Optimizing Your Diet and Lifestyle for Liver Health

Written by: Brilliant Staff

Fact checked by: Melissa Mitri, MS, RD

healthy and nutritious foods

The liver is the second largest organ in the body and performs over 500 vital functions. These functions include processing nutrients, producing bile to digest fat, filtering toxins from the blood, regulating blood clotting, and storing vitamins and minerals. 

Keeping your liver healthy is essential for overall well-being. Fortunately, there are many ways you can optimize your diet and lifestyle to support liver function.

Eat a Nutrient-Dense, Balanced Diet

Diet has a major impact on liver health. Be sure to eat a varied, balanced diet focused on whole, minimally processed foods. Key dietary recommendations include the following:

  • Fruits and vegetables: Eat a diverse array of produce, especially deeply colored fruits and leafy greens, which are rich in antioxidants. Berries, citrus fruits, broccoli, spinach, and kale are a few great examples.
  • Whole grains: Choose 100% whole grain bread, oats, brown rice, quinoa, and other unrefined grains instead of refined options that are stripped of important nutrients.
  • Plant-based proteins: Beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, and soy foods provide healthy protein without the saturated fat of meats.
  • Healthy fats: Focus on monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like olive oil, avocados, nuts, and seeds. Limit saturated fat and fatty acids from red and processed meats and full-fat dairy.
  • Water: Stay well hydrated by drinking water throughout the day. Herbal tea is another good option.

At the same time, you will want to limit fried foods, processed snack foods, sweets, and refined carbohydrates like white bread that provide empty calories and added sugars.

Achieve and Maintain a Healthy Weight

Carrying excess weight stresses the liver. Even losing 5-10% of body weight when overweight can significantly improve liver health and function. To reach a healthy weight, focus on reducing calorie intake and eating nutrient-dense foods while increasing physical activity. 

A combination of diet and exercise is most effective for long-term weight loss and maintenance. Consult your doctor before starting any weight loss regimen, as everyone’s weight loss journey looks different.

Avoid Excessive Alcohol Intake

Drinking more than moderate levels of alcohol regularly can negatively impact the liver over time. To keep your liver healthy, alcohol intake should be limited to:

  • No more than one drink per day for women
  • No more than two drinks per day for men

One drink equals 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine, or 1.5 oz of spirits. If you don't drink, don't feel compelled to start. If you do drink, be mindful of these limits and avoid binge drinking.

Practice Food Safety

Consuming contaminated food and water can introduce substances and toxins that can negatively impact the liver. To limit exposure, consider doing the following:

  • Thoroughly cooking meats and eggs
  • Washing all fruits and vegetables meticulously before eating
  • Avoiding unpasteurized milk and cheese
  • Only drinking purified bottled water when traveling internationally
  • Avoiding supplements and herbs from questionable sources

Get Preventative Care and Screening

Regular wellness exams allow your doctor to assess your overall health, risk factors, and medications that could impact liver function. Simple blood tests can measure liver enzymes to check for potential problems. 

Some situations that may warrant additional liver screening include the following:

  • Family history of liver problems
  • History of high-risk behaviors like intravenous drug use or unsafe sex
  • High body mass index (BMI)
  • Cholesterol concerns
  • Excessive alcohol use

No single test alone can thoroughly evaluate liver function. Your doctor can determine if imaging, a biopsy, or specialized testing could provide more information to optimize liver health. The liver is a resilient organ that can recover remarkably well when properly cared for. 

Optimizing your diet, maintaining a healthy body weight, avoiding toxins, and getting preventative care can keep your liver functioning at its best for years. The efforts to preserve this vital organ are well worth it.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2022, https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/moderate-drinking.htm. 
  2. Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 9 November 2017, http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fatty-liver-disease/symptoms-causes/syc-20354567.