Liver Detoxes: Do They Work?

LIVER DETOXES: DO THEY WORK?

Written by: ASN

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Time to read 5 min

What does the Liver do?



The liver is an essential organ that we can’t survive without. It’s about the size of a football and sits on your right side, under your rib cage. Its primary functions are to digest food, filter blood, and dispose of toxic substances. You can think of your liver as a filter within your body. It breaks down substances, extracts energy, and removes harmful toxins from the bloodstream. It determines which nutrients should be processed, stored, disposed of or go back into your blood. So whenever you drink alcohol or take medicine, your liver is the one who has to deal with it. Hungover? That’s your liver working overtime to get rid of the poison you enjoyed yesterday.



So, why Liver Detox?



While you go about your day, your liver is working around the clock. Not only does it filter toxins, the list of jobs are endless, with hundreds of tasks to get through. And with all that work, we must help out in any way we can. Otherwise, the consequences can be severe. While you might not detect it at first, liver conditions that go unnoticed can result in a life-threatening condition: liver failure. So, what can we do to support our liver and ensure it stays healthy? Let's take a deep dive.



How to Support a Healthy Liver:



Your lifestyle behaviours and your daily choices have long-term effects on your liver. To be honest, these may not be things we think about in our 20s or even in our 30s. And while these changes might not be as easy and convenient as a one-time cleanse, they are bound to have positive impacts on your general health, along with protecting your liver and keeping it healthy. 


So, if you're planning to start the new year by implementing some positive changes, this is a great place to start. But also, let's not limit ourselves to the whole 'new year, new me' two-week period. These are changes you can make at any time!



Alcohol and Medication



Who knows, after Christmas and New Year's, you might even be tired of alcohol? And hopefully so, because limiting alcohol is one of the absolute best ways to protect your liver. Effectively, alcohol is a toxin (or at least that is how the liver perceives it anyway). You see, the more you drink, the harder your liver has to work, which takes away from the hundreds of other jobs it’s responsible for. Over time, it can lead to serious liver diseases. Why? Because excessive drinking destroys liver cells.


The only worse thing is mixing alcohol with medication. Please avoid this at all costs. And speaking of medicine, this is number two on the list of things to monitor. Taking too much, taking it too often, mixing multiple, or taking the wrong medication can have severe implications on your liver. Many drugs are over-prescribed, and we sure are quick to jump the gun as soon as we think a headache is coming on. Or when we try to subdue a hangover by popping pills, potentially further damaging our liver after a night of drinking alcohol. Of course, medication has its place and we're not saying avoid it when you need it. It's one of the wonders of the modern world. But please be careful with overuse and don't hesitate to consult your doctor or trusted healthcare professional.



Diet



Next up is diet - another great way to keep your liver healthy. 


Start by staying hydrated, make sure you get enough fibre, while limiting table salt, saturated fats, and sugars. Include a variety of foods, a mix of fruit and vegetables, grains, lean proteins, dairy and healthy fats. Fatty fish, nuts, blueberries, and grapefruit have been shown to have potential benefits in regard to liver health. But there's more, and our guess is that you'll like this one. Drink more coffee! Surprisingly, coffee has been shown to have several positive effects on your liver, lowering the risk for certain liver diseases (Heath, R et al. 2017). So in a nutshell (or bean), coffee is often considered the 'magical bean'.


Another way to reduce the build-up of fat in your liver is to exercise consistently. Both cardio and resistance training work, so keep doing what you enjoy.



Additional behaviours worth considering:



  • Beware of household items that contain toxins
  • Avoid inhaling chemical fumes
  • Rinse fruit and vegetables of pesticides


What Ingredients can help?



When it comes to supplements, a few compounds have been shown to support liver health:



Inositol Aids in liver detoxification, supports weight loss, improves blood circulation, decreases blood pressure, and regulates blood sugar.
Choline L-Bitartrate Metabolises fat, helps to remove fat from your liver (visceral fat), supports cognition and memory, reduces blood pressure, supports cellular growth, and regulates automatic bodily functions. In a study performed on rats, Choline and Inositol have been shown to prevent excessive accumulation of cholesterol and triglycerides, which results in decreased liver fat. This is great since too much fat in your liver can cause inflammation and damage your liver, further creating scarring, which is detrimental to liver health. Evidence suggests those with a Choline deficiency are at higher risk of developing Non Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NALD).
L-Methionine Improves wound healing, helps to detoxify the body from heavy metals, prevents excess fat build up in the liver, lowers cholesterol, and protects cells from pollutants.
L-Cysteine Prevents acute liver failure, protects the liver and kidney from damage, aids in detoxification, replenishes the powerful antioxidant Glutathione, and boosts brain health. A four week clinical study using L-Cysteine resulted in significant kidney and liver function changes as well as a 5.8% decrease in body weight and 15% decrease in serum cholesterol.
Potassium Reduces blood pressure, reduces the risk of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, helps regulate critical body functions, reduces water retention, and supports the nervous system. A clinical study of 1285 participants aged 25-64 who consumed more potassium experienced reduced blood pressure compared to those who consumed less.



But, what about Juice Cleanses?



This might be a hard pill to swallow for some. The truth is, simply doing a juice cleanse won’t heal your liver.


However, as mentioned above, some of the best steps to protect your liver and keep it healthy are a diverse diet and hydration. When you consume a ‘detox juice’, you’re actively getting a healthy range of fibrous vegetables and fruits that contain essential vitamins and minerals in an easily digested and absorbed way. So while it may not detoxify your liver, it may be beneficial for both liver and general health. A big reason why you might feel better on a detox diet is simply that you’re not eating highly processed foods, sugar, or solid fats. This is also synonymous with what is known as an 'elimination diet' whereby you cut out certain food groups and/or processed foods, refined sugars etc.



The Conclusion



The liver is your largest solid organ, and a powerful one. It’s your inner filter and is responsible for dealing with your behaviours. You have the power to impact your liver health positively. By avoiding processed foods, sugar, alcohol, environmental toxins, and the overuse of drugs, you can drastically improve your general and liver health. Consume a diverse diet and exercise regularly, enjoy a cup of joe. Please don’t trust the juice cleanse to heal you but understand its benefits. Finally, find quality supplementation with the right ingredients (like the ones listed above) to help support one of your body's most important organs.


Need help keeping your liver in tip-top shape? We've got you! Visit your local ASN store or reach out to our friendly team online to find out more!



References


Heath, R et al. (2017). Coffee: The magical bean for liver diseases. World Journal of Hepatology. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5440772/