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10 Tips For A Spring Liver Detox

Our bodies tend to accumulate toxic substances that can hinder our ability to achieve optimum health. Toxins can be biological, physical and chemical, and they go to work damaging cells, organs, and tissue in the body. While the body has systems in place to fight off the damage caused by toxins, the demands placed on the organs when faced with so much stress can overwhelm the system and cause illness. The purpose of a detoxification is to flush these toxins and restore the balance in your body so it can function at its best.

Your liver is a very important organ in the detoxification process; it helps filter toxins out of your blood stream. These poisons are then eliminated from the body via the kidneys or colon. We are constantly bombarded with toxins in the food we eat, the water we drink, and the air we breathe—so much so that toxins can build up in our systems, leading to fatigue, headaches, and myriad chronic conditions. This is especially true if we abuse our bodies with alcohol, tobacco, stress, and processed foods.

You may see some of these tips promoted by people who are selling diet plans for weight loss. However, with the exception of the elimination diet, all of these tips are intended for a short spring detox and should not be followed for a long period of time.

Tips fall into three broad categories:

  • Fasting
  • Diets
  • Supplements

The Elimination Fast/Diet

The elimination diet is designed to eliminate as many possible toxins and cleanse your body with nutrient-rich foods. It can help calm inflammation within the body and promote cellular healing. Many people notice weight loss, increased energy, and improved digestion. Irritable bowel and constipation all but disappear. The elimination diet requires eliminating dairy, gluten, soy, yeast, alcohol, caffeine, nonessential medication and supplements, sugar, artificial sweeteners, animal fats, and processed foods. Recommended foods are wholesome, organic fruits and vegetables, brown rice, roots such as garlic and ginger, legumes, and nori.

The Total Fast or Water Fast

This fast is exactly as it implies in the name: it is a total fast. You eat nothing and drink only pure water. By doing this fast, your body will have no carbohydrates to burn and will start burning fat, which releases the toxins stored there. This fast can last from one day to over forty days, but it is usually the second or third day when most of the toxins start to be released. This is when the body slips into ketosis and starts to burn alternate fuel such as fat. Of course, the body will not just burn fat – it will start to burn muscle too. Continued debate exists about the efficacy of the total fast is for eliminating toxins.

The water fast can be extremely difficult to sustain. Skipping even one meal leaves one shaky, sluggish, and moody. A modified version of the water fast is to skip just one meal per day (lunch is the best option) and drink plenty of water in its place. After trying that for a week, attempt a twenty-four-hour water fast. It is highly advisable that if you are a diabetic – type I or type II – that you not attempt this diet. Maintaining insulin levels far outweighs losing weight. There are other types of detox that won’t throw off your insulin.

A water fast is thought to allow the body a period of rest during which it can focus on healing and strengthening your organs. It uses water to flush toxins and cleanse cells. Fasters typically experience better skin, more restful sleep, increased energy, decreased headaches, a reduction in anxiety, and weight loss.

Master Cleanse/Lemonade Diet

Created by Stanley Burroughs, this diet/ fast consists of eliminating food and only consuming the master cleanse drink, which consists of:

  • A couple tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
  • A couple tablespoons of real maple syrup
  • A dash of cayenne pepper

All the ingredients are added to a medium-sized glass of pure water. You can stay on this diet for up to 14 days and then ease your way back onto solid food. This is effective as a quick-fix weight loss plan because it creates a calorie deficit. The master clean concoction is not completely void of calories though, as the maple syrup provides anywhere from 600 to 1300 calories.

The reasoning behind this cleanse is for healing and detoxifying. Lemons are said to be rich in vitamins. The concern about the master cleanse is that it is void in essential nutrients like calcium and protein. It also can affect weight loss of up to two pounds per day, which can lead to gallstones.

The Raw Food Diet

This diet consists of eating only foods that have been kept under 118 degrees Fahrenheit. Part of the theory behind this diet is that heat destroys all the good enzymes in the food, thus harming the body when we consume them. This diet is used as a detox diet, but is one of the few detox diets that can be sustained in the long-term.

The theory behind a raw diet is pretty simple. By heating food, and in particular boiling vegetables, nutrients are lost in the process. By eating only raw fruits and veggies, your body gets the benefit of all the nutrients. This diet is loaded with alkalizing foods and health-boosting anti-oxidants. Raw food eaters consume virtually no trans or saturated fats and eat high levels of fiber, potassium, magnesium, and several important vitamins.

Raw foods reduce inflammation and slow the process of aging. The high antioxidant levels in raw fruits and vegetables fight off disease. The main concern with this diet is that it can result in nutritional deficiencies. For example, vitamin B12 is abundant in animal products such as meat, fish, and dairy. To avoid such deficiencies, supplementation with vitamins might be necessary.

Dandelion

Dandelion has been used for many, many years to treat all sorts of maladies. It is used traditionally to treat liver and gall bladder problems. The leaves and roots act as a laxative and stimulate bile production. It is also a diuretic, which increases the flow of urine, which may explain the benefit of its use as a liver detox. Higher urine output means more chances for toxins to be eliminated.

The parts of the dandelion that are used are generally the leaves and the root. Pick the leaves young and add them to your salads. Dig the roots in the fall for the plumpest ones, then roast and brew like coffee or tea. You can also find dandelion root in tincture or powdered extract form.

Dandelion will also help with your blood pressure. This is a supplement that can be continued beyond the short detox period. Being a diuretic, dandelion can speed the elimination of some prescription drugs from your system, so be sure to check with your doctor before using it. This particular detox regimen does not require any dietary restrictions, but for optimum results, drink the tea four times per day. Follow every cup of tea with a full eight-ounce glass of water.

The effects of the dandelion cleanse will be mild, but you will experience more bowel movements and have the urge to urinate more. You might feel your digestion start to improve within a few days.

Turmeric

Adding turmeric to your diet is a healthy way to detoxify your liver.  Turmeric stimulates the production of bile by the gall bladder. The liver is burdened with filtering toxins from the bloodstream and metabolizing fats. When the liver is functioning properly, it aids our immune systems and can help ward off illness.

Turmeric is also a powerful antioxidant that helps protect the liver, promote healthy digestion, and purify the blood. It has earned its reputation as a super food due to its antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Turmeric has been linked to lower levels of prostate and breast cancers.

Turmeric is a main ingredient of curry and colors your food bright yellow. It is a healthful and tasty herb. It is available in powdered spice, capsule, or extracts form. To drink it as a tea, mix ½ cup of turmeric and 1 tablespoon of pure maple syrup with 2 cups of boiling water. Drink this three times per day for a full week. Turmeric should be used with caution if you have gallstones, are on blood thinners, or are pregnant or nursing.

Yellow Dock

Yellow dock, also known as Rumex crispus, is a mild laxative that increases bile production in the liver. This explains why it is good for a liver detox.  Yellow dock is similar in effect to dandelion in that it increases bile but different in that it uses the colon for elimination whereas dandelion uses the kidneys. It also calms the digestive tracts and soothes intestinal irritation.

Yellow dock is commonly used to treat constipation and flatulence. It improves digestion and flushes toxins. In doing so, it can also heal skin conditions, respiratory conditions, and gallbladder dysfunction. By cleansing the blood, it is effective against acne, psoriasis, and eczema.

Yellow dock does carry some health risks with its use. It can create a life-threatening calcium deficiency in the blood if taken excessively. Pregnant or nursing women should not take it – period. Please check with your doctor before supplementing with yellow dock. Yellow dock is available in tablet form from most health food stores. It is best taken with fresh water and in conjunction with an antioxidant-rich diet.

Licorice Root

Licorice root is another herb with many health benefits. Animal studies have shown increased liver detoxification and increased urinary output with the use of this herb. It also stimulates bile flow, which is where the majority of detoxification takes place. Licorice roots calm overactive and irritated digestive tracts and even lowers cholesterol. It seems to boost interferon, which is a chemical that aids the immune system. It is also contains antioxidants to further improve your body’s immune system functioning.

Licorice root can detoxify the blood and heal many stomach ailments, such as the flu and stomach ulcers. Some use licorice root to treat arthritis, and others find is useful for calming inflamed mucous membranes. Licorice root seems to mimic adrenal cortical hormones and can be used to treat adrenal problems.

Licorice root is a pleasant treat but can be overdone. Too much can lead to high blood pressure. When taking licorice, the easiest way is to eat some real licorice root candy or have a cup of licorice root tea. It is also available in tablet form. Be aware that many things labeled as licorice are actually flavored with anise and have no licorice in them.

Milk Thistle

Milk thistle (Silymarin) is a well-known plant with some amazing benefits. It has been recognized widely as a liver and kidney detoxifier. Milk thistle has betaine, essential fatty acids, and tyramine – all which support proper liver function.  These components not only stimulate bile, but control inflammation within the liver.

Milk thistle is found in tincture or capsule. It is said to purge the body of toxins, heavy metals, and radiation. Many of these are impossible to avoid in our environments. Milk thistle also supports the kidneys and has been shown to improve their functioning. The full benefits of a milk thistle detox are seen when the diet is changed to support the detox (by eliminating processed foods and eating more fruits and vegetables) and external sources of toxins are minimized (by reducing stress and avoiding pollution).

Many people with chronic illnesses find relief in milk thistle. It is prescribed as a natural remedy for hepatitis, cirrhosis of the liver, inflammation of the liver or bile duct, and more. The minor side effects of milk thistle include headache, diarrhea, sexual dysfunction, and indigestion. A small minority of users experience an allergic reaction, so caution should be taken if you are allergic to other types of thistles.

Tips for Everyday Detox

Drink a glass of pure water with lemon with every meal. If you have leaky gut, minute particles of food enter your blood stream and the liver sees these as contaminants and filters them out. Lemon and water can help your liver detox by aiding in your digestion and helping to prevent leaky gut. Another suggestion is to drink a glass of lemon water every morning to aid in liver detox.

When you start a spring liver detox, just remember it is just as important to avoid the intake of new toxins, as its purpose is to eliminate the ones you body is holding on to. Changing your eating habits to avoid these things in the long run will make your detox much more effective and will improve your health in the long run. Eat as much colorful, organic produce as possible. Ensure your diet is very high in fiber. Limit refined sugars and processed foods.

When changing your diet or supplementing with anything out of the ordinary, it is very important to check with your doctor before you start. But remember that it is you that is ultimately responsible for your health.

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