The liver is your body’s main filtration system. It gets rid of toxic substances that come from food, the environment, the products that you use, and even those produced naturally by your own body. Without the liver, you won’t have an organ to cleanse your blood, convert toxins into waste, metabolize nutrients, and produce proteins. Because the liver does so much and you need it to function properly to stay healthy, it’s important to take care of it and know when to give it a hand.
16 Signs that your liver needs a detox
Like you, the liver can also feel stressed and overburdened. And when it does, it lets you know in many ways. Here are 16 signs that your liver needs a detox, according to functional medicine practitioner, Dr. William Cole. (Related: Pu-erh tea might be your liver’s new best friend: It can prevent fatty liver and protect from oxidative stress.)
- You crave sugar often
- You have digestive problems
- You’re more prone to allergies
- You don’t feel healthy
- Your skin isn’t clear
- You feel tired all the time
- You’re always foggy
- You have regular joint pains
- You feel constantly stressed
- You find it hard to lose weight
- You have hormonal issues
- You have bad body odor
- Your have irregular sleeping patterns
- You feel depressed and anxious
- You get cold sores
- You’re emotionally attached to certain foods
How to cleanse your liver
Adopt a liver- and gut-friendly diet. Liver problems affect your gut microbiome – the mixed population of bacteria present in your gut. When there are fewer good bacteria, the bad ones take over, causing problems like inflammation and slowed metabolism. A slowed metabolism makes it hard for people to lose weight. Fortunately, the solution to this is quite simple: Eat a balanced, healthy diet rich in foods that not only promote weight loss, but also contain nutrients that support your liver and gut health. That means ditching all processed foods and increasing your water intake. Here’s a list of foods that can help you lose weight:
- Broccoli sprouts
- Citrus fruits
- Dandelion root and greens
- Fermented foods
- Glutathione-boosting foods like raw spinach, avocado, and asparagus
- Green tea
- Leafy greens
According to a study, losing three to six percent of your body weight is enough to reduce liver fat levels by 35 to 4o percent. That takes a huge burden off your liver already. So by including the foods listed above to your diet, you would be doing your liver a huge favor.
Try intermittent fasting. Intermittent fasting is a good way to detox. Research shows that a protein that enhances sugar metabolism and reduces fat in the liver is produced during fasting. Cole also says that “periods without food give our body [and liver] a chance to repair and clean itself out since it doesn’t have to focus on or funnel energy to our digestive system.” If you want to try out intermittent fasting, start with a 16-hour fast first. This requires confining all your daily eating to an eight-hour window and fasting for the remainder of the day. Aside from cleansing the liver, this method of fasting is also said to enhance both energy and mood.
Use liver-healthy supplements wisely. There are numerous products being promoted today as liver detoxes, but not all of them have been evaluated for safety or effectiveness. So if you want to take supplements, choose natural products-based ones. Consult your healthcare provider first if you’re taking any type of medication before taking any supplements. Here are some supplements whose effectiveness are backed up by studies:
- Milk thistle
- Activated charcoal
Exercise regularly. Sweating is another way of taking some burden off your liver. It is how your skin, another detoxification organ, gets rid of wastes. By avoiding additional exposure to toxins and removing toxins through sweating, we can help our liver detoxify. If you don’t exercise already, you can start by just walking and gradually build up to 30 minutes of aerobic activity a day. You can also do strength training together with your exercise or use saunas, steam, or Epsom salt baths to induce sweating.
Practice self-care. Stress is another sign that not everything is right with your body. It is also a huge contributing factor to many health issues. If your liver is not functioning optimally, it may eventually affect your mental state. To prevent this from happening, adopt healthy habits that promote calmness in your life. Enjoying aromatherapy baths once or twice a week is a good thing. Dry brushing or hot towel scrubbing are also soothing and detoxifying bathroom rituals that you can try. They not only promote relaxation, they also improve lymphatic circulation to help you flush out toxins from your body. Or you can simply do the things that bring you joy the most.