Sara Southgate - Naturopath & Herbalist

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03 Feb

Twelve Steps to Improving Liver Function

Liver formula Liver formula

Twelve Steps to Improving Liver Function 

  • 1. Listen to your body – eat when hungry and stop when full. Otherwise you’ll overburden your system.
  • 2. Drink AT LEAST 1.5-2litres of water daily (think how your plants look when they’re dehydrated and transfer this image to every cell of your body). Water cleanses the liver and kidneys.
  • 3. Avoid eating large amounts of sugar, especially refined sugar – the liver will only convert it to fat. This fat can build up inside our cells, causing fatty degeneration of the organs, will be stored as body fat and will eventually contribute to high blood triglycerides (fat) levels. Try Halva, unrefined sugars such as blackstrap molasses or honey & eat sugar after meals, rather than on an empty stomach.
  • 4. Avoid foods you are intolerant to & coffee.
  • 5. Do not eat if stressed or anxious. When you are in a stressed state, your digestion does not function properly.
  • 6. Eat organic; avoid unnecessary intake of harmful chemical pollutants. But be aware that even those who eat organic unprocessed foods need a healthy liver – even these kinds of foods have naturally occurring toxins.
  • 7. Obtain protein from diverse sources – include pulses, lentils, nuts & tofu as well as white meat, eggs & fish.
  • 8. Choose good quality breads, always wholemeal and vary the grain; buy rye bread, barley bread or corn bread – most of us already eat too much wheat.
  • 9. Avoid margarine and trans- or hydrogenated fats at all costs.
  • 10. Ensure daily bowel movements by increasing fibre: fruit, vegetables, brown rice, oats, and wholemeal pasta. Use flax seeds if necessary.
  • 11. Stick to polyunsaturated fats (the good fats; olive oil, flax seed oil, sunflower oil – anything liquid at room temperature) and avoid excessive intake of saturated (animal – anything solid at room temperature) fats and damaged fats (margarine, hydrogenated fats). The latter do incredible damage to your body.
  • 12. Take a good herbal liver tonic & follow the Liver Cleansing Diet outlined below for at least 8 weeks:


Liver Cleansing Diet

40% of your diet should consist of fresh raw fruits & vegetables with special emphasis on the dark green leafy and brightly coloured vegetables. Juices are a fantastic way of upping your raw food intake. Raw vegetables are especially valuable because they contain the B vitamins & vitamin C, needed for efficient liver detoxification. Vegetables particularly relevant to the liver include: artichoke, asparagus, red, yellow & orange peppers, broccoli, avocados, brussel sprouts, cabbage, beetroot, garlic & onions. Turmeric is invaluable, so eat lots of curries, or add a little powder into some organic yoghurt, or to soups, stews, and juices. Liquorice & cinnamon also aid liver function. Helpful fruits include apples & pears. 

Why? Raw vegetables and fruits reduce excess acidity; our bodies function optimally in alkaline slightly conditions. Note, though that grapefruit juice should be avoided, as this slows down the livers’ detoxification by 30%. 

Protein sources should include an even mix of legumes, nuts & seeds, chicken, pulses, fish and eggs. Meats should be baked or grilled. Avoid pre-packaged foods.

Why? The liver finds dairy produce particularly difficult to process. Frying food only adds to the fat burden.  Pre-packaged foods tend to be high in salt, sugar, preservatives, colourings and damaged fats, all of which will put strain on your liver. 

Meal suggestions: 


Fresh fruit, fresh fruit or vegetable juice, cereals with rice or oatmilk. 


Collection of raw vegetables, sprouted seeds and nuts, tahini, humus or avocado.  Alternatively, eat a sandwich, but ENSURE you have space for a large plate of raw vegetables as well. 


Steamed vegetables and poached fish or chicken, or as lunch or breakfast.


Nuts, seeds, fruit, carrot sticks, juices, dried fruit, rice cakes with humus. 


Replace coffee & tea with dandelion coffee and drink water at every opportunity.


Recommended cookery book: Cooking Without. By Barbara Cousins. ISBN: 0-7225-4022-1. £9.99

Last modified on Tuesday, 04 September 2012 16:53
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Sara Southgate

I am a naturopath and herbalist, with a decade's experience of working with natural remedies. I am a member of the United Register of Herbal Practitioners (URHP) and complete regular Continual Professional Development courses.

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