Man drinking fresh green juice to promote detoxification

Should You Do a Diet Detox?

Published: October 2021

Detox diets may seem like all the rage – you've seen them in magazines, or your favorite celebrity has done one—but unfortunately, these short-term quick fix diets don't provide long term benefits. (They're also kind of tedious, unless raw celery juice is your beverage of choice!)

But that doesn't mean there aren't things you can do to support your liver's detoxification process. The key is to be committed. We're talking about everyday changes that support optimal liver health…not just one week of grinning and bearing it through the latest cleanse that's trending on social media.

With the right lifestyle changes coupled with a well-balanced-diet and liver detoxifying supplements, you'll be well on your way to giving your liver a little bit of love each day.

Should I do a detox diet?

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With apologies to the pop culture icons who've made the word "detox" an international phenomenon, a healthy diet that supports a healthy liver doesn't need to be all that complicated, once you are familiar with the basic building blocks of what should be on your plate. Instead of the latest and greatest detox plan, stick with a well-rounded approach to eating, like the Mediterranean Diet, which is packed with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, seeds, lean meats and healthy fats that will help support your liver and vital organs every day.

Here's some food for thought when it comes to what to eat:

  • Fruits and vegetables:

    You might end up on a first-name basis with the clerk in the produce section, once you realize how many nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables you should be eating every day! Go ahead, fill your cart up with tomatoes, broccoli, kale, spinach, cauliflower, bananas, grapes, melons, peaches, etc…whatever fruits and vegetables float your boat.
  • Healthy starches:

    Don't be fooled by those other carb cutting diets—healthy carbohydrates are a wonderful source of energy! Make sure you are consuming nutrient-rich whole grains like oats, brown rice, barley, whole grain bread, and even wheat pasta. You can also incorporate potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips or yams for your carbohydrate fix.
  • Nuts and beans:

    Almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, walnuts and most other nuts are a great snack or the perfect addition to any salad or baked good—just watch your portion sizes, since nuts are high in calories. Beans also provide benefits as well, as they are packed with fiber and protein. Pick a bean, any bean: black beans, kidney beans, or pinto beans are great choices!
  • Healthy fats:

    Healthy fats are essential for our body to function. In addition to nuts, olive oil, avocados, chia seeds, flax seeds, peanut butter, almond butter and fatty fish are great sources of fat.
  • Protein:

    For optimal health benefits, make sure you are consuming lean sources of protein, like seafood, poultry, eggs and lower-fat dairy.

How do I detoxify my liver?

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You don't need to adhere to fad diets, juice cleanses or drinking apple cider vinegar or celery juice for days on end to detoxify your liver. In fact, with some daily lifestyle changes and new healthy habits, you can help support your liver health day after day:

  • Drink more water.

    Does water help flush your liver of toxins? Good old H20 is the way to go when you are looking for a way to detoxify your liver; water is an essential liquid. Plus, it helps your liver metabolize what you don't need, so your kidneys can then move toxins and built-up waste out of your body.

    Every day, you should aim for at least eight 8 oz. glasses of water—warm, ice cold, or hot (making it perfect for brewing a nice cup of tea). For best results (and to avoid sprinting to the bathroom), spread your water consumption throughout the day – upon waking, between meals, during early evening, and at least 2 hours before you go to bed.

    Bored of plain water? Incorporate the juice from half a lemon. Not only will you enjoy this kick of citrus, but a little lemon adds an extra source of vitamin C and aids in digestion.
  • Sweat it out.

    Did you know a good sweat session can help detoxify your liver? During warm, summer months, you may be able to break a sweat by simply walking outside. Sweat induced by elevating your heart rate, specifically through exercise, helps flush out toxins.

    Try a hot yoga class, go for a run outside, or join a high intensity interval training (HIIT) class. It's also not a bad idea to opt for a relaxing session in a sauna, which has detoxifying benefits.

    Anything healthy that makes you sweat is a great way to flush out toxins, but just make sure to shower (or at the very least, wipe away sweat) as soon as possible to avoid reabsorption back into the body.
  • Sleep soundly.

    Detoxifying your liver is so easy you can do it with your eyes closed! Quality sleep is a vital component of maintaining a healthy metabolism and removing toxins from the liver. While you are asleep, your body shifts its energy and resources towards maintaining and detoxifying not only your liver, but all your major bodily functions.

    Your lymphatic system (aka your body's personal "sewage system") works in tandem with your liver while you are sleeping—kicking toxins to the curb while rejuvenating cognitive, physical and behavioral functions, which can support your mood, focus and energy.
  • Incorporate probiotics.

    Simply put, the more effective your digestive system is at getting rid of toxins, the less work it will pass along to your liver. Luckily, probiotics are beneficial bacteria and yeast that can help promote balance in your gut, which can go a long way towards keeping your gut healthy.

    Probiotic rich foods should be part of your daily diet, so make sure to incorporate yogurt, kefir, kombucha, pickles, miso, tempeh and kimchi throughout your meals. If none of those healthy foods please your palate, there are plenty of supplements to help support gut health and provide the beneficial bacteria your digestive system needs.
  • Don't drink a lot of alcohol.

    Grabbing a "cold one" after a long, hard day at work might sound nice, but too much alcohol can impact your liver health, particularly when it comes to your liver cells.

    How many servings count as "too many"? Make sure to check with your healthcare provider, who will be able to advise whether you should cut liquor out entirely (mocktails anyone?), or only consume it in moderation.
  • Drink coffee.

    Your morning brew not only has beneficial impacts to your energy levels throughout the day, but also supports liver health as well.

    Consuming coffee may support healthy fat levels in the liver while promoting antioxidant capacity. Consuming two or more cups of coffee per day has been associated with these detoxification benefits.

What foods should I avoid for a healthy liver?

Some of the things that taste best going down aren't doing your liver any favors. Make sure to steer clear of these foods and beverages:

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  1. Artificial juice, sugary sodas and beverages:

    Sugar does no favors to your liver health—and unfortunately, your favorite juices are packed with sugars and artificial sweeteners. And when it comes to sugar in soda… do we really need to say more? Instead, make sure you are consuming water throughout the day to stay hydrated and detoxified. Add a squeeze of lemon or dash of cayenne for a real kick. If you're craving juice, make sure it is freshly squeezed from the source and don't add any additional sugar.
  2. Butter:

    You butter believe that this golden glob is high in saturated fat, which is no bueno when it comes to liver health. Instead, sauté your way to staying healthy with extra virgin olive oil. Known for being rich in antioxidants and promoting a healthy inflammatory response, olive oil is a healthy alternative to butter and canola oil. Its versatility can be used in just about any dish, including salad dressings, marinades, dips, spreads and sautés.
  3. Dessert:

    This one is going to hurt, but for optimal liver health and detoxification you're going to have to say so long to baked goods. That means saving cakes, pastries, pies, ice cream and yes, even birthday cake, for very infrequent, special occasions (like your actual birthday!). Instead, get creative in the kitchen and concoct your own desserts with natural sweeteners like berries, nuts and even beans.
  4. Other foods with added sugar:

    Become a food label maven and scrutinize the ingredients on any processed foods you buy for a mention of added sugar—you'll find this foe in foods you probably don't think of as "sweet," like tomato sauce, frozen dinners, and salad dressings!
  5. Fatty meats:

    It is important to incorporate lean, healthy meats into your diet for satiety, energy and muscle mass. These healthy proteins include: poultry, seafood and eggs. Bad news for bacon lovers and cured meat connoisseurs…you're going to have to say buh-bye to bacon, sausage and cured meats. (Sorry, charcuterie board lovers!)
  6. Fried foods:

    Whether you're looking to detox your liver or just eat healthier food in general, fried food has no place on your plate. Put simply, fried foods are high in saturated fat and can make it harder for your liver to do its job.

What supplements help detoxify my liver?

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Healthy lifestyle changes and a well-balanced diet are great steppingstones to take care of your liver health. If you're looking to give your liver even more love, turn to detoxifying supplements that will help your vital organ do its job of removing those toxins.

  1. Milk thistle:

    Milk thistle has been used for over 2,000 years because of its legendary liver support. It contains strong antioxidant properties that help support liver cell health and a healthy inflammatory response.
  2. Green tea:

    Green tea helps support liver health due to its high concentration of antioxidants, which encourage your body's natural detoxification process, protect against free radicals, and help inhibit fat deposits.
  3. Licorice root:

    Licorice root has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese and Japanese regimens to help support healthy liver function. Licorice root helps support a healthy inflammatory response, contains antioxidant properties, and produces liver-protective effects.
  4. NAC:

    A big name like N-acetyl-L-cysteine (NAC) has big liver benefits when it comes to your body's detoxification process. NAC helps support healthy liver function due to its antioxidant properties and ability to promote a healthy inflammatory response.
  5. Turmeric:

    Turmeric also contains big benefits when it comes to liver health. The antioxidant effects of turmeric help your liver support against toxins that may impact its ability to function properly.

How can I support my liver health?

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When it comes to supporting and detoxifying your liver, it is a marathon, not a sprint. You may be tempted to try a quick, fad diet or liquid cleanse, but seven days of apple cider vinegar, cold pressed juices or any other "quick detox fix" will only leave you and your liver health disappointed.

Taking care of your liver health so that it can properly detoxify your body requires daily lifestyle changes like exercising, eating a well-balanced diet, getting proper sleep and incorporating supplements that promote overall health and well-being.

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