Turmeric to Support the Liver

Completing our list on Foods to Naturally Cleanse the Liver, by Jonathan Benson




Turmeric, one of the most powerful foods for maintaining a healthy liver, has been shown to actively protect the liver against toxic damage, and even regenerate damaged liver cells. Turmeric also boosts the natural production of bile, shrinks engorged hepatic ducts, and improves overall function of the gallbladder, another body-purifying organ.



It is the yellow/orange pigment of turmeric that seems to be of benefit nutritionally. This pigment is called Curcumin and in a number of studies it has been found to have anti-inflammatory effects that are comparable to drugs, but without producing any toxicity.



Curcumin was featured on the ‘Food Hospital’ television programme a couple of weeks ago, where the potential for using it as a treatment for intestinal cancer was being researched.  It seems that there may be several ways in which curcumin may be helpful for cancer. Its antioxidant actions may protect the colon cells from free radical damage, while it may also help the body to actually destroy cancer cells, not least through enhancing liver function, thus preventing a spread through the body. For more information and references visit The Worlds Healthiest Foods



Turmeric is also reported to have cholesterol-lowering effects.  Research reveals that curcumin acts as a messaging molecule that communicates with genes in liver cells, directing them to increase the production of messenger proteins that direct the creation of receptors for LDL cholesterol. With more LDL-receptors, liver cells are able to clear more LDL-cholesterol from the body. (Peschel D, Koerting R, et al. J Nutr Biochem)



With Turmeric being a source of iron and manganese and  vitamin B6, this is a helpful spice to  regularly include in the diet. Nutritionhelp clients can use this spice freely as it is not a ‘hot spice’ that may interfere with gut ecology. Many mums have found that adding turmeric when cooking whole grain rice, disguises the fact that it is not pure white, and so helps the family in transitioning to a whole food way of eating. Turmeric has a strong, pungent taste, so a little goes a long way.


Try adding a pinch to oil and lemon juice for a colourful salad dressing. Add a pinch to natural yoghurt, together with a 1/4 tsp of onion powder for a dip for vegetable crudités. A quick, simple and cheap meal using turmeric is lentil dhal. The recipe below is suitable for most Nutritionhelp clients, but if you want to share it with others you can always serve finely chopped chilli on the side, for them to sprinkle over the meal as desired.



Lentil Dhal


Heat a tablespoon of coconut oil in a saucepan and add 1 bunch of finely chopped spring onions – including the green part. Fry until beginning to soften. Reduce the heat and add 1 tsp of finely chopped fresh ginger root, 1 tsp of finely chopped garlic, and 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric.Stir for a minute, allowing the spices to begin to cook through. Add 1/2 mug of washed lentils and 1 1/4 mugs of water. Stir together, bring to the boil and then reduce heat for about 20 minutes until lentils are cooked thoroughly. Add a little ‘Lo-Salt’ if necessary and garnish with fresh coriander leaves. Serve with whole grain rice, cooked with 1/2 tsp turmeric, and steamed vegetables.