You’ve all heard the promises of common detox diets out there today. “Shed 5 pounds in a day” or “Cleanse your body with this juice!” are some of the most common ones seen and heard of in our culture. Clearly, people want to lose weight or want to cleanse their bodies of who knows what. That’s no news, but the truth is, keeping your liver free of toxins as much as possible will lend you some health favors.
Your liver is your go-to guy (or gal) for keeping you well. It actually performs over 400 functions in your body!! It sifts through every single thing that comes into your body and uses what it can and gets rid of what it can’t, so it’s important to keep things coming in that your body can use, rather than things it has to filter out because it recognizes them as harmful invaders.
When your liver is overwhelmed with burden to constant remove instead of use, you might experience:
- Weight gain
- Irregular digestion
- Pain in your right side
- Skin discoloration
No fun, right? Optimizing your diet with fresh, plant-based foods is a great place to start to keep your liver clean and healthy, but other than that, some other important things can help keep your liver free from toxic overload.
Here are five realistic (non-diet) ways to detox your liver, whether you’re coming into a healthy lifestyle the very first time or you just need a regular tune-up pre-holiday party season:
1. Kick the Booze
Listen, no matter what those health claims around red wine may say, all booze is bad news for your little liver. It doesn’t like any of it, even the kind that’s packed with more antioxidants than the rest. Sorry, merlot! Alcohol is a toxin in any form and your liver will use a large amount of energy trying to get rid of the alcohol so it can purify your blood. During this process, it can use up a good bit of metabolic energy, which often leads to weight gain, sluggishness, fatigue, and yes, sleepiness. Plus, not all beer and wines are vegan anyway, so why not just avoid all the bad stuff in one step?
2. Flush It With H20 (and Add Some Lemon!)
Your liver likes to be clean (much like you do!) and what’s better than keeping it clean with fresh, alkalizing water? Water contains natural minerals when it comes from a healthy source (not from chlorinated tap waters), so use spring or well water when you can, or check with your city’s water to see if it’s environmentally safe (some areas are better than others). Also, use a water filtration system that removes the carbon and chlorine particles when possible. Add a squeeze of lemon to your water to add even more alkalizing and cleansing properties. Lemon and all citrus fruits contain Vitamin C and minerals that boost bodily functions and enhance the cleansing process, sweeping out wastes. Flushing your liver is like giving your body a good pre-wash so your blood stays at optimal pH levels. Aim for as many glasses a day as you can or drink caffeine-free herbal tea as a second option.
3. Eat The Best Foods Possible
You needn’t count your calories to care for your liver but you do need to eat high-quality foods. This means eating organic, fresh foods whenever possible such as leafy greens packed with magnesium, chlorophyll, Vitamins A and C, along with fresh vegetables and fresh fruits when possible. Buying organic is important, but is especially important for your liver since pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides toxify the liver and can even cause cancer. If you can’t afford everything organic, buy what’s on sale and do what you can. It really is worth your effort! These foods provide pure nutrients for your liver to cleanse and rebuild the blood to provide you with more energy and a healthy body. Organic fruits and vegetables also contain higher amounts of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and sulfur, which all boost liver detoxification and cleansing. Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, collards, apples, onions, garlic, and squash are all great choices. For tips on how to include these ingredients as part of your regular diet, I recommend checking out the Food Monster App, a food app available for both Android and iPhone where you can sort plant-based recipes by ingredient, meal type, and more. Also see: 10 Foods to Cleanse and Care for Your Liver.
4. Eat the Right Fats
Your liver is responsible for producing bile that breaks down fats, so one area of your diet you want to be sure you don’t forget about is the type of fats you eat. Eating healthy fats like almonds, coconut, walnuts, hemp, chia, and flax, along with pumpkin and sunflower seeds, olives, and avocado are all the best sources of fat for your diet. Avoid animal fats that lead to artery-clogging inflammation and avoid vegetable oils (like corn and soy) at all costs.
5. Choose Smart Supplements
It’s also important to choose your supplements selectively. Don’t just swallow a pill that promises good health. High-quality B vitamins (choose a plant-based brand) and selenium are important since they help metabolize substances in the body that help keep your liver healthy. Herbs such as milk thistle and artichoke leaf also help cleanse the liver. You can purchase a whole foods, plant-based multivitamin, B supplement, or buy a specialized liver support formula. While not 100 percent necessary, certain B vitamins and herbs like those mentioned here have been found to support the liver outside a healthy diet.
Your liver has two stages of detoxification, known as Phase 1 and Phase 2. All five of these tips will aid in both steps of detoxification without you feeling sick and like someone stole the life out of you in the process. There’s no need to go on crazy cleanses. Take care of your body with a whole foods, no junk, and booze-free vegan diet, and be sure you exercise and get some fresh sunlight whenever you can.
Oh, and though it goes without saying, cut the smoking and the late nights out with no sleep too- your liver’s not a huge fan, we promise!