Many people turn to a liver cleanse to improve heath and lose weight. The liver removes toxins from your body, basically acting as its filter. Your liver may be overworked because of many factors including hormones, environmental pollution including pesticides, caffeine, alcohol, sugar and sweeteners, trans fats or drugs. The liver cannot metabolize fat properly when it is stressed. An overworked liver also can lead to acne, hormonal imbalances including PMS, difficulty digesting fats, flatulence and bloating, feeling tired after eating, weak tendons and muscles, irritability or rage and depression. Cleansing the liver can help, but it must be done carefully to avoid releasing harmful toxins into your bloodstream, warns Ann Louise Gittleman, Ph.D., author of “The Fast Track Detox Diet.”
Cut out things that stress your liver and lower your metabolism. These include all forms of sugar, artificial sweeteners, over-the-counter drugs, caffeine, trans fats, soda, processed foods, refined carbohydrates including white rice, gluten, milk and cheese and foods made from them, soy protein isolates and too many carbohydrates in general.
Eat foods that will support your liver daily for a week. Gittleman recommends you choose one food from each of the following five groups daily. You need a 1 cup serving of a cruciferous vegetable, which includes cabbage, broccoli or broccoli sprouts, Brussels sprouts or cauliflower. Second, add a green leafy veggie or herb: mustard greens, dandelion greens, chard, cilantro, kale, watercress, parsley, beet greens or collards. Third, consume an orange or half the juice of a lemon or lime. Fourth, eat a sulfur-rich food: a clove of garlic, ½ cup onions, two eggs or ¼ cup daikon radish. Finally, consume a liver-healing food: one whole or four cooked artichoke hearts, ½ cup asparagus, 2 celery stalks, a 20-g serving of whey protein, 1 cup beets, 1 to 2 cups dandelion tea or 1 to 2 tsp. yeast flakes.
Use that same week to support your colon to prepare for your cleanse. Each day choose to eat two colon-supporting foods: 2 tsp. powdered psyllium husks in water, 1 cup berries, 2 to 3 tbsp. flaxseeds, one raw apple, one raw carrot or one raw pear.
Eat the right fats, have two daily servings of protein and drink half your body weight in water during your preparation period. Take in 2 tbsp. of olive or flaxseed oil daily. Proteins include low-fat, grass-fed beef, omega-3 enriched eggs, skinless chicken or turkey, lamb or fish.
Fast for one day: Alternate drinking 1 cup water and 1 to 1 1/2 cups “miracle juice” every hour. Also do 20 minutes light exercise, such as taking a walk. To make your juice, buy 100 percent cranberry juice and mix 8 oz. juice with 56 oz. filtered water. Bring to a light boil and reduce heat. Add 1/4 tsp. each ginger and nutmeg and ½ tsp. ground cinnamon. Simmer 20 minutes before adding ¾ cup orange juice, ¼ cup lemon juice and stevia to taste. When you get up in the morning, also consume either 2 tsp. powdered psyllium husks in water, or 2 to 3 tbsp. ground or milled flaxseeds mixed into your juice or water. Repeat this at the end of the day.
Continue to avoid liver stressors for three days after your detox and eat to support your liver again. Missing this step can cause the toxins you’ve released into your bloodstream to stay in your body, resulting in worse symptoms than you started with. Follow the same food regimen that you used to prepare for your cleanse, making sure again to drink half your body weight in water. Add a daily probiotic food–either ½ cup sauerkraut or 1 cup yogurt. Also, starting on day two, take a hydrochloric acid supplement prior to each meal. The one you choose needs to have at least 500 mg betaine hydrochloride, 130 mg pepsin and 50 mg ox bile extract.
Following your cleanse, you can continue to support your liver in several ways. Continue to consume liver-supporting foods. Pick spices that aid the liver lsuch as cumin, cilantro, garlic, ginger and turmeric. Make sure you get your omega 3s, found in flaxseed and chia, and omega 6s. Conjugated linoleic acid can be taken as a supplement or found in grass-fed beef. If supplementing, Gittleman recommends taking a dose of 1,000 mg three times per day.
Continue to drink cranberry juice because it helps to keep your liver’s detoxification pathways open. Use 1 cup of 100 percent cranberry juice each day. Also drink lemon juice in hot water every day. Lemons and limes both invigorate the liver and help to liquefy fat, which aids in flushing it from your system more quickly.
Choose among other detox tools that are gentle enough for daily use. Apple cider vinegar’s acetic acid stimulates metabolism. Use up to 2 tsp. daily mixed in water or salad dressing. Also drink dandelion tea, and/or take 200 mg each of milk thistle and the Oregon grape root in supplement form. Barberry and “liver tonic” are other names for Oregon grape root.