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What is a Liver Cleanse and Why You Shouldn't Do It

February 19, 2019

A healthy liver is vital to your overall health. It is the largest organ in your body. It filters toxins from your body. But if you think detoxing the liver is good for you, you should first ask yourself: “What is a liver cleanse?”

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 these functions combine to provide you 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 gall bladder) of deposits, toxins and stones.

They often come in powder or pill form, while others are pre-made drinks. They typically contain a blend of ingredients, including:

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 like coffee enemas—there is no credible evidence to support claims that coffee enemas help your body “detoxify” compounds, or help the liver function more effectively.

So, now that we’ve answered the question: “What is a liver cleanse?, let’s look at how eating the right foods will help naturally cleanse your liver.

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, so 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 tea 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% of your body's weight. If you’re not drinking enough water, your 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 like:

  • Don’t drink alcohol in excess—If you’re a man, limit yourself 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).
  • 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 and alcoholism. If you have any of these risk factors, t’s important to get screened because chronic liver disease can be silent for years and go unrecognized.

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. You can do that by doing things to keep your liver healthy, including:

  • Avoiding frequent overconsumption of food and alcohol
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and exercise regimen
  • Getting screened if you have liver disease risk factors

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.

Know Your Numbers