I often get asked how to detox your liver or if liver detoxes work from members of my community. The liver is your body’s filter, and it works the same way as the filters in your HVAC, your car, and the filters that clean your water from toxins and heavy metals. As with any filter, your toxins can build to an unhealthy level, and additional support is needed.
Your body has many systems in place to remove waste. In a healthy person, the lymphatic system, kidneys, skin, lungs, and liver work together to regulate the flow of toxins, metals, pollutants, alcohol, caffeine, and medications. However, constant exposure to toxins from the food we eat, the water we drink, the clothes we wear, and our beauty products can cause this system to be overworked. Too much toxic exposure causes your body’s overworked systems to struggle to optimally flush these substances out of your body.
I don’t want you to worry. I’m going to tell you how to detox your liver, why you would want to, and provide you with the tools to optimize your liver. Before we get into that, I’m going to tell you what your liver does.
The Functions of Your Liver
The liver may not be the CEO of your body, but it’s on the executive team. It’s your body’s second-largest organ after your skin and is the only organ that can lose up to 75% of its mass and regrow to its full size.1
Your liver weighs about three pounds and holds about 1 pint of your body’s blood supply at any given moment of the day. The liver performs more than 500 vital functions, including producing cholesterol and proteins for blood plasma and carrying fats through your body, converting excess glucose into glycogen for storage, and regulating amino acids such as glutamine. It works with your immune system to remove bacteria.
The liver is also a very vital part of the digestive process. When you eat food, it travels through the mouth and into your stomach. Your stomach and intestines break down the food you eat and absorb nutrients through your gut lining.
If your gut functions optimally, this process works smoothly; nutrients are absorbed into your blood and pass through the liver, and waste goes into the large intestine and forms stool. However, if you have a leaky gut, your liver must work harder to filter out particles from the blood transported from the stomach. Let’s talk about that.
Leaky Gut and Your Liver
A poor diet consisting of gluten, dairy, and toxic foods such as alcohol and caffeine, along with stress, heavy metals, medications, and gut infections such as SIBO and Candida overgrowth, can cause leaky gut. When your gut is leaky, more particles can escape into your bloodstream, which then gets transported to your liver and forces it to work harder to remove them from your blood.
Your immune system reacts by sending out wave after wave of inflammation to attack the foreign invaders. This state of high alert causes your immune system to become overstressed and fire less accurately and can lead your tissues to get caught in the crosshairs and cause a flood of symptoms. Eventually, this will develop into full-blown autoimmunity if not addressed.
The good news is that one way to not overburden your liver is by fixing your leaky gut. Take this quiz to find out if you have a leaky gut.
Do you think you have leaky gut?
While you repair your leaky gut, giving your liver some additional support to get it functioning optimally is a good idea. Yet, how do you detox your liver? Furthermore, what is a liver detox? Let’s discuss.
What Is a Liver Detox?
The most common belief is that a week-long juice cleanse is the perfect detox for your liver. Yet, juice cleanses aren’t always effective and deprive your body of dietary fiber and other nutrients. Other methods are much more effective and will consistently support optimal liver function, and I’ll tell you about those in just a minute. First, let’s talk about what can cause your liver not to function correctly and signs you could have an impaired liver.
Signs Your Liver Isn’t Functioning Optimally
As I mentioned earlier, our modern lifestyles expose us to so many toxins. Your liver is essential to obtaining optimal health. Many risk factors can impair liver function, such as:2
- Alcohol use
- Low potassium levels
- The use of NSAIDs or acetaminophen (Tylenol)
- Intravenous drug use
- Unprotected sex
- Autoimmune disease
- Tattoos or body piercings
- Obesity and a high-fat diet
- A diet full of processed foods, including artificial sweeteners.
As I mentioned earlier, a poor diet and alcohol use are the most common risk factors for liver disease. So, how do you know your liver isn’t functioning optimally? Here are signs to look out for:3
- Bloating and gas
- Acid reflux
- Inability to lose weight
- Changes in mood
- Dark urine
- Yellowish skin or eyes
- Poor appetite
- Bruising easily
- Chronic fatigue or feeling tired all the time
There are many preventive steps to take care of your liver, such as limiting alcohol use, losing weight, and understanding your risk factors for liver disease. The good news is that if your liver isn’t functioning optimally, you can support your liver function. I’m going to tell you how to detox your liver and ways to support optimal liver function.
Ways to Detox Your Liver
You don’t need a fancy juice cleanse or an expensive “liver detox” program to get your liver back on its feet. These natural steps promote detoxification and facilitate healthy liver function.
Drink Filtered Water
Sometimes the most straightforward step can be a giant leap. The simple truth is that drinking plenty of water can keep your liver in tip-top shape and your kidneys. Your liver and kidney work together to move toxins from your bloodstream and turn them into water-soluble substances transported in your urine. Water helps your kidney and liver transport toxins out of your body. If you’re dehydrated, you’re sure to feel the effects on your liver.
Not any water will do to get the full detoxifying effect. Remember, your liver’s main job is to filter out toxins. If the water you drink includes heavy metals and toxins, it’s counterintuitive to detoxifying your liver. Drinking filtered water throughout the day to get the full effect. I have Aquasauna water filters throughout my home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, and my office in Austin, Texas.
Remove Toxic and Inflammatory Foods
Water and diet are the first places to start detoxing your liver. Caffeine, alcohol, processed foods with refined sugar, unhealthy fats, additives, and preservatives do the opposite of detoxing your liver.
You should also remove inflammatory foods such as gluten and dairy. Gluten inhibits digestion because it damages the gut and causes a leaky gut, allowing toxins and particles to get into your liver, and forcing it to work harder, as I mentioned earlier.
Trans fats have higher levels of saturated fats, increasing the risk of heart disease and cholesterol levels. Trans fat also affects your immune system and can lead to inflammation.
Instead, eat a diet full of organic fruits and vegetables and meats. Also, add Complete Enzymes to support optimal digestion & nutrient absorption.
Eat Potassium Rich Foods
Some studies found that low potassium levels increase metabolic disorders, including fatty liver and type 2 diabetes.4 Optimal amounts of potassium are 4,700 mg daily, and I’d be willing to bet you aren’t getting that much in your diet. There are a lot of health benefits of potassium, including lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, supporting heart health, and promoting optimal liver function.
It’s easy to add potassium-rich foods to your diet. You might think that bananas are the potassium superstar, yet that’s not the case. Sweet potatoes are the most potassium-dense food you can eat; one medium sweet potato contains 700 mg of potassium. Furthermore, sweet potatoes are rich in beta-carotene, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin D, magnesium, and iron. Bananas and spinach are also excellent sources of potassium.
Reduce Your Toxic Exposure
It can be hard to avoid toxins altogether in today’s toxic world full of heavy metals, plastics, mold, and synthetic chemicals. Every single one of us gets exposed to an unprecedented amount of toxins. There are over 80,000 chemicals registered for use in the United States, and another 1,700 get added each year.
These industrial chemicals are the primary ingredients in our cosmetics and personal care products. An average of seven new industrial chemicals get approval by the U.S. government daily, and 80% of these get approved in three weeks or less, with little or no safety testing done.
Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle is an excellent place to start when it comes to keeping your immune system functioning optimally. I recommend a two-step approach for taming the toxins: 1) minimize your exposure and 2) support your detox pathways. However, the bombardment of environmental toxins we face each day — in the form of water and air pollution, pesticides and herbicides in our food, and chemicals in our beauty products and cleaning products — requires us to turn to our body’s most powerful methods of detoxification to keep up with our toxic burdens.
Taking these steps is an excellent start to supporting optimal liver function. Another way to detox your liver is through supplements, especially ones containing selenium, glutathione, and milk thistle, your liver’s best friend. I’m going to tell you about the best way to get these three potent ingredients to promote optimal liver function.
What Supplements Help Your Liver?
Diet and water are the two best ways to get your liver back up and running. In most cases, your liver needs additional support to reduce its toxic burden. Enter glutathione, selenium, and milk thistle.
Selenium isn’t your average antioxidant, and this trace mineral powerhouse is not only a potent antioxidant, yet it also helps kickstart and maintain your body’s glutathione production cycle. Aside from protecting your liver tissue (and the rest of your body) from oxidative stress, it also supports normal inflammation levels and helps detoxify liver enzymes.
Glutathione is your body’s natural detoxifier, produced in your liver and recycled continuously; it is the most critical detoxifying molecule you have. Glutathione helps remove heavy metals such as mercury, aluminum, and cadmium from your body, and it also helps eliminate toxins found in plastics and conventional cosmetic products or in mold. Our body’s glutathione production can be halted by intense physical activity over extended periods, which is why supplementation is essential.
And finally, milk thistle! Milk thistle is a fantastic herb that is famous for supporting liver health. Used for over nearly 2,000 years, it contains a polyphenol called silymarin that has a powerful propensity for liver cells. In the liver, milk thistle helps protect liver cells from the damage done by toxins and heavy metals that the liver works hard to metabolize and detoxify. Milk thistle also supports bile flow and viscosity and supports healthy levels of inflammation in the liver.
What if I told you that you could get all these crucial ingredients in one easy-to-take supplement? Well, you can! I formulated Liver Support to include selenium, glutathione, and milk thistle to promote optimal liver function. Liver Support helps detox and optimize your liver function and contains 100 mcg of selenium, 201 mg of milk thistle, and 100 mg of Acetyl-Glutathione to support your liver.
Fancy liver cleanses aren’t going to get you the results you’re looking for when figuring out how to detox your liver. Changes to your diet, drinking water, and supporting your body’s natural detoxification process with detoxifying supplements promote optimal liver function and put you on the path to optimal health.
- Liver Transplant. Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2022.
- Liver disease. Mayo Clinic. 2021.
- Chronic Liver Disease. Ashish Sharma & Shivaraj Nagalli. National Library of Medicine. 2022.
- https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3583179/ . Johannes Wiegand and Thomas Berg. Deutsches Arzteblatt International. 2013.