Maximize Your Wellness: Essential Steps for Maintaining Liver Health

Written by: Christine VanDoren, nutritionist

Fact checked by: John Soldner, PharmD

woman framing a presentation of healthy liver with her hands

The liver is one of the most vital organs in the human body. Responsible for over 500 essential functions, this powerful organ works tirelessly to filter toxins, metabolize nutrients, produce proteins, and regulate cholesterol, among many other critical jobs. Given the liver’s immense workload, it’s no wonder that supporting healthy liver function is imperative for overall wellness. 

When the liver is compromised, energy plummets, focus suffers, and metabolism slows. However, with the right care, the liver can continue operating at its best.

Read on to learn about the incredible importance of the liver, how to promote its health, and simple habits to maximize liver function. With a few lifestyle tweaks, you can keep your hardworking liver in peak condition for vitality, balanced cholesterol levels, efficient metabolism, and improved energy and focus.

Understanding the Liver: Its Functions and Importance

The liver is the body's largest internal organ, weighing about three pounds in healthy adults. This powerful organ carries out over 500 essential functions that allow us to experience optimal health and wellness each day.

The liver is intimately involved in key processes like cleansing the blood of toxins, producing proteins, balancing cholesterol levels, regulating blood sugar, and keeping hormones balanced. It also plays a starring role in metabolism, energy production, digestion, immunity, and more.

Some of the liver's most vital jobs include the following:

  • Filtering the blood to remove toxins, waste, and other impurities. The liver constantly cleanses the blood so that only nourishing components circulate through the body to nourish tissues and cells.
  • Metabolizing beneficial nutrients from the foods we eat. The liver breaks down carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and vitamins into compounds that provide fuel and building blocks for cells. This allows our bodies to access the energy in foods.
  • Producing cholesterol, triglycerides, and other key lipids that support cell membrane health and hormone production. The liver carefully regulates cholesterol levels to maintain optimal wellness.
  • Processing medications and clearing them from the system. The liver transforms medications and drugs into forms that can be eliminated from the body once their work is done.
  • Manufacturing important proteins like albumin and clotting factors. This helps maintain blood volume.
  • Storing glucose, vitamins, minerals, and other beneficial compounds. The liver acts like a warehouse, holding in reserve key nutrients that tissues can draw on when needed.
  • Producing bile that emulsifies fats and enables their absorption and use for energy. Bile also allows the body to eliminate waste products.
  • Balancing hormone levels by clearing spent hormones from the system while producing binding proteins to transport hormones safely. This is key for hormone balance.
  • Removing environmental threats from the blood to support immunity. The liver contains special cells that capture and neutralize threats.
  • Aiding digestion through bile production. Bile helps break down fats so we can access their energy and absorb important fat-soluble vitamins.

When all aspects of the liver are operating smoothly, the positive effects on energy, metabolism, hormone balance, cholesterol levels, digestion, immunity, and overall wellness are immense. 

Supporting liver health should clearly be a top priority!

By adopting liver-friendly habits, we can enjoy the wellness benefits of a happy, healthy liver throughout life.

Signs of a Healthy Liver

  • Feeling energized throughout your day without crazy energy spikes and crashes. Steady energy comes from optimal nutrient breakdown.
  • Thinking clearly, focusing easily, and recalling information well. Minimal brain fog means your liver is filtering blood and toxins effectively.
  • Having smooth, glowing, even-toned skin. When waste flows freely from the liver, skin clarity improves.
  • Experiencing regular, comfortable digestion with no bloating or constipation. Healthy bile flow prevents digestive issues.
  • Maintaining a stable weight effortlessly. A well-functioning liver, hormones, and metabolism make weight management easier.
  • Feeling minimal breast tenderness, bloating, and mood swings around your period. Balanced hormones reduce uncomfortable PMS symptoms.
  • Absence of swelling in the limbs, ankles, feet, and hands. Fluid flows freely with no retention when kidneys and liver work synergistically.
  • Seeing an even skin tone without dark patches or visible liver spots. Toxins and waste are cleared before impacting the skin.

Paying attention to these cues and discussing any concerns with your doctor helps ensure your liver stays happily supported. A few proactive dietary and lifestyle adjustments go a long way!

The Impact of Liver Health on Energy Level and Focus

The liver serves as the body's central engine for turning food into usable energy that powers all of our daily activities. So it's no surprise that two of the first areas affected when liver function drops are energy level and mental focus.

After we eat, the nutrients in foods get broken down and absorbed in the stomach and intestines. From there, it travels to the liver, where incredibly complex chemical processing takes place to convert those nutrients into compounds that provide fuel for cells.

The liver transforms carbohydrates, fats, and proteins into glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and other substances that generate energy and building blocks. 

Glucose supplies immediate energy for cells and tissues. This blood sugar powers movement, thinking, digestion, and other tasks.

Amino acids build muscle, enzymes, neurotransmitters, proteins, hormones, and more. Amino acids construct nearly every part of the body. Fatty acids fuel the body and brain over longer periods. Fatty acids also support cell membrane health and hormone production.

Ketones as backup energy when glucose is scarce. They prevent crashes by providing rapid cell fuel.

ATP molecules are used to transfer energy where needed. ATP delivers energy payloads to power metabolic processes.

Bile salts emulsify fat for absorption and use as energy. Bile is crucial for accessing nutrients in food.

When liver cells are overburdened, they cannot properly produce this diverse mix of energizing compounds from the foods we eat. Nutrients passing through a sluggish liver are often only partially processed.

Without full conversion into usable cell fuels, problems arise that sap energy levels. Cells simply do not have the compounds needed to fuel activity and function.

The impaired liver function may also more toxins to slip past into the bloodstream rather than being safely filtered out. Many of these toxins have effects on the brain that disrupt focus, cognition, and concentration.

Floating toxins in the brain interfere with clear thinking. This causes that "brain fog" feeling many experiences when energy lags — an indication the liver could use some love!

The good news is that supporting healthy liver function through nutrition, hydration, exercise, stress relief, and other positive practices keeps the energy high and focus sharp. A properly nourished liver deftly turns all the nutrients from foods into an abundance of cell fuels and building blocks.

With plenty of glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, and more readily circulating, cells thrive and function at their peak. Brain function remains clear, too, with toxins filtered properly.

Liver Health and Metabolism

The liver plays an absolutely essential role in metabolism and weight maintenance. Performing over 500 functions, the liver is constantly working to convert fat and carbohydrates into usable energy.

The liver helps regulate fat metabolism in the following key ways:

  • Produces bile needed to break down and absorb fats from food. When bile production is strained, it’s harder to metabolize dietary fats.
  • Stores glucose as glycogen for quick energy access when needed. Common metabolic issues can disrupt glycogen storage.
  • Manufactures cholesterol, triglycerides, and other key lipids.
  • Breaks down hormones like insulin that control fat storage. 
  • Detoxifies and removes waste products and toxins. Even everyday toxins have an impact on metabolism.

As you age, these jobs do not take place as efficiently. The result is weight gain, difficulty losing weight, accumulation of body fat, and changes in cholesterol levels.

Optimizing liver health helps promote healthy metabolism by allowing the liver to efficiently turn nutrients into energy, store and distribute glucose, metabolize cholesterol, balance hormone levels, and clear metabolic waste products.

Diet and Its Impact on Liver Health

Diet is profoundly influential when it comes to liver health. Consuming liver-friendly foods while avoiding excessive alcohol or processed foods can profoundly reduce the liver’s toxic load.

Some of the top foods to incorporate for improved liver function include the following:

  • Garlic: Helps produce glutathione to support detox pathways
  • Grapefruit: Contains antioxidants that reduce liver inflammation
  • Beets: Stimulates bile flow and detoxification
  • Turmeric: Boosts liver detox enzymes and bile flow
  • Leafy greens: Broccoli, kale, and spinach supply glutathione precursors
  • Walnuts: Omega-3s reduce fat accumulation and oxidative stress
  • Olive oil: Provides powerful antioxidants to protect the liver
  • Berries: Rich in antioxidants to strengthen liver function
  • Green tea: Catechins maintain healthy liver cells and encourage the regeneration process
  • Whole grains: Contain B vitamins critical for liver function
  • Tomatoes: Lycopene protects against fatty liver 

Processed, fried, and sugary foods also tax the liver. Aim for mostly whole, fiber-rich foods instead.

Following a largely plant-based Mediterranean-style diet focused on produce, nuts, olive oil, and occasional moderate alcohol provides powerful liver protection.

The Role of Exercise in Liver Health

Engaging in regular physical activity provides enormous benefits for liver health. Exercise protects the liver by reducing fat accumulation and risk of fatty liver disease, improving insulin sensitivity for better fat metabolism, and lowering oxidative stress and inflammation.

It also increases detoxification enzymes for waste elimination, boosts bile production to remove toxins, and improves blood and oxygen flow through the liver.

Aerobic exercise like walking, jogging, cycling, or swimming appears most beneficial, though resistance training also helps. Work up to 150 minutes of moderate activity per week for optimal liver health.

Even light exercise improves liver enzymes and insulin resistance. Taking regular movement breaks combats the sedentary time that can allow fat to accumulate in liver cells.

When paired with a healthy diet, exercise is one of the most powerful ways to keep your liver in tip-top shape.

Hydrate Your Health: Water's Role in Liver Function

Staying properly hydrated with ample, pure, fresh water is absolutely essential for supporting healthy liver function and detoxification.

Water helps facilitate nearly all of the liver's vital jobs in some way. It allows the liver to efficiently flush out metabolic waste products, excess hormones, bilirubin, and other toxins from cells.

Chronic dehydration significantly overburdens the liver since this organ relies on adequate water to carry out all of its critical roles.

When the body lacks sufficient fluid levels, liver cells cannot properly conduct metabolism, filter blood, produce bile, break down nutrients, activate enzymes, flush wastes, or perform other essential detoxification tasks.

Drinking plenty of pure, filtered water is one of the most powerful ways to enhance liver health and function. Proper hydration supports the liver in the following key ways:

  • Allows the liver to effectively flush fat-soluble toxins, bile pigments, pesticides, medications, and hormone metabolites out through urine. Staying hydrated is essential for this waste elimination.
  • Provides constant fluid for the liver to use in producing and secreting bile. Bile requires water to remain thin and flow easily through ducts to the gallbladder and intestines. Dehydration thickens bile congestion.
  • Transports ample nutrients like B vitamins, selenium, zinc, magnesium, and glutathione precursors to liver cells. Nutrients need water to reach the liver.
  • Prevents thickening and congestion of bile inside the biliary system and gallbladder. Thick bile cannot flow properly to aid digestion and elimination.
  • Facilitates all metabolic processes, enzyme functions, and chemical reactions performed by the liver. Water is required for these biochemical conversions.
  • Allows the liver to regulate body temperature efficiently. The liver cannot properly cool the body without sufficient hydration.
  • Provides fluid buffering that protects liver tissue from damage. Dehydration leaves liver cells more vulnerable to harm.
  • Enables waste to be readily flushed out of liver cells. When there is a lack of water, toxins accumulate inside liver cells.

Drinking at least eight 8-ounce glasses of pure water each day provides an excellent foundation for keeping the liver's detox pathways flowing freely. Consuming more when sweating, in heat, or during illness is beneficial.

Infusing your water with antioxidant-rich fruits like lemon, lime, grapefruit, cucumber, or mint gives your liver an extra nutritional boost as well!

Best Practices for Liver Health

The great news is that small, positive changes add up enormously when it comes to liver wellness. Here are some of the top habits to get into to support healthy liver function.

Consume Liver-Boosting Foods

Fill your diet with colorful fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean proteins, and whole grains. Cruciferous veggies, leafy greens, grapefruit, walnuts, and olive oil provide particularly powerful benefits. Limit fried foods, sugar, and artificial ingredients.

Exercise Regularly

Get moving for at least 30 to 60 minutes per day, at least five days a week. This lowers triglycerides, reduces insulin resistance, decreases inflammation, and stimulates bile flow.

Stay Hydrated

Drink at least eight glasses of pure water per day and more when sweating. Adequate hydration is essential for liver detoxification.

Manage Your Weight 

Excess body fat taxes the liver. Maintain a healthy weight through diet and exercise. Even losing 5% of body weight improves liver health.

Limit Alcohol Intake

Avoid excessive alcohol, which can damage liver cells. A moderate intake of one drink per day for women and two for men appears safe. 

Reduce Toxin Exposure 

Limit the use of medications when possible, properly ventilate spaces using VOC-producing products, and avoid cigarette smoke to lower the liver toxin burden.

Just a handful of these positive steps can significantly improve liver function over time. Be patient with yourself and focus on establishing sustainable habits. Soon, you’ll reap the wellness rewards of a happy, healthy liver!

Support with Supplements: Are They Beneficial for Liver Health?

While a healthy diet and lifestyle provide the foundation for optimal liver wellness, high-quality supplements can also lend beneficial support. Some of the top supplements linked to improved liver health include the following:

Milk Thistle

Silymarin, the active compound in milk thistle, enhances glutathione levels while protecting liver cells from everyday toxins and oxidative stress. It’s excellent for defense against liver insult.


N-acetyl cysteine is a precursor of glutathione. Supplementing can replenish glutathione stores to enhance detoxification pathways.

Vitamin E

This fat-soluble vitamin combats oxidative stress in liver tissue and prevents the depletion of glutathione reserves.


Curcumin stimulates bile production, promotes detox enzymes, and maintains healthy liver tissue.


This powerful plant compound improves the overall health of the liver.

Artichoke Extract

Artichoke helps stimulate bile production, supports healthy fat digestion, and protects liver cells from everyday damage.

Research around the efficacy of liver health supplements is still emerging, but many show promise in protecting liver cells and optimizing function. Work closely with a knowledgeable practitioner if considering supplementation.

FAQs About Liver Health

How long does it take to improve liver health?

With consistent healthy habits, most people see gradual liver enzyme improvements within one to three months. Larger gains in liver health take six months. Don’t get discouraged; focus on gradual change!

What blood tests assess liver function?

Common tests include ALT, AST, GGT, bilirubin, and alkaline phosphatase. ANA, serum protein, and ferritin may also be useful. Get annual blood work to monitor.

Can the liver heal itself?

Yes! The liver has amazing regenerative abilities. Removing the source of damage and adopting a healthy lifestyle allows the liver to repair and rebuild itself over time.

What are the most damaging habits for the liver?

Excess alcohol consumption, high-sugar/high-fat diets, chronic medication use, sedentary lifestyle, and toxin exposure (pollution, chemicals, smoke) are the most damaging habits.


We only get one liver during our lifetime, so taking care of this critical organ should be a top health priority. Fortunately, supporting liver wellness largely boils down to adopting some simple yet powerful lifestyle habits.

Eat plenty of colorful, fiber-filled produce, nuts, and whole grains. Exercise every day, even if just going for a walk. Stay hydrated with clean water, manage your weight, limit alcohol and toxins, and take liver-supportive supplements if needed.

By showing your liver some love through healthy daily practices, you’ll keep it happily filtering toxins, producing bile, regulating cholesterol, and carrying out its 500+ other vital tasks. Your energy, metabolism, focus, and overall health will thank you!

Follow these essential wellness steps, and soon, you’ll be maximizing liver function for improved vitality and whole-body wellness.


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