It’s spring, and we’re all cleaning things out—the cupboards, the closets and yes, even our bodies. Now is the time of year that many of us take a go at detox programs in order to clean out our livers. But to help spring clean the body, you don’t have to undergo a drastic cleanse—you can simply incorporate a few liver-boosting foods into your normal life. In fact, health experts say this approach is healthier for your body than a supposed “detox.” Here’s why.
The word “detox” can be extremely misleading, experts at WebMD warn. Under normal conditions, our liver, lungs and kidneys do all the detoxifying our bodies need, so most of the regular chemical buildup inside our bodies is already flushed out in our sweat, urine and feces.
Experts warn that some of the detox programs out there don’t actually do much for cleansing out our bodies; they usually just result in water weight loss (which, on its own, can make a person feel a bit recharged and lighter). Furthermore, some of the extreme detox programs may even do our bodies more harm than good, resulting in a slowed metabolism, loss of muscle mass and possible health complications. In fact, individuals living with diabetes, low blood sugar, eating disorders, heart conditions or any “chronic condition” at all are advised to stay away from detox programs.
Rather than go on a fast or strict detox regimen, health experts recommend that to do an internal spring cleaning we can simply avoid heavy toxins and foods for a while. Take a break from fatty foods, excessive meats and stimulants like sugar and caffeine. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables, and enjoy eating on the lighter side for a bit. This gives your body a break to work as usual but with more efficiency—and without starving yourself or taking any potentially harmful drastic actions.
Natural health expert Dr. Andrew Weil calls out to a few specific foods that may help to boost the liver’s function when integrated into a healthy eating plan:
- Cruciferous vegetables, including cabbage, kale, Brussels sprouts, radishes and broccoli
- Citruses, which have been shown to fight off cancer growth and reduce the production of cholesterol in the body
- Milk thistle extract, an herbal supplement that may help individuals with compromised liver function (especially those taking oral contraceptives, oral diabetic drugs, blood pressure drugs or chemotherapy drugs)
- And sea vegetables, such as hijiki, arame or wakame—these Japanese seaweeds can enhance the liver and intestines in flushing out toxins from the body
Dr. Oz, health expert famed by Oprah, tells us that in addition to ample fruits and vegetables, our body needs natural antioxidants in order to flush out toxins successfully. He calls out to specific vitamins like folate, B12, B6 and vitamins C and E as essential to optimal liver health.
The jury’s still out on how effective any branded detox programs are for your body (and how much harm they may inadvertently cause), but it seems all health experts will agree: to naturally boost your body’s innate ability to flush out toxins, bulk up on fruits and vegetables, lighten the load otherwise, and add some known liver-boosting foods (noted above) into your healthy eating plan. Then you can have your liver cleanse, and eat it too.
Image: Johannes Streidl