Liver Health

12 January 2016

Do you need to go on a liver detox?

Our bodies take in toxins on a daily basis and sometimes need a little help flushing out the bad stuff.

You clean your home, your car, your desk at work – but what about your body? And not just the outer part of your body during your daily bath or shower. The inside of the human body, while capable of rejuvenation and repair on its own, may sometimes also need a little help.

A detox (designed to rid the body of poisonous substances) is a handy tool to add to your health and wellbeing arsenal – especially a liver detox.

Why a liver detox?

Your liver works hard, ridding the body of toxins. A diet and lifestyle that is heavy on processed foods and alcohol can put this organ under extreme stress, trying its best to process all the toxins and unhealthy fats.

Read: Detox: Fact or fiction?

This is where a detox becomes helpful. It is however important to note that before you embark on any detox programme, you should clear it with your doctor.

Start with a fridge overhaul

Depending on how long you plan to detox for (three days is always a good start), it is a good idea to prep your food supply. The less temptation there is to trip you up, the better.

The bad stuff is obvious: alcohol, nicotine, caffeine, sugar, refined salt, starchy products, fatty meats and foods high in refined carbohydrates. Plan your meals.

Once you have eliminated all the food baddies, it is time to plan your meals for the duration of your detox.

A detox should focus on and incorporate as close to all-natural food as possible. Think fruit, vegetables, wholegrains, pulses and protein (lean cuts). If you must have dairy, keep it to a minimum. Eliminate gluten and wheat.

Read: Detox diets - good or bad?

Once you have your list of detox-friendly meals sorted, stick to the plan! Stock up on detox foods.

Some experts are sceptical about the efficacy of detoxes, and advise that it is better to achieve the same cleansing goals with nutritious foods. There are several foods that are natural detoxers. These include:

- Broccoli: It is not the most attractive or tastiest of veggies, but broccoli is very effective as it works with the enzymes in the liver to eliminate toxins. Do not microwave as this will remove its detoxing properties.

- Grapefruit: It is packed with fibre and nutrients that spur your liver into action. The juice from grapefruit also alters the way some drugs are broken down in the liver.

- Watercress: Toss it into a salad or simply chew on a few leaves to unleash its diuretic, enzyme-cleansing powers. 

- Avocado: Rich and creamy, the humble avo helps the body produce glutathione, which is a substance that helps the liver sweep away toxins.

- Turmeric: Spice up your life and diet with some of this super spice. Sprinkle it on a stew or even a salad. Turmeric helps the liver flush out dietary carcinogens.

- Apple cider vinegar: This little wonder liquid boasts a host of health benefits, and natural practitioners recommend it highly. Start with a tablespoon mixed into a glass of warm water first thing every morning to flush out the liver and improve the natural blood filtration process.

Top tip

Drink a glass of raw vegetable juice every day to introduce live enzymes into your body, which will help enhance and nourish your cells. This is also a good immune booster and helps to curb sugar cravings.

Detox know-how

1. The first day or two will probably bring headaches, aching limbs and a general feeling of grumpiness. This is natural and normal. It’s simply the toxins exiting your body and/or withdrawal from sugar and caffeine.

2. Keep up your liquid intake with water – if it gets too bland, add some cucumber or a squeeze of lemon for flavour.

3. How long should you detox for? Start with a day, then work up to three, and if you can keep it up for a week, you will reap the benefits of feeling lighter, healthier and more refreshed.

Read more:

Refuel and recharge 

Sweating does not detox the body 

Do you really need to detox?


Reviewed by Dr Heidi van Deventer, South Africa