In my wellness coaching practice, when I talk about cleansing I make it very clear that what I really mean is nourishing. I define this as being deliciously kind to our bodies, minds, hearts, and souls. I am not interested in competitive cleansing or fasting, deprivation mindsets, or making myself, or my clients feel awful. I like to consider the whole person and remind people that there is so much more to it than food. But there is no denying that the food we eat plays a very important role in how we feel, and it’s important to check in and clean up periodically!
When I help clients through a cleanse, I don’t ordinarily single out a particular body part or organ: it all works together. But it is always good to look at liver health; after all she works so hard for us as a detoxifier. She’s our second largest organ, and when she is in good shape, the rest of us looks pretty good too—especially our skin.
Signs your liver could use a cleanse:
- Waking frequently between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. (unrelated to noise/light)
- Feeling stressed
- Frequent headaches or migraines
- Diarrhea, constipation, strong-odored bowel movements
- Dark-colored urine
- Acne, greasy or oily, dry or dull skin
- Brain fog/forgetfulness
- Stubborn extra body weight that’s hard to shift
- Sugar cravings
- Dark circles around your eyes
- Pain in the area around your liver (upper right abdomen)
- Feeling overly sensitive/angry much of the time
- Extreme sensitivity to perfume, smoke, or alcohol
LEMON & OLIVE OIL SMOOTHIE, a popular liver-flush recipe
1 whole organic lemon or lime OR 2 small ones (cleaned & cut into quarters)
4 cups filtered water
2 tbsp. olive oil (organic, unfiltered, cold-pressed)
optional extra: 1 inch piece of raw ginger root, peeled & cut to small pieces.
Toss the lemon, filtered water, and olive oil into the blender Add the ginger. Blend for about a minute until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds & pulp. Sip one glass about an hour before bed (save the rest and enjoy over a few days).
You may also need a liver cleanse if:
- You regularly consume coffee, alcohol, sugar, “bad” fats, or artificial flavors, sweeteners, and food colorings (and you smoke).
- You are exposed to chemicals (cleaning products, dry cleaning, perfume, etc).
- You live in a city.
Foods to include regularly to promote a healthy, happy liver:
Garlic activates liver enzymes and flush toxins.
Tumeric regenerates damaged liver cells (pair with black pepper).
Berries reduce blood sugar, burn fat, and decrease fatty liver.
Sour citrus provide antioxidants and vitamin C that boost detoxifying enzymes and cause the liver to burn instead of store fat. Try a whole grapefruit for breakfast, fresh lemon or lime juice in your morning water.
Beets help repair damage from toxic build up.
Beta carotene rich vegetables and fruit (sweet potato, carrot, red cabbage, red bell pepper, cantaloupe, turmeric, broccoli, dark leafy greens, butternut squash and pumpkin.) stimulate liver cells
Dark leafy and bitter greens stimulate liver cells. My favorites are arugula, dandelion greens, collard greens, kale, mustard greens, young nettle leaves (in spring), and spinach.
Herbal tea infusions such as dandelion, burdock, nettle, and milk thistle are all good liver healing choices.
Non-dietary changes you might consider:
Practice mindful meditation to reduce stress (start with 2 minutes a day and build to 20).
Consider getting an air purifier for your home/office, and bring lots more green plants into your life. I suggest starting with easy-to-care for plants such as a spider plant, dracaena, ficus, aloe or mother in law’s tongue, which are all good detoxing plants.
Use green cleaning products and personal care products. Instead of perfume try using pure essential oils.
Reduce your use of plastic; never heat food in plastic, and it’s best not to store in plastic either (glass mason jars and ceramics are best for storing). Avoid plastic-bottled water.
Let Author Sacha Jones help you through a cleanse (or more precisely a nutrional-wellness reboot). Check out her upcoming cleanses here. You don’t have to live near her. The beauty is you can attend from anywhere in the world.
Take Epsom salt baths to increase magnesium and pull toxins out of your body. As a bonus, this relaxes and soothes tired muscles and can help improve sleep.
Increase your exercise to improve your overall liver function.
Always filter your water. Not just for drinking, but also for cooking and filling your kettle. Store in a glass pitcher (not plastic) and get a good filter. There are many to choose from but I really like the filter from Aquaspace, which I place in my glass pitcher. Be diligent about cleaning your filter daily and changing it out according to the guidelines of your particular filter.
Reduce stress as best you you can. Easier said than done in our society, I know, but stress releases hormones and endorphins into our bloodstream, creating toxins for the liver to process, thus making it (and us) sluggish.
Reduce or eliminate coffee, alcohol, and sugar.
Avoid “bad” fats, processed food, “diet” sugar, and artificial colors, flavors, and sweeteners.
Also avoid overeating, speed eating, eating on the run, and eating too late at night.