In our last article we touched on the many functions the liver plays in our health. We talked about reducing or eliminating the most damaging things to the liver first, such as alcohol and medications like acetaminophen. Today we’re going to talk about specific nutrients needed to support the detoxification role of the liver. The liver has two main phases of detoxification when substances are processed in preparation for elimination from the body. These substances come in two forms. The first form is as endotoxins which are produced in our bodies as byproducts of metabolism. The second form is as exotoxins, like drugs (over-the-counter, prescription and recreational), herbicides, pesticides, food additives, microbes, and pollution. In a healthy liver, the first phase of detoxification takes fat soluble toxins and transforms them into intermediary substances. To do this it needs: - Vitamin B2 -- found in beef, fortified tofu, milk, salmon, and mushrooms. - Vitamin B3 (niacin) -- found in tuna, chicken, pork, mushrooms, and brown rice. - Vitamin B6 -- found in salmon, fortified tofu, chicken, beef, sweet potatoes, and bananas. Folic acid -- found in edamame, lentils, asparagus, and dark, leafy greens. - Vitamin B12 -- found in shellfish, liver, mackerel, fortified food products, and dairy. - Glutathione production, which can be increased by eating foods such as spinach, avocados, and asparagus, as well as sulphur, selenium, and vitamin C rich foods. - Branch chain amino acids -- found in most protein rich foods. (However, vegans will need to work harder to get a full complement of BCAAs.) Truehope Freeminos is an excellent supplement for everyone to help cover these bases. - Phospholipids -- found in soy lecithin, milk, chicken eggs, fish eggs, liver, cabbage, and carrots. The results of the first phase of detoxification contain harmful free radicals, but are neutralized by antioxidants. It’s important to get enough of these antioxidants in your diet, or the intermediaries remain in their harmful state and the next phase of detoxification cannot happen effectively. Find these antioxidants in: - Preformed vitamin A -- found in animal sources like meat, fish, and diary, or beta-carotene found in plant sources like sweet potato, carrots, and butternut squash. - CoQ10 -- found most richly in organ meats such as heart and liver but also in small amounts in soybeans. - Vitamin C -- found in fresh and raw kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, oranges, and broccoli. - Vitamin E -- found in sunflower seeds, almonds, avocadoes, spinach, and butternut squash. - Selenium -- found in brazil nuts, tuna, and oysters, pork, and beef. - Copper -- found in organ meats, leaf greens, nuts, seeds, and beans. Bioflavanoids -- found in vitamin C rich foods. Zinc -- found in oysters, beef, chicken, tofu, and hemp seeds. - Manganese -- found in mussels, wheat germ, firm tofu, and sweet potatoes. In a healthy liver, the second phase of detoxification turns the intermediary substances that have been neutralized by antioxidants into water-soluble compounds that can be excreted from the body. To do this, the liver needs the amino acids glycine, taurine, glutamine, cysteine, and methionine -- all found in abundance in Truehope Freeminos, a supplement we recommend to ensure efficient phase 2 detoxification. From here, what is left is eliminated through the kidneys as urine, through the skin as sweat, and through the intestines as bile. When the liver isn’t healthy, both endotoxins and exotoxins leave the liver without being properly detoxified and are stored in fat tissue, the brain, and the nervous system, with the potential to cause long term health issues. The key to supporting your liver nutritionally is eating a wide variety of nutrient dense vegetables, fruits, and protein rich foods, as well as supplements to ensure the liver has the ingredients it needs to function at full capacity.