small pieces
3-5 chopped scallions (remove bulbs)
5 finely chopped radishes
2 Tablespoons of sliced almonds (optional)
3-4 kale leaves, chopped into bite-size pieces
1/3 cup of California Estate Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 cup of apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon of dijon mustard (or horseradish or wasabi for more of a kick)
Honey or agave to taste

Instructions

  1. Toss apples, cabbage, scallions, kale and radishes in a bowl.
  2. Combine EVOO, vinegar, mustard and optional honey in a small pot until it simmers; this is your dressing.
  3. Pour dressing over veggies and cool. After the combination is room temperature, transfer to the fridge and leave for at least 2 hours.
  4. Serve with sliced almonds.

Serves 10.

What is bad for the liver?

Too many alcoholic drinks can be detrimental to liver health

Adhering to a healthy lifestyle and healthy liver diet is a breeze once you know the right foods to eat and the lifestyle changes you need to make. However, you also need to be aware of what lifestyle choices to avoid in order to keep your liver in tip top shape. For optimal liver health, say sayonara to the following foods and drinks from your day-to-day life:

AVOID fatty foods

: To keep your liver healthy, say so long to savory burgers, greasy bacon and salty French fries. These foods are high in saturated fat which can be a burden to your liver function. If you find yourself in a pinch—ordering through a drive-thru window—opt for healthier options like a salad (dressing on the side) or even grilled chicken.

AVOID sugar

: A healthy liver diet has no place for sugary treats; sugar can affect your liver health. Too many cookies, candy bars, cakes and sodas overwork your liver which could cause further health implications in the long run. Instead, opt for natural sugars like fresh fruit, nuts and even whole grains.

AVOID processed foods

: Packaged snacks are convenient, but they do no favors to your liver health. These admittedly crave-worthy foods usually contain hidden salts, sugars, fats, artificial preservatives or sweeteners – all of which aren't the best for your liver health. Instead, sparingly shop the center aisles and stick to the perimeter of the grocery store—where you'll find an abundance of fresh produce and other foods that support liver health.

AVOID alcohol

: To keep your liver healthy, it is best to avoid alcohol. That means beer, wine, spirits and yes, even those "spiked" sparkling seltzer drinks. Instead, make sure you are hydrated throughout the day by drinking at least eight 8 oz. glasses of filtered water. If you do find yourself at happy hour and feel out of place, order a mocktail and you'll feel just like one of the crowd.

What are the best vitamins and supplements for the liver?

A collection of supplements for promoting liver health

Liver health supplements only work with a healthy diet and lifestyle changes. So which ones do the best job of supporting your healthy liver goals? In addition to milk thistle and NAC, which are popular liver supplements that support healthy liver function and overall liver health, there are some specialty formulas to consider:

Anti-Alcohol Complex

: This formula combines grapeseed, barley grass, milk thistle extract, resveratrol, clove extract and chlorophyllin to help support healthy liver function and alcohol metabolism.

Glutathione, Cysteine & C

: The trio of vitamin c, the amino acid L-cysteine, and the antioxidant glutathione make this a great overall liver health formula.

HepatoPro

: Made from a purified soybean extract called phosphatidylcholine, this formula helps support healthy liver cell function.

FLORASSIST® Liver Restore™

: This prebiotic and probiotic combination not only does what you'd expect a probiotic to do—encourage a balance of healthy bacteria in your digestive tract—but it also helps inhibit inflammatory factors to promote liver health.

Not sure which liver health supplements are right for you? Take our liver health and detox quiz!

References

Yaskolka Meir, Anat et al. "Effect of green-Mediterranean diet on intrahepatic fat: the DIRECT PLUS randomised controlled trial." Gut, January 2021, https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33461965/

By: Andrew Davis, Health & Wellness Writer

Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD