How to improve liver function?

The liver is a vital organ that plays an important role in many bodily functions. Some ways to help keep your liver healthy and improve its function include:

Maintain a Healthy Weight

Being overweight or obese strains the liver and causes fatty liver disease. Losing weight if you are overweight and maintaining a healthy body mass index (BMI) takes pressure off the liver and helps prevent liver problems. Aim for a BMI in the 18.5-24.9 range.

Follow a Nutritious Diet

Eat a balanced diet focused on whole foods like vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, lean proteins, healthy fats and dairy. Limit processed foods, sugary foods, saturated fats and trans fats. Make sure you are getting nutrients that support liver health like:

  • Antioxidants – Found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. Help protect liver cells.
  • Vitamin E – Found in plant oils, nuts, seeds, whole grains. Helps protect the liver.
  • Vitamin C – Found in citrus fruits, berries, peppers, broccoli. Helps flush out toxins.
  • Vitamin B12 – Found in animal products, fortified foods. Helps metabolize fats.
  • Vitamin D – Found in fatty fish, fortified foods, sunlight. Helps reduce inflammation.
  • Omega-3 fatty acids – Found in fatty fish, walnuts, flaxseeds. Reduce fat in the liver.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Drinking too much alcohol regularly can damage liver cells and lead to fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis and cirrhosis. Limit alcohol to no more than 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.

Drink Plenty of Water

Staying hydrated helps the liver flush out toxins more efficiently. Aim for at least 2-3 liters of fluids daily including water, herbal tea, broths and diluted fruit juices.

Manage Medications

Some medications like acetaminophen, certain antibiotics, cholesterol drugs and chemotherapeutic drugs can be toxic to the liver in high doses. Do not exceed dosage instructions and talk to your doctor about liver function testing if on these medications long-term.

Be Cautious with Supplements

Herbal supplements and weight loss/bodybuilding supplements are not regulated and some contain ingredients toxic to the liver. Use caution with supplements and consult your doctor.

Avoid Exposure to Toxins

Limit exposure to environmental toxins like pesticides, industrial chemicals, and pollutants to avoid overworking your liver’s detoxification system. Use protective equipment if exposed occupationally.

Get Vaccinated

Get vaccinated against hepatitis A and hepatitis B to prevent viral infections that can severely damage the liver.

Manage Health Conditions

Follow treatment guidelines for medical conditions like diabetes, high cholesterol and thyroid disorders that are risk factors for liver disease when not well controlled.

Exercise Regularly

Aim for 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise like brisk walking. This helps improve insulin sensitivity, lower triglycerides and reduce fatty liver.

Stop Smoking

Quit smoking and avoid secondhand smoke. Tobacco smoke is toxic to the liver and a risk factor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Eat More:

  • Fruits and vegetables – Especially citrus fruits, berries, broccoli, artichokes, leafy greens. High in antioxidants and polyphenols.
  • Coffee – Has antioxidants and may reduce liver enzymes. Limit to 1-2 cups daily.
  • Tea – Especially green tea. Contains antioxidants and polyphenols.
  • Olive oil – High in healthy monounsaturated fats. Helps prevent fatty liver disease.
  • Nuts and seeds – Contain vitamin E, zinc, selenium. Walnuts have omega-3s.
  • Legumes – Great plant-based protein. Also provide fiber.
  • Whole grains – Improves cholesterol levels and provides fiber.
  • Garlic – Contains allicin and selenium. Known liver protective effects.
  • Grapefruit – Has antioxidants and may lower liver enzymes.

Avoid or Limit:

  • Fast food and fried foods
  • Sugary drinks like soda and juices
  • Refined carbs – white bread, pasta, pastries
  • Processed meats – sausage, deli meats, bacon
  • Saturated fats – Found in red meats, cheese
  • Trans fats – Found in margarine, fried foods, baked goods
  • Salt – Can lead to fluid retention and high blood pressure
  • Added sugars – Found in sweets, sodas, desserts
  • Artificial sweeteners – Some evidence they may be harmful to the liver

Liver-Friendly Foods

Here are some of the top foods to include in your diet to improve liver health:

Food Benefits
Coffee Contains antioxidants that protect liver cells. May help lower liver enzymes.
Green Tea Packed with antioxidants called catechins that reduce oxidative stress on the liver.
Beetroot juice Contains nitrates and antioxidants. Reduces fat and inflammation in the liver.
Artichokes Have cynarin which helps increase bile production and flow for improved detoxification.
Berries Rich in antioxidants like anthocyanins, vitamin C, and quercetin. Help protect the liver from damage.
Garlic Contains allicin and selenium. Known to help protect the liver from toxins and reduce fatty liver.
Grapefruit Antioxidant naringenin helps lower liver enzymes and protect the liver.
Leafy greens High in chlorophyll, vitamin K, antioxidants. Counter effects of liver toxins and prevent fatty liver.
Turmeric Curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. Boosts liver detox enzymes.
Avocados Healthy monounsaturated fats. Improve blood cholesterol and reduce fatty liver.
Olive oil Monounsaturated fats help prevent fatty liver disease and protect the liver from toxins.
Walnuts Omega-3s reduce liver fat and inflammation. Also have antioxidants.

Liver-Damaging Foods to Avoid

Here are the top foods linked to poor liver health to limit or avoid completely:

Food Potential Harm
Added sugars Contribute to fatty liver disease. Negative impacts on liver enzymes.
Fried foods Often cooked in unhealthy oils at high temps. Can damage liver cells.
Processed grains Refined carbs spike blood sugar and may raise liver enzymes.
Saturated fats Found in red meat and high-fat dairy. Linked to fatty liver.
Salt Excess sodium intake stresses the liver and causes fluid retention.
trans fats Man-made fats that create inflammation. Increase fatty liver disease risk.
Excess iron Found in supplements and red meats. Can build up in the liver and cause damage.
Ramen noodles High in MSG, sodium, and preservatives. Linked to liver inflammation and scarring.
Soda High fructose corn syrup stresses the liver. Diet soda disrupts liver enzymes as well.
Non-organic produce Pesticide residues overwork the liver’s detox system.

Nutrients for Liver Health

Make sure your diet provides adequate amounts of these nutrients that are vital to liver function and detoxification:

  • Vitamin C – Boosts glutathione which is the liver’s primary antioxidant. Also used in liver detox pathways.
  • B-Vitamins – Play a key role in metabolizing and detoxifying alcohol and other substances in the liver.
  • Magnesium – Required cofactor for hundreds of liver enzymes. Also may reduce fatty liver.
  • Zinc – Needed for proper enzyme functions in liver cells. Also helps reduce oxidative stress.
  • Potassium – Helps regulate fluids which takes strain off the liver.
  • Calcium – Helps protect the liver cell membrane and prevent toxins from entering liver cells.
  • Selenium – Component of glutathione enzymes that remove toxins and oxidative stress from liver.

Liver Support Supplements

These natural supplements may help improve liver health:

  • Milk thistle – Silymarin flavonoids found in milk thistle help protect liver cells from toxins and oxidative damage.
  • N-acetylcysteine (NAC) – Precursor to glutathione, a major antioxidant produced in the liver.
  • Alpha lipoic acid – Powerful antioxidant that regenerates other antioxidants like vitamins C and E.
  • Turmeric or curcumin – Anti-inflammatory with potent antioxidant effects that benefit the liver.
  • Berberine – Found in plants like goldenseal. Used to reduce liver inflammation and aid detoxification.
  • Choline – Used by the liver to process fats. Helps prevent fatty liver.
  • Probiotics – Support healthy gut bacteria. Some strains help reduce fatty liver and liver inflammation.
  • Schisandra – Adaptogenic herb used to improve liver function and cellular detoxification.

Lifestyle Changes

Adopting healthier habits provides immense benefits for your liver function and health:

  • Get regular exercise – At least 150 minutes per week. Reduces fatty liver.
  • Lose weight if overweight – Takes pressure off the liver.
  • Drink coffee – Contains antioxidants. Associated with lower liver enzymes.
  • Stop smoking – Cigarette smoke harms the liver.
  • Limit alcohol – Heavy drinking causes liver damage.
  • Reduce sugar intake – A major driver of fatty liver disease.
  • Manage stress – Chronic stress hurts the liver. Try meditation, yoga.
  • Get good sleep – At least 7-8 hours per night. Supports liver function.
  • Use natural products – Reduce exposure to household chemical cleaners.

Tests for Liver Function

Some common blood tests used to evaluate liver function and damage include:

  • Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) – Elevated with liver cell damage and inflammation.
  • Aspartate aminotransferase (AST) – Also goes up when liver cells are injured.
  • Alkaline phosphatase (ALP) – Higher levels indicate blocked bile ducts.
  • Bilirubin – Buildup causes yellow skin/eyes and indicates impaired liver function.
  • Albumin – Produced by the liver. Lower levels signify liver damage.
  • PT/INR – Measure blood clotting. Abnormal with liver dysfunction.
  • GGT – Used to detect bile duct issues, alcohol abuse, liver disease.

Your doctor may order liver function blood tests during checkups or if symptoms of liver problems arise. Some signs include abdominal swelling, jaundice, dark urine, nausea, fatigue, loss of appetite.

Liver Healthy Recipes

Incorporate these liver cleansing recipes into your diet:

1. Green Juice

Powerful liver detoxifying ingredients like greens, ginger, turmeric, and lemon.
– 1 cucumber
– 2 celery stalks
– 1 apple
– 1 lemon, peeled
– 1 inch ginger

– 1 cup spinach
– 1/4 tsp turmeric
Juice ingredients. Stir and drink immediately.

2. Berry Protein Shake

Antioxidant rich berries blended into a liver healthy protein shake.

– 1 cup almond milk
– 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
– 1/2 banana
– 1/2 cup mixed berries
– 1 tsp flax or chia seeds

– ice cubes
Put all ingredients into blender. Blend until smooth.

3. Quinoa Salad with Beets and Avocado

Provides protein, healthy fats, and liver cleansing beets.

– 1 cup cooked quinoa
– 1/2 cup roasted beets, diced
– 1 avocado, chopped

– 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

– 2 tbsp olive oil

– 2 tbsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp mustard
– salt and pepper to taste

Mix together quinoa, beets, avocado, parsley. Make dressing. Pour over quinoa mixture and stir to coat.


Maintaining good liver health is essential. Follow a healthy diet, exercise, manage medications wisely, limit toxins and alcohol intake, and get regular checkups. Supplements like milk thistle and alpha lipoic acid can provide additional liver support. Adopting lifestyle habits and eating foods that nourish the liver will help keep your body’s natural detoxifier in optimal condition.

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