Liver, the detox program: the right foods and those to limit

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Louise Hay
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In this period of Coronavirus emergency anxiety and stress they keep us company almost every day. Straining the liver. In the most demanding moments, often also characterized by overeating and a sedentary lifestyle, this organ is in fact subjected to extra work that overloads it and prevents it from carrying out its tasks well.

"We must then intervene, because the liver is a real chemical laboratory, involved in several functions essential for our well-being", says Dr. Andrea Coco, surgeon, specialist in clinical nutrition and integrated medicine in Pontedera (Pisa) and author of the book What a liver! (Terra Nuova, € 12,50) in which he explains the ideal diet to keep the liver healthy.




Because the liver has to work well

"First of all, the liver produces bile (essential for digestion), emulsifies fats, synthesizes cholesterol and triglycerides», Continues the expert. «The hepatic gland also deals with the purification of the organism: helps eliminate toxins and excess waste accumulated due to environmental factors (such as pollution) and poor lifestyles, in particular improper nutrition, alcohol consumption, drug abuse and smoking . When these waste substances are too many, the liver is subjected to an overwork that predisposes it to various kinds of ailments and diseases, which we often do not notice until the damage is already done ".

Hence the need to field one preventive strategy to keep it healthy, starting with the choice of foods to bring to the table.


The best menu for the liver? The Mediterranean diet

Several studies have shown that the Mediterranean diet is an excellent ally for liver health. "A recent American study, conducted by Virginia Commonwealth University and McGuire VA Medical Center, revealed that a menu consisting of vegetables, grains, fermented milk foods such as yogurt, tea, coffee and chocolate, is associated with a greater presence of “good” intestinal bacteria and reduces the risk of hospitalization among liver cirrhosis patients, ”explains Coco.



"It is also certain that those who follow a Mediterranean-type diet have a richer and more varied microbiota, which favors a better state of health".


Intestine and liver: a job for two

There is a close connection between the intestine and the liver. "Both of them collaborate in the elimination of excess waste and toxins», Explains Dr. Coco. «This is why at the table you cannot miss foods rich in probiotics, beneficial microorganisms that favor the balance of bacterial flora. These include yogurt, miso, tempeh and all fermented foods in general ».

But there is more. A Mediterranean-type diet reduces fatty liver, a very common problem caused by the accumulation of triglycerides in liver cells due to a sedentary lifestyle and overeating. The confirmation also comes from a research conducted by the Society of the country of diabetology at the Federico II University of Naples and presented at the last Congress of the European Association for the study of diabetes.

To move from theory to practice.


WHAT TO PUT ON THE DISH 

  • Focus on seasonal vegetables


«Antioxidants help the liver to free itself from accumulated toxins (due to the abuse of drugs, alcohol and pollutants) without the hepatocytes, its cells, suffering significant damage. Therefore, they cannot be missing from the diet foods rich in vitamins A, C and E, present in plants»Explains Andrea Coco.

What to choose? Seasonal products (usually grown without the use of pesticides and other chemicals that have harmful effects on liver health), preferably at zero km and often varying type and color. Among those to be preferred are artichokes: «They are rich in polyphenols, antioxidants among which cynarin stands out, which stimulates the secretion of bile and consequently promotes the digestion of fats», points out the expert.




  • Make room for eggs on the menu as well


There are mistakenly considered enemies of the liver for their cholesterol content. In fact, if consumed in the right amount (2-3 per week) they are not harmful at all. On the contrary. The proteins they are rich in are made up of all the essential amino acids that the body needs to produce glutathione, a very powerful antioxidant, which promotes the functioning of our detox organ.

«The yolk also contains "good" Omega 3 fats, which thanks to their anti-inflammatory action facilitate the disposal of excess toxins », adds the expert. "But be careful with the preparation: barbecued eggs, with the cooked egg white and the yolk still slightly liquid, are more digestible than the hard-boiled ones".


  • Cut down not only on fried food


To be able to harm the health of the liver are even grilled and baked foods, because they are subjected to high temperatures and / or prolonged cooking times. The confirmation comes from a study conducted by the University of Illinois: US researchers have shown that the brown crust that can form during these types of cooking is rich in AGE (Advanced Glycation End-products, i.e. advanced glycation products).

These are substances that accelerate the premature cellular aging of all tissues (including that of the liver) and favor the onset of cardiovascular disorders, diabetes and renal failure. Steam cooking is one of the preferred methods, because it allows you to better protect the vitamins, minerals and antioxidants contained in different foods.



  • Drink 2-3 cups of coffee a day


Coffee is not bad for the liver, provided however that do not overdo the quantities. In particular, drinking 2-3 cups a day without sugar has beneficial and protective effects. The proof comes from several studies conducted in recent years. Research from the country published in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that a moderate consumption of coffee favors the reduction of the accumulation of fat in the liver cells.


Another study done by the Mario Negri Institute in Milan has instead shown that coffee is able to reduce the risk of developing liver cancer. The same conclusions came from a research published in the journal Food Research International and carried out by the State University of Sao Paulo in Brazil and the University of Granada.

Finally, it should not be forgotten that coffee is rich in polyphenols, with a strong antioxidant action.


  • Prefer good fats


Among these stand out the precious Omega 3 (present in foods such as oil and flax seeds and walnuts) and the monounsaturated fats contained inolive oil: they have anti-inflammatory properties and allow the body to absorb fat-soluble vitamins with antioxidant action, such as E and A, which counteract the action of free radicals. Some fish are also a source of good Omega 3 fats.

“The small ones like anchovies, sardines, herring, mackerel they contain larger quantities than larger ones (excluding salmon and tuna) », explains Dr. Coco. "They also have another advantage: they are less at risk of contamination by heavy metals and other pollutants that favor the accumulation of toxins in the liver."

They go instead limit foods high in saturated fat as much as possible (which are not only bad for the heart and brain) such as cheeses, red meat, industrial products prepared with palm oil.


  • Check the sugars


Excessive intake not only of glucose but also of fructose, especially the industrial one added to food and drink, is bad for liver health.

"The metabolism of fructose produces uric acid, a molecule which, if present in the blood at high levels, is capable of triggering mechanisms similar to those of alcohol and leading to the onset of diseases ranging from steatohepatitis (inflammation due to accumulation fat) up to the necrosis of liver cells », explains Dr. Andrea Coco.

The confirmation also comes from a group of researchers of the complex operating unit of hepatometabolic diseases of the Bambin Gesù of Rome. “According to this study the daily requirement of fructose is approximately 25 grams. Every gram more, compared to this quota, would increase the risk of developing liver disease by as much as one and a half times », explains our expert.



  • READ MORE: Liver, 6 plants (for infusion and more) to purify it



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