Our world is filled with toxins. We eat them, breathe them, and even make them inside our bodies. But do we need a special detox program to right these wrongs? Detox diets and supplements promise big rewards for minimal effort.
These claims are big and attractive, but ping that little voice inside your head that says, “This sounds too good to be true.” The good news is that you are designed to detox because of your internal detox machine (aka your liver).
I am often asked what I eat in a day. In this blog post, I share what I ate yesterday and how you can use those same foods to reach your health and weight loss goals.
Eat for Liver Health -At-A-Glance
- Your liver is your initial filtration system, converting toxins into waste products that can be flushed out of your body.
- Bright Foods (e.g., green tea, berries, dark leafy greens) are rich in inflammation-fighting antioxidants.
- High-fat Plants (e.g., avocados, nuts, seeds, olive oil) contain antioxidants and healthy fats that slow digestion, stabilize blood sugar, and keep hunger away for a long time.
- High-quality Animal Proteins (e.g., chicken, salmon) provide amino acids that support liver health.
- The second phase of eating for better liver health is to moderate your intake of toxic foods and drinks (e.g., sugar, alcohol, food additives).
Forget Detox…THIS is MORE Enjoyable and Effective [Video]
In this video, you’ll learn…
- Types of food to consume in order to properly feed your liver.
- Recipes for a day of healthy eating.
- Things you should avoid in order to have better liver health.
The Appeal of “Detox”
In all fairness, “detox” is not a dirty word. There are detox programs that help people dealing with addiction and marketed programs that can move you toward a healthy lifestyle. However, the word is often used to denote a quick fix. There is an enjoyable and more effective way, which is eating for better liver health.
Feeding Your Internal Detox Machine (aka Your Liver)
Your liver is your initial filtration system. When toxins find their way into your body, your liver converts them into waste products that can be flushed out. This is a very efficient system, and there are nutrients that you can get from foods and drinks that benefit your liver.
When you get all of these items into your daily diet, there is less room for liver-damaging foods, and you’ll stabilize hunger hormones and blood sugar levels, reducing the addictive pull of those foods.
Eating this way doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, there are only three things to keep in mind when it comes to eating to support your internal detoxing machine.
- Bright Foods
- High-fat Plants
- High-quality Animal Protein
Foods that are brightly colored are rich in antioxidants, which are compounds that support liver health by reducing inflammation and preventing cell damage. These foods include green tea, berries, and dark leafy greens.
When it comes to providing antioxidants, green tea shines above the rest. For liver health, matcha tea is a standout. The plants are shaded as they grow, which increases chlorophyll production, giving the plant a darker, more vibrant green hue.
You can drink matcha tea by just stirring it into hot water. In the cold winter months, I like to combine it with 12 ounces of warmed almond milk and a pinch of stevia that I mix with a frother. It is a great low-carb drink that contains less than 50 calories but is packed with nutrients.
Currently, we are in the midst of the hot summer months. Yesterday, I drank the matcha tea cold in a smoothie that combined two other bright foods -berries and spinach – as well as high-fat plants.
High-fat plant foods include avocados, nuts, seeds, and extra virgin olive oils. These are important things to include in your regular diet because they are packed with antioxidants and healthy fats, so they are going to slow digestion, stabilize blood sugar, and keep hunger away for a long time.
I typically eat within a 6-hour eating window, starting around 11 in the morning with a salad and ending by no later than 5 PM. Between meals, I will have a moderate size snack. Yesterday, I made a matcha tea smoothie by combining the tea with almond milk, frozen raspberries, chia seeds, almond butter, spinach, and stevia. It tasted great and was nothing but goodness, full of antioxidants.
High-quality Animal Protein
Before the smoothie, I had my typical salad topped with 3 ounces of chicken. After, I had salmon with roasted broccoli. So these meals are where animal protein came into my day.
Chicken is a complete protein, providing all of the essential amino acids and additional amino acids like cysteine. Consuming adequate cysteine helps your body increase glutathione, which is one of the most potent antioxidants in your body and instrumental for liver health, especially if you drink alcohol.
For my salad, I started with a bed of dark leafy greens, added half of an avocado, feta cheese, and half of a small apple, followed by sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and the chicken.
My favorite homemade dressing is 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil mixed with 2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar, and 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard. This is my go-to salad and contains everything we’ve talked about so far: bright greens, high-fat plant foods, and animal protein.
For dinner, I put salmon fillets in a crockpot, which is a no-mess, very simple way to get salmon to come out nice and flaky. You simply line a slow cooker with parchment paper, lay down some lemon slices, place the salmon on top, and then add vegetable broth, more lemon slices, and dill. The salmon is fully cooked in just two hours.
Half an hour before it was done, I combined a bag of frozen broccoli with a tablespoon of avocado oil, a clove of garlic, and a quarter cup of shredded Parmesan cheese. I dumped the mixture onto a baking sheet and stuck it into the oven for 12 minutes at 450° F, and then finished it off under the broiler.
Besides being a complete protein, salmon is packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which provides additional protection against inflammation. Broccoli is a beneficial cruciferous vegetable and adds more bright greens to the day.
Your Liver on Toxins
As I mentioned, your liver is your initial filtration system, but it can be overloaded by the overconsumption of things like sugar, alcohol, and food additives.
The second phase of eating for better liver health is to moderate your intake of toxic foods and drinks. You can do this with three rules:
(1) If a packaged food has sugar listed as one of the first three ingredients, don’t eat it. That does not include natural sugar from fruit and other whole foods because they contain nutrients that slow digestion.
(2) Avoid or moderate your alcohol consumption. I covered alcohol and low-carb dieting in an earlier blog post that you can read if you want more information.
The confusion on moderate alcohol intake is what does moderate alcohol intake mean. Typically, it is defined as no more than two drinks per day for men and one for women.
(3) Avoid unnecessary food additives. When you see a really long ingredient list and scratch your head about what all those words mean, put that item back on the grocery store shelf.
Full Day of Eating for Liver Health
As many of you’ve heard me say in the past, to get yourself to the point of healthy eating, you want to Add as you Subtract. In other words, as you are subtracting the foods that tax your liver, namely added sugar, excessive alcohol, and food additives, you want to fill yourself up with liver-supporting bright foods, high-fat plant foods, and high-quality animal proteins.
I put those foods together for you in this article, and other than my morning coffee, which is surprisingly beneficial for liver health, that was my day of eating.
The menu came to 1,432 calories and just under 62 grams of carbs, which is right on track for my activity level and low-carb maintenance diet.
Not only did this day of eating taste great and leave me feeling great, but it also met 99% of my nutrition goals in my online food diary, supporting my internal detoxing machine.
Thank you for reading and have a wonderful week!