A liver cleanse may involve picking or getting rid of specific foods. The liver represents the primary filtration system of the body. It metabolizes nutrients, convert toxins, cleanses the blood, and many more. It is beneficial if you could master liver cleanse.
Liver Cleanse 101
Liver cleanses are a popularly marketed diet tactic in the health and fitness world.
- Dr. Oz devotes 5-minutes of air time to help you “love your liver.”
- Whole Foods Market sells detoxifying beet juice and wheatgrass by the shot.
- The supplement aisle has an entire shelf dedicated to “liver cleanse” supplements
- Your favorite Instagram yogi is really into “juicing”
So should YOU go on a liver cleanse? And if so, how do you do it?
Here’s all you need to know.
What is Your Liver?
The liver is your body’s largest internal organ. It’s responsible for more than 500 different functions in the body. One of these functions is detoxification and neutralizing toxins. In fact, your liver is your body’s natural garbage disposal or “cleansing” system.
Rids of the toxins and chemicals that wreak havoc on your health in your food, cleaning products, makeup, toothpaste, medications and more.
Helps 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 or other toxins
However, if your liver encounters TOO many toxins, chemicals or stress, then it becomes stressed and weak.
The result? A “dysfunctional liver.”
What is an Unhealthy Liver?
An unhealthy liver is an organ that unable to detox foods and toxins like it should. It becomes overworked, inflamed, sluggish and sometimes enlarged.
Consequently, unpleasant side effects may happen including:
- Poor digestion
- Bacterial or yeast overgrowth
- Blood sugar imbalances
- Unwanted weight gain
- Brain fog
- Low energy levels
- Hormone imbalances
- A “slow” metabolism
- A weak immune system (allergies, frequent colds)
- Skin breakouts
- Brittle hairs and nails
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Thyroid problems
Why You May Need to Detox Your Liver
1 in 4 Americans will contract “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”—malfunction of their body’s number one detox organ due to toxic burden and a host of lifestyle factors that force the liver to work harder than nature intended.
Culprits of liver function may include:
- High fructose corn syrup consumption
- Industrial seed oils and restaurant food
- Toxic beauty and cleaning chemicals
- Pesticides in our food
- Long-term medication use
- Sedentary lifestyles
Certainly your liver IS a STRONG organ, designed to filter out these wastes, BUT (just like anything else), it can only take so much stress and work.
(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?)
Signs You Need a Liver Detox
Common signs you may need a liver cleanse, include:
- 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
- History of alcohol abuse
- Nausea easily
- Headaches, especially over eyes
- Sea sickness or motion sickness easily
- Gallbladder attacks or “issues”
- Chemical sensitivity (to perfumes, wine, etc.)
- 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
If you identified approximately 6-8 signs or more, a liver cleanse may be calling your name. Even if you only associate with a few, this liver cleanse is nothing more than a NATURAL boost for your body and digestive health—without the negative side effects many other detoxes and cleanses don’t advertise.
What to Do About It?!
Knowing that the liver is a detoxifying organ, you may believe that doing a mainstream “liver cleanse” (like a juice fast, or Grapefruit Diet) could help your body heal faster or boost your metabolism so you can lose weight faster. (After all, that’s what all those “liver cleanses” on the market claim they can do).
However, you’re likely wasting your money and could be doing your body more harm than good if you jump head first in to a traditional liver detox, without taking the proper steps first to ensure success in this Blueprint plan.
Contrary to popular belief, a “liver cleanse” goes beyond drinking green juice or bone broth for 7 days straight and shedding 5 pounds.
Don’t Make This Mistake
A common problem many people run into when “going on a cleanse” or detox is they instantly jump into aggressively “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 that “working hard” means more than memorizing spelling words and multiplication tables.
Your brain is simply not ready to do it. The same thing goes for your entire body.
Beyond your liver, your body’s primary pathways of elimination and detoxification also includes:
- Colon (intestines)
Each of these pathways is interconnected with and interdependent upon the others.
If they are all functioning properly chances are you’ll feel good on your cleanse. However, if one or more of these pathways becomes sluggish, congested, or is functioning less than optimally, this puts extra burden on all the others, which often results in unpleasant symptoms or “detox reactions,” like:
- Skin breakouts
- Stomach upset
- Loose stools or constipation
- Brain fog
Many popularized detox efforts backfire because your gut health is still clogged up! If your body is UNABLE to filter out wastes appropriately, then all the toxins you DO release from your liver will just stay INSIDE your body—leaving you more inflamed or back at square one in the long run. You MUST create a stronger detoxification foundation (and gut health) first.
How to Do a Natural Liver Cleanse (the RIGHT WAY)
A liver cleanse is actually all about “detoxifying” toxins BOTH in your internal and external environment, while ALSO strengthening your liver and total digestive and elimination system. This is accomplished in two stages:
Phase 1: Gut Reset (28 Days)
1. Minimize Toxin & Chemical Exposures
2. Eat Real, Gut Healing Foods
3. Add in Gut Boosting Nutrients
Phase 2: Liver Cleanse (7 Days)
Once your gut is back online and up to speed, your liver is primed and ready for some extra detoxification.
Here’s your play-by-play…
Phase 1: Gut Reset
Phase I liver detoxification is the first line of defense against toxins.
It is the role of Phase I to produce enzymes and support healthy digestion. If Phase I is not supported, then Phase 2 (the cleansing and removing toxin phase_ can’t do its job to the fullest. Phase I is all about setting your gut (and environment) up for success.
Step 1: Minimize Toxic Exposures
Make your external and internal environment liver and gut-friendly—from the foods you eat, to the products you use.
Detox Your Food
- Buy organic as much as possible
- Store food in BPA free, glassware or stainless steel containers
- Replace plastic water bottles with a stainless steel water bottle
- Drink and cook with clean, filtered water
- Cook with Ceramic & Cast Iron Pans (well-cleaned)
- Avoid over-cooked, well-done or charred meats
- Consume food within 3 days of prep
- Cook in more than you eat out to avoid unnecessary hydrogenated oils, fillers and seasonings
Detox Your Cleaning Supplies & Home
- Use the real deal (white vinegar, baking soda, lemon) for natural cleaning
- Use the Environmental Working Group’s “Healthy Cleaning Guide” to determine the best products on selves & Healthy Living App
- Diffuse your air with essential oils instead of using air fresheners
Detox Your Beauty Supplies
- Wear essential oils instead of perfume
- Buy paraben and sulfate free shampoo and conditioner
- Use good ol’ regular soap and water to cleanse your face
- Use jojoba oil or coconut oil as a moisturizer
- Forget the oily, chemical and fragrant-filled Bath & Body Works in place of real-food-based body butter
- Toss aluminum-filled deodorant and replace with natural pit love
- Buy fluoride-free toothpaste
- Use the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Data Base & the ThinkDirty App to determine the BEST natural products on shelves
Step 2: Eat Real Food
If it didn’t grow on the land, roam the earth or swim the sea, it’s not real. Eat:
- Grass-fed, pastured meats and poultry
- Wild caught, cold water fatty fish
- Colorful, fresh fruits and veggies
- Some starchy tubers & root veggies
- Fermented foods
- Clean, filtered water
- Raw nuts and seeds
Avoid inflammatory foods: grains, dairy, sugar, sweeteners, soy, peanuts, alcohol, canola oil and other industrial seed oils, raw shellfish, wild mushrooms, farm raised fish and conventional meats/poultry, MSG, instant coffee
Step 3: Boost Your Gut Health
A healthy digestive system means the rest of your digestive system CAN help your liver do its job. Some essential daily practices to get you started include:
- Take a Soil-Based Probiotic & a Pre-biotic Supplement
- Eat 1-2 Fermented Foods daily (sauerkraut, kombucha, etc.)
- Eat Soluble Fibers & Take a Short Chain Fatty Acids supplement for 30-days
- Boost Stomach Acid: Take Apple Cider Vinegar (1 tbsp in water with meals) or HCL Tablets with meals; Add in Digestive Enzymes if needed (1-2 with meals)
- Drink 1 cup of Bone Broth/day, or L-Glutamine, Collagen and/or Colostrum
What Do I Eat During Phase 1?
Phase 1 Nutrition Essentials
Water: Drink ½ your bodyweight in ounces of water per day
Eat Anti-inflammatory Foods:
- What can you eat?! Build your diet on a base of anti-inflammatory foods including:
- Organic, sustainable, grass-fed, pastured meats and poultry (as best you can)
- Wild caught, cold-water fish (salmon, cod, halibut)
- Fresh vegetables (cooked, sauteed, roasted help with digestion)
- Fresh fruits (especially berries, citrus, green tipped bananas, kiwi, pineapple)
- Starchy roots and tubers (as tolerated: plantains, potatoes, squashes, carrots, rutabaga, parsnips)
- Healthy plant and animal fats (coconut, olive, grass-fed ghee, avocado, fatty fish)
- Fermented foods
- Clean filtered water
- Eggs (opt for Pastured Egg Yolks; whites can be inflammatory to the gut)
- Grass-fed Dairy (fermented)
- Long-Grain White Rice
- Beans (soak and dry if you do eat, or if vegetarian/vegan)
- 80-100% Dark Chocolate
- Nuts (1 serving or less daily)
- Organic Coffee (1 serving or less daily)
- Alcohol (4-6 glasses or less/week)
- Raw Honey, Pure Maple Syrup, Coconut Sugar, Stevia, Xylitol
- No: Soy, Corn, Added Sugar, Refined/Processed Foods, Industrial Seed Oils (canola, grapeseed)
Note: Vary it up. People with less diverse gut bacteria in their microbiome have more “gut issues.” Aim for at least 2-3 colorful veggies with meals, alongside your proteins and healthy fats; and don’t eat the same thing every day. Pick at least 3 different rotating breakfasts, lunches and dinners each week to mix it up.
Phase 2: 7 Day Liver Cleanse
Once you’ve established a solid base for gut health, your body (and liver) should be in a better place for a short-term cleanse, if desired. It is the role of Phase 2 liver detoxification, to make sure that toxins do not build up. If your elimination (bowels) and gut bacteria are up to speed, Phase 2 can do its job–removing toxins from the body. Enter: the 7-day Liver Cleanse.
Try it for 7 days, then jump back on the bandwagon with your basic gut loving principles.
7-Day Liver Cleanse: 7 Essentials
- Eat light proteins, vegetables and healthy fats with meals. Add in 1-2 snacks if desired. Remove additional inflammatory foods from your diet (see list below)
- Start each morning with a Ginger-Lemon or Apple Cider Vinegar Shot, AND 3-5 minutes of rebounding or jumping in place
- Eat 2-3 servings of dark leafy greens daily, and 2-3 different colored veggies with meals
- Drink 1 cup of Bone Broth daily and/or 1 Green Juice/Smoothie Daily as a snack
- Take liver-detox nutrients (milk thistle, dandelion and liposomal curcumin supplements)
- Eat ½-1 oz. organic organ meat daily (like liver) or take beef liver tablets
- Sleep 7-9 hours each night and incorporate gentle movement, like walking, yoga, swimming, cycling and light weights (refrain from strenuous exercise)
Bonuses: Take your cleanse to the next level with these tactics. Experiment!
- Add beets to your smoothie or eat a serving of beets daily
- Do an at-home coffee enema once during the cleanse
- Rebound every morning on a mini trampoline or simply jumping in place for 3-5 minutes
- Consider sauna or hot-cold therapy 2-3 times during the cleanse
- Try dry-brushing in the morning or evening
- Lather on castor oil on the right side of your abdomen (a healing oil)
- Incorporate cleansing essential herbals. Put 2-3 drops of topical lemon or peppermint oil on your pulse points. Use a diffuser at home.
What Do I Eat During Phase 2?
Nutrition Template: Phase 2 (7 Day Liver Cleanse)
Phase 2 is similar to Phase 1, with these three guidelines:
1. Continue with your clean detox diet. Eat at least three clean meals per day complete consisting of:
- A light protein (chicken, fish, wild game, turkey, lamb—organic and hormone free always best; or a clean protein powder if doing a smoothie)
- Fresh veggies (at least half your plate; mix it up between raw and cooked); may include some starchy veggies (like beets—recommended at least 1x per day, and a small sweet potato, carrots or butternut squash are okay)
- Healthy fat source, such as coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil, avocado oil or ghee, limited raw nuts/seeds, coconut butter, pumpkin seed, hemp seed, flaxseed, sunflower
- 1-2 servings of fruit per day (berries, citrus—except grapefruit, apricot, peaches, plums,, green apples, preferred; serving count included in smoothies)
2. Stick to the meal ideas outlined for you here
3. For 7 days you will completely eliminate:
- Red Meat: Beef
- Bacon & Nitrate Deli Meats
- Conventional Meats & Farmed Fish
- High-Mercury Fish (swordfish, more than 2 servings tuna/week)
- All Dairy (even fermented)
- Takeout/Restaurant Food
- Grains, Rice, Oats, Quinoa
- Beans & Tofu/Natto/Miso (vegetarian/vegan only)
- Nuts & Limited Seeds
- Sugar & Sweeteners (including stevia, xylitol; limited raw honey and pure maple syrup ok)
7 Day Liver Cleanse Meal Guide
Drink ½ Your Bodyweight in Ounces of Water Daily
Bonus: Add Organic Fresh Lemon, Organic Grapefruit or Cucumbers/Mint to Water
12-16 oz. Room-temp Water + pinch sea salt
Apple Cider Vinegar Shot or Ginger Lemon Shot* (see recipe below)
Option 1: Gut Reset Smoothie or Other Simple Sips (from Phase 1)
See recipes for all your gut loving nutrients in one power packed smoothie.
Option 2: Feeling Fruity
Berries, Melon, Grapefruit, Cherries or Piece of Fruit (¾-1 cup)
Healthy Fat: Coconut Yogurt, Unsweetened Coconut Flakes or Coconut Butter, Avocado, Raw Soaked Nuts or Pumpkin Seeds (2-3 tbsp.)
Option 3: Balanced Breakfast
- Sustainable Protein (Homemade Chicken or Turkey Sausage, Pastured Eggs, Leftover Protein from Dinner)
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Additional Veggies (optional; such as Butternut Squash, Asparagus, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Etc.)
Lunch & Dinner
Option 1: Rainbow Salad
- Leafy Greens
- Sustainable protein: chicken or fish
- Healthy fats (choose 2; 1 serving=1 tbsp. Dressing or oil, ¼ avocado or olives, ⅓ cup coconut flakes, 7-8 nuts): avocado, olives, coconut flakes, paleo salad dressing, avocado mayo, olive oil, raw nuts/seeds
- Add 2-3 Colorful Low-Starch Veggies of Choice: Carrots, Beets, Bellpepper, Squash, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Sauerkraut, Zucchini, Brussels Sprouts, etc. (cooked and softened digests best)
Option 2: Bone Broth Soup
- Bone Broth
- Chicken, Turkey or Wild-Caught Fatty Fish
- Low-Starch Veggies of choice and/or Mixed Dark Leafy Greens Salad
- Healthy Fat of choice (1-2): Avocado, Coconut Cream/Yogurt, Ghee, MCT Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Coconut Oil (1 tbsp. stirred in soup)
Option 3: Simple Lunch & Supper
- Sustainable Protein (Wild Caught Fatty Fish, Pastured Poultry)
- Dark Leafy Greens
- Fresh Herbs of choice (cilantro, basil, parsley)
- Added Low-Starch Colorful Veggie: Carrots, Beets, Bellpepper, Yellow Squash, Cauliflower, Asparagus, Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Spaghetti Squash, etc. (Cooked & softened digests best)
- Healthy Fat (1-2 Servings): Ghee, Coconut Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Avocado Oil, Grass-fed Butter, Sunbutter, Seeds, Coconut Flakes, Coconut Butter, Olives, Avocado Mayo, Avocado
Herbal Tea or Broth
During your 7-Day cleanse, drink 1 cup of Bone Broth and/or 1 Green Juice or Smoothie (no more than 1 added fruit) daily as a snack. You may have both separately if you choose.
Other Snack Ideas
- Piece of Fruit/Berries
- 1-2 Spoonfuls Coconut Butter or Sunbutter with Veggies or Fruit
- Sauerkraut or Pickled Veggies
- Colostrum Protein or Additive Free Beef Isolate mixed into water, unsweetened almond milk, hemp milk or coconut milk (no additives)
- Seaweed or Kale Chips
- Coconut Yogurt
- Avocado/Guacamole + Raw Veggies
- Cucumber or Carrots + Paleo Ranch
- MCT Oil + Raw Manuka Honey (1 tsp of each)
- Celery Juice or Green Juice
- Steamed Beets or Beet Juice
- Herbal Tea or Broth