The Top 10 Foods to Support and Reverse a Toxic and Fatty Liver

In this video, Dr. Ekberg discusses the concept of detoxing and supporting the liver. He explains that the liver plays a crucial role in detoxification and metabolism, and when it becomes congested or toxic, it can lead to conditions like fatty liver. Dr. Ekberg emphasizes the importance of understanding how the liver works in order to support it effectively. He provides a list of top 10 foods that can help reverse a toxic and fatty liver, including animal products rich in nutrients like sulfur, choline, and B vitamins, as well as plant-based foods like cruciferous vegetables and low-carb options. The video also mentions the importance of a low-fat diet and the role of supplements like N-acetyl cysteine, choline, wheat germ oil, and nutritional yeast. Dr. Ekberg concludes by emphasizing the need to maintain a balanced approach rather than solely relying on extreme diets.

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Key Insights:

  • The liver can get congested with fat, leading to a condition called fatty liver, which affects 30% of the population.
  • The liver can also become toxic in various ways.
  • The liver’s main job is detoxification, but some people in the medical field don’t believe the liver can be detoxed.
  • The body is constantly changing, and living tissue needs resources to function properly.
  • The liver is involved in metabolism, digestion, and energy storage.
  • Fatty liver is usually a toxic liver, as fat congestion is often accompanied by an accumulation of fat-soluble toxins.
  • The liver undergoes a process called biotransformation, which involves transforming fat-soluble toxins into water-soluble substances to eliminate them from the body.
  • The liver requires specific nutrients, such as B vitamins, glutathione, amino acids, and choline, to support its detoxification processes.
  • A low-carb diet and intermittent fasting can help the liver burn fat instead of storing it.
  • Foods that support liver detoxification include animal products (beef, fish, poultry, eggs), nuts and seeds, organ meats and roe, allium plants (garlic, onion, leeks), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), and fiber-rich non-starchy plants.
  • Coffee, tea, beets, and certain supplements like N-acetyl cysteine, choline, wheat germ oil, and nutritional yeast can also support liver detoxification.
  • The gallbladder plays a role in eliminating toxins through the bowel, while the kidney filters toxins out of the blood.
  • A low-fat diet may not stimulate the gallbladder adequately, and a high-carbohydrate diet can harm the kidney’s filtering function.
  • Consider the big picture and understand the role of each component in supporting liver health.


Hello Health Champions. A lot of people know that the liver can get congested by fat. A so-called fatty liver and that’s the condition that actually affects 30% of the population today, but then along with the fat congestion, the liver can also get clogged up and toxic in many other ways. So today, I want to talk a little bit about how the liver works because when you understand that, then you will very clearly see how to support the liver and why the top 10 foods in this video can actually help reverse a toxic liver and a fatty liver. Coming right up.

Hey, I’m Dr. Ekberg. I’m a holistic doctor and a former Olympic decathlete, and if you want to truly Master Health by understanding how the body really works, make sure you subscribe, hit that Bell, and turn on all the notifications so you never miss a life-saving video.

Now, this whole idea of being able to detox the liver is a bit controversial. I did a video on the signs of a toxic liver, and I got the following very interesting comment that I thought I should address. It started off saying, „There are 10 signs that your advice is bunk,“ and I was thinking, „Well, this is interesting. Why is that?“ For example, „You can’t detox the liver, really?“ I thought, „Why would that be? Because the liver’s job is to detox.“ And then he finished off this comment saying, „I’m glad I didn’t go to med school with you.“

And I want to assure him that that feeling is entirely mutual. I don’t know where this kind of thinking comes from, but I’ve seen it in other places, and apparently, there’s a group of people in the medical field who don’t believe that the liver can be detoxed. So basically, they’re saying that if that function is assigned to the liver, then it can’t fail. It’s not possible for the liver to get overwhelmed, for example. And that’s also kind of like saying, „Well, you know, constipation doesn’t exist. You can’t get constipated because the function of the bowel, that assigned function, its purpose is to move things through, and, therefore, if that’s its job, then it obviously can’t stop doing that.“

What they’re forgetting, I think, is that the body is living tissue. They kind of think of it as different separate systems and separate parts, sort of like an organizational chart that if you just assign a function to something, then it’s supposed to do that. But they’re forgetting that living tissue needs resources, and if you don’t provide those resources, then the job won’t get done.

So in this video, we will talk about what those resources are and a little bit more about how that liver works. And one other thing that a lot of people don’t think about is that the body is not the same from moment to moment. It’s constantly changing. So some cells in your body, like intestinal lining, those cells change every few days, five to seven days. You have all of the cells replaced and rebuilt. The liver is basically rebuilt every six weeks. And why is that? Because the liver is kind of in the firing line. In the process of doing what the liver does, it basically takes a lot of bullets. It sacrifices tissue in order to do what it does because in the process, it creates some very abrasive byproducts and substances that have a lot of wear and tear. Therefore, the liver is fantastic at regenerating itself.

The liver handles an incredible amount of functions, and one is metabolism. But it’s not just metabolism for itself. It manages the metabolism for the rest of the body. In many ways, it is intimately involved in digestion. Most of the things that you eat and absorb go through the liver first, so the liver gets to repackage basically everything that you eat. It is involved with energy storage. So it stores glycogen, which is a carbohydrate glucose reserve primarily for the brain. It produces hormones to manage part of this metabolism.

What we’re going to talk about today is the detoxification aspect of that liver. How do we get a fatty liver? Well, there is a supposed delicacy, Foie Gras, which is French, which literally translates to fatty liver. It’s a goose liver that they overload. They force-feed these geese, they overload their digestive tract and their liver, so the liver gets backed up. And it’s a terrible, terrible method. I don’t defend or condone it in any way, but I’m using it as an example to show what happens to the fatty liver or the liver when you overload it. And what are they feeding these geese? You would think maybe they feed them a lot of fat to get the liver fat. No, they feed them corn because corn and carbohydrates are what makes the liver fatty. And in humans, it’s primarily fructose, sugar, fructose, and excess carbohydrates that create that.

And when the liver in humans and in geese turns from a healthy liver to a fatty liver or foie gras, as it gets congested, it also loads up on toxins. And most of these toxins are fat-soluble. And this is why we have to understand that a fatty liver is usually a toxic liver also.

Now let’s look real quick at how these things move through the body. So when you eat food and you breathe air and you drink water, you take in food, but you also take in some toxins. These go into your digestive tract, and the digestive tract absorbs the nutrients. It absorbs the precious things, the resources, and then they get passed into the blood and delivered to the cells. Now the cells can use these resources and do metabolism. They can transform the fuel into energy, and they can transform the amino acids and the fatty acids into building blocks and tissue. And then when it’s done with that, there’s some metabolic waste, just like a fire produces smoke and ashes. The fire inside yourself produces metabolic waste, and this has to get out of the body somehow, along with the toxins that kind of trailed along.

Now, the cells will excrete this waste. It will just kind of dump it into the bloodstream and the lymph system. And now, eventually, it makes it into the liver. And the liver does something called biotransformation. People think of the kidney and the liver as a filter, which it is, but it does so much more than that because these substances are toxic. They have to be changed. They have to be transformed so they don’t destroy all the tissue on their way out.

And, of course, when we’re talking about the cells getting resources, we have to realize that the liver is just cells like the rest of the body. And these resources that go to the cell, these are resources for the liver as well. And now, if the liver is successful in its biotransformation, now we can start eliminating these toxins and waste products through the sweat, through the lungs, through the kidney, and through the bowel. So the bowel has two jobs. It’s supposed to reabsorb the excess liquid and then move out the waste. But what happens if the bowel isn’t moving? Then the waste just sits there, and the bowel keeps absorbing fluids, liquid from the waste product, the waste product gets harder and harder and denser and denser, and they sit there longer and longer. And now, we start reabsorbing these toxins back in the GI tract; they never leave the body. So it’s a form of autotoxicity. So therefore, constipation is one of the first things that we have to handle. That kind of has to work first. A lot of programs that you see where you buy a little box that says „liver cleanse,“ it really doesn’t do much more than get the bowel moving, and that’s a good thing. But it’s just one aspect of this. It’s like the last step. And if you haven’t done any of this first, then you’re not really detoxing much at all.

I’m going to get to the list of foods in just a moment. Trust me, without this basic understanding, the list of foods is a huge waste of time. So just bear with me. I’ll keep it as simple as I can.

The whole process of the liver is called biotransformation, and what the body is trying to do, what the liver’s trying to do, is just turn something fat-soluble into something water-soluble because the fat-soluble, that’s the toxins, and the body can’t get rid of it until it turns it water-soluble. So it kind of blends with the blood and with the other fluids in the body.

So to do this, it goes through two phases. In Phase 1, there is an enzyme system called the cytochrome p450 system. And don’t worry about the name, but I’m showing you that there are two steps because that’s important. After this step, there’s an intermediate metabolite. So a lot of people can do this side, but they can’t do the next. So now, if this intermediate starts building up, now we get a lot of reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals. And if they build up and you can’t get rid of them, if you can’t complete the second half, now you basically start rusting on the inside.

So Phase 2 is different. So we’re going fat-soluble to water-soluble. And halfway through, it’s sort of halfway water-soluble. But in Phase 2, they’re using something called conjugation pathways. And conjugation just means you add something to it, and now it’s water-soluble. Now, these fat-soluble toxins, they’re also known as non-polar. That means that the electrical charge is evenly spread throughout the molecule. That’s different than water because water is polar. And we have to make this polar in order for it to become water-soluble. So this enzyme system uses things like oxidation and reduction to modify these toxins.

And here is where the food comes in that we need B vitamins, we need something called glutathione, which I’ll come back to. We need amino acids, and there are certain plant compounds called flavonoids, and a very important thing called choline. Choline is an interesting nutrient. It’s a vitamin that was only discovered in 1998, which is classified as an essential nutrient. It helps maintain cell membranes in your body. So when you talk about that phospholipid cell membrane, this is a component of that.

It’s involved in DNA synthesis. It is part of the choline portion of acetylcholine, which is one of our dominant neurotransmitters for sending messages in your nervous system. But most importantly, for what we’re talking about today, it’s involved in fat metabolism. So if we have enough of that, we can help burn through that fat in the liver. And without it, then that fat is pretty much stuck in the liver.

Now, Phase 2 has some of the same nutrients, but also a lot of additional ones. And here, we’re talking about conjugation. This means that the body can’t modify these molecules anymore, they’re too dangerous, they’re too stubborn. So what the body does, it conjugates it, adds something to it. It’s like you take a guy and you hang a backpack on him, and now you’ve changed his balance a little bit and make it water-soluble.

We talked about glutathione previously, and this one comes back here. This is the number one antioxidant in the body. Antioxidants are very, very important in the body, but it doesn’t mean we should buy a bunch of pills. I’m not a fan of that, of taking antioxidants in pill form. The one you need is glutathione. It does occur in some foods, but you can’t really absorb it because your digestion breaks it down. So what you’re looking for are the components of glutathione, and these are three amino acids. So if you get enough of these amino acids that your body can make as much glutathione as you need, now glycine and glutamine are usually plentiful. The problem is cysteine because that’s a sulfur amino acid, and we don’t get so much of it. So that’s typically the bottleneck. It’s the one that’s in short supply that keeps us from making as much of this as we want.

The other amino acid we’re interested in is methionine. Now, this is also a sulfur-containing amino acid, and even though it’s not included in glutathione, methionine can become cysteine. So it indirectly fuels the production of glutathione as well. So when you hear people talking about sulfur-rich foods being healthy and reducing inflammation and healing people, this is why because these two amino acids contain sulfur and they’re components of glutathione.

Some of the processes the body uses in this conjugation is sulfation. It can hang on some sulfate, which again, it can get from these amino acids. It can hang on the glutathione. They can conjugate the whole glutathione. They can add on some methyl groups, called methylation. So there’s some nutrient supplement called trimethylglycine. Then if you take that, now you get three methyl groups, but you also get some glycine. And there’s some other nutrients like wheat germ oil, which is one of the richest sources of natural whole food vitamin E, which also supports this Phase 2.

And there’s some other nutrients. Milk thistle is a very popular liver support nutrient when people talk about detoxing the liver. Very often, they’re just talking about maybe drinking celery juice or wheatgrass or taking some herbs or something, and they can be beneficial, but the whole picture is so much bigger. And this is not a quick fix. Even if the liver regenerates every six weeks, we’re not replacing and getting rid of all the toxins all at the same time. It cycles of regeneration. So this is going to take many, many years, and we need to be consistent in doing a number of different things.

So first of all, you want to stop adding the burden. You want to stop putting in the things that created the problem. And that means stop alcohol, stop fructose. And don’t put more than you have to of these pesticides and glyphosate and the herbicides and the chemicals that they spray on your food. Then once you’ve done all that, now you have to give the body a fighting chance. You have to give the body a break. So just like you can force-feed a goose, you can give him a bunch of corn and he gets a fatty liver, we have to stop force-feeding carbohydrates. So low carb and intermittent fasting is the window, it’s the opening that allows the liver to start burning some of the fat in the liver instead of just putting more stuff in there.

And then when you’ve done all that, now you go to the more specific things. And this is support Phase 1 with B vitamins, with glutathione, with choline. And then you support Phase 2 with sulfur and methyl groups for conjugation. And things like milk thistle and wheat germ oil and so on.

So I’m sure after this video, people will ask, „What about such and such?“ So there are hundreds or thousands of different things that are beneficial, and the idea here is not to give you every single one of those. It’s to help you see the principles. Then you can go look for things that have sulfur, you can look for things that have choline.

So the first category of foods are things like beef, fish, poultry, and eggs. These are things people typically think of as heavy foods, full of fat, full of congesting things. But no, they’re full of the things your body has to have to support those Phase 1, Phase 2 processes. So they’re full of sulfur, choline, vitamin E, and vitamin B. Again, I’m not claiming that this is a complete list of important nutrients. They’re just examples of some of the foods that contain some of the most important things.

Next, we have nuts and seeds, peanuts, legumes. And again, they contain a good amount of all these different support nutrients. We have organ meats and roe, which is basically fish eggs. And I put these a little further down on the list, not because they’re not as good, they’re probably even better, but they’re not as readily available. People are typically, on average, not going to find or eat as much brain and kidney and liver and fish eggs as they would the other food. But they’re also excellent, excellent sources.

Then we get into the foods that are high in sulfur: garlic, onions, leeks, and scallions. They’re called allium plants. And they contain a lot of sulfur, especially per calorie. So you can eat a fair amount of these. They don’t have much of the others, but like we said, the sulfur groups people eat sulfur-rich foods can typically reverse a lot of disease. So it is a very important aspect to look for.

Next, we have an important group of plants: the cruciferous. The broccoli, the cauliflower, cabbage, and also leafy greens like kale and lettuce, arugula, etc. These are pretty high in sulfur and choline. They’re not as dense as the animal products, but you can eat a good amount of these, and you’re not going to load up on carbs. Plus, these also have a lot of fiber that will help keep bowels moving, fiber and water. And they also have a lot of different phyto factors, a lot of different plant factors that don’t fit into these categories that are very beneficial for the liver in terms of cleansing. So just in general, the plants are cleansing, but the animal products are rebuilding. That’s how you want to think about that.

Then we have some items that make it on every list for liver detox because they have other properties. They don’t contain any of the things we’re talking about, so they don’t support Phase 1 and Phase 2. But there are other chemicals, other things in there. So these are things like coffee, tea, beets, and basically any low-carb plant, any non-starchy plant can help you detox and help cleanse the liver.

And then I want to look at some supplements. And the first one is N-acetyl cysteine. So this is a very inexpensive form of this amino acid. It’s a sulfur-rich amino acid that supplies the body with glutathione-building materials. And this one is so powerful that it is the first line of defense in the emergency room when someone comes in with acute liver failure. So very, very inexpensive. It’s a great thing to take if you just want to make sure that you’re getting enough or if you feel like you want a little jumpstart on it.

Next one is choline. You can also get it from a supplement. These foods, the rich animal foods, have lots of choline, but if you want a little extra, it’s not a bad idea. They’re relatively inexpensive.

Wheat germ oil is a great source of natural vitamin E. It’s not like synthetic tocopherol that you buy. This is the real thing. It works at a whole different level than the supplements you buy.

And for B vitamins, nutritional yeast, again, not synthetic B vitamins, not isolated nutrients, but the whole food complex, the way that our body really needs it. Again, I’m not trying to be exhaustive. I’m not trying to cover every combination, but I want you to start thinking about what is actually going on, what does the liver need, and not just the traditional cleansing plants, but it is more of the dense nutrients that supply things to support these liver pathways.

An important thing to keep in mind is if the liver is successful in its process of conjugating and biotransforming these things, it’s going to dump it in two places, either the gallbladder or the blood. And via the gallbladder, it’s going to go to the bowel. From the blood, it’s going to go into the kidney. And then the bowel can eliminate it as feces, the kidney can filter it out as urine. But what if you buy into this idea of a low-fat diet? That you think, „Well, vegetables, green leafy things, is all I need.“ Again, they’re good, you want them, but what if you think that that’s the primary thing, that you want to go low-fat and just eat a bunch of plants?

Then this low-fat is not going to stimulate the gallbladder because it’s fat, especially saturated fat, that needs the bile to break down the fat. So if you eat a high-fat diet, you’re going to empty, you’re going to have this gallbladder empty out its content into the bowel. A low-fat diet is not going to do that enough. Plus, a low-fat diet is probably going to have a lot more carbohydrates that drive up blood sugar and insulin, which can create microvascular disease and ruin the kidney. So now the kidney can’t filter things out either.

So all I’m saying is you’ve got to keep the big picture in mind. It’s not as simple as just going vegan or carnivore or this or that. Just look at the big picture and understand what each component does and when one extreme might be a good idea if you enjoy the great one for you.

Thanks so much for watching. I’ll see you next time.