Your liver is one of your body’s largest and most important organs, and it’s in your best interest to protect it. The liver is the human body’s built-in detoxifier and is always hard at work removing toxins from the bloodstream. Without a healthy-functioning liver, the toxins we constantly take in through our skin, the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will build up and can cause illness.
Are you curious about how a liver cleanse might aid your liver? Although many products marketed as “liver cleanses” likely have no benefit according to Johns Hopkins and other professionals, there are healthy liver cleanses out there. These healthy liver cleanses have a place in the health journey of anyone who wishes to protect their liver and practice healthy living.
Here are three benefits of a healthy liver cleanse:
1. Giving your liver a break from alcohol and other toxins
As you likely already know, your liver is the organ most involved in helping your body metabolize alcohol. If you drink regularly, especially in excess, you are putting consistent strain on your liver. Taking a break from wine, beer, and spirits, even temporarily, will greatly reduce the amount of work your liver has to do. Of course, while a short-term cleanse might help your liver, avoiding drinking altogether is ideal for liver and overall health.
Your liver is constantly filtering out toxins and unnecessary chemicals, many of which you’ve ingested through food and drinks. The Standard American Diet gives livers a lot of work to do, and can lead to various health problems over time. Removing excessively fatty foods, artificial flavors, colors, and sweeteners, pesticides, and additives such as MSG and preservatives from your diet lighten the load on your liver during the cleanse.
2. Boosting your liver with herbs and spices
Many liver cleanses involve ingesting herbal supplements while restricting your diet for a set period of time. Scientific research suggests that certain herbs and spices can benefit the liver. Milk thistle, for example, has been shown to reduce liver inflammation and treat people with liver damage. It may also have a preventative effect by promoting optimal liver health.
Burdock is another herb that has been shown to support the liver. When ingested, burdock protected patients against liver damage caused by acetaminophen (Tylenol) or alcohol.
Turmeric, an orange root, is a spice that, according to research is also helpful for people who suffer from liver damage. Turmeric greatly benefits the digestive system, making it a popular choice for liver detoxes.
3. Jump-starting weight loss
Up to 20% of Americans have fatty liver disease, though not all of them are aware of it. Fatty liver disease is most common in people suffering from obesity. Weight loss prevents fatty liver disease, and a liver cleanse may be especially beneficial for those who are looking to nourish the liver and shed some excess weight. It’s important to note that while a short cleanse is a good way to begin a healthier lifestyle, it won’t lead to permanent weight loss if you immediately revert back to an unhealthy diet.
Fatty liver disease is also more common in people with diabetes, likely because of insulin resistance. Many cleanses contain low-glycemic index foods and can help combat sugar cravings while balancing sugar levels, making it easier to steer clear of sugar-laden foods after the cleanse.
There are many liver cleanses out there so the first step is choosing the cleanse you’d like to do. Liver cleanses generally have two parts:
- Removing certain foods and drinks from your diet for a specified period of time
- Adding foods and supplements to support liver health during that time, and possibly beyond
While it might be tempting to take liver cleansing supplements without changing your diet, shifting your food intake is crucial to improving liver function.
Most detox cleanses and weight loss cleanses are appropriate liver cleanses when paired with relevant supplements. If you want to do a liquid cleanse, a soup cleanse might be a better choice over a juice cleanse, as juices tend to contain fruit and thus more sugar.
For your supplements, you can choose a regimen specifically formulated for the liver, such as NOW’s Liver Refresh or Banyan’s Liver Formula. You can also choose individual herbs and spices that benefit the liver, such as milk thistle and turmeric, and buy them on their own.
Finally, keep in mind that a short-term liver cleanse isn’t a permanent solution for sustained liver health. Liver cleansing will have little to no effect if you continue to binge drink alcohol and eat a high-sugar or high-saturated fat diet. Use your liver cleanse as an opportunity to transition into a healthier overall lifestyle to keep your liver healthy for years to come.