In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the Liver and Gallbladder are paired together under the wood element and have many crucial functions within the body. One of the most important functions of the Liver is ensuring that qi and blood are able to flow freely through the vessels, whereas the Gallbladder produces bile which is essential for healthy digestion.
Imbalances in the Liver and Gallbladder can result in a wide variety of physical and emotional symptoms including the following:
• Chronic or acute pain
• Headaches or migraines
• Blurred vision
• Digestive issues
• Menstrual disorders in women
In our modern world, one of the most common reasons for Liver and Gallbladder problems is stress. Therefore, the best way to combat many of these issues is by learning to manage your time and tasks, combined with regular exercise and relaxation techniques such as meditation.
However, it is also possible to help or hinder your Liver and Gallbladder with your diet. Let’s take a look at some of the best foods for nourishing these two organs, along with what to avoid.
The Best Foods for Nourishing the Liver and Gallbladder
Since the Liver and Gallbladder are governed by the wood element, they are associated with the color green and the sour flavor. Therefore, many of the best foods for the Liver and Gallbladder possess one or other of these qualities.
• Leafy greens
• Goji berries
• Sour berries (raspberries, strawberries, currants etc.)
• Sour plums
Nuts and Seeds
• Flax seeds
• Pine nuts
• Sesame seeds
Beans and Pulses
• Adzuki beans
• Mung beans
Fish and Seafood
• White fish
• Fermented foods (kefir, sauerkraut, kombucha etc.)
• Green tea
• Chrysanthemum tea
Foods to Benefit the Circulation of Qi and Blood
Since the Liver is associated with the circulation of qi and blood, it also benefits from some spices which have a pungent flavor and, therefore, help to encourage movement within the body. These include the following:
• Fennel seeds
Foods to Avoid for a Healthy Liver and Gallbladder
Although some spicy food is good for the Liver, too much hot spice can cause it to overheat and cause further problems. Therefore, it is best to limit your intake of very spicy foods like chili peppers, hot sauce, jalapeños, and the like.
In addition to these spicy foods, you should avoid foods which are very rich and fatty as these can put an unnecessary strain on the Gallbladder. Other foods to avoid are those which are very warming or stimulating and can lead to excessive internal heat. Some good examples of foods to avoid include:
• Deep fried food
• Greasy food such as burgers and fries
• Processed foods
• Refined sugar
Making Healthy Switches for Your Liver and Gallbladder
Although it may seem like cutting down on the above foods could be quite limiting, it is possible to make some simple and healthy adjustments to your diet.
When you do this properly, you can still enjoy many of your favorite foods but without damaging your Liver and Gallbladder. In the long term, you may even find that you enjoy these healthier alternatives more than the original versions!
Some examples of simple, nutritious switches include:
• Enjoying alcohol in moderation and not drinking too much in one go
• Replacing one or two cups of black tea/coffee each day with green tea or herbal infusions
• Grilling, baking, or broiling food instead of frying
• Preparing your own homecooked meals or buying ready-made meals with as few ingredients as possible listed on the package
• Not buying foods with long, unpronounceable ingredient names that you do not understand
• Replacing refined sugar with naturally sweet honey or maple syrup
These switches may take some time to get used to, but with a little persistence it can be done. And if you can manage to keep them up in the long term, your Liver and Gallbladder will definitely thank you!