Our body is exposed to toxins every day, from air and water pollutants to food additives and chemicals found in our homes and personal care products. Truth is, no matter how “Clean and healthy a life you lead, toxins may still accumulate in your body.
The liver has the incredibly critical job of removing toxins from your body. Aside from filtering toxins from the blood, the liver eliminates toxins through a two-phase enzymatic process. In the first phase, enzymes and oxygen burn toxins and breaks them into water-soluble fragments for easier elimination. In phase two, toxins are combined with sulfur or amino acids to create a non-toxic molecule that can be excreted through the urine, stool or bile.
Detoxing can support and enhance this natural process, helping it to work properly and more efficiently. Detoxing has long been practiced in Ayuverdic and Chinese medicine for thousands of years. It has been used to ease digestion and pain, improve skin conditions, and improve energy levels whilst promoting the body’s own innate healing capabilities.
Here is an outline of herbs and food that can help detox your liver and clean your body of toxins.
1. Milk thistle
Milk thistle, otherwise known as Holy Thistle, St. Mary Thistle and Lady’s Thistle, has been used for centuries to treat liver disorders. Today, milk thistle is the most recommended natural remedy for liver disorders.
Milk thistle helps maintain liver health and provides protection against alcohol and tissue damage associated with liver disease. Its liver-protecting capability is derived from silymarin, a flavonoid that functions as a powerful antioxidant. Silymarin coats liver cells and protects them from becoming damaged. Silymarin also heals damage liver cells by stabilizing the cell membrane and stimulating protein synthesis while accelerating the regeneration of damaged tissues.
Dandelion roots have long been used as a bitter herb tonic for the liver. It stimulates digestion and the production of bile, thus cleansing the liver and the gallbladder.
Studies also suggest that dandelion root has antioxidant properties, which help protect the liver from oxidative damage caused by Acetaminophen toxicity. Acetaminophen is safe when administered in proper dosage.
However, toxicity can occur if there’s misuse or overdose. In the United States, Acetaminophen toxicity is the second most common cause of liver failure requiring transplantation.
3. Lemon juice
Lemon juice contains citric acid, which aids in the production of digestive enzymes and the digestive process. It’s also an anionic food, which means they contain more negative ions than positive ions. Anionic foods have a chemical structure similar to digestive fluids, including bile. As such, lemon juice helps the liver produce more enzymes by providing the raw materials for its production.
Lemon juice is also rich in vitamin C, an antioxidant needed for the manufacture of glutathione. Glutathione is our body’s natural antioxidant and helps fight off free radicals that are produced during the liver’s enzymatic detoxification process. Glutathione protects from oxidative stress and cell apoptosis or self-destruction.
4. Cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, Brussel sprouts and broccoli are rich in glucosinolate. Glucosinolate promotes enzyme production in the liver, which help flush out carcinogens and other toxins from the body.
Beets provide the highest plant source of betaine, a natural bile thinner and liver detoxifier. They also improve the liver’s capability in processing fats. Beets are good sources of B vitamins, iron and antioxidants.
Turmeric’s pharmacological properties largely stems from curcumin, the compound that gives the spice its yellow color. Curcumin has antioxidant properties, thus helping to protect the liver from damage and support liver regeneration. Turmeric also assists in liver detoxification by increasing the production of liver detoxifying enzymes.
The excellent liver-protecting capabilities of garlic come from its numerous sulfur-containing compounds, most notable of which is allicin. While allicin may have antibiotic and anti-fungal properties, it is its antioxidant properties that provide the most benefit because it keeps toxic substances filtered by the liver from reaching other organs. Garlic is also rich in selenium, a mineral that increases the action of antioxidants.
Sufficient intake of fluids ensures the flow of nutrients into the liver and the flow of toxins from the liver. Sufficient fluid intake also reduces the risk for gallstones, a condition where bile gets too concentrated in the gall bladder.