Your liver is one of the largest organs in your body and it has many important functions, including detoxing the body, breaking down carbohydrates and producing bile. You need your liver to be healthy and if it's not, it can lead to the development of disease. There are certain foods and drinks you can consume which may help to protect the health of your liver.

Find out how healthy your liver is with a simple finger-prick test which can be done at-home and posted to an accredited lab for analysis.

Coffee

Coffee is the perfect morning pick me up with many of us making it our drink of choice first thing in the morning. According to the British Coffee Association, the UK drinks around 95 million cups of coffee per day! Coffee with breakfast and even coffee after dinner, whenever you choose to drink it, coffee may have other helpful benefits.

In fact, various studies have shown that moderate consumption of coffee is associated with a reduced risk of developing liver disease. A report by the British Liver Trust, states that regularly drinking coffee can lower the risk of liver cancer. It also reduces the risk of scar-tissue build-up called fibrosis, as well as the development of cirrhosis.

Coffee also contains caffeine which also has potential benefits for liver health. For example, it could help to slow down tissue growth seen in cirrhosis, alcoholic liver disease and cancer.

These benefits are seen no matter how the coffee is prepared. So, whether you like your coffee filtered, instant or espresso, it doesn’t matter because the benefits will still be present.

Oats

Oats are a fantastic source of dietary fibre which is important for aiding digestion, maintain a healthy weight and lowering the risk of cancer. Oats contain a specific type of fibre called beta-glucan which has cholesterol-lowering properties.

However, oats and beta-glucan may have protective effects for the liver. For example, one study showed that beta-glucan reduced liver damage and oxidative stress in individuals with obstructive jaundice.

In mice, the consumption of beta-glucan has been linked with a reduction in alanine aminotransferase, an enzyme whose blood concentration rises when the liver is damaged. It also reduced triglyceride levels as well as low-density lipoproteins (LDL) cholesterol.

Choose whole oats which shouldn’t have any added (unessential) ingredients, unlike pre-packaged oatmeal. Try swapping high sugar cereals for a bowl of hearty porridge with some fresh fruit. Oh, and how about a cup of freshly prepared coffee to wash it down?

Oily fish

Oily fish like salmon, mackerel, sardines and herring are packed with omega-3 fatty acids. These are ‘good’ fats which have many health benefits. They prevent inflammation, a major factor in the development of many chronic diseases.

Omega-3 fatty acids could be beneficial in the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD. It is a condition characterised by a build-up of fat in the liver and is usually present in overweight or obese people.

These fats found in oily fish can prevent the build-up of fat in the liver and so, prevent the disease from developing. One study recommends the consumption of oily fish at least twice per week as the fats contained within them, can reduce the circulating levels of fat in the blood.

Nuts

Nuts are a natural food source. They are, in fact, nutritionally dense fruits which are packed with nutrients, fatty acids and other beneficial compounds.

In terms of your liver, walnuts could be really useful. These nuts are high in omega-3 and have the highest level of polyphenols, naturally occurring chemicals in plant-based foods. They have numerous health benefits mainly due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Research has shown that walnuts have improved liver function tests in people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Therefore, eating a handful of nuts, like walnuts as a snack could help to maintain or improve the health of the liver.

However, you should be sure not to eat too many because nuts are high in calories. But they are a much more nutritious snack than a bag of crisps or a cake, plus they’ll make you feel satisfied for longer.

Plant-based foods

Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts are plant-based foods. They are all naturally occurring and by consuming them they help to keep our bodies healthy. Simply put, all plant-based foods are good for the health of your liver as well as the rest of your body.

Many plants have been used for centuries for liver health. Green leafy vegetables are thought to be best for your liver. Like nuts, these naturally occurring foods are high in polyphenols.

Some of the foods which may be helpful for your liver include:

Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Carrots
  • Collard greens
  • Kale
  • Cabbage

Fruits

  • Avocado
  • Banana
  • Cherry
  • Lemon
  • Watermelon

Grains

  • Barley
  • Brown Rice
  • Oats
  • Wheat

If you’d like to check if your liver is healthy, Forth offers a simple finger-prick blood test which can be done at home.  All samples are analysed at our accredited lab and your results will be available on your online dashboard within 48hr.  It’s an easy and hassle-free way to remain healthy.

Summary

The liver has many important functions associated with human health. What you put into your body can affect the health of your liver.

So, choosing foods which may help to keep your liver functioning optimally could help to prevent long-term disease. Most of the foods which are good for your liver are naturally occurring, easy to buy (or even grow) and taste great!


Sources

Bashir, K, M, I and Choi, J, S. (2017). Clinical and Physiological Perspectives of β-Glucans: The Past, Present and Future. Int J Mol Sci: 18(9).

British Coffee Association. (2019). Coffee Facts. Available at: https://www.britishcoffeeassociation.org/coffee-in-the-uk/coffee-facts

British Liver Trust. (2016). Coffee Consumption and the Liver-The Potential Health Benefits. Available at: https://britishlivertrust.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/The-health-benefits-of-coffee-BLT-report-June-2016.pdf

Erkol, H et al. (2011). Effects of Beta-Glucan on Hepatic Damage Caused by Obstructive Jaundice. Ulus Travma Acil Cerrahi Derg: 17(4), pp 303-307.

Guan, Y, S and He, Q. (2015). Plants Consumption and Liver Health. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Gupta, V et al. (2015). Oily Fish, Coffee and Walnuts: Dietary Treatment for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. World J Gastroenterol: 21(37), pp 10621-10635.

Lab Tests Online UK. (2017). Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) Test. Available at: https://labtestsonline.org.uk/tests/alanine-aminotransferase-alt-test

Lu, W et al. (2016). Effects of Omega-3 Fatty Acid in Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: A Meta-Analysis. Gastroenterology Research and Practice.