Fresh food items that can be used for liver detox

Detoxing Your Liver: A Complete Guide

Published: October 2021 | Updated: October 2021

You clean your house. You wash your car. You scrub your body…but have you ever given much thought about cleansing and detoxifying your liver?

Your liver is your body's second largest organ and carries out more than 500 functions, including purifying and detoxifying blood, metabolizing protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats as well as being your body's natural filter when it comes to alcohol consumption. A healthy liver impacts processes in your body that you might not even be aware of; it's key to immune system function, for example, and it even plays a role in how successful maintaining a healthy weight is.

Every day, you unintentionally come into contact with toxins from food, water or environmental factors that impact liver health.

So, is there anything you can do to "detox" your liver? Well…the answer is no, if you're referring to products on the market that claim to do exactly that. We hate to sound negative, but there is no way to have a "successful liver cleanse" using a supplement, powder…or a bunch of overpriced juices!

That doesn't mean there's nothing you can do to support your liver's detoxing, however. With the right lifestyle changes, science-based liver supplements, foods and beverages, you can help your liver do the very best job it can of filtering out toxins.

How to detox your liver?

When it comes to detoxifying your liver, luckily, you don't have to follow any fad diets, fasting juice cleanses or sit in a sweat lodge. Taking care of your liver health is as simple as eating healthy foods, consuming the right beverages and incorporating liver health supplements into your wellness routine.

Follow these simple do's and don'ts to show your liver love, every single day!

Woman enjoying a detoxifying green drink

DON'T fall for trendy "liver detox diets."

When the words "diet" or "detox" come to mind, you may automatically start to think about the latest fad diet you saw your favorite celebrity tout on social media. Beware of these, or any product that says it has liver "cleansing" benefits!

Eating nutrient-rich foods to support your liver health is a lot simpler and more sustainable once you know the right foods to eat (and those to avoid as well). Instead of trying to follow some difficult and questionably healthy liver detox diet, stick with a well-balanced approach to eating such as the Mediterranean Diet, which not only supports whole-body health, but also helps with liver support and detoxification. You'll be packing your plate with fresh vegetables and leafy greens, a variety of fresh fruits (fruit salad, anyone?), whole grains, lean protein and healthy fats.

DO fill your plate with liver detox foods.

No, there are no foods that cleanse the liver; that being said, some foods may help detoxify your liver more than others:

  • Cabbage

    : Make every day feel like St. Paddy's Day with a heaping helping of cabbage. Eating cabbage helps stimulate liver detoxifying enzymes that help flush out toxins. Kimchi, coleslaw, cabbage soup and sauerkraut are great ways to incorporate cabbage into your daily diet.
  • Olive oil

    : Drizzle some extra virgin olive oil on your veggies—this healthy fat provides so many health benefits! A little olive oil goes a long way by helping to support against levels of fat in the liver, maintain healthy blood flow and promote liver enzyme levels. EVOO? More like E-V-O-WHOA!
  • Apples

    : Does an apple a day keep the liver toxins away? Not quite, but apples are high in pectin, which help the body cleanse and release toxins from your digestive tract.
  • Leafy greens

    : Leafy green veggies are powerful produce that can be eaten raw, cooked or juiced. These leafy greens are high in chlorophyll and help the liver properly remove environmental toxins from the blood. Make sure you pack your plate with these powerful protectors, since you need a well-nourished liver to neutralize heavy metals, chemicals and even pesticides.
  • Garlic

    : Garlic not only keeps vampires away, but also toxins and helps detoxify your liver. Even a small amount helps activate liver enzymes that help flush out toxins from your body.

DON'T waste money on "liver detox drinks."

Detoxing your liver doesn't stop with a healthy diet; you will also need to be mindful about the beverages you consume as well. But you don't need to drink anything with "detox" on the label! Water's liver cleansing benefits are all you really need; being properly hydrated helps support against liver toxins, aids in digestion and may support healthy weight management.

Lemon water options for liver detox regimen

But plain agua isn't the only option! These healthy beverage options are also liver-friendly:

  • Green tea

    : Is there a liver detox tea? Maybe not, but green tea sure is a good friend to your liver because it helps your system flush what it doesn't need, which will aid your liver's natural detoxification process. Additional benefits from green tea include: supporting your immune system, protecting your liver from toxins and alcohol consumption as well as maintaining healthy liver enzymes.
  • Lemon water

    : Water is a wonderful way to naturally flush and detoxify your body, but sometimes plain ole water can get a little boring, especially if you are drinking at least 64 oz. (as recommended by the dietary guidelines for Americans) throughout the day. A squeeze of lemon (or any other citrus) will not only add some pizzazz, but also some extra protection from Vitamin C.
  • Coffee

    : Your morning brew will keep you energized all morning long, and just like any beverage, it contributes to hydration, which naturally supports liver health. Consuming at least two cups of coffee contains detoxifying benefits that may support healthy fat levels in the liver while promoting antioxidant capacity.

DO avoid alcohol and spirits.

When it comes to detoxifying your liver, alcohol consumption is a big no-no. Beer, spirits and even carbonated alcoholic drinks can all have an impact on your liver health. Not sure whether you are drinking too much? Check with your healthcare provider, who can advise whether you should cut out alcohol completely or only consume in moderation.

Man holding one of many supplements that aid in detoxifying your liver

DON'T eat sugar and processed foods.

You may be tempted to grab a sugary snack or bag of potato chips in between meals for a quick bite to eat, but sugary foods and overly processed foods inhibit your liver from detoxifying properly. Processed foods are packed with preservatives, synthetic ingredients and chemicals that can make it harder for your body to function properly.

Meanwhile, sugar inhibits your body's ability to produce liver enzymes and inhibits the detoxification process. Instead, have a fruit salad that contains natural sugars or grab some healthy fats, like a handful of nuts.

DO incorporate liver supplements.

Again, we urge you to be cautious when you see the words "liver detox supplements," because nothing can cleanse your liver except your liver itself! However, scientifically studied liver health supplements, such as milk thistle, NAC, turmeric and even probiotics can support your liver's detoxifying abilities.

Liver detox supplements: Do they really work?

Liver supplements work in conjunction with a healthy diet, hydrating beverages and healthy lifestyle changes—they support optimal liver function. While there are no "liver detox supplements" that can cleanse your liver, there are a number of formulas that keep your liver's normal detoxification process in tip-top shape.

  • Milk thistle

    : Used for over 2,000 years, milk thistle has been touted for its liver supporting benefits. This liver legend contains antioxidant properties that not only support healthy liver cells, but also promote a healthy inflammatory response as well.
  • NAC

    : N-acetyl-l-cysteine (NAC) has big liver benefits when it comes to supporting your body's detoxification process. It helps support optimal liver function with its antioxidant properties and ability to promote a healthy inflammatory response.
  • Turmeric

    : The antioxidant effects of turmeric help your liver keep toxins away that may impact your liver health and its ability to function at peak performance.
  • Probiotics

    : You want your liver to be a mean, detoxing machine so getting rid of toxins or any other harmful substance will lessen the load on your liver health. Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that can help promote balance in your gut while keeping out harmful bacteria. You should already be incorporating probiotic rich foods into your daily diet (yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, miso and tempeh), but to unleash the full power of probiotics, make sure to supplement to support gut and digestive health.

Lifestyle changes to maintain your liver health

Woman getting good sleep to aid in liver detox

Taking care of your liver health goes beyond just what foods and beverages you consume, and also includes those healthy lifestyle changes you are making between meals. In order to detoxify your liver and support overall health and wellness, make sure you start making the following healthy lifestyle changes:

  1. Work out regularly

    : Exercise is not only a great way to help you maintain a healthy weight, but a good sweat session can also help detoxify your liver. That sweat session will elevate your heart rate and help flush out toxins naturally. If you are new to exercise, start slow. Incorporate walking into your daily routine is a great way to get going if it's been a while since you worked out. For more advanced fitness gurus, try a hot yoga class, run outside, or try a high intensity interval training (HIIT) class.
  2. Sweat it out

    : Working up a sweat through exercise is great for your liver. It's also beneficial to simply relax in a sauna or steam room, which has detoxifying benefits.
  3. Get quality sleep

    : Did you know that liver detoxification is so easy you can do it in your sleep? Quality sleep is a crucial component to promoting a healthy metabolism and removing harmful toxins from the liver. As you sleep, your body turns its energy towards healing, restoring and detoxifying your liver and other bodily functions.

Top signs that your liver is detoxing

Relaxed woman feeling good after her liver detoxifying

Supporting your liver's natural detoxification process helps provide energy to your cells—and that makes the rest of you a well-oiled machine, too, from your metabolism, to your brain function, to your hormone balance.

When you maintain healthy liver function, you'll notice positive impacts to your mood, skin and digestion:

  • Healthy digestion

    : Your digestive system and liver work in tandem. Your digestive system also has its own detoxification system that supports gut health and helps get rid of toxins. As you support your liver health, you may notice healthy bowel regularity as well as relief from occasional bloating.
  • Gorgeous skin

    : Toxins in the body coupled with stress often leads to unwanted skin implications. By helping your body remove toxins, like free radicals and heavy metals, you may notice your skin looks better, too.
  • Improved mood

    : It is important to note that when you feel your best physically, you will feel better mentally as well. With improvements in the appearance of your skin and digestion, and fewer toxins thanks toa focus on supporting liver health, you will feel lighter and happier—both mentally and physically.

How long does it take for your liver to detox?

Woman contributing to her liver health with exercise

Taking care of your liver health so that it can properly detoxify your body requires a healthy lifestyle—make sure you're exercising regularly and eating a well-balanced diet. For extra measure, liver supplements are a great way show this vital organ some extra support as it works hard to cleanse and detoxify your body, every day!

A word to the wise: slow and steady wins the liver detoxifying race. You may be tempted to try a quick fad diet or seven-day liquid cleanse, but a "quick detox fix" will only leave you (and your liver health) disappointed.

Is it safe to detox my liver?

It is safe to detoxify your liver with a healthy diet, hydration, liver supplements, and healthy lifestyle changes.

Just keep in mind that the road to optimal liver health is a marathon and not a sprint, so beware of quick fixes, particularly anything that's deceptively labeled "liver detox supplements" or a cleanse. (Even if these products may not harm your body, your wallet will suffer!)

Always choose supplements that are formulated based upon valid scientific research, and if you're ever unsure if a product is safe to take, check with your doctor first.

References

By: Andrew Davis, Health & Wellness Writer

Andrew Davis is a graduate of Pace University NYC with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. He has more than a decade's worth of experience in content and social media in the health and wellness space. An avid traveler, Andrew also has volunteered as an English teacher and humanitarian in countries throughout Asia.

Scientifically Reviewed By: Michael A. Smith, MD