Liver Detox Cleanse: Fact or Fiction? + Natural Liver Health Tips
6 minute read
Liver cleanses are the most recent trend in protecting your liver and promoting optimal function. As the organ responsible for cleansing your body of toxins, it seems likely that it too would need cleansing.
However, do liver cleanses actually work? Past examples of trendy remedies have proven to be ineffectual at best and even harmful in some cases. Here are the myths to avoid and what you should know.
Liver Cleanses: Fact and Fiction
The numerous cleanses on the market all claim to remove the toxins that the liver works to remove from your blood. While this may seem logical, it isn’t entirely logical.
Basically, there are toxins everywhere. Because of that, our bodies have developed ways to efficiently process and remove them. Our built-in defense mechanisms are designed to protect us, and we interfere with this by trying to cleanse ourselves.
This is not to say that you cannot take care of your liver. There are plenty of things you can do to promote liver health and protect yourself from the disease.
However, understanding the truths and myths about liver health and in particular liver cleanses is a great place to start. Then you can make the necessary lifestyle and diet changes to best care for your liver.
Cleanse Myth #1
Many of the liver cleanse plans and liver health supplements on the market have not been tested and are not regulated by the FDA. This means there is no proof that they are as effective and beneficial as they claim to be. Without clinical support, it is best to avoid these cleanses because they could be doing more harm than good.
Despite these cleanse programs in general being non-beneficial, there are ingredients in some of them that are known to help boost liver health.
Milk thistle is one such ingredient that has been clinically proven to support liver health by reducing inflammation and oxidative damage.
Rather than risk problems with an unproven cleanse, try milk thistle-containing supplements instead. This way you get the benefits of a known liver supporter.
Cleanse Myth #2
Liver cleanses also claim to help you lose weight, but there is no evidence as yet to support this. In truth, many of these cleanse slow your metabolic rate, which will in turn slow any rate of weight loss.
People on cleanses claim to lose weight but what they are losing is fluids. Sadly, once their regular diet resumes, this weight comes right back. To lose fat, you must burn fat.
What can help you lose weight is to focus instead on calorie intake, calorie use, and the quality of your diet. Check with your doctor to find out your recommended calorie intake per day and stick to it.
You also need to make sure you exercise to use those calories. You cannot lose weight with just diet alone, at least not in a healthy way. It is also important to get calories from nutritious foods rather than the empty calories you find in snacks and processed foods.
Eating for a Healthier Liver
More effective than any cleanse is eating the right foods. There are a number of foods known to support liver health. By supporting your liver with the nutrients it needs, it can cleanse itself just fine.
Despite the bad reputation coffee gets, it is actually a great resource for liver health. Regularly drinking 3 cups of coffee a day reduces our risk of cirrhosis and liver damage. By reducing the build up of fat and collagen, coffee can protect your liver.
All berries are full of antioxidants, making them ideal for combating oxidative damage and inflammation. Consuming berries regularly has been found to slow the development of lesions on the liver and prevent fatty buildup.
In addition to this, berries promote immune cell responses that protect your liver along with other organs.
Grapefruit contains powerful antioxidants that work to protect your liver tissues from free radicals. In combination with a reduction in inflammation, grapefruit extracts can help reduce fibrosis, which is the excessive buildup of connective tissue on your liver.
Fish like tuna, herring, and salmon are full of beneficial omega-3 fatty acids. More commonly known to boost heart health, omega-3s are just as good for your liver. As strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agents, omega-3s help protect your liver as it works to detoxify your body.
Broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts contain important compounds that protect your liver by way of increasing production of detoxification enzymes. Supporting the natural work of your liver means there will be less stress and less inflammation to your liver.
| Related: 3 Important Liver Health Nutrients You Need |
Combined with a reduction of oxidative damage, these vegetables can help promote liver function and prevent disease.
Start cooking with olive oil and protect your liver. Studies found that using olive oil daily promotes liver enzyme activity and reduces fat levels in the body.
With less fat available to accumulate on the liver and support for daily function, your liver can work at more optimal levels as a result of using olive oil instead of other unhealthy oils.
The Bottom Line
Liver cleanses, at least on the surface, seem logical and beneficial, but your organ is actually very well equipped to care for itself. It works with toxins all day so is capable of cleansing itself and regenerating cells should they get damaged.
The liver can get overworked, though, and poor lifestyle choices can lead to serious damage. Follow a liver-healthy diet, avoid supposed cleanses, and take care of your liver as nature intended. This is the best way to keep your liver healthy and happy.