The liver is an often overlooked organ that is essential to your health, including the health of your bones.
The liver synthesizes a digestive fluid called bile, composed of bile salts, water, cholesterol, and a yellowish pigment called bilirubin. Bile gets stored in the gallbladder until it is released in the small intestine for the digestion of fats.
Bile also helps to absorb essential nutrients such as Vitamins E, K, A, and D. This list makes it easy to understand why the liver is vital to bone health. But it doesn’t stop there.
Read on to learn more about the function of this powerful organ, and to discover no less than 14 foods that help to keep the liver in tip-top shape.
Liver And Bone
In addition to assisting in the absorption of bone-essential vitamins, the liver works as part of the body’s filtration system– helping to maintain plasma pH by clearing the blood of toxins and other acidifying infiltrators.
The liver filters out viruses, chemicals, pesticides, alcohol, parasites, bacteria, and drugs. If all of those substances were left circulating in your system unchecked, your pH would be highly acidic, damaging your bones. In addition to this critical function, the liver also acts as a storehouse for minerals, vitamins, and glycogen- a molecule that holds energy for future use.
Studies have linked decreases in liver function with decreases in bone density. In part for the reasons described above, and also because the liver produces osteoprotegerin (OPG), which inhibits osteoclast differentiation- leading to increases in bone density. With reduced OPG production, bone mass suffers.1
The liver is an organ critical to maintaining and building bone density, as well as for overall health.
Boost Your Liver, Build Your Bones
The liver handles the stress of living, and surprisingly, has the ability to regenerate a limited amount of mass lost to damage. Even if you haven’t always avoided toxins and eaten a pH balanced diet, or even if you’ve had liver problems in the past, you can still chart a course to a healthy and well- functioning liver.
Many foods can help you to protect your liver and promote its continued health or recovery. Not all of them are alkalizing, but a pH balanced diet doesn’t contain exclusively alkalizing foods, and many of them are Foundation Foods that contain valuable micronutrients and phytochemicals.
As you read this evidence-backed list, make a note of which foods you already regularly eat, and which you could incorporate into your diet more often.
- Cruciferous Vegetables have a cleansing effect on the liver, in particular, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts.2,3
- Walnuts, valuable for their bone-protective Omega-3 content, positively impact nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.4
- Coffee has been shown to have a positive impact on liver health.4 Even though it is an acidifying beverage, when consumed in moderation coffee it is safe for your bones because it contains healthy polyphenols and antioxidants. Make sure you sweeten it with stevia or honey instead of sugar and use non-dairy creamers.
- Blueberries protect the liver from acute injury, as well as cells all over the body from oxidative stress through the power of the abundant antioxidants they contain.5
- Ginger has been shown to protect against alcohol-induced liver toxicity and liver cancer in rats. Its anti-inflammatory properties make it useful for combating and preventing chronic inflammation, which damages your bones and your body.6,7
- Artichoke has been used for medicinal purposes in Europe since the 1700s, and studies have confirmed that its antioxidants and its impact on plasma lipid levels offer protection to liver cells.8
- Avocados possess liver protectants, and also a wide range of bone-building Foundation Supplements.9
- Asparagus stimulate both the liver and the kidney- ramping up your body’s filtration system. Extracts of asparagus were found to protect liver cells from toxic substances.10
- Green Tea although acidifying, contains many healthful compounds, including catechins that have antioxidative, antiviral, anticarcinogenic and anti-inflammatory effects. That’s good support for your liver and your bones, but be sure to sip in moderation it contains fluoride and caffeine.11
- Garlic does more than just ward off any unwanted Halloween vampires! It’s also a powerful therapeutic plant with anti-tumor and anti-microbial effects. Garlic boosts your immune system, alkalizes your pH, and is a rich source of bone-nourishing minerals including zinc, manganese, and Vitamins B6 and C.12
- Beets are instantly recognizable due to their dark purple color. The source of that color is a pigment called betalain that protects the liver from oxidative stress and chronic inflammation. 13
- Fish contains taurine and Omega 3s that are essential for proper liver functioning. Animal proteins are acidifying, so consume fish in moderation to balance it with alkalizing foods. 14
- Egg Yolks help process fats and cholesterol, which detoxifies the liver. Even though eggs are acidifying, they have been shown to have positive effects on bone metabolism. 15
- The popular spice turmeric contains curcumin,a powerful compound that is used to treat liver disorders in Ayurvedic medicine. Studies have shown that curcumin prevents liver inflammation and damage. The bone-protective power of turmeric is doubled by curcumin’s remarkable antidepressant effects. 17, 18
A Healthy Liver Is Essential To The Health Of Your Bones
The diverse array of foods listed above make it easy to care of your liver every day. Whether you’re having a cup of home-brewed ginger-turmeric tea, a beet salad, or a broiled salmon with garlic and artichoke, you can support your liver to strengthen your bones.
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1 “Bone Loss in Liver Disease.” Hepatology; January 2001 – Volume 33 – Number 1. Web: http://www.natap.org/2002/feb/020402_1.htm
2 Masahiro Kikuchi, et al. “Sulforaphane-rich broccoli sprout extract improves hepatic abnormalities in male subjects.” World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Nov 21; 21(43): 12457–12467. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4649129/
3 Sørensen M, et al. “Effects of a Brussels sprouts extract on oxidative DNA damage and metabolising enzymes in rat liver.” Food Chem Toxicol. 2001 Jun;39(6):533-40. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11346482
4 Vikas Gupta, et al. “Oily fish, coffee and walnuts: Dietary treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.” World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Oct 7; 21(37): 10621–10635. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4588084/
5 Osman N, et al. “Endotoxin- and D-galactosamine-induced liver injury improved by the administration of Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and blueberry.” Dig Liver Dis. 2007 Sep;39(9):849-56. Epub 2007 Jul 25. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17652039/
6 Nafiseh Shokri Mashhadi, et al. “Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence.”Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr; 4(Suppl 1): S36–S42. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3665023/
7 Grzanna, R., et al. “Ginger – an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions.” Journal of Medicinal Food. 2005 Summer; 8(2): 125-32. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16117603)
8 Horoszkiewicz M, et al. “Artichoke–untapped potential of herbal medicine in the treatment of atherosclerosis and liver diseases.” Przegl Lek. 2012;69(10):1129-31. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23421107
9 Kawagishi H, Fukumoto Y, Hatakeyama M, He P, Arimoto H, Matsuzawa T, et al.” Liver injury suppressing compounds from avocado (Persea americana)” J Agric Food Chem. 2001;49:2215–21. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11368579
10 Kim BY, et al. “Effects of Asparagus officinalis extracts on liver cell toxicity and ethanol metabolism.” J Food Sci. 2009 Sep;74(7):H204-8. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19895471
11 Xueru Yin, et al. “The effect of green tea intake on risk of liver disease: a meta analysis.”Int J Clin Exp Med. 2015; 8(6): 8339–8346. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4538013/
12 Leyla Bayan. “Garlic: a review of potential therapeutic effects.” Avicenna J Phytomed. 2014 Jan-Feb; 4(1): 1–14. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4103721/
13 Tom Clifford, et al. “The Potential Benefits of Red Beetroot Supplementation in Health and Disease.” Nutrients. 2015 Apr; 7(4): 2801–2822. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4425174/
14 Kathryn R Mahaffey, et al. “Balancing the benefits of n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids and the risks of methylmercury exposure from fish consumption.” Nutr Rev. 2011 Sep; 69(9): 493–508. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3219437/
15 Karen D. Corbin, et al. “Choline Metabolism Provides Novel Insights into Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and its Progression.” Curr Opin Gastroenterol. 2012 Mar; 28(2): 159–165. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3601486/
16 Kim HK, Lee S, Leem KH. Protective effect of egg yolk peptide on bone metabolism. Menopause. 2011 Mar;18(3):307-13. Web: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21107301
17 Sahdeo Prasad and Bharat B. Aggarwal. “Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.” Chapter 13 Turmeric, the Golden Spice. CRC Press/Taylor & Francis; 2011. Web. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92752/
18 Jayesh Sanmukhani, et. al. “Efficacy and Safety of Curcumin in Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” Phytotherapy Research. 6 July 2013. Volume 28, Issue 4 Pages 579–585. DOI: 10.1002/ptr.5025. Web: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/ptr.5025/abstract;jsessionid=C47E4CE22986ED49AD66B1AFF7068