A liver detox diet or liver cleanse as it is sometimes referred to as, is one of the more popular types of detox plans. The goal of this detox plan is to flush the liver of harmful toxins and to also hopefully prevent liver disease as well. Signs that a liver cleanse may be in order include:
Sensitivity to food
Unexplained weight gain
Before we go into specific details about how to do a liver cleanse, it is important to first understand how the liver functions. The primary function of the liver is to produce all of the body‘s amino acid needs.
As we previously discussed, amino acids are essential to the body to help it repair itself as well as to build lean muscle mass. The liver is also essential to natural detoxification in the kidneys and the colon. When the body is full of toxins, the production of amino acids may be slowed down and this can harm the overall body.
A liver cleanse will help to ensure the proper production of amino acids, improve the ability of the liver to store vitamins and minerals and release them as the body needs them, maintain healthy cells and provide the body with improved metabolism.
You may not be aware of it, but the heaviest organ in the entire body is the liver. Beyond the skin itself, the liver is also the largest organ. The liver is situated on the right side of the body in the upper portion of the stomach, just under the ribs. When the liver is not functioning properly, it is easy to see how other important functions within the body can be interrupted and lead to overall poor health. Let‘s take a more in-depth look at some of the functions of the liver.
The liver has multiple functions. It makes many of the chemicals required by the body to function normally, it breaks down and detoxifies substances in the body, and it also acts as a storage unit.
Hepatocytes are responsible for making many of the proteins (protein synthesis) in the body that are required for many functions, including blood clotting factors, and albumin, required to maintain fluid within the circulation system. The liver is also responsible for manufacturing cholesterol and triglycerides. Carbohydrates are also produced in the liver and the organ is responsible for turning glucose into glycogen that can be stored both in the liver and in the muscle cells. The liver also makes bile that helps with food digestion.
The liver plays an important role in detoxifying the body by converting ammonia, a byproduct of metabolism in the body, into urea that is excreted in the urine by the kidneys. The liver also breaks down medications and drugs, including alcohol, and is responsible for breaking down insulin and other hormones in the body.
The liver stores vitamins and chemicals that the body requires as building blocks. These includes:
- vitamin B12,
- folic acid
- iron required to make red blood cells
- vitamin A for vision,
- vitamin D for calcium absorption, and
- vitamin K to help blood to clot properly.
Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison’s Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.
Foods That Support Good Liver Health
Foods that support good liver health include green leafy vegetables that are rich in vitamins and nutrients, detoxify the blood and are low in calories. Leafy greens like spinach and lettuce have the ability to neutralize metals, chemicals, and pesticides that may be in our foods, and act as a protective mechanism for the liver.
Cruciferous Vegetables like broccoli, brussel sprouts, cabbage and cauliflower increase the amount of glucosinolate in the body that help to create enzyme production for digestion and flush out toxins.