Liver is a workhorse. It’s your body’s primary filtration system—it converts toxins into waste products, cleanses your blood, metabolizes nutrients and medications, and produces proteins. And while a healthy liver naturally cleanses itself, it might not necessarily be functioning optimally if it’s constantly faced with dietary and environmental toxins.
More than ever before, our bodies are bombarded with stressors, from pollution to chemicals in skin care products to preservatives in the foods we eat. These can deplete nutrient stores, cause a buildup of dangerous substances in the body, like heavy metals or molds, and lead to chronic inflammation—all of which can make us tired and sick and give our livers a whole lot more work to do.
So, helping this vital organ only seems fair—whether you call it a liver “cleanse” or “detox” or whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Even though we can’t necessarily control our exposure to all pollutants and chemicals, we can make strategic dietary and lifestyle shifts that counter their effects by aiding the liver’s detoxification pathways and lightening our overall toxic load. The truth is it’s a multifaceted approach, but you certainly don’t have to buy into expensive cleanses or extreme detox diets.
Signs you might need a liver cleanse or detox.
Think back to the time in your life when you felt the healthiest. How does your current state compare? If you feel significantly less vital, then it could be a sign that your liver needs some support or that your diet and lifestyle need a general overhaul. Here are some signs your liver needs a little support:
- You crave sugar often.
- You’re always tired or “foggy.”
- You’re frequently constipated.
- You have seasonal allergies.
- You eat healthy but don’t feel healthy.
- Your skin isn’t clear.
- Your skin is itchy.
- You have joint pain.
- You’re overweight.
- You’re sensitive to chemicals, smells, or medications.
- You have bad body odor.
- You’re stressed or anxious.
- You’re resistant to weight loss.
- You have frequent mood swings.
- You have bad breath.
- You experience frequent gas and bloating.
5 ways to cleanse your liver naturally.
If you’ve been wondering how to detox or cleanse your liver without compromising your health, then read on. Just keep in mind, these strategies aren’t about detoxing or cleansing the liver itself per se; they’re about supporting the liver so it can perform optimally.
1. Adopt a liver- and gut-friendly diet.
What you need is a balanced, healthy diet that promotes weight loss (or weight maintenance, if you’re already at a healthy weight) and contains nutrients that promote liver and gut health. In fact, losing just 3 to 6% of your body weight could reduce liver fat levels by 35 to 40%, according to one recent study, which would take a huge burden off your body’s main detoxifying organ.
A good first step: Ditch the processed foods and drink more water. Skip most processed foods, caffeine, and alcohol, and focus on whole, including vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts, seeds, sustainably raised meats, fish, eggs, and minimally processed oils, such as olive or coconut oil.
Almonds – Great sources of vitamin E, a potent antioxidant that research suggests can counter the oxidative stress associated with fatty liver disease.
Artichoke – Artichoke contains phenolic derivatives that have been used for centuries to stimulate bile flow and protect the liver.
Berries (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries ) – they have potent antioxidant properties that have been shown to scavenge free radicals and promote normal inflammatory processes.
Beets – help promote normal inflammatory processes and support cellular repair in the liver thanks to their potent antioxidant properties.
Broccoli sprouts – Cruciferous veggies contain sulfur-containing phytochemicals called glucosinolates, which are protective against chronic conditions and help the body remove toxins.
Citrus fruits – Lemons, tangerines, and oranges contain a compound called D-limonene, which has been shown to help slow oxidative damage caused to the liver as a result of a high-fat diet.
Dandelion root and greens – both the root and leaf helped rid the body of reactive oxygen species that cause oxidative stress.
Fermented foods – contain beneficial probiotic bacteria that promote healthy digestion and integrity of the gut lining, thereby helping keep toxins out of the bloodstream.
Glutathione-boosting foods – Glutathione is an antioxidant concentrated in the liver that helps bind toxins and escort them out of the body via urine or bile.
Green tea – In addition to promoting healthy inflammation levels in the body, the phytochemicals in green tea help trigger both phase-one and phase-two liver detoxification.
Leafy greens – Dark leafy greens such as dandelion greens, arugula, spinach, and kale contain plant chlorophylls, which help remove chemicals, pesticides, and heavy metals from the bloodstream.
Lentils – Get plenty of fiber-rich foods that bind up toxins in the gut and help promote regularity.
Salmon – get more omega-3 fatty acids in your diet, and the health of your liver is one of them.
2.Try a form of intermittent fasting.
A nutrient-rich diet is key. But once you’ve mastered that, you might want to consider intermittent fasting for additional liver detox support. Research suggests that during periods of fasting, cells in the liver produce more of a protein associated with improved sugar metabolism and reduced levels of liver fat. Periods without food give our body (and liver) a chance to repair and clean itself out since it doesn’t have to focus on or funnel energy to our digestive system.
3.Use liver-supporting supplements strategically.
The most well-known herbal supplement for liver health is milk thistle, also called silymarin, which is an extract of the seeds of the flowering milk thistle plant. It has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, and research shows that it helps stimulate the regeneration of liver cells and protect them from injury induced by substances like alcohol and acetaminophen. It’s also been shown to boost glutathione levels.
Algae, specifically chlorella, is a powerful chelator, which means it can bind to and remove heavy metals and other toxins that might otherwise tax your liver. It contains several nutrients with antioxidant properties. Consider adding a scoop of chlorella powder to your morning smoothie for a detoxifying boost.
4.Schedule a daily sweat session.
Sweating helps take some of the detoxification burden off of your liver. Ridding the body of the toxins is done through two major pathways. The first is by improving liver function, and the second is through sweating. “The skin is our major detoxification organ, and sweating is the best way to get the toxins out of our body,” she says. Additionally, exercise boosts your body’s glutathione production, which aids in detoxification.
5.Practice self-care on the regular.
Too much stress in your life can negatively affect your liver, with one research review finding that stress seems to exacerbate liver disease. Unchecked stress is also detrimental to your health in a number of other ways, contributing to digestive issues and autoimmune diseases. So it’s in your best interest to adopt healthy habits that promote calm in your life.