Finding an effective liver detox diet is a big priority for many people these days. Modern lifestyles and diets have led to many of us doing damage to our livers on a regular basis. Anyone who engages in heavy drinking sessions each weekend knows the toll it can take on the body after a while.
Cleansing the liver is an important part of restoring balance to the body’s natural functions. The liver is the organ which cleanses the body of toxins, but when you fill your body with too many toxins the liver becomes overloaded and can’t function properly, which can lead to all kinds of illnesses.
Before we get into the details of liver detox diets, let’s first go through the process of how the liver works, how it gets ‘blocked’ and then how various herbs and foods can help restore balance.
This in-depth look will help give you a more detailed understanding of how your body works – and ultimately more knowledge about your own nutrition and health will allow you to live a longer, happier life.
Liver Detox Diet Tips: How the Liver Works
Many people rush into starting a liver detox diet without ever really understanding what the liver does or why a liver detoxification diet is even important.
There’s little point in trying to fix a problem you don’t understand – it may turn out that the problems you’re suffering from have nothing to do with your liver in the first place, and you’re wasting your time. So let’s discuss what the liver actually does for you and how it works.
The Function of the Liver: Your Liver Is Like a Swimming Pool Filter
Without a working filter, a pool quickly becomes filthy, stagnant, and a breeding ground for all kinds of insects and bacteria. Likewise, if your body’s filter gets clogged up, it isn’t able to do a good job of removing toxins from your body. As a result, the build-up of toxins grows and grows putting you more at risk of various health problems.
The Liver Helps Keep Your Blood Clean
The fluid being filtered, in your body’s case, is your blood. So you could say your liver’s biggest job is to keep your blood ‘clean.’
Most people think of the liver in relation to drugs like alcohol. Of course, this isn’t the only kind of toxin your liver filters out. Even if you don’t take drugs or drink alcohol, your body produces waste and toxins as a result of normal metabolic processes – in other words, turning food into energy and then using that energy creates waste by-products which need to be filtered out.
Other Important Functions of Your Liver
The liver also plays a role in helping your body store, metabolize and digest nutrients.
In particular the liver is important for digesting fats, as it’s the organ which produces bile. Without bile, your body has a hard time breaking down fats, which can obviously lead to weight-related health problems.
Regulating and Balancing Hormones
The liver also has an important role to play in regulating and balancing hormones, and a lack of balance in this regard can lead to a variety of problems including severe acne.
This is not even a complete list of the liver’s functions, but you can see already that this organ is not nearly as unimportant as many people seem to think.
When the liver isn’t functioning properly, any one of these many processes in which it plays a role can become unbalanced and result in disease.
Let’s now look at the kinds of foods and behaviors that can push the liver out of balance to begin with.
Liver Detox Diet Tips: What’s Bad for Your Liver
Either too Much of a Certain Type of Food or too Little
The reason alcohol and drugs are so often associated with liver damage is because heavy drug users tend to put a lot more strain on their liver than it can handle at any given time. But there are other factors that can cause similar strains. One of these is poor diet.
All diet problems can be broken into two categories: problems resulting from too much of a certain food type, and problems resulting from not enough of a certain food type. Both of these kinds of mistakes can contribute to more toxins in the blood than the liver is able to handle.
Even an excess of some vitamins, such as vitamin A, can cause liver problems. This is why doctors tend to keep an eye on the liver function of acne sufferers who have been prescribed drugs like Retin-A, which are essentially a potent form of vitamin A.
Likewise, if you’re on a vitamin A heavy medication or you’re taking vitamin A supplements, you may be putting strain on your liver if you’re exceeding the recommended daily dose.
Liver Detox Diet Tips: When the Liver Doesn’t Function Properly
Because of the wide variety of functions the liver is involved in, there are many diseases and many symptoms that can result from poor liver function.
The main areas of health that indicate a possible liver problem include immune system deficiencies, problems with digestion, and problems with blood sugar levels.
Since these are all obviously wide categories, let’s look at some of the most prevalent liver diseases.
Cirrhosis – a Serious Liver Disease Which Occurs after Repeated Liver Damage
Consistent damage to the liver leads to the liver being unable to heal itself properly, with dead cells instead being replaced by scar tissue.
The scar tissue does not function as a normal liver cell and can’t perform any of the liver’s important functions.
Cirrhosis is a disease which involves advanced scarring of the liver. It’s often the result of alcohol or drug abuse.
Once damage to your liver reaches a certain level there’s a risk of permanent scarring – in other words, the liver can repair itself after a small amount of damage, but there is a limit to this self-repair. There is a point of no return.
If you are suffering from liver problems because of drug abuse, just adopting a liver detox diet for a week and then carrying on with your normal patterns of use will not be enough. You have to make a real commitment to cut down or quit altogether.
Fatty Liver Disease – This Is a Broad Name for a Problem Which Can Have a Range of Causes
Basically fatty liver disease is a condition where the liver becomes ‘blocked up’ by lipids (fats).
Fatty liver disease can eventually lead to cirrhosis if left untreated, but caught in time, a good liver diet and the right course of medical treatment can reverse the process and restore the liver to its normal healthy condition.
It can be caused by both poor diet habits and abuse of drugs, particularly alcohol.
Hepatitis – This Disease Is Essentially Liver Inflammation
Hepatitis can be the forerunner to a lot of other health problems if left unchecked, such as jaundice.
It’s worth noting that most cases of hepatitis are viral, and in these cases a liver detox diet can only be of limited used in fixing the problem.
However, alcohol use can also be the cause of hepatitis and in this case the restriction of alcohol consumption along with a proper diet can be highly effective. Common symptoms include pains in the abdomen, loss of appetite, and aching muscles.
These are the some of the main clinical liver problems associated with poor diet and drug and alcohol use. In addition to these serious problems, poor liver function can contribute to depression, chronic loss of concentration, the development of type 2 diabetes, and increases in cholesterol levels (which can in turn lead to heart disease).
Note that there are many liver problems which are hereditary – in other words, they are caused by your genetics more than your behavior and diet.
If you suffer from such a diseases, while a liver cleanse may help reduce your symptoms it won’t be enough to cure your problem. You should not view a liver detox diet as a solution in this case.
An Important Warning About Liver Detox Diets
As you can see from the explanations above, liver problems can be extremely serious to the point where some liver diseases are life threatening.
It’s important that if you think you may be suffering from such a condition, you seek help from a medical professional first rather than relying on a liver detox diet to ‘cure’ you.
A change in diet may have little to no effect if you’re suffering from a serious liver disease and you’ll only end up putting yourself more at risk by delaying seeking professional help.
If in doubt, your doctor should always be your first port of call.
Your Guide to Adopting a Liver Detox Diet
With some diets, easing onto them slowly and phasing out your old diet can be an effective way to make sure your don’t lose track of your goals.
That’s not how you want to approach a liver detox diet!
You want to look at this as being like a crash course!
You’re going to clear out all the bad foods and habit and replace them with good ones for a short, intensive period of time – no exceptions, no cheating.
Liver Detox Diet Foods
Now the part you’ve been waiting for: what you can and can’t eat on your liver detox diet.
I might as well warn you now: this might require a lot of self-discipline. Just remember you’ll only be on this diet temporarily to give yourself a good cleanse (although if you’ve been drinking excessive amounts of alcohol, you must get that under control in order to avoid doing permanent damage to your liver).
A liver detox diet should focus on fruit and vegetables.
In particular, you want to start eating a whole lot of green vegetables – both leafy vegetables like lettuce and the cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cauliflower (if it looks like a solid little shrub, it’s probably cruciferous).
Lemon Juice Has Become a Popular Choice in Recent Years for Detoxifying the Liver.
There’s little scientific evidence to back up this idea, and you’re much better off simply including lemon juice as part of a more balanced diet with plenty of vegetables to aid digestion.
A mug of hot water with some lemon juice squeezed into it each morning should be enough to have a positive impact.
Garlic Is Another Food Which Has Liver Cleansing Properties.
As with lemon juice, though, there’s no point in over-doing this one – your liver won’t gain any amazing benefits from chowing down on a meal of half a dozen raw garlic bulbs (not to mention the effect it could have on your breath! 😉
Just including garlic as part of your dinner or in a salad here and there is enough to give your body the benefits of this cleansing vegetable.
Grapefruit, Apples and Avocados Can also Be Added to Your List.
Raw, untreated walnuts are good for your liver, as are almonds and sesame seeds.
“Well, that gives me plenty of fruit and vegetables to choose from… but what about meat? What about cheese and milk and eggs?”
While it’s not necessary to cut out these foods altogether, it’s important to understand how they can affect liver function.
Liver Detox Diet Tips: A Liver Cleansing Diet
The above are food recommendations to include in your diet permanently to maintain a healthy liver. But if you want a quick cleanse, you’ll need something a little more potent.
A liver detox diet can help purge your body of toxins from things like the pesticides that are commonly sprayed on most vegetables these days (if you want to avoid these kinds of toxins, start eating organic foods).
Liver cleanses have also been shown to be effective for people suffering from gall stones (the gall bladder is the organ used to store bile produced in the liver).
There are quite a few products on the market that combine various supplements together to give you a quick liver cleanse. Some of these are useful – many are not.
In any case, they should be used in conjunction with lots of ‘clean’ liver foods like the ones described above in order to be effective. You can’t simply take a dose of a supplement and then carry on drinking and eating bad foods, expecting your liver to be fine – it doesn’t work like that.
Many People Have Had Success with Apple Juice in Their Liver Cleasing Diet
One liver detoxthat some people have reported as effective involves apple juice. What, apple juice?
Yes, apples contain malic acid, which helps move clogged up bile in the liver and gall bladder and restore normal liver function as a result.
Once again this is not a recommended option for someone suffering from a real severe liver-related condition like diabetes, as it can throw your blood sugar way out of balance.
The Apple Juice Cleanse – Guidelines
On the first day you’re required to drink two glasses of pure organic apple juice every two hours over a 12 hour period. You’re not allowed to eat anything during this cleanse for the first two days.
On the second day, once again you’ll drink two glasses of apple juice every two hours a you did on the first day, but on day two you’ll also have an extra half-cup of apple juice mixed with a half-cup of extra virgin olive oil just before you go to sleep.
When you wake up on day three you’ll drink a liter of water with the juice from a single lemon squeezed into it. About an hour after this you can start eating again, sticking to the kinds of foods described above under the liver friendly foods section.
Of course, you may have guessed by this point but I’ll go ahead and say it anyway: You should cut out all alcohol, smoking and other drugs use for the duration of your liver detox diet.
Alcohol in particular tends to be the biggest culprit for liver damage. If you’re used to drinking daily or more than 3 times a week this may be a battle, but make the commitment to get through a week without a drink.
If this is a problem for you, it might be time to seek professional help with getting your consumption under control, since a detox diet will be no use to you if you keep slipping back into the same pattern of substance abuse.
Natural Liver Detox Tips
When it comes to liver detoxification, sticking to natural ingredients is important. Any product which claims to detoxify your liver but which is packed with unnatural chemical ingredients is almost certain to make your problems worse, not better.
Beware of the ‘snake oil salesman’ variety of products in the natural medicine industry and stick to detoxes based on your diet: whole foods and a few scientifically proven, reliable supplements.
Milk Thistle Liver Detox
Many traditional medicines are held up as being effective in treating liver problems, but milk thistle has actually been through the test of time and the rigors of scientific testing. It’s been so effective that it’s often prescribed by doctors, on its own or as an ingredient of a more complex treatment.
Without getting too technical on the chemistry of how milk thistle works to help the liver, the simplest way to think of it is to imagine milk thistle as a kind of ‘shield.’ It helps block toxins from entering the liver, allowing the liver more time to deal with the load of toxins it’s currently trying to filter.
However, that’s not the full extent of milk thistle’s effects. Studies have found that not only does it help defend that liver against further damage, it actually helps speed up the liver’s natural ability to regenerate.
Green Tea for Liver Detox
But it’s important to keep a realistic perspective on what green tea can and can’t do – it’s not as much of a super food as many self-proclaimed ‘health gurus’ like to say it is.
It’s true that drinking large amounts of green tea (upwards of 10 cups per day) has been shown to correlate to a lower risk of liver disease in general.
It’s also believed that green tea can protect against liver damage from alcohol consumption, but of course that doesn’t mean you can binge on alcohol all weekend as long as you binge on green tea on weekdays.
Green tea is one weapon in your liver detox arsenal, but on its own it’s not enough to completely prevent liver damage if you have diet or drinking habits that are doing serious damage.
How Long Does a Liver Detox Take?
Liver cleanse diets like the apple juice cleanse described above only need to take a few days (3 days, in the case of the cleanse described here).
But in order to ensure your liver stays healthy in the long term, you need to adopt a permanent liver-friendly diet which includes plenty of the foods listed under the Liver Detox Diet Foods section above.
What Would You Like to Read Now After This Article on Liver Detox Diet?
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Your Guide to a Powerful Liver Cleanse Diet: Choose the Right Kinds of Fiber, Protein, Vegetables, Fruits and Fats in Your Healthy Liver Diet
The Effective Liver Diet: Step by Step Guidelines to a Natural Liver Detox Diet
The Research-Based Liver Flush Guide: Beyond the Myths of Radical Detox Methods
The Wonder of the Milk Thistle Liver Supplement for a Natural Liver Detox
Where is Your Liver Located, What is the Function of the Liver, and Other Liver Information
Symptoms of Liver Problems – How to Know if You Need a Natural Liver Detox
Taking a Liver Function Test – Catching Symptoms of Liver Problems Early On
Fatty Liver Diet Supplements, Herbs and Foods along with Insights into the Causes of Fatty Liver
Fatty Liver Disease in Depth: Typical Signs and Symptoms, Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Causes and Dietary & Medicine Treatments
Fatty Liver Causes: Alcoholic (AFLD) and Nonalcoholic (NAFLD) In-Depth
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