What is a liver cleanse diet?
~ by Jo Jordan
The liver is your body's main detoxifying engine. Its job is to rid our bodies of the toxins we are all exposed to daily. If you care for your liver with a liver cleanse diet and liver cleanse supplements, it will work wonders to keep you healthy; if you don't do some sort of regular detox diet or cleanse, toxins will stockpile in your body, making you feel tired, sluggish and create an environment ripe for disease.
We are routinely exposed to approximately seventy thousand different chemicals and – according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – over two thousand new ones are introduced into our environment each year; they're in our cosmetics and other personal care products, medicines, the air we breathe, the surfaces we touch, the water we drink, and the foods we eat.
These chemicals make up a large part of the toxic load our liver has to deal with. A liver cleanse diet, liver cleanse supplements, or regular overall detox diet can help your liver to navigate this chemical wasteland optimize your liver's functioning.
Start with a liver cleanse supplement
The first step is to make sure that your body is working as well as it can. If you are not already doing so, you should consider a colon / liver cleansing program. These programs provide the nutrients that will enable your liver and colon to work as well as they can.
Organic foods help with a detox diet
Not surprisingly, the standard American diet is not very helpful to the liver. Making a few changes to the way you eat will have an enormous impact on how well your liver cleanses the toxins that flow through it.
When shopping for food, buy organic as often as possible. A recent, four-year, twenty-five million dollar study on the differences between organic food and conventional food has revealed an array of dramatic benefits to be had from eating organic food. Organic foods are much higher in nutrients:
- Organic fruit and vegetables have an astounding forty percent more antioxidants than conventional produce
- Organic fruits and vegetables have higher levels of minerals such as iron and zinc
- Milk from organic animals contain up to ninety percent more antioxidants
Your basic liver cleanse diet
A basic liver cleanse diet involves a modification of the foods you currently eat. The best way to eat for a liver cleanse is to incorporate foods that are still in the same state as they were when they arrived upon the earth. The more hands and machines that food passes through before it gets to your mouth, the more potential there is for something to be wrong with it.
When choosing foods for your detox diet, pick the apple over apple juice, the natural apple juice over, say, an apple-flavored cereal. The same is true of other foods: the less chemical additives, preservatives, and processing the food goes through, the better the food is for you and your liver.
Try to eat something crunchy with every meal. This does not mean a food that has been artificially crunchified, like potato chips, but foods with a natural crunch to them, including fruits, vegetables, and greens that haven't been cooked.
The importance of fiber to the liver cleanse process cannot be overstated. When your liver wants to get rid of a toxin, it dumps it into the digestive tract. If there is enough fiber around, this toxin is taken out of your body with your next bowel movement; if not, these toxins can be reabsorbed into the blood stream and the liver has to deal with them again. If you are irregular or constipated, a colon /liver cleansing supplement program is highly recommended prior to your liver cleanse detox diet.
Whole grains are a great source of fiber, as are many fruits and vegetables. Using ground flax or psyllium seeds is a great way to ensure you are getting enough fiber during your liver cleanse diet. If eating enough fiber is not possible, you can always use a fiber supplement.
While a liver cleanse detox diet is one that focuses a lot on vegetables and fruits, make sure you are also getting enough protein. The liver, especially, needs to have enough proteins in order to function well.
Good sources of proteins include beans, nuts, and fish. Eating small portions of beef, chicken and other animal proteins is okay occasionally, but try broiling these meats or eating them in a stew or soup. Avoid grilling, frying, or other high-temperature methods of cooking. High temperature cooking can lead to the creation of many harmful chemicals, including known cancer-causing chemicals.
The liver thrives on good fats such as omega 3 fish oils and healthy omega 6 oils (olive or grape-seed oils), and is bogged down by bad fats such as trans fatty acids, any hydrogenated fats such as margarine, and many of the omega 6 oils such as corn, safflower, and Canola oil.
Make sure you are getting enough good omega 3 oils such as those found in fish or fish oils. We typically over-consume the omega 6 oils found in most cooking oils and need to balance them by supplementing with omega 3 oils.
We also tend to consume too many trans fats and these are harmful to our bodies. Trans fats are fats that have been heated or hydrogenated and don't work well in our bodies.
When cooking, use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil. Olive oil is a very stable fat, handles cooking well, and has multiple research studies supporting its health benefits. Even though it is a saturated fat coconut oil is very stable when cooked. Grape seed oil is another fat that can handle heating and not be damaged.
Avoid foods that damage or slow down the liver
Refined carbohydrates such as white flour, pasta, cookies, cakes, and crackers all gunk up your colon and rapidly increase your blood sugar. The liver helps to modulate blood sugar, so keeping blood sugar low is a good strategy for a liver cleanse.
Soft drinks are a triple whammy: they not only dramatically increase blood sugar, but they are also high in phosphorus, and tend to make the blood more acidic. These reactions place a burden on the liver. Fruit juices are really not much better and can also spike the blood sugar. Many fruit juices contain high-fructose corn syrup that is very damaging to the liver.1 Remember that your liver cleanse detox diet isn't only about what you eat, what you drink is just as important to how well your liver functions.
Deep fried foods, fast foods, and any junk foods should be avoided during your liver cleansing diet. Also steer clear of saturated fats, trans-fats (hydrogenated oils such as margarine) as well as corn, safflower, sunflower, and other vegetable oils during your liver cleansing diet.
Nix preservatives, additives, and colorings from your diet
When doing a liver cleanse diet a standard practice is...if you cannot pronounce it, don't eat it. In fact, if you can't say the word, don't eat it. Monosodium glutamate (MSG) is particularly harmful to the liver and should always be avoided2. Aspartame, Splenda ®, or any other artificial sweetener should be eliminated from your diet forever, not just during your liver cleanse.
Avoid shellfish, processed meat, and dairy
Shellfish and other seafood such as lobster and crab can have high amount of mercury in them and ought to be avoided. Mercury is very toxic, even in small doses, and places a high burden on the liver and its detoxification mechanism.
Swordfish, mackerel, and tuna have also been shown to be high in mercury and should be avoided. Any fish that has been farm-raised has the potential to have antibiotics and other chemicals added to their water and can end up in the fish when you eat it.
Processed meats such as bacon, hot dogs, and luncheon meats all contain nitrates and other preservatives that should be avoided during your detox diet.
Tobacco and caffeine
Smoking is definitely out when doing a liver cleanse, and over-the-counter drugs should also be avoided if possible.
Caffeine is a mixed bag. It actually increases the liver's ability to detoxify certain toxins. The problem is that many coffee drinks come with heavy amounts of sugar and dairy products that can drag the liver down. Limit your coffee to a few cups a day during your liver cleanse, and try green tea, which has so many side benefits that it is often included in detox diet programs.
Supercharge your liver
While most fruit and vegetables are beneficial to the liver, you might want to add the following to supercharge your liver cleanse diet:
- Vegetables: dark green leafy vegetables, artichoke, burdock, beets, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, onion
- Fruits: grapefruit, mangos, lemons, papaya
- Herbs: garlic, cayenne pepper, ginger, tumeric, parsley, fennel, cilantro
- Vitamins: B-vitamins, vitamin E and C, glutathione, carotinoids, glutamine, glycine, taurine, methionine
Liver cleanse detox diet summary
The liver is one of the most active organs in the body. Our modern world keeps the liver constantly busy dealing with toxins. You can lend your liver a hand by doing a liver cleanse at least a few times a year. Doing a liver cleanse will always be more powerful if you support it with a liver cleanse diet. Many have such success with detox diets they adopt the eating lifestyle permanently and feel dramatic long-term health improvements!
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1. Cave M, Deaciuc I, Mendez C, et al. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: predisposing factors and the role of nutrition. J Nutr Biochem.
2. Onyema OO, Farombi EO, et al. Effect of vitamin E on monosodium glutamate induced hepatotoxicity and oxidative stress in rats. Indian J Biochem Biophys.