What happened to your healthy diet going so well prior to the holidays?! If you’re anything like me, you feel like your body just needs a good cleanse! This means giving your liver the love it needs, so it's critical to understand how to do that. A simple, short-term detox diet might be the solution. A detox is designed to promote whole-body health by giving your liver the love it needs to eliminate environmental and dietary toxins from your system.To go along with an effective detox it's important to take preventative measures to decrease your intake of harmful chemicals. By clearing toxins from your body, you may support your energy levels, digestive health, alertness, skin health and so much more.
Here are some simple suggestions for optimal cleansing:
1) Give Your Diet a Mini-Makeover
There are certain foods that can interfere with the liver's ability to detoxify your body. For 5-7 days leading up to your detox diet, try to avoid sugar, refined carbohydrates (such as white rice, crackers and white pasta), artificial sweeteners (such as aspartame), trans fats, gluten, processed soy foods, and alcohol. There are three phases involved in the liver's detoxification process, and all three phases need the proper nutrition support or detox will become sluggish or, even worse, come to a halt.
During this time, assess your pantry and freezer to rid your kitchen of any foods or beverages that might tempt you during your detox diet.
Food and Nutrients to Eat Everyday:
- Leafy greens (especially dandelion greens)
- Cruciferous veggies (cauliflower, brussels sprouts, broccoli)
- Citrus fruit
- Healthy proteins, which are vital for supporting the immune system and the health of liver cells
- High-fiber foods because they bind toxins in the gut
- Olive oil because it helps thin the bile your liver makes
2) Water, Water, Water
Your body needs plenty of water to flush out toxins during your diet. Drinking lots of water keeps you hydrated and may help flush out toxins, so make sure to drink at least eight, eight-ounce glasses of filtered water daily. You’ll know you are hydrated when your urine is a clear to pale yellow color. It doesn’t hurt to mention, drink water from a stainless steel or glass container. Plastic contains many of the toxins you’re trying to eliminate!
3) Incorporate Green Tea
Green tea is full of plant antioxidants known as catechins, a compound known to assist liver function. Consider sipping on green tea in the morning or as a between meal pick-me-up. I also like matcha, which is like supped up green tea.
4) Eat Glutathione-Rich Roughage
Glutathione is the body’s master detoxifier and crucial to your body's overall function. Concentrated in the liver, no other nutrient works harder to detoxify your body, particularly for heavy metals like mercury, aluminum and cadmium. It also helps the body process and eliminate other toxins such as those found in plastics, and conventional body products. Toxins stick onto glutathione, which then carries them into the bile and the stool – and out of your body.
Your body produces its own glutathione, but stress and toxic burden rapidly deplete it. Supplementation can be crucial to effectively resolve these challenges. I like liposomal glutathione. Another option is NAC (N-acetyl-cysteine), which is essential for making and replenishing the powerful antioxidant glutathione. To eat more glutathione, include carrots, beets, tomatoes, grapefruit, and spinach.
Glutathione Needs Riboflavin
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is necessary to regenerate decaying, dysfunctional glutathione back into whole, functional glutathione. If you don't consume enough foods rich in riboflavin, your supply of glutathione can't keep up. Without functional, healthy glutathione, you can't remove industrial chemicals from your body. Higher amounts of riboflavin are found in liver, lamb, mushrooms, spinach, almonds, wild salmon and eggs.
Glutathione Needs Selenium
In order for your glutathione to turn hydrogen peroxide into water, it needs selenium. Without selenium, your body can't get rid of hydrogen peroxide. Many people are deficient in selenium. It is found in higher amounts in brazil nuts, tuna, halibut, sardines, beef, liver, chicken, brown rice and eggs.
5) Make a Giant Leafy Green Salad
Leafy greens are extremely healthy for the liver. Here are just a handful of reasons to eat leafy greens everyday:
- They're high in plant chlorophyll that absorb environmental toxins.
- Greens increase bile production and support healthy bile (opposed to bile that looks like sludge).
- Greens neutralize heavy metals, chemicals, and pesticides, which lowers the burden on the liver.
- Greens are high in fiber, which help with elimination. If you do not have a bowel movement everyday, the fat-soluble toxins your body is trying to eliminate via your stool, end up sitting in the intestinal tract and get reabsorbed into your body. Very BAD!
Whether you like greens raw, cooked, juiced, or in a smoothie, you can’t go wrong by including them every day, if not multiple times per day.
6) Cook with Garlic
Garlic is very high in sulfur, known to activate liver enzymes that help your body flush out toxins. Garlic also contains high amounts of allicin and selenium, two natural compounds that aid in liver cleansing.
7) Detoxing Herbal Ideas to Complement Your Diet
There are some known supplements that support a healthy and detoxified liver, such as dandelion root, milk thistle, turmeric, schisandra berry, and reishi mushroom. I like this blend for liver support.
Schisandra berry is one herb I especially love for the liver due to its powerful cleansing qualities. Not only does it cleanse the liver of all types of toxins, but once those toxins enter our blood stream, schisandra also assists in excreting the toxins from our body. Because of schisandra’s liver cleansing ability and antioxidant content, it’s also known for supporting skin health and healthy aging. Read up on Schisandra berry’s incredible benefits, and for more info about the amazing adaptogen, reishi mushroom, read The reishi mushroom has many benefits.
Giving your body a “reset” can set you up for more success, and put you on track for a healthy and happy new year. Here’s a great, simple liver cleansing drink to get you started.
In Health and Happiness,
Kelly Harrington, MS, RDN
Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Healthy Goods
Sakata R et al. Green tea with high-density catechins improves liver function and fat infiltration in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease patients: a double-blink placebo-controlled study. Int J Mol Med. 2013 Nov; 32(5):989-94.
Dandelion University of Maryland Medical Center.
Soares, A.A.; de Sá-Nakanishi, A.B.; Bracht, A.; da Costa, S.M.G.; Koehnlein, E.A.; de Souza, C.G.M.; Peralta, R.M. Hepatoprotective Effects of Mushrooms. Molecules 2013, 18, 7609-7630.