How To Look After Your Liver

Your liver is one of the hardest working organs so it’s important to look after it – especially when it can affect your skin, digestion and so much more. From the benefits of staying active to the effects of alcohol, we asked five experts to explain.
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David Nasralla, consultant general and laparoscopic surgeon at the London Digestive Centre, says…

Constant Drinking Will Takes Its Toll

“One glass of wine has a negligible effect on the liver. Similarly, binge drinking with relatively long periods of abstinence in between also has a minimal effect. Problems arise when you drink small to moderate amounts every evening, even if it’s just a couple of glasses of wine. The cumulative effect of this builds up over weeks, months and years to cause fatty liver disease, then scarring of the liver and eventually cirrhosis. The generally accepted threshold is that more than 40g of alcohol per day is the level at which significant damage occurs – this is equivalent to 440ml of wine, or 110ml of spirits. So, if you drink half a bottle of wine or a couple of double G&Ts every evening, it could be worth cutting back.”

A Liver Cleanse Could Be A Waste Of Money

“It’s important to remember that one of the liver’s primary functions is to remove toxins, poison and other harmful substances from your blood. The liver has evolved to deal with toxins and, as part of this function, it has an incredible capacity for regeneration. You don’t need expensive juice cleanses or supplements to help your liver recover – just time and a healthy, balanced lifestyle. If you want to support the liver through your diet, eat more broccoli, grapes, blueberries, nuts, fatty fish and olive oil, all of which have been shown to aid the liver.”

There’s No Need To Ditch Coffee

“It’s a common misconception that coffee is bad for your liver. In fact, there are several studies that show coffee could actually be beneficial for it. A study by the World Cancer Research Fund linked increased coffee consumption with a lower risk of liver cancer. In patients with liver disease, both coffee and green tea can prevent the disease from getting worse and can even reverse some of the signs of liver disease.”

A Blood Test Can Put Your Mind At Ease

“If you are concerned, the best way to find out is to get a simple blood test that covers your liver function from your GP. This is the quickest and simplest way to check if your liver is functioning normally. If there is something wrong, it will usually show up on blood tests as a mild rise in liver enzymes and will likely be related to fatty liver disease. Should these abnormalities be seen, an ultrasound scan and/or a Fibroscan can provide further evidence about the extent of fatty liver changes.”


Dr Federica Amati, nutritionist and chief nutrition scientist for Indi Supplements, says…

Changing Your Drinking Habits Can Help

“Alcohol is harmful at all levels as it’s a toxin, although the scientific evidence to date suggests that one glass of wine or beer five or six times a week (not all at once) seems to be safe for the majority of the population. Drinking a whole bottle of wine in one go is generally not a great idea. There are three main things to think about when heading into the festive season, when we typically consume more alcohol. First, eat a fibre-rich meal with added probiotics before drinking. Probiotics have been shown to help metabolise alcohol more efficiently, so this can reduce the impact of drinking on blood alcohol levels. Second, always drink water with alcohol to dilute the load on the body, and easier said than done, but try not to drink to excess. Stick to just a few drinks when you can.”

Stress Factors Into The Equation

“Increasing studies show stress can take its toll on the liver. One study, published by the University of Edinburgh, found suffering with anxiety or depression could increase your chances of liver disease. Even taking just ten minutes a day for some form of mindful activity can make a difference – yoga, Pilates, walking in green spaces and meditation are all great.”

There are several things to look out for, but one of the most obvious signs is a change in skin tone and in the colour of the whites of your eyes
Dr Federica Amati

It’s A No-Brainer To Eat More Plants

“Our liver works hard to balance our fat and protein levels so generally speaking, a diet low in animal fats is helpful. Try to cut back on your intake of animal fats, and instead eat plenty of beans, pulses and lentils (whether dried, tinned or fresh); healthy vegetable fats from avocados, extra virgin olive oil and unsalted nut butters; wholegrains like quinoa, buckwheat and bulgur wheat; plain, roasted mixed nuts and seeds; and plenty of whole fruits with the skin on. Liver-friendly meals include eggs with mushrooms on wholegrain sourdough for breakfast; a mixed vegetable soup with extra virgin olive oil and barley for lunch; and steamed fish or roasted chicken with cavolo nero and beans for supper. Kefir with berries and almond butter or a handful of walnuts and dried apricots are great snacks, too. If you know you’re going to have a few glasses of mulled wine and deep-fried doughnuts at a Christmas market, be sure to load up on extra plants and water that day.”

Identifying The Warning Signs Is Important

“The sooner you identify any issues with your liver, the better. There are several things to look out for, but one of the most obvious signs is a change in skin tone and in the colour of the whites of your eyes. If you notice an ashy or yellow tone, this could be a sign your liver is struggling. Chronic fatigue, digestive issues and tender bloating around your stomach are also signs to look out for.”


Scarlett Woodford, Ayurvedic expert, says…

Bitter Foods Can Cleanse The Blood

“In Ayurveda, the liver is a complex and vital organ that’s involved in both digestion and carrying oxygen to the blood. Absolutely everything we consume is processed by the liver, and in Ayurveda this refers to emotions as much as physical food and drink. From an Ayurvedic perspective, one of the signs of a liver not functioning optimally is getting itchy skin and rashes. The liver is related to the pitta dosha (the elements of fire and water) and is best taken care of by eating foods that pacify this heat. Stock up on bitter, sweet and astringent foods such as beetroot, leafy veg, artichokes, apples, avocadoes, mung beans, leeks, carrots, asparagus, grains and aloe vera.”

A Cooling Tea Will Soothe A Hangover

“If you are feeling hungover, consider brewing a cooling tea – saffron and cardamom are particularly effective when it comes to supporting the liver. I know it’s tempting to reach for a Deliveroo or takeaway food when you’re hungover but these rich, heavy foods can increase ama (the Ayurvedic term for toxins) in the body and are best limited if possible.”


Staying active is vital for keeping your liver healthy. Regular, consistent exercise that increases your heart rate will help you to lose any excess weight, and this can improve your liver function.
Nicci Clarke

Nicci Clarke, registered nutritionist and founder of Re:Nourish, says…

Regular Exercise Is Crucial

“Staying active is vital for keeping your liver healthy. Regular, consistent exercise that increases your heart rate will help you to lose any excess weight, and this can improve your liver function. Aim for 150 minutes of exercise each week – whether you’re an avid swimmer or master of yoga, the key is to get your heart rate up. A recent study found exercising aerobically for 60 minutes at a low-to-moderate intensity, four times a week, helped reduce liver fat. In another study, participants who did four weeks of cycling reduced liver fat by 12%.”

The Power Of Soup Isn’t To Be Underestimated

“Soup is filling, flavourful and a fast way to get your nutrients in. If you can make your own soup, pack it with kale and spinach, a combination loaded with antioxidants, iron and fibre, which together create a powerhouse of goodness for the liver. Adding garlic is also a good idea – garlic contains selenium, an enzyme that’s essential for a healthy liver – while turmeric can also reduce the amount of free radical damage in the liver.”

A Homemade Juice Can Be A Cure-All

“It’s a fact that we all indulge a little too much over the Christmas period, but if you wake up feeling groggy and hungover, know that food is medicine when it comes to helping the liver. Blend together 300ml of coconut water with a handful of kale, half a celery stick, one quarter of a cucumber, a handful of rocket, and the juice of half a lemon. Brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and hydration, this is the perfect tonic for your liver.”


Leyla Moudden, naturopath and director for education at Enzymedica UK, says…

It’s Worth Giving The Liver A Helping Hand

“Carbohydrates are very easy to digest, but meals rich in fat and protein require additional effort from the liver. When we don’t digest well, our food can cause inflammation that must be cleared from the body by the liver, so it makes sense to think about supporting liver health with digestive enzymes, which you can take in capsule form before a meal. Enzymedica’s Lypo Gold, a digestive enzyme formula that’s designed to help with fat and protein digestion, can help reduce the liver’s workload so it has capacity to regenerate and detoxify other areas of the body that need help.”

Bitter Foods Will Aid Digestion

“The festive season is associated with heavy foods, but having bitter flavours before your main course – think a rocket salad with a squeeze of lemon or lime juice – can help kickstart digestion and promote nutrient absorption, in turn reducing the load on the liver. Teas such as dandelion, burdock root and milk thistle are also a good idea to have after a heavy meal to support detoxification. At the same time, try to get as much sleep as you can over the festive period, as the liver regenerates and detoxes as we sleep.”


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