Diet to keep your Liver Healthy

Liver has been described as a chemical workshop of the body. All the nurients and other substances absorbed from the intestines pass through liver before entering into the systemic circulation. A well planned dietary regimen is of utmost importance in the prevention and treatment of liver disorders.

Nutritional Status is a great contributory factor. It is apparent that beyond dietary availability of specific nutrients and essential amino acids, an individuals metabolic capacity for processing them into active metabolites and the factors that influence this can profoundly affect physiology in health and disease.

Functions of Liver: 

It is responsible for numerous metabolic processes for both macronutrients and micronutrients.

Protein ( albumin synthesis, deamination ,transamination, urea formation etc)

Carbohydrates( Glycogen storage, Gluconeogenesis, glycogenolysis)

Fat (Triglyceride hydrolysis, cholesterol synthesis, bile production etc)

Vitamins and Minerals: Vitamin B1, B6, Folic Acid and D , Synthesis of Vitamin A and B12.


Liver Health

It is important to minimise the diseases indirectly affecting liver, drug overdose, alcohol and other toxic elements leading to liver disorders

Nutrition and Liver

Nutrition and liver are interrelated in many ways. Stored Glycogen is released for energy in between meals. Proteins in food can be broken down into amino acids in the intestine and delivered to the liver and sent to muscles to use or are converted to urea for excretion in the urine. Certain proteins are converted into ammonia, a toxic metabolic product by bacteria in the intestine or during the breakdown of body protein. Ammonia must be detoxified by the liver and made into urea which is then excreted by the kidneys. Bile production makes the dietary fat absorption and fat soluble vitamins.

How does Liver affect Nutrition?


1. Chronic liver diseases are associated with malnutrition.

2. Wasting of muscles and emaciation in liver diseases show severe protein catabolism.

3. Inadequate diet

4. Adequate diet with alcohol are susceptible to alcohol weight loss.

5. Severe and dramatic weight loss ( 35-50%) can hamper liver .

Best diet for Liver

1. Get proteins: Vegetarian proteins are recommended. Natural proteins are more important than supplements. Best sources: Beans, Legumes and Lentels. Animal Proteins can be lean protein like egg whites, lean chicken and fish. But Neutralise them with good vegetable and fruit and whole cereal intake.

2. Avoid Trans-Fats: Prefer MUFA like nuts, whole grains and pulses. Include seeds like pumpkin and flaxseeds in your diet.

3. Get plenty of colours in your diet: Increased consumption of fruits and vegetables will help in getting best of antioxidants to cleanse the liver.

4. Avoid excess alcohol: Guidelines with healthy mediterrean diet is 1 dink for women and 2 drink for men on daily basis. Indian population diet does not support alcohol as it does not have adequate ratio of fruits and vegetables and healthy fats.

5. Detox with water : Water intake neutralises the toxins and helps to cleanse liver. Avoid sugar beverages and corn starch added drinks for bad impact on liver

6. Go Natural: Avoid all processed and artificial foods with additives and preservatives.

Nutrients which help to keep Liver Healthy

1. Milk Thistle: It is herb with dense prickly flower head and purple in colour. It has a high content of flavonoids called Silymarin. Silymarin is a potent antioxidant. It strengthens the structure of outer cell membranes of hepatocytes. Prevents gall stones and cholesterol lowering properties.

2. Vitamin C: High antioxidant with great cellular nutrition. Natural fruits and vegetables are good source of vitamin C. If increased requirement supplementation is important. RDA for healthy adult is 60 mg /daily. 2 gm /day supplementation can be given to adults.

3. Selenium: Boost your liver health with potent antioxidant with dietary selenium. It is necessary to form two enzymes – glutathione peroxidase and thioerdoxin reductase. It acts with Vitamin E synergetically to strengthen immunity. Selenium rich foods are nuts, meat, seafoods, yeast, garlic, onions and mushrooms.

4. Vitamin E: Potent antioxidant. Natural Antioxidant d-alpha tocopherol. It is more easily absorbed.

Typical Dosage: 400-800 gm/daily

5. N-acetyl –cysteine ( NAC): Sulphur containing amino –acid derivative. It is powerful antioxidant and cell detoxification co-factor. It helps to eliminate body of free-radicals and heavy metals(Hg). Vitamin C intake is important for avoiding oxidation of NAC. NAC is converted to cysteine which is converted into glutathione a potent antioxidant. Natural sources: protein rich foods like eggs, lean meat, garlic, greens and cruciferous vegetables.

6. Amino acid SAM-E: S-adenosyl-L-Mehtionin ( SAMe) is important precursor of glutathione which is a required for methylation. It is nautrally occurring compounf found in almost every tissue and fluid in the body. It works with vitamin B12 and folate . Being deficient in either vitamin may reduce the level of SAE 3 .

7. Alpha Lipoic Acid: Vital Nutrient for the liver because it plays a key role in removing toxins and byproducts of fat metabolism and fend off the toxic effects of alcohol. ALA is a powerful oxidant that also protects other antioxidans like glutathione andCo Q10. It is powerful if taken in combination with milk thistle and selenium.

8. Cruciferous Vegetables : Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussel Sprout:

They contain phytochemicals , indoles and other powerful antioxidants. They are very potent free radical scavengers, reduce oxidative stress.

9. B-Complex vitamins – Riboflavin and Niacin

10. Licorice:

  • Neutralize Liver toxins.
  • Reduce liver swelling and improves appetite
  • Ginger:
    • Protects herbal compounds from being destroyed.
    • Makes it possible to pass through liver
    • Ginger in combination with other herbs improves the intestinal absorption

11. Turmeric this herb is best taken as a pill or, even better, as a tincture. Curcumin active antioxidant, antibacterial,anti-inflammatory and anticancer properties


  1. Atkins, R.C., “Vitamins,” Dr. Atkins’ Vita-Nutrient Solution, Simon & Schuster, 1998, page 93.
  2. Factor V.M., Laskowska, D., and Jensen, M.R., “Vitamin E Reduces Chromosomal Damage and Inhibits Hepatic Tumor Formation in Transgenic Mouse Model,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 97(5), 2000, pages 2196 2201.
  3. Saller, R., Meier, R., Brignoli, R.,”The use of Silymarin in the Treatment of Liver Diseases,’ Drugs, 61(14), 2001, pages 2035-2063.
  4. Giese, L.A., “Milk Thistle and the Treatment of Hepatitis,” Gastroenterology Nursing, 24(2), 2001, pages 95-97.
  5. DeLegge MH. Nutrition in gastrointestinal diseases. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease . 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010: chap 5.