Winter is alive with opportunities to overindulge and letting your guard down may just put your liver under a bit of strain. Whatever your indulgence, you can take steps to protect this essential organ.

The medical fraternity all agrees that good liver function is vital for overall health. Dr Karl Maert says, “The proper functioning of the eyes, the heart, the brain, the gonads, the joints, and the kidneys, are all dependent on good liver activity.”

Without a well functioning liver, your body isn’t able to adequately cleanse itself and absorb essential nutrients.


  1. Go organic – whatever reaches your digestive system has to be dealt with by your liver – give it a little help by eating food free from pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics and chemical additives.
  2. Watch the fats – avoid as far as possible trans fats and fructose. Commonly found in fried food, trans fats are very common in premade food – avoid food with labels such as ‘hydronated’ or ‘partially hydronated’ oil. Fructose is another ingredient to avoid and is found in numerous processed food, as well as fruit juice. Studies have shown that a diet high in these two dangerous ingredients can lead to obesity and fatty liver disease.
  3. Get fruity – increase your consumption of fresh fruit and veg, which are naturally detoxifying. In specific, sulphur-rich food is particularly good for enhancing liver function – include garlic, onions and cruciferous veg. additionally, vegetables are a great source of fibre, which assists in moving toxins through your digestive tract. Add a dash of cinnamon or turmeric to your veg mix for additional liver help.
  4. Glass half full – alcohol is simply not good for your liver, so avoid drinking too much, or don’t indulge at all. Too much can lead to fatty liver, inflammation, cirrhosis of the liver or alcoholic hepatitis. If you even have mild liver disease, a tiny amount of alcohol can make it much worse.
  5. Breathe easy – avoid as much as possible chemicals in your home. Switch to organic or natural cleaning products for both your home and your body.
  6. Detox – a report by the Centre for Disease Control in the US identified an average of 212 toxins in people’s bodies – simply because they live on this planet. With so many dangerous molecules floating around, it’s difficult to keep your liver completely toxin free. However, you can offer up some help in boosting its detox power. Take the following vitamins and supplements to assist in the two phases of detoxification 1: toxins are neutralised and broken down into smaller fragments; 2: these are then bound to other molecules, creating a new, non-toxic molecule that can be excreted):

Phase 1: B-Vitamins (B2, B3, B6, B12, folic acid); flavonoids, found in organic fruits and vegetables; food rich in vitamins A, C and E (eg, carrots, oranges, wheat germ, almonds); glutathione, found in avocado, watermelon, asparagus, walnuts, fresh fruits and veggies; nutrients that increase glutathione levels include n-acetylcysteine, cysteine and methionine; branched chain amino acids, found in animal protein (dairy products, red meat, eggs and whey protein); and phospholipids, found in eggs, lean meats, organ meats, fish and soybeans

Phase 2: Indole-3-carbinol, found in cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts; limonene, found in oranges, tangerines, caraway seeds and dill seeds; glutathione, found in avocado, watermelon, asparagus, walnuts, fresh fruits and veggies; nutrients that increase glutathione levels include n-acetylcysteine, cysteine and methionine; fish oil; and amino acids (protein)

  1. Pill poppers – even innocent-sounding over the counter pain pills can have a disastrous effect on your liver if not taken with caution. In fact, the medication acetaminophen (a common over-the-counter pain killer) has been touted as the leading cause of acute liver failure in the US. Certainly avoid taking even a mild pain killer as a preventative measure when you intend imbibing.
  2. Move that body – it’s no secret that exercise is an essential basic to living a healthier life. And it’s not different when it comes to the positive effect of exercise on your body – in fact, one study indicated that as little as 150 minutes of exercise per week improved liver enzymes and other indications of good liver function.
  3. A puff of smoke – just as exercise is known to be essential for health, smoking is known to be particularly damaging to health. It also harms your ability to effectively process and remove toxins from your body, and worsens alcohol-induced liver disease
  4. Lend a hand – give your liver daily support with the following supplements:

Milk thistle seed extract assists in fighting oxidation and protects and promotes growth of liver cells; and Alpha-lipoic-acid, a powerful antioxidant that also assists in restoring the antioxidant activity of vitamins C and E