Liver cleanses are a huge fad. The basic premise of cleaning out your liver to get rid of various toxins that cause various ailments. Could all of these cleanses and detoxes be doing more harm than good?

Clinically, detoxification is "any process of decreasing the negative impact of xenobiotics (toxic substances and nontoxins) on bodily process". The vast majority of detoxification takes place in the liver.

The liver is your detox machine. It cleans out your body in two phases. Phase one increases the water solubility of the toxins. Although this makes some compounds non-toxic and sends them to be excreted in the urine, others become more toxic and able to bind to proteins, fats, and DNA. Phase one also sends a lot of free radicals into the system that need to be neutralized by antioxidants. Phase two's job is to reduce the activity of the toxic compounds created in phase one and eliminate them.

A good way to think about the two phases is imagining how we get rid of trash. Phase one is taking the trash out to the curb. Phase two is the trash being picked up by the garbage man. If the garbage man doesn't come, the trash piles up by the curb.

 Both phases can be altered by diet, environment, medication and disease. The problem with a lot of liver cleanses and detoxes is that they boost phase one without boosting up phase two. This causes an increased production of extremely toxic compounds without the ability to eliminate them. There must be a balance between phase one and phase two.

To promote your liver's natural detoxification systems:

  • Cut down on your exposure to environmental toxins
  • Stay hydrated
  • Poop regularly
  • Eat your fruits and vegetables
  • Cut back on your inflammation with omega-3's
  • Get enough vitamins and minerals
  • Protect your gut (and use some probiotics)

Are Liver Cleanses Worth The hype?

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