Needless to say, your liver gets hit pretty hard during the holiday season. Even though Christmas and New Years are one day events, you begin attending holiday parties and double-booking yourself every weekend as early as November.
We all love the holidays as it brings people together, but when people are together, there is bound to be tons of food and plenty of drinks. Unfortunately, the food is usually sugary and high-fat, and the drinks are mainly alcoholic. Fatty foods and alcoholic beverages are two of your liver’s worst enemies.
Everything you consume over the holiday season will, at one point, get processed by your liver. The good news is, your liver will work really hard to make sure you’re healthy. The bad news is, bombarding your liver with fatty foods and alcohol can really interfere with its job.
There are over 100 liver diseases, such as alcoholic liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which are largely affected by diet. Now we’re not saying that going slightly overboard during the holidays will make you develop liver disease, but depending on your medical history and current health conditions, it can very well raise your risk.
In order to protect your liver, especially during the holidays, we have compiled a list of do’s and don’ts to ensure you and your liver don’t get sick.
Liver don’ts: Habits and foods that can harm the liver
Here is a list of tips to help maintain proper liver health during the holiday season.
- Don’t drink too much alcohol – It may be tempting to sample wines and have drinks with everyone who walks through the door. Not only will you feel sick the next day, but alcohol is taxing on your liver.
- Don’t overindulge in fatty foods – Weight gain is harmful to the liver, and if you consistently eat fatty foods, fat can begin to surround the liver and lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Be mindful of medications – If you are on cholesterol medications or take acetaminophen (Tylenol) regularly, beware: these can lead to a toxic liver. Speak with your doctor about your medications before stopping them or switching them.
- Don’t touch or breathe in toxins – Maybe you’re running around cleaning the house before guests arrive and after they leave. Be mindful of your cleaning products as they can get absorbed into the liver.
- Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke – Similar to cleaning products, inhaling smoke can be harmful to your liver.
- Avoid Processed Foods – Processed foods contain many ingredients and chemicals that are unhealthy for the body.
- Avoid prolonged use of painkillers – Taking painkillers for a prolonged amount of time can harm the liver and make it hard to do its job at removing toxins from the body.
Liver do’s: Habits and food that can help your liver
Now that you know what to avoid in order to protect your liver, here are some tips to keep your liver healthy right through the holiday season.
- Eat foods high in selenium, such as Brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, garlic, onions and molasses.
- Eat foods high in methionine as they can detox the liver. These foods include eggs, fish, legumes and seeds.
- Consume high sulfur foods, such as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts for further detoxifying effects.
- Foods with vitamin B5, including whole grains, chicken, wheat bran and nuts.
- Foods high in vitamin B1 that can reduce toxic effects, such as wheat germ, peas and soybeans.
- Consume coffee, which contains phytonutrients – be mindful of additives such as cream, milk and sugar, and don’t have more than three cups a day.
- Insomnia is a symptom of both anxiety and liver disease or a variety of other issues, so be sure to get a lot of sleep this holiday season to keep healthy.
- Relaxation is very important for keeping the liver happy during the holidays, so make sure to take plenty of time for yourself.
- Staying hydrated is very important for the liver as it helps to discrete toxins out of the body.
By following these liver do’s and don’ts you can work to protect your liver during the holiday season.
Foods That Can Cleanse the Liver
Coffee – Chemicals found in coffee such as cafestol, kahweol, and paraxanthine have been found to reduce the risk of liver cancer, alcohol-related cirrhosis, non-alcohol-related fatty liver disease, and hepatitis. This holiday season, enjoy a cup of coffee knowing that you are doing your liver some good!
Grapefruit – This juicy fruit contains antioxidants that naturally protect the liver. Several studies have found that the protective effects of grapefruit are known to occur in two ways, by protecting cells and reducing inflammation.
Beetroot Juice – This juice is a good source of antioxidants and nitrates called betalains, which have been found to reduce oxidative damage and inflammation in the liver.
Tea – Start your holiday mornings with a nice cup of green tea to improve blood markers of liver health. Many studies have found various benefits of tea for the liver including a reduced risk of liver cancer in those who drink four or more cups of green tea a day.
Garlic – Loaded with antioxidants garlic can help the liver process and flush out toxins. According to researchers, allicin, arginine, and selenium found in garlic is what aids in liver cleansing.
Cruciferous Vegetables – Known for their high fiber content and distinctive taste, vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and mustard greens are high in beneficial plant compounds. Studies show that these vegetables are able to increase levels of detoxification enzymes and protect the liver from damage.
Nuts – High in healthy fats, nutrients, and beneficial plant compounds, nuts are responsible for several health benefits. This includes both heart and liver health. So, this Christmas snack on some mixed nuts to help keep your liver healthy.