Very simply put, a liver cleansing diet helps your liver clear out toxins that have been built up through time.
The accumulation of various toxins in your liver affects multiple important bodily systems including the endocrine, digestive, dermatologic and immune systems.
Regular liver cleansings, as well as overall changes in dietary habits all help improve the basic functioning of your liver which may have tremendous positive impact on your overall health.
In this article on natural liver cleansing you will get:
- A good, basic understanding of how the liver works!
- Why periodically cleansing your liver may be recommended.
- A list of symptoms of poor liver health.
- A list of the basic foods to include in your general everyday diet.
- Several examples of healthy liver diet recipes.
- Alternative liver cleansing methods such as a liver flush, coffee enema, Castor oil pack and a list of liver cleansing herbs.
- Potential side effects and precautions of natural liver cleansing.
The Importance of Your Liver
First of all, your liver
is a four-lobed glandular organ which is located in the right side of your abdomen.
Essentially you can view your liver as a filter. All substances must pass through the liver before entering the blood stream.
A healthy liver works in conjunction with the pancreas, gall bladder and intestines and plays an important role in the digestion, absorption and processing of food.
In fact, not only is the liver is biggest organ as well as the biggest gland in the body, it is also the only organ with the capacity to regenerate.
The important responsibilities of the liver include:
- Assisting the breakdown of lipids through bile production.
- Maintaining glucose levels; converts glucose into glycogen or energy.
- Producing amino acids essential to clotting.
- Producing urea, the main waste component of urine.
- Preventing harmful substances from entering the blood stream.
- Storing fat-soluble vitamins / minerals – A, D and B12.
- Making cholesterol.
- Regulating body temperature.
- Metabolizing medications.
So as you can imagine, your liver is one of the most hard-working, versatile and essential organs – you simply cannot survive without a liver (more on the functions of the liver here.
Cleansing the Liver – Why?
Your liver will often overloaded with exposure to extrinsic compounds from the environment and intrinsic substances put in your body.
A liver detox diet addresses the accumulation of toxins from:
- Artificial additives, preservatives and sweeteners
- Fast/Junk Foods
- Carcinogenic substances
A healthy liver diet reduces the tax placed on the liver. Cleansing the liver provides relief to the organ, while improving your health in a number of ways.
Here is a five minute video giving you 5 good reasons as to why you should clean your liver.
Symptoms of Poor Liver Health
The signs and symptoms of a liver in need of a liver detox may be numerous and very broad.
In other words, it may be difficult to make an exact connection between symptom and cause.
General conditions and symptoms of liver toxicity include:
- Indigestion – bloating, cramping, flatulence
- Diarrhea or Constipation
- Menstrual irregularities
- Headaches and/or Migraines
- Weight gain (with an inability to lose weight)
- Slow wound healing
- Gall bladder issues, gallstones
- Skin conditions
- Psychological problems – moodiness, depression (visit this depression site to learn more about what is depression)
- Unexplained pain
- High blood pressure
- Circulatory disorders
As toxins amass in your body and liver, you may experience the lethargy that generally occurs when your body is in need of a cleansing.
How to Optimally Prepare for Your Liver Detox Diet!
Keeping a Symptom Journal!
Therefore to learn as much as possible about the current state of your body, note down your symptoms a couple of weeks before starting the actual diet.
In other words, start a symptom-diary before the liver detox diet and continue keeping track of your symptoms during and after the detoxification process.
Make note of all symptoms, whether or not related to known diagnoses; if you try more than one liver cleansing diet, compare your pre/post responses.
Be Critical of Advice Regarding Your Health
Proactive steps to support your liver can involve periodic colon cleansing, liver cleansing and kidney cleansing or detoxification, lifestyle modification and taking various natural herb supplements (more about this later in this article).
A number of free liver cleanse diet recipes and advice are available on the Internet.
However, please do careful research about various supplements before purchasing; read all the ingredients, instructions and, if you have a chronic condition, ask a knowledgeable professional about possible medication interactions.
Also, be wary of:
- Fad diets
- Diets that limit your daily water intake
- Liver detox diets that encourages laxatives – which increase the possibility of dehydration and potentially harmful effects of the colon and heart.
The Basics of Caring for Your Liver
A diet for cleansing your liver clears your system of toxins; however, benefits last longer if you
make changes to your general environment and normal diet
Employing knowledge to avoid toxifying your liver reduces symptoms associated with the need for liver detoxification diets.
- Junk foods
- Refined carbohydrates
- Processed foods
- Liver-soluble vitamins
- Over-indulging on food and alcohol
To sustain the benefits a liver optimizing diet, consider incorporating:
- Cruciferous veggies: cabbage, broccoli, kale
- Dark, leafy greens. Green vegetables are wonderful sources of phyto-nutrients
- Vegetables: artichoke, burdock, onions, cauliflower, beets
- Fruits: mangos, grapefruit, lemons, papaya, pears and apples
- Complex carbohydrates: brown rice, oatmeal, rye, barley
- Proteins. There are many sources of protein e.g. dairy products, beans and soy, so you don’t have to limit yourself to meat sources.
- Legumes: lentils, garbanzo beans and kidney beans
- Spices: garlic, nutmeg, cinnamon
- Nuts and seeds
- Flax seed oil
Here is a video on recommended liver cleansing foods:
A Change in Your Diet, May Mean a Healthy Change in Your Lifestyle
Dietary changes can be a struggle at first, but eventually your body will crave a healthy liver diet.
Just remind yourself that all your effort will increase your overall state of health.
Also, consider making changes that will reduce your overall stress level. A diet may also contribute positively to reducing stress.
You see, green tea contains polyphenols that have been proven advantageous to a optimizing your liver function; in addition, tannins and antioxidants boost your immune system. So you can’t really go wrong there!
Also plain yogurt topped with fresh berries, seeds and/or nuts provides a tasty between-meal snack, while the probiotic cultures help your overall digestion and the filtering of toxins.
Incorporating physical exercise into your daily regime to increase overall energy, decrease stress and lose weight is also generally recommended.
If you’ve struggled with getting enough exercise in the past, the increased metabolism from a liver cleansing diet might be just what you need to kick off a new healthy and active lifestyle.
Liver Cleanse Recipe #1
How to Prepare and Begin Your First Healthy Diet
The following ingredients are considered an optimal method for starting a healthy liver diet.
- Epsom salts
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Fresh grapefruit, preferably pink (note: certain blood pressure and cholesterol medications interact with grapefruits)
- Lemons (alternative to grapefruit)
- Ornithine capsules (optional)
Eat a light diet the day before a this natural liver cleansing; ideal foods are cooked cereal, whole grain bread, preserves or honey, fruits or a baked potato and vegetables with salt.
These foods tend to build-up bile and, therefore, pressure in the liver. This “preparation” makes the diet more effective.
Try to choose a day, like Saturday, where you can rest the next day.
If cleared by your doctor, stop non-essential medications and supplements and then all food at 2 p.m. – note that eating food after you start the process of a liver cleansing diet could make you feel sick.
If you’re ready for a day-long commitment, follow these steps:
- Mix 3 tablespoons Epsom salt with 3 cups of water; divide into four ¾ cup portions, keeping aside two for 6 and 8 that evening. Chill or keep the mix at room temperature – whichever you prefer. Drinking the briny solution through a straw in the back of your mouth minimizes the taste; taking a small spoonful of maple syrup is another natural liver cleansing suggestion, sweetness combating saltiness.
- Mix ½ cup of olive oil with ¾ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit (or lemon) juice; shake well. Drink with 4-8 Ornithine capsules around 10 p.m.
- Using a pillow to elevate your head, lie down on your back for 20 minutes after drinking the olive oil/juice concoction. The liver cleanse diet is most effective if you lay down horizontally immediately after drinking.
- Go to sleep; drink third dose of Epsom salt mix upon waking around 6 a.m.
- Drink fourth and final dose at 8 a.m.
Wait at least two hours before resuming a light cleansing diet.
If you want to make the olive oil / juice more palatable and less nauseating, you can modify this liver cleanse recipe by adding peppermint oil and / or V8 juice.
Following this liver cleanse diet is an optional recommendation to use a liver flush or a liver and kidney cleansing along with a colon detox – before and/or after the liver cleansing diet.
The colon and kidneys are also involved in removing waste from the body, and they also benefit from this cleansing in the same way as the liver.
To make your diet more effective, especially in regards to removing gallstones, use a liver cleansing juice diet as a flush beforehand.
In the days after your diet, eat light, healthy foods and drink lots of water; as your body adjusts. Many experience an increase in appetite, well-being and energy.
Liver Cleanse Recipe #2
An Alternate Recipe
A similar liver cleanse diet requires:
- Lemons, 2
- Grapefruit, 1 large
- Distilled water, 200 ml
- Cold pressed flax oil or olive oil, 2 tablespoons
- Acidophilus, 1 teaspoon (alternate: probiotic capsule)
- Garlic, 1-2 cloves
- Ginger root, 2 inches
- Cayenne pepper, a dash
This natural liver cleansing recipe requires a blender to mix ingredients: squeeze juice from lemon and grapefruit, finely grate the ginger, use a press to add garlic and then add all other ingredients.
Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth enough to drink.
Avoid eating or drinking anything for two or three hours; keep your diet light for the rest of the day, eating salads, steamed vegetables and brown rice.
Depending on the results, and how well your body tolerates the recipe, you can repeat this cleansing diet every one-three months.
Liver Cleanse Recipes #3
This Liver Cleansing Juice Diet Requires a 3-Day Commitment.
Ingredients for day one:
- Cranberry juice, 8 oz (natural, no artificial sweeteners)
- Water, 56 oz
- Cinnamon, ½ tsp
- Ginger, ¼ tsp
- Nutmeg, ¼ tsp
- Orange juice, ¾ cup freshly squeezed
- Lemon juice, ¼ cup freshly squeezed
- Stevia (or other natural sweetener)
- Flax seed, ground (can store in freezer)
Bring water and cranberry juice to a light boil in a pot; tie cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg in a piece of cheesecloth or secure together in such a way that you can remove the “bag” after steeping for 15 minutes.
Add citrus juices after the mixture has cooled as natural sweetener.
How to go about the first day:
- At breakfast time, drink a glass of juice after stirring 2 tablespoons of flax seed.
- Drink an 8 oz. glass of water one hour later.
- Alternate between drinking juice (without flax seed) and drinking water for 12 hours
- Add flax seed to the last glass of juice, before bed.
Many people use this 3-day liver cleansing diet to begin a weight loss regime.
The spices in the drink target and break down fat cells, while lemon suppresses the appetite, which makes this liquid fast easier on the system.
For the next 2 days of this liver cleanse diet, introduce light meals:
- Breakfast: scrambled eggs, veggies and an orange; drink one glass of water with lemon (drink lemon-water throughout the day and with each meal)
- Snack 1: eat a cup of plain yogurt topped with fresh berries and/or nuts and seeds
- Lunch: salad made from dark greens; add beets and artichoke heart to the salad or on the side; also eat 6 oz of protein (derived from a lean meat or a vegetarian source)
- Snack 2: Have a soft, baked apple adorned with cinnamon and nutmeg
- Dinner: copious amounts of vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli and 6 oz. of protein, as described above.
This particular 3-day diet can provide quick weight loss; however, once you resume your regular diet, the weight will return quickly.
Slowly increase the amount of cleansing foods for liver health and exercise for successful weight loss.
Alternatively, you can limit your liver detox diet to raw veggies, salads and apple juice for three days; then vary Epsom salt and an olive oil mix, as described above, for one day.
Start the next day with one more glass of Epsom salt and eat light vegetables and fruits the rest of the day.
Take at least two days to rest from this more intense cleanse.
Although your body will appreciate a respite from toxic substances such as coffee, alcohol, cigarettes, artificial flavoring and other chemicals – ideally for one-week before the detox – long-term benefits of a liver cleansing diet requires a commitment to change your dietary and lifestyle habits.
General Healthy Liver Diet
As your body grows accustomed to the results of detoxification, slowly expand upon this base liver cleansing diet:
- Pre-Breakfast: Warm glass of water with the juice of ½ lemon and 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed
- Breakfast: Smoothie; combine a pear, rice milk and protein powder into the blender
- Morning Snack: Glass of diluted apple juice, water with lemon, vegetable broth, celery or carrot sticks dipped in hummus
- Lunch: Vegetable soup, made hearty with lots of veggies and fresh stock
- Afternoon Snack: Celery or carrot sticks and hummus, lemon-water
- Dinner: Lentil soup; large salad with a mix of healthy greens tossed with red peppers, sprouts and artichoke hearts; make a vinaigrette from extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice and garlic
- Pre-Bedtime: Drink a glass of water with 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
Before beginning this liver cleansing diet and substituting additional liver healthy foods, use a single or multi-day detox program.
Alternative Liver Cleanse Recipes
The following are effective adjuncts to any liver detoxification diet:
This is an alternative to the aforementioned flush. This liver flush requires orange, grapefruit and/or lemon; one clove of garlic, 1-tablespoon fresh Ginger juice and 1 tablespoon Olive Oil.
- Freshly squeeze citrus fruits until you have 1 cup
- Mash garlic clove
- Add together along with ginger and olive oil
- Mix well
Consume when the consistency is smooth enough to drink.
After flush tea
An after flush tea requires equal parts fennel, fenugreek, flax; ¼ part burdock and licorice; Peppermint.
- Fill a pot with 20 ounces of water
- Divide fennel, fenugreek and flax equally across an ounce
- Add ¼ ounce divided burdock and licorice
- Simmer for 10 minutes
- Add peppermint and let steep
- Filter into a cup to drink as part of a liver cleansing diet
Coffee Enema is a centuries-old means of natural liver cleansing.
- Dissolve 2 tablespoons coffee in 1 quart of boiling water for 5 minutes
- Add 1 tablespoon Molasses (unsulfured)
- Let it cool
Never use a hot enema as you risk seriously burning yourself.
Castor Oil Pack
Castor oil pack is an old-fashioned natural liver cleansing method:
- Douse white cotton cloth in cold-pressed castor oil.
- Apply to the upper right portion of the abdomen, where the liver resides, and cover with a layer of plastic.
- Place a towel and heating pad over the area, careful not to burn your skin; lay down on your back for approximately one hour. If the heat is intolerable, double up the towel or leave it on for a shorter length of time.
- Remove and wash the area.
Liver Cleansing Herbs
Herbs are a great adjunct to a liver detox diet, if used appropriately.
Although the herbs listed below are safe and effective, keep in mind that herbs can have un-wanted effects: misuse of dosage may be toxic and may interact with certain medications.
Again, always consult a healthcare professional to address all liver cleansing diet concerns.
Well-known liver cleansing herbs, listed alphabetically, include:
- Artichoke Extract: one of the oldest known herbs for a healthy liver diet. Artichoke increases bile productions, reduces LDL cholesterol, aids digestion and helps heal damage in the liver.
- Barberry: improves bile production, ease digestion. Essentially an anti-biotic with a history of healing liver damage.
- Bupleurum: a Chinese Traditional Medicine (CTM) herb for healthy liver functioning. Bupleurum spurs the enzyme production and boost the immune system.
- Dandelion root: increases bile production. Dandelion root has anti-inflammatory properties. It optimizes the functioning of the liver and gallbladder. Dandelion root is also rich in liver healthy nutrients such as Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Zinc.
- Eclipta: directly affects bile production. Eclipta can be used as a tonic to prevent and heal damage to the liver caused by toxins.
- Licorice: a staple of Eastern healers. Licorice has been used for natural liver cleansing and support.
- Milk Thistle: protects and enhances the liver’s ability to fight toxins caused by the intake of drugs, alcohol, heavy metals as well as exposure to pesticides and other common polluting agents.
- Rosemary: a liver cleansing herb known for its anti-carcinogenic properties. When Rosemary is used in a liver detoxification diet, it improves on the overall effects of the cleanse.
- Schisandra: a CTM characterized as an antioxidant. This herb assists in the rejuvenation property of the liver.
- Tumeric: a liver cleansing diet herb known to increase bile production and lower cholesterol; also used as an anti-inflammatory remedy.
- Yellow Dock: a bitter herb marked with stimulant properties. Yellow dock enhances appetite, digestion and bile production.
Additional herbs for liver health include ginger, sarsaparilla, parsley, nettle, peppermint, fennel and red clover.
Cleansing liver herbal teas and tonics can be made from combinations of these and other herbs.
In addition, you can purchase pre-made tea bags or steep from fresh herbs and start by mixing equal parts of each herb you want in your tonic.
Since all bodies and circumstances are different, it may take some trial and error to find the best combination.
A licensed herbalist may be able to suggest the best herbs and optimal herb combination for your own unique needs.
Potential Side-Effects of a Liver Cleansing Diet
A liver cleansing diet may offer multiple positive effects.
Nevertheless, adopting a healthy liver diet may actually make you feel worse at first, as your body rids itself of harmful toxins and begins to adjust to a new lifestyle.
In fact, a number of people – especially first-timers – experience unpleasant symptoms during the days after starting a liver cleansing diet such as:
- Increased fatigue
- Nausea and/or even vomiting
Some symptoms have simple explanations:
When preparing for a multi-day liver detox diet, the cessation of smoking and coffee can cause headaches.
The increase in fiber and fluid intake may cause stomach ailments, while fatigue can be a result of stopping sugar and caffeine in soda or coffee.
Remember: Your liver has been fighting to keep a variety of toxins from entering your bloodstream for quite a long time and all changes, even the positive ones from a liver cleansing diet, take time to get accustomed.
If symptoms persist more than a week, seem unusually severe or are quite bothersome, do not hesitate to call your doctor.
Precautions Associated with Cleansing Your Liver
Certain people should avoid using a liver cleanse diet, unless specifically recommended by a qualified medical professional.
Some of these people are:
In addition, if you suffer from a chronic illness, make sure you clear any major changes associated with a liver cleansing diet with your physician.
If you are currently sick with a cold, flu or stomach virus most proponents of using a diet for liver cleansing are recommend suspended until the infection passes.
If you are constipated, you might benefit from a colon cleanse before consuming cleansing foods for the liver. In addition, some people also prefer a colon cleanse after completing a liver detoxification diet.
Your colon and intestines might reabsorb some of the poisons released during the liver cleansing diet; a colon cleanse before and after ensures you take advantage of all the benefits of ridding your system of great amounts of toxins.
Before beginning a liver detoxification diet or using herbs for cleansing the liver, make sure to contact your health care professional.
Regardless of what a liver detox diet recommends, never stop prescribed medications without the knowledge or supervision of your physician.
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