Detoxes and cleanses have been touted by Hollywood actors and health and fitness professionals, often requiring expensive supplements that can be cost prohibitive and possibly questionable in effectiveness and safety.
One of the target organs of many of such cleanses is the liver, which is where toxins in the system can accumulate (1). The liver is a powerhouse filter in the body, and it is tasked with performing over 400 functions, helping to keep you healthy (1).
When your liver becomes overwhelmed with the tasks at hand, it can leave you feeling sluggish, inhibit proper digestion, and you may experience headaches (1). However, you don’t need to ascribe by the latest trend that is followed by starlets in order to gain the benefits. Effective and natural ways to cleanse your liver are as close as your pantry or refrigerator.
1) Garlic does more than just ward off vampires
While garlic does a lot to spice up your food, it can also do a lot inside your body. Touted as a superfood, garlic’s sulfur-containing compounds work to wake up liver enzymes, helping to rid the body of toxins (2).
Garlic also contains selenium, which has been shown to be a beneficial and essential component in immune health and healthy thyroid hormone metabolism as well as liver health (3). Garlic can also help to reduce the amount of fat that builds up in the liver through reducing both the total serum cholesterol levels and the bad kind of cholesterol, LDL (4).
Just a few cloves of garlic incorporated into your meals each day can help to provide you with additional liver support.
2) Onions for a healthy and happy liver
Although you may equate onions with bad breath, the nutrients packed in these pungent vegetables should outweigh the possible halitosis you may experience. Onions contain high levels of potassium, flavonoids, phytonutrients, and fiber, which can work as little scrubbers in your digestive tract as well as in your liver (5).
Onions also contain a specific flavonoid called quercetin, which has been shown to reduce both blood pressure and LDL cholesterol serum levels, as well as reduce the accumulation of fat around the abdominal region and the liver (6).
The disulfides in onions also help to aid in the protection of the liver from damage and help to support the process of detoxification of the body (6). The versatility of onions means that you can easily incorporate them into every meal, from breakfast to dinner.
3) Lemon meringue for a cleaner liver
Okay, maybe a meringue is not the healthiest of ways to incorporate lemons into your diet, but it sure is a tasty way! Many at home detox programs require the drinking of lemon water mixed with a variety of spices and sometimes even maple syrup (7).
However, you may not need to add the spices and other stuff to your water, as it appears that sipping on water with a few slices of lemon in it can help to detoxify your liver. It is thought that the antioxidant D-Limonene works to activate the enzymes in the liver that are in charge of detoxification (8).
When making lemon water, it is important to use warm water and the whole lemon, peel and all, as the peel contains high levels of D-Limonene and the warm water allows the lemon to soften and release the beneficial components (8).
4) You can’t beat a beet
The vibrant color of beets should serve as a beckoning agent, as these colorful vegetables are jam packed with nutrients. One of the unique nutrients that are plentiful in beets is betalains, which is a phytonutrient (9).
Betalin pigments are what provide beets with their distinct color and have been shown to be a key nutrient in lending support to the liver during the Phase 2 detoxification process within the body (9). It is during this stage of the detoxification process that toxins are neutralized and ready to be removed through urination (9).
Beets can easily be added to salads, baked and served with a meal, or consumed in the form of juice.
5) An apple a day keeps the hepatologist away
Although it may not be as catchy, Benjamin Franklin was onto something when he coined the phrase “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” (10). Apples contain high levels of fiber, as well as vitamins, phytochemicals, and minerals, making them a good choice for aiding in the detoxification of the liver (10).
One of the flavonoids found in apples, phlorizin, has been identified in numerous studies as contributing to liver health, as well as inhibiting the growth of liver cancer cells (11). Whether you add them in your salads, choose to consume them in a sauce form, in a pie, or on their own, apples are an easy and delicious way to help your liver and support the detoxification process, leading to an improved overall health.
6) Little broccoli trees can help to clean your liver
These little treelike vegetables offer protection for your health just like the trees in the forest provide shelter for wildlife during a storm. Broccoli spears and sprouts release their nutritive phytochemicals when they are digested (10).
One of the phytonutrients found in broccoli is sulforaphane, which, when compared to the amounts found in cauliflower and broccoli Raab, broccoli spears blow the others out of the water (12). However, the sulforaphane isn’t actually present in the broccoli as it sits on your cutting board, but rather the act of cutting or biting releases two different enzymes, that when they combine, turn into sulforaphane (12).
Studies have suggested that in order to reap the benefits of sulforaphane, broccoli sprouts and broccoli powder can be combined to enhance the absorption (13).
Sources for this article include: