OCTOBER 2015 ;e Costco Connection 57
for your health
By Kristin Kirkpatrick
DETOX DIETS ARE huge right now, and
there are hundreds to choose from. But did
you know that you already hold the golden
key to detoxing? It’s right inside you. It’s the
one organ you probably never even think of:
The liver is one of the most incredible
organs in the body, responsible for hundreds
of functions that keep us alive and well. It’s also
the major detox center (alongside your kidneys, lungs, intestinal tract and skin), ridding
the body of toxins that can enter through food,
drink or the environment. Unfortunately, a
number of lifestyle choices can damage this
vital organ, and many of us are developing fat
in our livers. This causes nonalcoholic fatty
liver disease (NAFLD).
According to Dr. Ibrahim Hanouneh, a
hepatologist at the Cleveland Clinic, about 30
percent of Americans may have the disease,
which he calls an epidemic waiting to happen.
“Fatty liver disease can lead to cirrhosis and
liver cancer, and has become the leading indication of liver transplantation in the United
States,” he warns.
It’s never too late to give your liver a new
start. In honor of National Liver Month, here
are several liver-loving foods you can add to
your kitchen today.
Blueberries. Plants high in anthocyanin
(a compound that gives color and benefit to
foods that are red, purple and blue) have been
found to be an effective therapy against a fat-laden liver. Frozen wild blueberries are easily
added to yogurt, smoothies or oatmeal.
Coffee. Yes, coffee! A 2014 study in the
journal Hepatology found that compounds in
both caffeinated and decaffeinated coffee can
help to boost liver health by lowering levels of
abnormal liver enzymes. A morning cup may
also reduce the risk of mortality for liver cirrhosis patients and help fight against cancer.
Finally, caffeinated coffee in particular may
reduce the severity of NAFLD. Not a coffee
drinker? No problem; green tea has also been
associated with keeping the liver healthy.
Curry powder. Get your spice on! Several
studies have found that curcumin, the active
ingredient in turmeric, is a super food for our
most underappreciated organ.
Edamame. Soy rules when it comes to
keeping your liver in tiptop condition. Adding
soy protein to your diet may help to alleviate
stress and damage to a liver where fat accumulation has occurred. Soy can also help to reduce
the effects of diabetes on the liver as well.
Eggs. Eggs have been described as the
perfect food, packing ample vitamins and
minerals in a tiny 80-calorie package. They
may be perfect for the liver too. When paired
with a high-fat diet, a lack of choline (a B vita-
min found in high amounts in eggs, fish, beef
and chicken) may make fatty liver disease
worse. Another study found that being defi-
cient in choline could alter microbes in the
gut, exacerbating fatty liver disease.
Olive oil. Olive oil is a central component
in the Mediterranean diet, which has been
shown to be one of the best diets for keeping
the liver happy. A 2015 study found that this
mighty oil could protect livers from oxidative
stress as well.
Salmon. A 2014 study by nutritionists at
Oregon State University found that dietary
docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), a type of
omega- 3 fat, was effective in boosting liver
health by protecting cells from the negative
effects of a Western diet. Salmon is loaded
with omega-3s and comes with another liver-loving component: vitamin D. Researchers
found that vitamin D deficiencies may
increase risk of liver disease. C
Costco member Kristin Kirkpatrick is the
manager of wellness nutrition services at the
Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute (
MANY STUDIES POINT to the supplemental use of probiotics as a remedy
for a damaged liver. In addition to supplements, probiotics are found abundantly in yogurt with live and active
cultures, as well as in fermented foods
such as sauerkraut and tempeh.
In addition to these food choices,
getting regular exercise, keeping alcohol to a minimum (and none at all if you
have existing liver disease) and being
careful with over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen will do wonders for this wonderful organ.—KK
The Costco Connection
Costco members will find a wide variety
of fresh and frozen produce, meats, eggs,
coffee, olive oils, yogurt and more at their
local Costco warehouse.
to love your liver