Liver Detox – is it right for you?
There are a bewildering array of detoxes/cleanses out there. Anyone totally confused? I would be!
Studies on cleanses are scarce and, according to a recent review, not very convincing. Despite the lack of evidence to back their effects, detox diets and commercial cleanses remain popular, partly because many anecdotal reports seem to support their effectiveness for weight loss and overall health.
The liver is a massive powerhouse. It produces thousands of essential chemicals and hormones and manages over 50,000 enzymes.
Our livers can withstand many assaults over the years but it can start under-functioning. So how do you know if your liver is under-functioning? Some symptoms include a headache from perfume or drinking alcohol, skin problems, mood swings, PMS, weight gain, nausea, dark circles under your eyes, fat intolerance and sugar cravings.
Your liver, as well as your digestive system and kidneys are designed to process and remove toxins but over time, some of you may struggle to detoxify due to exposure to toxic household cleaning chemicals, cosmetics and pesticides, as well as exposure to air and water pollution, toxic deposits in food and plastics or through the overuse of recreational and non-recreational drugs.
There are two phases of detoxification known as Phase I and Phase 2. Phase 1 involves many enzymes to break down substances/toxins and prepare them for Phase 2 to remove them from the body. Both phases need specific nutrients to work properly. See my list below of foods to eat for good liver health.
There are so many detoxes out there, I can’t mention them all. One popular one is a ‘juice diet’. The problem with this is that it eliminates most food groups. You need a wide variety of foods for the proper functioning of the organs of elimination. This ‘diet’ also reduces metabolism as the number of calories drop. When metabolism drops, all bodily functions decrease. As the metabolism drops, elimination slows down.
Foods for Liver Health
- Protein (amino acids)
- Apples (including the skin)
- Cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage, kale, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, bok choy
- Other veggies (antioxidants, glutathione)
- Eggs, wholegrains, broccoli, spinach (B vitamins)
- Garlic and onion (contain sulphur)
- Orange veggies, organic butter, eggs (Vitamin A)
- 1/2 a lemon squeezed in warm water
- Nuts, seeds, avocado, brown rice, green veggies (Vitamin E)
- Beetroot, carrots, tomatoes, walnuts, avocado (glutathione)
- Wholegrains, green leafy veg, legumes, nuts (magnesium)
My approach is to always work on gut health first and foremost. There is no point in doing a liver detox if your gut is in poor health. With some people who are very sick, a liver detox is not a good idea. They will become even more sick while the liver is detoxifying. After the gut, I look at the adrenals and hormones and rectify any imbalances.
The liver is usually treated last. Positive changes to the diet and/or supplements as given in my treatment plan will gently detoxify the body anyway and that is sufficient at the start of the treatment. Lifestyle changes are also important such as reducing stress and addressing any toxic chemicals used in cosmetics, household products and skincare.