A healthy liver is vital to your overall health, so what is a liver cleanse? It is the largest organ in your body, and it helps filters out all the toxins. But if you’re thinking of going on a cleanse to detox your liver, you may want to think again.
What is a Liver Cleanse?
You may consider a liver cleanse after drinking a little too much, or because you think you’re going to boost your metabolism or lose weight. Your liver is your body’s primary filtration system. Its job includes:
- Converting toxins into waste products
- Cleansing your blood
- Metabolizing nutrients and medications
All of these functions combine to provide your body with some of its most important proteins.
There are many “liver cleanse” products on the market claiming to detoxify, flush, and purge your liver (and oftentimes your gallbladder) of deposits, toxins, and stones. They often come in powder or pill form, but some also come as a drinkable liquid. They typically contain a blend of ingredients, including vitamins, amino acid, and electrolytes.
Some liver cleanse “protocols” even tell you to follow a healthy, organic diet AND drink their organic herbal mixture. But aren’t you supposed to be following a healthy diet anyway?
The key point to remember is there are no studies proving liver cleanses correct existing liver damage, nor is there evidence to recommend the routine use of liver cleanse products for prevention or weight loss. The same can be said for alternative medicine treatments such as coffee enemas. There is no credible evidence to support claims that coffee enemas help your body to “detoxify” compounds or help the liver function more effectively.
So, now that we’ve defined “liver cleanse,” let’s look at how eating the right foods will help you cleanse your liver naturally.
A Healthy Diet is a Liver Cleanse
Chronic liver diseases rank as the 12th cause of death worldwide. Many of these disorders are associated with unhealthy lifestyles, and adopting a healthier lifestyle can help prevent or reverse liver disease.
A good place to start is by cutting back on the amount of sugar and highly processed foods in your diet. If you can add fresh fruits and vegetables to your plate (packed with the vitamins and minerals you’re supposedly getting in a liver cleanse) it will enhance your body’s ability to do its own sustainable self-cleaning.
Eating colorful plants rich in phytonutrients will also go a long way to strengthening your immune system and cleaning out unwanted compounds.
Cleansing Diets Include Lots of Liquids
Studies show the more water, broths, coffee and herbal teas you drink, the better your kidneys flush toxins from your system.
Water alone can do wonders for your overall health and keep your body working efficiently. Water makes up about 60 percent of your body's weight. If you’re not drinking enough water, you risk dehydration. You’ll also deplete electrolytes critical to cell function and energy, such as sodium and potassium.
Other Tips for Optimal Liver Health
In addition to eating a healthy diet, you can protect your liver in other ways.
- Don’t drink alcohol in excess— Men should limit themselves to no more than three drinks per day. Women should not exceed two drinks per day.
- Avoid weight gain— Maintain your body mass index in the normal range (18 to 25). Calculate your BMI here.
- Avoid using illicit drugs or having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- Know your risk factors— Risk factors include obesity, a family history of liver disease or alcoholism. If you have any of these risk factors, it's important to go for screening because chronic liver disease can go unrecognized for years.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to keep your liver healthy is to treat it well. You don’t need to do periodic liver detoxification.
Your body can defend itself well against most environmental insults and the effects of occasional indulgence.
If you do have liver damage, work with your physician to come up with the healthiest and safest plan for your personal needs. Another way to take control of your health is by knowing your numbers. Download our guide for comprehensive information about blood sugar, cholesterol, blood pressure and body weight.