How to liver detox? Liver detoxes are a popularly marketed diet tactic in the health and fitness world.
Dr. Oz devotes 5-minutes of air time to the topic
The supplement aisle has an entire shelf dedicated to “liver aid” supplements
Celery juice is the “panacea” for how to liver detox everything
If everyone is talking about “how to liver detox,” there’s obviously something to it, right? Let’s break it down.
Liver Fundamentals 101
Your liver is your body’s natural garbage disposal or “cleansing” system.
The liver is responsible for detoxing toxins and chemicals that wreak havoc on your health.
Your liver is also responsible for helping your body with the process of digestion. It sifts through your daily food intake to ensure you only get the essential nutrients out of your broccoli or salmon—without the unwanted pesticides or mercury that may have snuck in.
It may be small, but the liver is mighty.
Throughout your lifetime, your liver is constantly on the “alert” to keep as many “bad” guys out of your body as possible—performing a natural liver cleanse on a daily basis.
However, if your liver encounters too many toxins, chemicals or stress, then it becomes weakened. Consequently you may experience some of the side effects of a “congested liver” that needs a liver detox.
Why You May Need to Detox Your Liver
Regardless if you have a full blown fatty liver disease or not, it’s no secret that we encounter a lot of stress in our modern lives.
As a result, most people can benefit from a liver detox.
Every day Americans are exposed to thousands of unseen chemicals and toxins. In fact, of the more than 80,000 chemicals (1) currently used in the U.S.—nearly 90% of all chemicals— have NOT been adequately tested for their safety or effects on human health. To put this in context, Europe has banned over 1300 chemicals, but the U.S. has only banned about 30.
Some of these chemicals include:
- Pesticides sprayed on your broccoli and GMO apples
- Hydrogenated vegetable oils (canola oil, grapeseed oil, restaurant food)
- Synthetic chemicals lurking in your mattress
- Air pollution
- EMF technology pollution
- Heavy metals (braces, fillings, hygiene products, foods)
- Artificial sweeteners and food additives
- Talc in face powder
- Coal tar in eyeshadow
- Parabens in shampoo
- Triclosan in soaps and toothpaste
- “Fragrance” in household sprays
- Titanium in sunscreen
- Hormones and processed foods fed to the grilled chicken on your dinner plate
Beyond hidden chemicals, environmental exposures, including bio-toxins (like mold), air pollution, radiation and electromagnetic fields are also of concern.
Although there are many perks about living in modern times—from indoor heating and air, to broccoli from California readily available at our local Whole Foods, and rose-blossom scented body wash—these perks come with their share of repercussions. The world we live in today is a stark difference from the environment in which humans were meant to evolve and to thrive.
We live indoors, in homes full of chemicals, trapped air, and off-gas chemicals from paints, upholstery and furniture. We wash ourselves with chemical infused cleansers—many contaminated with additional toxic chemicals not listed on the labels. We drink water that contains metals and contaminants like lead, fluoride and chromium, not meant to hydrate us. We eat foods sprayed with pesticides or chemicals synthesized in a factory to taste like food. The story goes on.
One research study (2) of newborn babies actually found upwards of 287 chemicals in the umbilical cords of the babies at birth—180 of those chemicals known to cause cancer in humans or animals, 217 known to be toxic to the brain and nervous system, and 208 known to cause birth defects or abnormal development in animal tests.
Another study (3) evaluating urine glyphosate levels in adults found that human exposure to glyphosate, a chemical widely found in weed killers, increased approximately 500 percent since the introduction of genetically modified crops—over a 23 year span. Findings sparked an uproar—particularly in the agriculture and food industry and further demand for more research (4) on the long term side effects of glyphosate herbs (“Roundup”) which is currently the most used weed killer for produce in the U.S.
No, we cannot live in a bubble, but it is important to be aware of the environment in which we live, since we do have the ability to at least offset some of these contaminants with simple lifestyle choices.
Common Signs You May Need a Liver Cleanse
Check all that apply.
Do you experience…
- Extensive history or ongoing use of medications (SSRI’s, Statins, PPI’s, etc.), NSAIDs &/or antibiotics
- Stomach upset with fatty acids and fatty foods (even healthy fats)
- Consumption of sugar (high fructose corn syrup) or artificial sweeteners
- Exposure to moldy, dingy environments
- Regular intake of non-organic fruits, vegetables and meats
- Sick when you drink green smoothies
- Excess estrogen and hormone imbalances
- Frequent consumption of moldy, toxic coffee (especially instant coffee)
- Blood sugar imbalances and energy dips (despite sleep)
- Pain in right side of rib cage, or pain between shoulder blades
- Light or clay colored stools
- Greasy or shiny stools
- Nausea easily
- Headaches, especially over eyes
- Sea sickness or motion sickness easily
- Gallbladder attacks or “issues”
- Chemical sensitivity (to perfumes, wine, etc.)
- History of alcohol abuse
- Frequent use of non-organic cleaning supplies and beauty products (fact: the average woman puts 120 chemicals on her body before she leaves the house in the morning)
- Consume tap water or plastic bottled water regularly
- Unexplained cellulite or increased abdominal fat
- Suppressed immune function (easily sick, cold)
- Unexplained fatigue
- Fluid retention/edema
- Cravings for sugar or salty foods
- Overheat easily, excessive sweating
- Weight resistance
- Acne & skin breakouts
- White or yellow-coated tongue or bad breath
- Difficulty concentrating or memory impairment
- Joint pain/stiffness
- Metallic taste
- Tearing of eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Sinus Congestion
- Light sensitivity
There are many contributing factors that may warrant some liver love. If you identified approximately 8-10 signs or more, it’s likely you’ve encountered the burden of modern lifestyle on your liver.
The Bottom Line: Your liver (and gut bacteria) take a hit (big time) from many modifiable environmental exposures.
Ture, your gut and liver are very strong organs and systems—designed to filter out wastes—but (just like any other muscle, organ or system in your body), they can only take so much stress. (After all if you were to run 24-hours per day, 7 days per week, don’t you think you’d need a break too?). While we can’t avoid all the chemicals we’re exposed to on a daily basis, we can certainly choose safer options more often to reduce our overall toxic burden and lovingly support our detox pathways.
Enter: A smart detox, or “liver detox.”
Warning: The Problem with Most Liver Detoxes
Contrary to popular belief, a “liver detox” goes beyond drinking celery juice or bone broth for seven days straight, doing coffee enemas or shedding five pounds.
A common problem many people run into when “going on a cleanse” or a liver detox is they instantly jump into “detoxing” the their body with supplements, pills and green juices before their liver and digestive system are actually ABLE or ready to rid of those toxins in the first place.
It’s like skipping middle school and high-school and going straight to college, where you’re expected to take notes, study, write papers and engage in classroom discussion BEFORE you’ve allowed your elementary school brain to develop and realize “working hard” means more than memorizing spelling words and multiplication tables.
Your brain is simply not ready to do it. Same thing with your body.
Many popularized detox efforts to “love your liver” with green juice and special liver supplements backfire because your “detox” pathways are not working correctly or they are clogged up.
Your body has several built-in detoxification systems to help you clear toxins, wastes and unnecessary foods and supplements on a regular basis, including:
- Gastrointestinal System
- Gut Microbiome (bacteria and short-chain fatty acids)
- Colon (elimination through poo)
- Urinary (kidneys, bladder, urethra)
- Respiratory (lungs, throat, sinuses, nose)
- Lymphatic (channels and lymph nodes)
- Skin (sweat glands and tears)
If your body is unable to filter out these wastes then all the toxins you do release will just stay inside your body—leaving you more inflamed or back at square one in the long run.
How to Liver Detox: 5 Strategies
A liver detox is not just about taking liver detox supplements, sugar or meat-meat-are diets, and celery juicing, but actually ensuring those toxins and pathogens actually exit the body as well as don’t re-enter. This very fact alone is often overlooked by both practitioners and patients when commencing a “gut healing” program or “liver cleanse” program, which is why cleanses often “don’t work” in the long term, or why a person may feel “worse” when starting a “gut healing” protocol.
Instead, “getting back to the basics” is essential prior to any detoxification antimicrobial protocol.
Before signing up for the next juice fast, doing another coffee enema or buying a “liver detox” formula with 5-star reviews on Amazon, try these 5 unconventional liver detox strategies instead.
Strategy #1: Cleanse Your Lymphatic System
Hydrate with Clean Water
Drink half your bodyweight in ounces of clean, filtered water. Well-hydrated tissue help moves out waste material. Consider investing in a stainless steel or glass water bottle and home counter top filter (like Berkey) or under-the-sink filtration system.
Eat Hydrating Foods Too.
Think: Fresh veggies and fruits. A big chunk of your body’s hydration needs should come from water-dense fresh fruits and vegetables. . This fluid, along with sipping water throughout the day, helps keep your lymphatic “pipes” lubricated and draining properly.
Move it 4-6 days.
Incorporate 30-60 minutes of movement most days of the week (4-6) to encourage lymph flow and circulation. In addition, try rebounding—jumping on a trampoline or jumping up and down for 10 minutes per day—it is reported to increase lymph flow by 15 to 30 times.
Sweat Most Days
In addition to movement, heat is also encouraged for lymph detoxification. Try a heated yoga class, infrared sauna, hot-cold showers or therapy, breaking a sweat, outside play in the spring/summer.
Reset Your Circadian Rhythm.
Your body’s natural cleansing rhythms happen on a biological clock. According to Chinese Medicine, your body has a natural time of day when one system is working the hardest. Reset your circadian rhythms by trying to align your schedule with your body’s rhythm’s including:
- Wake-Up: 5-7 am
- Breakfast: 7-9 am
- Mentally Taxing Tasks (Creative Flow): 9-11 am
- Lunch: 11 am-1 pm
- Detail Oriented Tasks: 1-3 pm (planning, emails, logistics)
- Small Snack: 3-5 pm (something with sea salt; avoid sugar)
- Dinner: 6-8 pm
- Evening Wind Down: 8-11 pm (focus on self-care)
- Bed: 10-11 pm
The body detoxifies most while we sleep. Aim for 7-9 hours per night in a completely blacked out, cool room (68 degrees or below). Try a sleep mask if room is not completely dark.
Dry brushing is an age-old process of brushing skin with a natural brush to stimulate lymph flow, improve circulation, and exfoliate skin for better detox. Dry brush one to two times daily. Always brush toward the center of the body. Starting at the feet, brush the bottoms of your feet and up your legs in long, smooth strokes, then move on to other parts of the body—brush each section of skin 10 times. For lymph flow, in particular, brush toward the heart/chest area where the lymph system drains.
Try Acupuncture or an Acupressure Mat.
Acupuncture is a Chinese Medicine modality that can help get the liver and lymphatic syne “unstuck” with its emphasis on strengthening the immune system, and promoting proper circulation of energy in the body. Acupressure involves firmly pressing or lying on specific points on the body to stimulate innate self-healing abilities contained in the human body.
Deep Breathing Practice.
Lie on your back, breathe in through your right nostril for 10 seconds; and out through the left nostril for 10 seconds. Repeat for 5-6 cycles. Not only do muscle contractions initiated by deep breathing help move lymphatic fluid, the mindfulness practices that go along with deep breathing are some of the best ways to manage stress.
Decompresses the joints of the body and stimulates the lymphatic and circulatory system. This brings blood and oxygen to the tissues, which helps to clear the muscles of toxic build-up. Lie on your back with your feet up the wall to encourage blood flow.
Sleep in Loose Clothing & Avoid Tight Bras.
At night, between 10pm and 2am is when the body naturally goes through a major detoxification process, so make sure you’re allowing the lymphatic fluid the most freedom to move. Avoid tight-fitting clothes and bras— especially under the arms or groin area where you have lymph nodes—which can impede normal lymphatic flow.
Beware of How Food Best Digests.
Consider the basic essentials of best food combining practices:
- Eat fruit alone or with simple, easy-to-digest foods (smoothies, light salads, yogurt).
- Pair protein with non-starchy vegetables.
- Pair starches with healthy fats and vegetables.
- Leafy Greens and non-starchy vegetables Go with everything.
- Drink water away from meals.
- Spices, herbs and citrus are neutral.
- Minimalist meals digest best.
Strategy #2: Let Food Be Thy (Liver Detox) Medicine
Buy the Organic Essentials
If you can’t always buy organic, at least stick to these essentials: organic proteins (grass-fed meats, pastured eggs, grass-fed dairy, organic and pastured poultry and wild-caught fish) and the “Dirty
Dozen” (fruits and veggies).
The Dirty Dozen is a list of the top 12 fruits and vegetables that tend to have the highest levels of pesticides.
- Sweet Bell Peppers/Hot Peppers
Add Lemon to Your Water
Lemons increases liver enzymes that help to detoxify the liver. Start the day off with 12-16 oz. warm lemon water + sea salt. Put a washed and diced, organic whole lemon in your water the night before, peel and all. The peels of many fruits are healthier than the fruit inside. This is because the fruit tree will produce defensive mechanisms (like Nobiletin) that will help protect its seeds, as well as inhibit toxins.
Try Apple Cider Vinegar Shots with meals to aid in digestion and de-bloating. (1-2 tbsp in water), as well as digestive enzymes, and of course chewing your food (really well).
Add 1-2 Fermented Foods & Prebiotic Fibers with Meals/Day.
Detoxification requires a healthy gut microbiome environment, and both probiotic and prebiotic fibers promote the production of “post biotics” (short chain fatty acids”) that help make the liver’s job much easier by keeping toxins and inflammation at bay in the body. Add a condiment sized serving of fermented foods with at least 1-2 meals per day. Best bets: Coconut water kefir, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, yogurt, kvass, kombucha.
Drink Liver Loving (Celery) Juice on an Empty Stomach:
Celery juice is not the “panacea” to all liver woes, but it can be a gentle way to infuse your bod with some extra chlorophyll. Celery juice is rich in chlorophyll!—a compound super oxygenating to the body (especially the liver and gallbladder). Chlorophyll enables oxygen to be taken up efficiently by the red blood cells. Without sufficient oxygen, our bodies become sluggish. For best digestive “feels,” drink celery juice-8-12 oz. (before eating anything).
Coffee (instant) is the most cross-contaminated food with gluten; coffee beans are also commonly known to contain mold if not a quality source, not to mention the circadian disruption and cortisol disruption caffeine can trigger in the body. Given the fact that cortisol is also cleared and brought into balance via the liver, and coffee and caffeine is also processed in the liver, a break from coffee could give your liver a natural “lift” without extremes. Consider a 30-90 day break from your Cup of Joe in replace of more liver-friendly Other alternative include: Cacao, Teecino, Green tea, Herbal tea (ginger, dandelion, echinacea).
Add in These Liver Loving Foods
In addition to celery, here are some other great liver cleaning foods:
- Beets & Carrots
- Bone Broth
- Dandelion Root & Licorice Root Tea
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Pre-biotic Foods ((kefir, sauerkraut, fermented veggies, grass-fed yogurt)
- Probiotic Foods (green-tipped plantains and bananas, cooked and cooled potatoes and squashes, onion, leek, artichokes, asparagus)
- Liquid Chlorophyll
- Coconut Oil, MCT Oil, Coconut Butter
- Pineapple, Grapefruit & Apples
- Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts)
- Lemon & Apple Cider Vinegar
- Herbs: Milk Thistle, Dandelion, Holy Basil
- Organ Meats
Use Glass & Stainless Steel Tupperware Food Storage Containers
BPA and BPS in plastics can leech into food as well as our ingestion. All plastics have “estrogenic” activities.
Reheat Food on the Stove or Oven
Food is best re-heated by the method which it was prepared (such as reheating burgers on the stove top, or veggies in the oven). If you do use the microwave, use it for the shortest amount of time as possible, and remove all plastics and disposable containers form the food.
Strategy #3: Beauty & Hygiene Hacks
Have High Standards
- Opt for products with as few of ingredients as possible and look for “Paraben & Sulfate Free” and the “USDA National Organic Program (NOP).” This certification is the only true organic standard for skin care products. It is the original program for certifying food as organic as well.
- Avoid anything with the word “fragrance” in it
- Aluminum-free deodorant
- Choose fluoride and trisclosan-free toothpaste.
- Look for pure food and natural ingredients (apple cider vinegar, tallow, essential oils, coconut oil, almond oil, extra virgin olive oil, honey, beeswax, avocado oil, butter/shea butter)
Baking soda, sea salt, essential oils, raw honey, yogurt, jojoba oil, apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, olive oil, tallow and body butters will get you far for everything from face masks, to shampoos, toothpastes and more.
DIY Pedicure (Sort Of)
Love getting your nails done? Take you own chemical-free nail polish to the salon if pedicures are your thing! Non-toxic brands are popping up more and more.
Make Your Hair Color Last
Hair dye contains one of the most toxic ingredient, PPD (para-phenylenediamine), rated seven out of ten in terms of toxicity on ewg.org—including many so-called “organic” and “natural” formulas.“ If you can’t go without, consider this your 80/20 balance, and pick and choose your battles wisely. Try to go longer between hair appointments if your can—every 4-6 months, and use nourishing, hair protectant (toxin-free) shampoos and conditioners to maximize your color, hair oils (such as jojoba) and even herbal teas as your hair care routine between sessions.
Keep it Simple.
When in doubt, use good ol’ regular soap and water to cleanse your face.
Do Your Research.
Use the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Data Base & the ThinkDirty App to determine the BEST natural products on shelves.
Gradually replace cosmetics with non-toxic cosmetics as you run out.
Strategy #4: Detox Your Home & Environment
“Non-Toxic” or “Green” on Cleaning Products Does NOT Mean Anything
These are highly unregulated and many contain toxic chemicals. Use the Environmental Working Group’s “Healthy Living App” to scan and research the top products you can buy.
Homemade is the Best
White vinegar, baking soda and essential oils will go far. Research “natural” cleaning methods for practically every type of product you use and you are sure to come up with tons of other options.
Throw out the aluminum, plastics and non-eco-friendly pans, in replacement of Ceramic skillets, a few quality cast iron skillets, glass baking dishes and stainless steel baking sheets Use bamboo cooking utensils and bamboo cutting boards. Toss plastic bowls and plates in favor of ceramic, glass and stainless steel.
Diffuse your air with essential oils instead of using air fresheners and consider getting an air purifier or sanitizer to keep air clean of allergens, dust and molds. Also replace your air filters every 3 months with a HEPA filter—capable of removing ultrafine particles such as mold, dust, pet dander, volatile organic compounds, and viruses from the air.
Minimize Mold Toxins in the House.
There are multiple ways to limit mold exposure in the house, including:
- Fix plumbing leaks ASAP and clean/repair roof leaks and gutter problems regularly.
- Opt for tile instead of carpet, especially in the bathroom.
- Get a humidity meter and aim to keep humidity inside between 30-50%. Venting bathrooms, dryers, air conditioners, de-humidifiers and fans can help reduce dampness.
Strategy #5: Detox Technology
Keep Your Phone & Devices Out of the Bedroom
If you sleep with your phone turned on, keep it out of the bedroom, outside your door. (All the more reason to wake up to your alarms when it goes off). OR, put your cellphone in the same place, but just turn it off and get a simple mechanical alarm clock instead.
Create Space When You Can
The intensity of electromagnetic energy decreases with space from the source. In the case of laptop computers for example, a distance of just one foot has been shown to decrease EMF strength by about 80%. Therefore, if possible, keep your laptop or tablet elevated with the screen at least this distance from the body when using it.
Don’t Keep Your Cell Phone & Devices. Attached to You
Keep your phone away from your body (out of your pockets, etc.). Use speakerphone in lieu of Bluetooth.
Radiation flowing from devices, like your laptop, increases near 100 fold when plugged in versus operating on battery power. Simply unplug while working on your computer as much as you can!
Turn Wi-Fi Off
When you’re not using it at night, turn WiFi off and swipe your phone into airplane more for better sleep
Exactly what it sounds like—grounding or making direct contact with the earth. This puts you in direct contact with electrons found on the surface of the earth and can result in a significant reduction in voltage in the body.
Just like intermittent fasting is popular, why not a tech fast? One day a week—or several hours during the day—take a break and unplug. Get outside. Connect with friends or family. Get creative. Read. Move your body. Take a break!
The Bottom Line
Liver detoxing goes far beyond drinking Clean juice alone.
And we are just getting start. Should you desire a customized approach to liver detox, don’t hesitate to reach out for detox strategies built for you.
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