Liver detox is a controversial term among dietitians. The controversy comes, partly, in how we define liver detox.
Dietitians are also leery of the term because “liver detox” has been used to scare consumers into purchasing expensive products and going on crash diets.
You will often hear liver detox and fear-provoking phrases like “your body is filled with dangerous toxins” in the same breath.
Lastly, dietitians argue that the liver’s job IS to detox our body and doesn’t need any outside help from a supplement or detox drink.
While these arguments are valid, the question becomes can food, drinks, or supplements promote liver detox? And what are the benefits of optimal liver detoxification?
Can speed up the liver detox process aid in weight loss? To answer these questions, we must address each point above and see what the science says.
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Liver Functions – Define Liver Detox
The first step is to define liver detox. The liver is the great gatekeeper in the body. The liver sorts out what stays and what needs to leave the body. Toxins, of course, need to leave.
These are substances that do not help our body, like pollutants from the environment, smoke, and possibly on or in what we eat.
When working properly, the liver does an exceptional job of getting rid of these toxins. However, just like all other organs, the foods we eat can either help our liver work optimally or harm the livers’ ability to function at optimal levels.
We know that what we eat can affect our heart, brain, gut, and pancreas. Why wouldn’t our diet also have an impact on our liver?
3-Day Liver Detox to Transform Your Liver
Can a liver detox transform your health in 3 Days? Well, you will probably notice a difference within 3 days; however, to get long-term health benefits, you will need to consistently eat liver-supporting foods daily.
Eating a piece of cake once a year on your birthday isn’t going to cause permanent damage to your body. Likewise, doing a liver detox once a year isn’t going to transform your health.
However, consistently eating foods that promote liver function as well as general health, can transform your health.
Moreover, your body will start to feel better, and your stomach may even look flattered as soon as three days after eating foods that support the liver detoxification process.
Give your body just a little longer to reap the benefits and you may soon notice reduced inflammation and weight loss.
How It Works
Can We Consume Foods or Drinks that Promote Liver Detox? What Does the Research Say?
We are bombarded with substances that are not good for our bodies, and our liver must work hard to remove them all. Accumulation of toxins can increase the risk of many conditions, like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity.
These harmful substances are not water-soluble; therefore, can’t be removed through urine, waste, sweat, or respiration. The liver detoxification process involves making these harmful toxins water-soluble.
Liver detoxification is a two-phase process involving many different enzymes. Based on research, certain foods may help upregulate and even assist the liver during both phases of the liver detoxification process.
Studies, including a systemic review, noted that the following foods may help upregulate or speed up liver detox:
- Cruciferous vegetables, especially watercress, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussel Sprouts
- Fruits and berries, especially apples, grapefruit, blueberries, pomegranate, grapes, peaches, and plums
- Herbs and spices, like garlic, Rosemary, turmeric, cilantro, and coriander
- Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale
- Nori or seaweed
- Lecithin-rich lean proteins like eggs and soy
- Nuts and seeds, especially walnuts (1, 2).
Notice that these foods are high in antioxidants and fiber. Fiber can help with liver detoxification by regulating the waste removing process. Whole grains, nuts, seeds, vegetables, and fruit are good sources of fiber (2).
Drinking plenty of water and limiting alcohol consumption are also crucial for liver health. Obesity can also increase your risk of developing liver disease.
Decreasing your refined sugar, refined grains, and ultra-processed foods intake and increasing fiber intakes also promote weight loss and support liver detox.
Supplements and Liver Detoxification
Supplements may help support liver detox. Glutathione is the major antioxidant in our bodies and is made up of three amino acids. In the GI tract, glutathione is broken down into its three amino acids. The three amino acids must rejoin to recreate glutathione in the body.
The ability to create glutathione decreases with age. By age 40, our ability to create glutathione diminishes by 30%, and by 50, our ability diminishes by 50%. Smoking, pollution, and medical conditions decrease glutathione production as well.
Glutathione significantly enhances the liver detoxification process; therefore, eating foods that contain these amino acids is essential. Glutathione supplementation may also help ensure your body is getting enough glutathione amino acids.
To help increase glutathione in the body, you can also consume foods high in other antioxidants. When your body has plenty of antioxidants, it can save glutathione for other functions including the liver detoxification process. This is another way antioxidants can support liver detoxification (3).
Since glutathione is the major antioxidant in our body, it also plays a significant role in protecting our body from cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, mood disorders, viruses, and chronic diseases like heart disease (3, 4).
Liver Detox Drinks
Although you can get these foods in your daily meals, you may want to try a combination of these liver detox ingredients in a smoothie. Breakfast is a great time to incorporate a quick and easy smoothie.
Then for lunch and dinner, eat a healthy meal. Make sure your lunch and dinner provide ample vegetables and lean proteins. Whole grains, like quinoa and brown rice, are also important additions to a healthy meal.
These smoothies are packed with the big three liver detox ingredients: antioxidants, fiber, and lecithin. To make these smoothies, simply combine the ingredients in a large blender and enjoy.
Breakfast Smoothie 1:
1/4 cup ice, ½ teaspoon glutathione powder, ¼ cup soy protein, 1 cup blueberries, ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 banana, ½ teaspoon pure almond extract, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (adjust for desired consistency)
Breakfast Smoothie 2:
¼ cup soy protein, 1 cup sliced plums, 1 teaspoon coriander, 1/3 cup nori, 1 banana, ¼ cup plain Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup ice, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (adjust for desired consistency)
Breakfast Smoothie 3:
1/4 cup ice, ¼ cup vanilla collagen powder, ½ cup kale, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1/3 teaspoon black pepper, ¼ cup walnuts, 1 cup sliced peaches, 1 sliced and peeled avocado, 1 banana, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, 1 cup unsweetened almond milk (adjust for desired consistency)
One crucial job of the liver is to remove toxins from our bodies. The liver does this in two phases. The phases involve transforming non-soluble toxic substances into water-soluble substances. Water-soluble substances can be removed from the body through urine, sweat, waste, respiration, and bile.
The liver’s ability to detox our body significantly impacts our ability to ward off chronic disease and lose weight.
Antioxidant, fiber and lecithin-rich foods support liver detox. These foods include cruciferous vegetables, fruit and berries, herbs and spices, dark leafy greens, nuts, whole grains, nori, and soy.
Eating foods that support liver detox can help you feel better in as little as three days. You will need to regularly eat foods that enhance liver detox for long-term health benefits.
Limit refined sugar, refined grains, and alcohol to promote healthy liver function. Glutathione is the major antioxidant in the body and is significantly involved in the liver detox process. Glutathione supplements may provide help to support the liver and other organs.
- Guan, Yong-Song, and Qing He. “Plants Consumption and Liver Health.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine : ECAM, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4499388/.
- Hodges, Romilly E, and Deanna M Minich. “Modulation of Metabolic Detoxification Pathways Using Foods and Food-Derived Components: A Scientific Review with Clinical Application.” Journal of Nutrition and Metabolism, Hindawi Publishing Corporation, 2015, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4488002/.
- Minich, Deanna M, and Benjamin I Brown. “A Review of Dietary (Phyto)Nutrients for Glutathione Support.” Nutrients, MDPI, 3 Sept. 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6770193/.
- Pizzorno, Joseph. “Glutathione!” Integrative Medicine (Encinitas, Calif.), InnoVision Professional Media, Feb. 2014, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4684116/.