The kidneys and liver are organs that help the body cleanse itself from waste. The human body has two kidneys. Kidneys help remove waste and excess water from the bloodstream and regulate the balance of chemicals within the body. The liver is one of the body's largest organs. It helps the body isolate and store nutrients from food and excrete toxic substances. Good kidney and liver function are essential for optimal health. There are many foods and drinks that can help you cleanse your kidneys and liver.
Kidney and Liver Cleanses
The gastrointestinal system, kidneys, liver, lungs and skin all help remove unwanted substances from the body. Kidney and liver cleanses have become very popular, because they're meant to detox these organs. There are a multitude of cleansing regimes, from coffee enemas to fasting. However, many diets focused on kidney and liver detoxes have not been clinically studied. In fact, according to Dr. Zoltan Rona's editorial in the Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition, kidney and liver cleanses are more about dietary changes and many radical cleanses can actually be dangerous.
Clinically, detoxification diets involve removing foods and drinks that commonly cause allergies or intolerances. These are replaced with nonallergenic options for about a month, then slowly reincorporated. This allows dietitians and doctors to assess the effects these foods have on the body. Such diets can help optimize liver function and overall health, but should only be used with the assistance of a clinical practitioner.
Healthy Liver and Kidney Diets
Before considering a kidney or liver cleanse, assess your current diet. According to the USDA's MyPlate guidelines, most people should consume the following foods each day: fruits, vegetables, proteins, healthy fats, dairy and whole grains. The recommended amounts of each type of food are based on a person's age and gender. A diet tracking app like MyPlate can help you monitor your food intake.
Kidney and liver cleanses involve consuming foods that help boost the function of these organs. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to improve liver and kidney function. Such a diet should include fresh, fibrous fruits and vegetables, as well as legumes, nuts and seeds. These are all important because of the vitamins and minerals they have. Vegetable juices made of beets, carrots and celery can be beneficial, as can blueberry, cranberry and pomegranate fruit juices. All of these fruits and vegetables are rich in antioxidants. Staying hydrated and drinking about 4-6 glasses of water a day is also important.
Foods with Detoxifying Properties
Organic pollutants and heavy metals can be stored in the body and take a long time to break down. There have been many studies looking into foods and specific nutrients with detoxification properties. A 2014 review in the Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics discussed the following foods and nutrients that have detoxifying properties:
- Coriander. Coriander has been shown to help reduce cadmium accumulation in the liver.
- Chlorella. Chlorella, a type of algae, has been shown to help with the removal of lead, mercury and some persistent organic pollutants.
- Citric acid, malic acid and succinic acid. All three of these can help remove aluminum from the body.
- Citrus pectin. Citrus pectin has been shown to help with the removal of lead.
- Minerals. Dietary vitamins and minerals are important and should be consumed as recommended. Certain minerals, such as calcium, iron and magnesium, have been shown to prevent excess aluminum in the body.
- Selenium. Selenium supplements have been shown to help mediate the toxic effects of mercury.
These foods and nutrients can help cleanse your kidneys and liver. However, always remember to eat a healthy, balanced diet, even when taking supplements or detoxing.
- USDA's Choose MyPlate
- Alive: Canadian Journal of Health and Nutrition: Liver & kidney cleansing, A simple approach
- Cleveland Clinic Health Essentials:7 Secrets to Keeping Your Kidneys Healthy
- Alternative and Complementary Therapies: Challenging Case in Clinical Practice: Implementation of a Functional Medicine Detox Food Plan Results in Lower Levels of Alanine Transaminase Enzymes and Resolves Chronic Gastrointestinal Symptoms Related to Gastro-Esophageal Reflux Disease
- Alternative Therapies: Nutritional Aspects of Detoxification in Clinical Practice
- Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics: Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Health: Kidney
- Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition: A Critical Review about Human Exposure to Polychlorinated Dibenzo-p-Dioxins (PCDDs), Polychlorinated Dibenzofurans (PCDFs) and Polychlorinated Biphenyls (PCBs) through Foods
- U.S. National Library of Medicine: PubMed Health: How Does the Liver Work?
- Today's Dietitian: Diet and Detoxification