Find out the difference between a liver cleanse and a liver detox, as well as discover which one is best for you and your liver.
The Difference Between a Liver Cleanse and a Liver Detox
First, let’s distinguish between a cleanse and a detox, and go over some basic first steps to take before you dive into either.
As you begin your research, you may find that the two terms are often used synonymously, so differentiating between the two will help us digest the abundance of info out there.
- Cleanses cut down on problematic areas in your diet and fortify you with nutrient-rich foods that help support your natural detoxification processes. They tend to be simple, long-term practices that can be easily incorporated into your routines.
- Detoxes, on the other hand, are generally more restrictive, shorter lasting, and drastically change your diet, focusing on consuming a smaller number of detoxifying ingredients in larger quantities. The detox generally becomes the routine.
Detoxes seem to be more geared towards rectifying weekends of heavy partying or substance abuse, while cleanses are more benign adjustments and additions we can make to our pre-existing routines and diets.
While cleanses and detoxes are slightly differently, both aim to remove toxins from your body.
So eliminating substances like alcohol, drugs, saturated fats, salts and sugars are a good place to start. It’s these substances that are most difficult for your liver to break down. Plus, cutting toxins out of your diet is good practice in general and can help prevent a wide range of other illnesses.
Hopefully, by the end of this article, you’ll have a great idea of how to incorporate the cleanse or detox best suited for you and the health of your liver.
The Simplest Solution Is Often the Best: Cleanse with Water
Infusing the water you drink with fruits, vegetables, and other nutrient-rich antioxidants is an easy way to work a cleanse gently into your diet while staying hydrated. With so many different fruits and vegetables to choose from, it’s hard to decide which ones to infuse into your water to produce the best results for your liver. The combinations can make your head spin.
But fear not, the 5 ingredients to infuse into your water with the greatest benefits to your liver are as follows:
- Garlic – Garlic activates liver detox enzymes, which assist in breaking down toxins and flushing them from your system.
- Grapefruits and Citrus – These delicious citrus fruits help prevent against fatty liver disease in addition to being high in vitamin c and antioxidants.
- Beets and Carrots – These colorful veggies also activate liver enzymes and have a positive net effect on our redox state.
- Leafy Greens – Cruciferous vegetables such as arugula, bok choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, and kale all contain glucosinolate, which helps your liver in producing detoxifying enzymes. Leafy veggies are also high in chlorophyll, which leaches toxins from the bloodstream. And the hat trick is they can neutralize heavy metals to protect your liver.
- Turmeric – Turmeric helps the enzymes that flush toxins and contains antioxidants that repair liver cells. It also boosts bile production which we need for a wide variety of healthy liver and bodily functions.
How to Prepare Your Infused Water
Preparing your infused water is simple.
Mix and match however many of the above ingredients you want, slice them, and combine them with water.
It’s best to make a pitcher and let it sit in the fridge, ideally overnight, to complete the infusing process. This makes for a cold and refreshing delivery system for some natural ingredients that can help support healthy liver function.
In mice, studies show that using probiotics helps combat liver damage caused by acetaminophen, the active ingredient in a myriad of over-the-counter pain medications including, Tylenol, Alcaseltzer-Plus, Nyquil, and so many others.
If you get frequent headaches and take a lot of over-the-counter pain medications, this is the cleanse for you. Probiotics have proven a great way to bolster your good gut bacteria which in turn helps your liver operate at its peak.
And when paired with a nutritional diet and reduction in sugars and processed foods, probiotics can be a benign way to incorporate a cleanse into your life.
When combined with water or more effectively consumed as a supplement, milk thistle removes toxins from your liver, rebuilds damaged liver cells, and protects your liver from a number of poisons.
Milk thistle can also help blood sugar in people who have type 2 diabetes.
Apple Cider Vinegar Detox
The Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV) detox advocates drinking 1 or 2 tablespoons of ACV with 8oz of water daily. Confusing enough, the ACV ‘detox’ feels more like a cleanse, and doesn’t call for any extreme augmenting of your diet.
The science is limited on this one, but the ACV detox is safe to try and does seem to offer positive effects on blood sugar management.
However, the positive effects on the liver and its ability to detox are unproven.
This is an easy one to incorporate into everyday routines, but if your teeth start to feel sensitive or your stomach ulcers act up it may mean you’re acidic intake is too much. A little can go a long way, so don’t overdo it.
Master Cleanse (Detox)
Sometimes it’s 3 days, sometimes it’s 10, but this “cleanse” (it feels more like a detox!) gained popularity several years ago when Beyonce used it to lose weight for her role in Dreamgirls.
Bae called it a cleanse, and that’s what stuck.
Be aware, it is an extreme detox and is hard to follow.
- It restricts you to a diet of lemon juice, water, cayenne pepper, and maybe maple syrup.
- You are not allowed to eat solids.
- You can add or subtract things like, a tablespoon or two of apple cider vinegar, some fresh ginger or garlic, or honey for maple syrup but that’s pretty much it.
While you will lose weight quickly, it won’t necessarily help you keep that weight off once you stop. There’s also not a lot of scientific evidence supporting the cleanse’s ability to affect your liver in a positive way or aid in its ability to detox.
Be wary. This detox may improve your self-esteem in the short-term, but it’s not necessarily doing your liver any favors.
Many well-known health professionals tout the benefits of a 10-day detox, including Mark Hyman and Dr Oz. Both of their detoxes strongly urge you away from processed foods and towards more natural, unprocessed alternatives. Gluten and dairy are also frowned upon.
They are both highly regimented detoxes and urge you to use the curated meal plans and recipe books to keep yourself on pace.
The benefits of these detoxes are numerous with claims of alleviating everything from hives to hot flashes to IBS. These detoxes may be good for someone looking to hit the reset button on their liver, however, don’t go down this road without consulting your physician. And keep in mind that they have not undergone enough research to scientifically back up many of their claims.
Some Final Information
And with that, we want to share some more precautionary information that you should keep in mind in your quest for the best liver detox or liver cleanse. You should also read up on cautions to heed before a liver detox.
Not every cleanse or detox can provide you with the balanced nutrition your body needs. Consult your physician and dietitian before drastically changing your diet.
Liver cleanses and detoxes cannot replace medical treatment.
Lastly, try to steer clear of frequent colon cleanses. Regarding colon cleanses, Everyday Health says, “constantly flushing out the colon can remove the healthy bacteria that thrive there. Recent research has linked the bacteria in your GI tract to a whole host of health benefits.”
Start small. For most people, adding some citrus or garlic to your water is an easy place to start cleansing your liver.
The variations from that point can be fun to explore and put your mind in a natural place. While the detoxing may look like a nice, quick fix, it’s more beneficial to implement small, natural changes that become a part of your everyday routines.
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