The human body has an incredible superpower.
Despite the fact we overload our systems by eating less-than-healthy food, surround ourselves with pollutants, and place stress on our bodies and minds, our bodies possess an amazing self-cleaning “detox” process.
- The largest organ in our body, the skin, pushes sweat through our pores to expel toxins while regulating our internal temperature.
- Our kidneys filter blood and remove any waste products. These products are excreted through the urine, preventing the build-up of toxins like urea and ammonium.
- The lymphatic system, which runs all over our body, is composed of white blood cells that carry bacteria to the lymph nodes, keeping us safe and free of infection.
- Our intestines absorb all of the nutrients we need from the food we eat and pushes the waste through the digestive tract to eliminate it from the body.
- Perhaps the most vital and hard-working detoxing organ is the liver. It converts toxins and waste products into urine, to be removed through the kidneys, or into bile, to be eliminated through the small intestine (1).
It’s important to take good care of the liver so that it can do its job properly.
Luckily, there are plenty of easy, natural methods for detoxing your liver.
Spoiler alert: most of them involve practicing some healthy habits that, in addition to your liver, will benefit the rest of your body too!
Why Is the Liver Important?
Before we dive right in and explore how to detox your liver naturally, let’s touch on what exactly this incredible organ really does.
The liver is the body’s largest internal organ and it can be found in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen.
Besides detoxifying the body, the liver has many other significant functions:
- It produces cholesterol, proteins, and clotting factors
- It metabolizes nutrients and coverts them into forms to be used within the body
- It controls what enters the bloodstream and adjusts the composition of blood
- It stores many essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A and iron
An unhealthy liver can wreak havoc on the rest of your body.
Excess alcohol intake, a poor diet, viral hepatitis, and drug use can all place immense amounts of stress on the liver, eventually leading to chronic liver damage.
How to Detox Your Liver in 5 Simple Steps
Our liver’s job is to detoxify our body and keep us healthy. Our job is to keep the liver healthy so it can do its job efficiently.
Here are a few of the best ways to detox your liver so that it can continue to detoxify your body:
1. Stay hydrated.
Wondering how to detox your liver and kidneys simultaneously? It’s easier than you might think.
Drinking water is one of the best (and simplest) ways to keep our body healthy.
A glass of water half an hour before a meal can kickstart the digestive system by getting bile production and digestive enzymes going – this helps with digestion and keeps the liver running smoothly.
Being hydrated also helps your body remove waste, allowing the liver to carry out toxins more effectively and preventing build-up.
As a quick rule of thumb, the amount of water you need is about half of your bodyweight in ounces each day. So, someone who weighs 150 pounds would need around 75 ounces of water daily.
Exercise, sweating, or any strenuous activity will further up your water requirement.
Make it a habit to drink a cup of water first thing in the morning, last thing before bed, and before each meal.
Set goals for your water intake and challenge yourself to meet (and exceed) your needs. If you need a little more flavor, enjoy infused water with fruit or herbs.
2. Bring on the fiber.
Fiber is crucial for a healthy liver. It helps by binding to cholesterol and carrying it out of the body, which in turn eases the job of the liver.
Fiber also moves very slowly through the body and can keep us feeling full and satisfied.
This helps cut cravings and keeps us keep our weight under control.
Obesity places stress on the liver and is even tied to an increased risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (2).
Recent research has confirmed the strong association between fiber and liver health; a high-fiber diet has even been shown to reverse the effects of a fatty liver (3)!
Other studies have proven that soluble fiber can help normalize liver enzymes and reduce the risk factors of liver disease (4).
The best sources of fiber are nuts, fruits, vegetables, and legumes.
You can increase your intake of these foods by eating a vegetable entree a few times a week, swapping your sweets for whole fruits, and adding beans or chickpeas into your meals for a fiber-filled boost.
Try this recipe: Fiber Starter Breakfast Bowl
3. Cut down on processed foods.
Manufacturers like to cram in lots of sodium, sugar, and chemicals to “improve” taste and appearance, extend shelf-life, and maximize profits.
Unfortunately, our liver gets the task of filtering through all the junk we eat and too much processed food can really take a toll on its functionality.
One particularly pesky ingredient that’s practically ubiquitous in processed foods is high fructose corn syrup. This refined sugar is made up of about 55 percent fructose and 45 percent glucose.
When we consume high fructose corn syrup, the liver uses it to create fat, which slowly accumulates in the liver cells and can lead to liver disease (5).
Excess salt intake can also strain the liver. One of the liver’s jobs is to process any fluids we consume. Extra sodium intake can lead to water retention.
The water we drink to make up for this coupled with the fluid retention can cause more stress on the liver, especially if it’s already damaged.
Cutting out the convenience foods – and eating for energy – is one of the best ways to detox the liver. A few simple ways to ease into it:
- Experiment in the kitchen and try making healthy versions of your favorite restaurant foods (without the additives).
- Stick to the outer perimeter of the store when you go grocery shopping – the center aisles are usually where the processed, frozen, and junk foods hide.
- Make large batches when you cook so you have leftovers throughout the week. Smart meal preparation can save time and make cooking at home much less stressful.
Try this recipe: Healthy One Pot Chicken Alfredo (Dairy-Free)
4. Start the morning right.
If you’re wondering how to detox your liver at home, the answer could be in your blender. A good green smoothie is the easiest way to pack in plenty of nutrients that support a strong liver.
A few essential ingredients for your liver detoxing smoothie:
Beets. Beetroot has long been of interest to scientists because of its phytochemical compounds.
Beets contains a pigment called betalain, which gives it its bright color and provides antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. This has made it especially strong when it comes to preventing inflammatory diseases, like arthritis, cancer, and liver disease (6).
Try this recipe: Red Velvet Beet Smoothie
Collard greens. This cruciferous vegetable is an excellent addition to a green smoothie because of its disease-fighting capabilities.
Cruciferous vegetables, like collard greens, contain glucosinolates, which are broken down to form indoles and isothiocyanates. These components have been shown to fight several types of cancer, including liver cancer (7).
Artichokes. It might seem like an odd addition to a smoothie, but artichokes have some serious health benefits when it comes to the liver.
The active ingredient of the artichoke is a phenolic acid called cynarin. This potent compound is found in the highest concentration in the leaves of the artichoke and works by stimulating bile to help the liver rid the body of waste products (8).
It has also been shown to protect the liver from oxidative stress and ease the stress on your liver by lowering cholesterol.
Remember to blend instead of juice to retain as many nutrients as possible and minimize the sugar by making most of your smoothie green.
5. Eat potassium-rich foods.
Potassium is one of the most important minerals in our body. It regulates water balance, conducts muscle contractions, and keeps the heart pumping.
It also helps us grow, metabolizes nutrients, and aids the nervous system – and it plays a big role in liver health.
Potassium deficiency can cause metabolic balance and cellular function to go haywire, leading to a myriad of metabolic disorders that could ultimately contribute to liver disease.
Insulin resistance, in particular, is linked to low potassium levels and is a known culprit of liver disease (9).
Studies have solidified the connection between potassium and liver disease, noting that low serum potassium levels are associated with an increased prevalence in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (10).
A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can easily supply you with a good amount of potassium. Bananas, avocados, potatoes, and tomatoes are all excellent sources that should be staples of a liver-healthy regimen.
Try this recipe: Stuffed Avocado
How Long Does it Take to Detox Your Liver?
When you start making healthy changes, you should start seeing the results almost immediately. After a week or two, you’ll likely be feeling the beneficial effects well beyond your liver.
Remember, though, that healthy lifestyle changes should be sustained long-term. The best way to get a strong liver that can do its job efficiently is to treat it well and continue to do so for long after the typical timeline for a detox.
Love Your Liver
Commonly dubbed the most important metabolic organ in the body, it’s vital that we keep our liver happy. Give it what it needs and it will continue to cleanse and detox your body for you.
Above all else, stay hydrated, minimize alcohol intake, and eat a nutrient-dense diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins. Your liver (and the rest of your body) will thank you.