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Natural therapies that support the liver and its related metabolic processes are so numerous it is impractical to include them all here, but here are our top 5 foods for liver health, all easy to obtain and use. 

These are among the most heavily researched, aiding the body in gut health and liver function at the cellular level.

Barley grass juice powder.  In addition to being highly nutritious, barley grass has been shown to eliminate intracellular toxins in humans – a huge benefit for the liver.  Some well-studied effects include sleep promotion, blood sugar and blood pressure regulation, and immunity enhancement.  Barley grass also has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties, among other beneficial effects.  If you are avoiding gluten, be careful about your source of barley grass juice powder.  Since gluten is located in the seed of barley, and not in the stalk, barley grass should be harvested before it produces seeds.  Use products that are specifically gluten free.

Spirulina.  Spirulina is a type of algae and has been used nutritionally for hundreds of years in Central Africa.  Although the mechanism of action of spirulina is still not completely understood, it has many of the same effects as barley grass juice powder, including anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.  Spirulina also enhances metabolism, lowering cholesterol and blood sugar.  Again, all of these effects can be traced to assisting the liver with its essential functions

Guide to SpirulinaB vitamins.  B vitamins are essential substrates in biotransformation, detoxification, and methylation, perhaps the liver’s most important functions in maintaining the health of the body.  Inadequate levels of B vitamins essentially limit the amount of chemical reactions the liver can perform in order to process toxins.  B vitamins can be found in seafood, leafy greens, animal products, legumes, and nutritional yeast.

Sulfuranes.  Like foods high in B vitamins, sulfuranes also contain important substrates needed for optimal liver function.  Sufuranes contain sulfur in its natural, active form.  Sulfurane foods include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale and similar greens, and brussels sprouts.

Vitamin C.  As an antioxidant, vitamin C has been shown to prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, a very common subtle form of liver dysfunction.  Foods high in vitamin C include sulfuranes, berries and citrus fruits, rose hips, and many herbs.  

While all of these substances can be utilized as supplements, and sometimes supplements are recommended initially to replace deficiencies, most functional and integrative physicians recommend using the whole foods as a primary and lasting method of boosting liver function.  It cannot be stressed enough that whole foods contain cofactors and other substances that enhance absorption and utilization, ensuring that what you take in will actually get used by your body.  

For a complete list of liver-healing foods, delicious recipes, and more information about how healing the liver can heal the rest of your body, check out Reclaim Your Health, our online course with Dr. Jennifer Lyon.