One of the most popular and effective weight loss methods is to detoxify your liver. Overweight people usually suffer from many health problems, and it is not surprising that they often have a toxic liver. The liver is the largest internal organ of your body. It helps to break down cholesterol and absorb toxins from the bile, which are then broken down into bile acids. This is a critical step in digesting and processing fats by the body.
What is a liver cleanse?
A liver cleanse may involve may involve choosing or avoiding specific foods, or going on a juice fast.
The liver is the body’s natural detoxifier, as it cleanses the body of toxins and produces bile to support healthy digestion. A healthy liver can detoxify almost everything that a person encounters. The liver is on the right side of the body, just under the rib cage,
When the liver is diseased, the body cannot filter out toxic substances as efficiently. This can cause a wide range of symptoms, including:
- yellow jaundiced skin
- blood vessel problems
A variety of natural health practitioners, supplement companies, and medical websites argue that the liver accumulates toxins during the filtering process.
They insist that over time, these toxins can cause a range of nonspecific symptoms and may even cause serious diseases or increase the risk of cancer. There is little evidence to support this.
Over time, however, exposure to chemicals can damage the liver. For example, drinking alcohol is a well-known way to ruin liver function over time.
In most cases, a liver detox involves one or more of the following:
- taking supplements designed to flush toxins out of the liver
- eating a liver-friendly diet
- avoiding certain foods
- going on a juice fast
- cleansing the colon and gut through the use of enemas
While liver failure is a serious health problem, there is no evidence that dangerous toxins accumulate in otherwise healthy livers without specific exposure to large amounts of these chemicals.
Mainstream medical practitioners argue that the liver does not need detoxing and that doing so might even be dangerous.
Liver cleanse: Fact or fiction?
A liver cleanse will not cure a liver disease, and should not be used to replace normal treatment.
A healthy liver naturally cleanses itself. An unhealthy liver will not get better with a liver cleanse. A person with liver disease needs proper medical treatment and may require lifestyle or dietary changes.
Some evidence suggests that supplements, such as milk thistle, may improve liver health. However, there is no evidence that these supplements will detox the liver, or that they can cure any liver condition.
Liver cleanses also pose some health risks:
- Liver cleansing diets may not offer balanced nutrition: A liver cleansing diet may not contain all nutrients that a person requires. Over time, this can lead to deficiencies or malnutrition, particularly in children, pregnant women, and people with diabetes and other medical conditions.
- Enemas can be dangerous: Enemas can cause life-threatening damage to the intestines when not administered correctly.
- Liver cleanses cannot replace medical treatment: When a person uses a liver cleanse in place of medical treatment, serious underlying medical issues can go untreated.
Is a “liver cleanse” a real thing?
The liver is your body’s largest internal organ. It’s responsible for more than 500 different functions in the body. One of these functions is detoxification and neutralizing toxins.
Knowing that the liver is a detoxification organ, you might think doing a liver cleanse could help your body recover faster after a big weekend, give your body that much-needed health kick, or boost your metabolism so you can lose weight faster. That’s what all those “liver cleanses” on the market claim they can do.
But truth be told, you’re likely wasting your money and could be doing your body more harm than good.
The reality is that toxins are everywhere in our environment, and our bodies have the built-in capacity to defend against these toxins naturally.
Of course, there are things you can do to improve your health and support healthy liver function.
Keep reading to learn how certain lifestyle changes can provide the real benefits that liver cleansing claims to give.
Detoxing Your Liver: Fact Versus Fiction
Your liver represents the human body’s primary filtration system, converting toxins into waste products, cleansing your blood, and metabolizing nutrients and medications to provide the body with some of its most important proteins. As such a fundamental part of the body’s overall regulation, it’s paramount to keep your liver healthy and to limit overindulgence.
In recent years, many products have flooded the market purporting to detox and cleanse your liver, whether it’s after a weekend of bingeing on food or alcohol, to maintain daily liver function, or to repair an already damaged liver. Tinsay Woreta, M.D., a Johns Hopkins hepatologist, is here to help debunk persistent liver health myths and determine the value of cleanses.
Myth #1: Liver cleanses are important for daily health maintenance and are especially helpful after you’ve overindulged.
Though liver cleanses are packaged to claim that they’re a cure-all for daily liver health and overindulgence, Johns Hopkins hepatologists do not recommend them. “Unfortunately, these products are not regulated by the FDA, and thus are not uniform and have not been adequately tested in clinical trials,” explains Woreta.
While some common ingredients in liver cleanses have been shown to have positive results — milk thistle has been shown to decrease liver inflammation, and turmeric extract has been shown to protect against liver injury — there have not been adequate clinical trial data in humans to recommend the routine use of these natural compounds for prevention.
As for overindulgence of alcohol or food, less is always best when it comes to liver health, and cleanses have not been proven to rid your body of damage from excess consumption.
Myth #2: Liver cleanses are a safe and healthy way to lose weight.
Many liver detoxification products are also sold as weight loss cleanses. However, there are no clinical data to support the efficacy of these cleanses. In fact, some dietary supplements can actually cause harm to the liver by leading to drug-induced injury and should thus be used with caution.
Myth #3: You cannot protect yourself against liver disease.
“Contrary to this myth, there are many preventive steps you can take to protect yourself against liver disease,” says Woreta. The following measures are recommended:
- Do not drink alcohol in excess. On a routine basis, men should not consume more than three drinks per day, and women should not consume more than two drinks per day to prevent the development of alcoholic liver disease.
- Avoid weight gain. Maintain your body mass index in the normal range (18 to 25) by eating healthy and exercising on a regular basis to decrease your risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
- Beware engaging in risky behaviors. To avoid the risk of acquiring viral hepatitis, do not engage in behaviors such as illicit drug use or having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- Know your risk factors. If you have the following risk factors for liver disease, it’s important to go for screening, as chronic liver disease can be silent for years and go unrecognized:
- Excessive alcohol use
- Family history of liver disease
If you have the following risk factors for hepatitis C, it is important to speak with your physician about screening, as nearly 50 percent of patients do not know they’re infected:
- Anyone who received a blood transfusion prior to 1992
- Current or former illicit drug use
- Patients on hemodialysis
- Patients with HIV
- Health care workers who have been stuck by needles with hepatitis C-infected blood
- Anyone with a history of tattoos inked in an unregulated setting
Myth #4: Liver cleanses can correct existing liver damage.
“Liver cleanses have not been proven to treat existing liver damage,” says Woreta, “but there are many other forms of treatment available for those who are affected.” Here are a few types of liver disease and their available treatment options:
- Hepatitis A and B. You should be vaccinated against hepatitis A and B if you are not immune or have any other underlying liver disease. Highly effective oral medications for patients with chronic hepatitis B infection are available as well.
- Alcoholic liver disease. All alcohol consumption should cease in order to allow the liver the best chance for recovery. The liver has an amazing ability to regenerate and heal once active injury has been stopped.
- Hepatitis C. Highly effective, well-tolerated oral medications now exist to treat hepatitis C.
- Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The most effective treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is weight loss, which has been shown to decrease the amount of fat in the liver and the inflammation caused by the fat.
Myth #5: Obesity does not increase your risk of liver disease.
Obesity significantly increases your risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. As mentioned in myth #4, fat in the liver can cause inflammation, which may lead to the development of fibrosis and cirrhosis. “Due to the rising epidemic of obesity in the United States, the prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is rapidly increasing and is expected to overtake hepatitis C as the leading indication for liver transplant in the next 30 years,” explains Woreta.
Ultimately, the best thing you can do to keep your liver healthy is to treat it well. Avoid frequent overconsumption of food and alcohol, maintain a healthy diet and exercise regimen, and get screened if you have liver disease risk factors. If you do have liver damage, work with your physician to come up with the healthiest and safest plan for your personal needs.
DETOX DRINKS TO CLEANSE YOUR LIVER
Detoxification is about resting, cleaning, and nourishing the body from the inside out. By eliminating toxins and nourishing your body, detoxification can help protect you from disease and renew your ability to maintain optimal health.
The liver plays an important role in the body. While it largely takes care of itself, a person can help maintain liver health by consuming certain foods and drinks.
Coffee is good for the liver, especially because it protects against issues such as fatty liver disease. According to a 2014 study that appears in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology,the protective effects of coffee are due to how it influences liver enzymes. The journal reports that coffee seems to reduce fat buildup in the liver. It also increases protective antioxidants in the liver. Compounds in coffee also help liver enzymes rid the body of cancer-causing substances.
Ginger and lemon drink
Ginger and lemon drink is a classic detox drink that has powerful anti-inflammatory properties that not only detoxify your body but also accelerate the process of weight loss. This concotion helps in relieving bloating, boosts metabolism and prevents illness.
Ginger and lemon drink | Photo – Times of India
Oats are high in fibre, minerals, and vitamins, that help in cleaning the intestines and liver and help digestion. A 2017 study in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences reports, beta-glucans from oats appear to help reduce the amount of fat stored in the liver in mice. The oatmeal drink is a perfect detox drink that helps in flushing out toxins from the body.
Used for centuries in Ayurveda, turmeric is a powerful spice. One of the best ways to get rid of toxic in our body is to drink turmeric tea daily.
A 2015 study in the World Journal of Gastroenterology notes that green tea may help reduce overall fat content, fight against oxidative stress, and reduce other signs of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
The World Journal of Gastroenterology study also mentions grapefruit as a helpful food. Grapefruit contains two primary antioxidants: naringin and naringenin. These may help protect the liver from injury by reducing inflammation and protecting the liver cells. The compounds may also reduce fat buildup in the liver and increase the enzymes that burn fat. This may make grapefruit a helpful tool in the fight against NAFLD.
The medical information provided in this article is provided as an information resource only. This information does not create any patient-physician relationship and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis and treatment.