Using a liver cleansing diet to help detox your body sounds like a good idea, but what exactly does the process require and how does it work?
To understand this, you first need to know that the liver is the body’s detoxification machine. On a day-to-day basis, the liver is in charge of storing glucose, controlling the production of cholesterol, and metabolizing proteins. The liver also helps remove bacteria from the bloodstream and eliminates waste products and toxins from the body.
How Toxins Affect You
Toxins are chemicals the body cannot process and/or use, such as alcohol and drugs, pollution, medications, sugar, and additives or colorings added to food and drinks. Unfortunately, the modern diet is full of these toxins and this can overtax the liver. The result? Even the healthiest of livers will become sluggish if overburdened.
Liver cleansing diets are meant to help the liver by flushing out the excess of toxins from the body. By clearing out your body of the accumulated toxins, you might notice an improvement in your energy levels. You might also be able to get rid of regular headaches, nausea and other symptoms that might come and go without an apparent cause, according to WebMD.
What the Liver Cleansing Diet Is All About
There are actually several variations of the liver cleansing diet. Each one has slightly different recommendations regarding what to eat, what to avoid, and for how long.
Most liver cleansing diets share a few common characteristics, however. For example all begin with a fasting period, which can last anywhere from one day to four or more. During this period, you are only allowed to drink healthy liquids, including water, fruit or vegetable juices, and decaffeinated teas.
Some versions of the diet put special importance on drinking lemon juice, while others recommend adding Epsom salts to water to improve the digestive process. Sometimes light salads are allowed during the fasting period.
After the fasting period is over, the next phase introduces some solid foods such as fruits and vegetables. This phase is also flexible, with some diets recommending an additional week while others suggesting just a few days.
During the entire liver cleansing period, you should avoid foods that tax the liver, including processed and sugary foods, white flour, fatty red meats, alcohol, full-fat dairy products, and processed meats.
Anything that contains artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and MSG should also be avoided. Drinks like coffee and caffeinated teas should be kept to a minimum.
During the entire process, you’re also expected to drink herbal teas that support liver function, such as dandelion root or milk thistle.
Milk thistle in particular has been used for centuries as a liver cleansing and tonic. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, milk thistle has anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidant properties that can help protect the liver from toxins, improve liver function, and even help the liver repair itself.
Once you are finished with the liver cleansing period, reintroduce your normal foods slowly. If possible, reduce your overall consumption of the foods that originally created the overtaxing of your liver. A well-balanced diet will keep your liver healthier and younger.
WebMD: Natural Liver Detox Diets (Liver Cleansing)
Hepatitis B Foundation: Your Liver and Its Functions