Detox teas, juicing, having trouble deciphering trends from facts? Feeling sluggish, but aren’t sure how to optimize your liver function…
While browsing the internet, those interested in learning more about liver detoxification may find themselves bombarded by an array of liver cleanse products and articles highlighting “how to detox your liver in six easy steps.” This can be incredibly misleading, so lets clear up some of the confusion!
The liver is one of the most vital organs of the body, yet many people are not fully aware of its many functions. This vital organ’s responsibility is to detoxify various substances that enter the blood through the intestines; such as: alcohol, various drugs, chemicals, etc. The liver also plays a major role in the metabolism of proteins, fats, and carbohydrates; as well as, the storage of important vitamins and minerals, like: iron, vitamin A, B12, and D.
So how does the liver detox naturally?
The goal is not for you to detox your liver, as that is the liver’s natural job and vital role in the body, rather it is important to support the liver’s function of detoxification through gentle practices and changes in lifestyle. The liver fulfills this function through key chemical reactions. When poisonous substances enter the blood, the liver uses these chemical reactions to neutralize, or detoxify, the substance to a nontoxic compound.
Due to the combination of improper or unhealthy diet, alcohol consumption, and the regular intake of drugs, like statins and acetaminophen, the liver becomes easily stressed and sluggish, no longer able to properly carry out its functions. Think of it as pouring into a cup that is already full. When this happens, your immune system cannot handle the toxic load and your body is more susceptible to infections.
Signs your liver is stressed:
- Poor digestion
- Feeling sluggish and tired
- Weight gain, particularly in your midsection
- Sugar cravings
- White or yellow tongue coating and/or bad breath
- Skin rashes and/or acne
- Muscle spasms
- Joint pain
- Body odor
- Abnormal thyroid function
And this isn’t even an exhaustive list!
8 ways to aid your liver’s natural ability to detox!
1. Eat A Gut Friendly Diet
A gut friendly diet means incorporating more foods that promote a diverse microbiome! What is a gut micro-biome? The gut microbiome is made up of trillions of microorganisms found in the gut that helps the body’s digestion, the metabolism of food, and your immune system! When prolonged gut dysbiosis occurs, the gut lining can become damaged, allowing the liver to become exposed to numerous toxins leaching from the gut!
Establishing a diet full of complex carbohydrates, rich fibers, and healthy unsaturated fats feeds the good bacteria in your gut and protects your liver from toxins. Try incorporating nutritious foods like: colorful fruits and veggies, unrefined whole grains, nuts, legumes, and even fermented foods, like yogurt and sauerkraut!
2. Drink More Water
Drinking water has countless health benefits; it’s a necessity for survival, yet many people can barely manage to make room to drink more water between their coffee runs and sugary drinks! Water is a tried and true way to help your liver move toxins.
Essentially, drinking an optimal amount of water throughout the day aids the liver’s continuous flush of toxins; aim to consume an average of two liters of water a day and avoid water stored in plastics!
3. Incorporate Lemon Water
Speaking of water! Lemons are naturally acidic, which stimulates chemical reactions in the liver to produce enzymes that encourage the liver to perform its detoxing functions. Drinking the juice of one lemon in lukewarm water each morning, on an empty stomach, helps stimulate the liver and get it moving! For further benefits, wait thirty minutes before eating your first meal to allow the liver time to produce these enzymes and detox from the day before.
4.Reduce Your Daily Toxic Load
Your daily toxic load can be due to many factors, including what goes into your body and what you put on your body. This means alcohol, drugs, and chemicals found in plastics, hair and skin products, household cleaners, laundry detergents and even air fresheners all have a way of being absorbed by the body and found in the liver to be detoxed. These contributing factors can overwhelm the liver and cause it to become sluggish and unable to process the toxins.
Thinking about how many products in your home that can be affecting your health may be hard to wrap your head around, so it’s important to assess what you can change and start by slowly swapping to safe brands and natural alternatives. Things you can do include: limiting your consumption of drugs and alcohol, using natural cleaning brands, like Meyers and Seventh Generation, switching to natural shampoos, conditioners, and soaps, and embracing natural beauty!
5. Supplement With Milk Thistle
Milk thistle, also known as silybum marianum, is a flowering herb native to mediterranean countries. Milk thistle has been proven to contain daily protective properties that help detoxify the liver, which prevents liver damage, aids optimal liver function, and reduces liver inflammation, one of leading causes of liver damage.
Due to our growing daily toxic load, the liver is often stressed; studies show that milk thistle can regenerate liver cells and normalize elevated liver enzymes. Incorporating this rich antioxidant herb can be a great and inexpensive option for those seeking a natural alternative to give an extra boost in their liver function. We personally love this option from Pure Co.
Sweating is one of the body’s great natural mechanisms that helps reduce water retention and regulates body temperature. One of our society’s great myths is that you can “sweat out toxins;” however, this is not true, the liver and kidney were specifically designed as detoxifying and elimination mechanisms. What sweat from exercise and movement can do for us, though, is help circulate blood and lymph fluid. Circulating lymph fluid carries toxins and other impurities to the kidneys for elimination. So skip the sauna and get your body moving for at least thirty minutes a day. This can be any type of movement, like: walking, biking, skating, weight lifting, and yoga!
7. Get More Sleep
Sleep is incredibly important for optimal health. Sleep is when the body can regenerate by strengthening the immune system, replenishing energy, and working to repair its cells, muscles, and organs. When you sleep the liver begins its detoxification function; however, if you stay up late or get poor sleep, the liver is unable to perform this function properly, which can lead to toxin accumulation.
The liver, like the rest of the body, follows a circadian rhythm. The liver begins its peak detoxing and regeneration from 1 to 3 am; nevertheless, the quality of sleep is as important as the quantity of sleep. Getting to bed between 9 and 11 pm is extremely important for optimal sleep; you should also aim to get between 7-9 hours of sleep depending on your needs and level of activity.
So if you’re a night owl like most, start by trying to go to sleep thirty minutes earlier than your norm every couple of days to work yourself up to an optimal sleep schedule! Supplements that help you sleep can also be a great tool to incorporate into your highly routine.
8. Reduce your stress
Studies show that stress stimulates your HPA-Axis and sympathetic nervous system, which activates significant levels of inflammation in the body. This stress and inflammatory response can have a greatly negative impact on your liver and lead to liver damage!
Needless to say, its important to work on reducing your stress for optimal liver function and overall health! Try incorporating stress managing practices; this can be individual to each person, but some great practices are: proper diet, sleep, exercise, and mediation. *wink wink* You may notice many of these of these practices go hand in hand with taking care of your liver, so you may begin to notice improved mood and reduced stress as you incorporate these gentle practices.
If you need extra help, you can even supplement with ashwagandha or valerian root!
There’s no quick fix!
The important lesson in health is there’s never a quick one time fix. The best thing you can do to aid your liver and boost your overall health is to introduce subtle and effective practices!
Next time you see “liver health in one daily pill” you’ll know to skip the marketing scams and stick to these science-based gentle practices to stay healthy and keep your liver moving!