If you’ve been keeping up with The Love Vitamin, you’ll know that I just did a liver flush, and it turned out to be, by far, the most unpleasant thing I have ever done in the name of health!

As much as people SWEAR by the liver flush, it seems very strange to me that in order to be healthy, you are supposed to put your body through something so difficult.

Don’t we want to work with our body instead – lend it some tender loving care so that it can do its own detoxifying (which it is doing all the time anyway)? Instead of forcing it to with a giant mug of olive oil and some epsom salts which may result in you puking on yourself?

Today I’m going to discuss several ways that you can do just that – support the liver…. gently!! So that you don’t have to go through what I did with my liver flush experience and also get your skin looking fabulous at the same time.

1. Eat and Live a Low Toxins Lifestyle

As I mentioned in a previous article, the liver does SO many jobs in the body. Its an extremely important organ. It:

  • Detoxifies chemicals such as drugs, alcohol, and heavy metals
  • Produces bile that aids in the digestion of fat
  • Produces blood proteins and other cofactors needed to produce red blood cells
  • Stores glycogen which is used to produce energy
  • Stores Vitamins A, D, and B12
  • Neutralizes free radicals

And as I said, for those with acne, a significant role it plays is to deactivate used hormones so that they can’t continue to float around in your body and cause hormone imbalances that may lead to skin problems.

The thing is that the more toxins that we bring into our bodies through our diets, stress, and other means, the more time the liver has to spend on its job of detoxification and it no longer has enough time to do its other jobs properly (like deactivating those pesky hormones). This is what leads to disease.

So in order to give your liver a fighting chance, the best thing you can possibly do is simply lower your toxic load. You can:

  • Switch the majority of your diet away from processed foods that contain chemicals
  • Switch all of your skin care products to natural products, and eliminate those that aren’t necessary
  • Watch the environmental toxins in your home – switch to more natural cleaning products, consider safer cookware, and get house plants that filter the stuffy indoor air
  • Minimize use of caffeine, alcohol, and cigarrettes
  • Keep your stress levels in check, as emotional toxins can also lead to an inefficient liver

2. Get the Specific Nutrients for Phase I and II Liver Detoxification

Your liver is detoxifying all day, every day through something called “detoxification pathways”, and it performs this in two distinct phases.

In Phase I, called “oxidation”, the liver uses oxygen and enzymes to change the toxins into a more water soluble form so that they can easily be excreted by the kidneys or bile. In Phase II, called “conjugation”, oxidized chemicals are combined with sulfur, specific amino acids, or organic acids, and then excreted.

It’s important that both of these pathways are working properly. Sometimes in Phase I, the converted toxins are actually more harmful than their original state, and if the body cannot excrete them in Phase I, you’re in trouble.

In order to have both pathways tip top, you need the right nutrients to keep them up and running.

  1. Get enough zinc. Zinc deficiency can alter Phase I detoxification toward a direction that encourages cancer promoting chemicals. Zinc is found in abundance in animal products and certain foods like pumpkin seeds, but you can also take a zinc supplement. Zinc is great for treating acne as well.
  2. Get your protein. Many amino acids are used in Phase II – two of the most important ones being cysteine and methionine. Get these through protein sources such as meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy products or vegetarian sources such as nuts, seeds and beans.
  3. Increase glutathione levels. Glutathione is your body’s master antioxidant, but cannot be absorbed orally in supplement form because the molecules are too big. It’s manufactured in the liver from raw amino acid building blocks. One way to increase glutathione production is take  an N-acetylcysteine supplement, which is a precursor to glutathione synthesis.
  4. Eat a variety of healthy foods. This is so that a variety of liver friendly bioflavanoids (specific food compounds) are consumed, Vitamins C and E, and also stock up on B vitamins, as they are particularly important for liver detox.
  5. Eat foods containing sulfur compounds. These are vital in Phase II. These include onions, garlic, egg yolks, and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and kale.

3. Take Herbs that Help Assist Liver Detox

Taking specific herbs can help to gently support the liver in its detoxification pursuits (without any agony!). These work by providing the liver with specific bioflavanoids that it needs.

The most famous liver herb is milk thistle, which contains the the active bioflavanoid family called silymarin. It increases glutathione levels, resulting in improvement of the clearing of unwanted toxins in the blood. Milk thistle also helps in the regeneration of liver tissue and decreases inflammation.

Other herbs that can assist in liver function include artichoke leaf, turmeric, dandelion, oregon grape, bitter fennel, licorice, yellow dock, burdock, and gentian.

Personally I think it’s a great idea to take an all around liver supplement that includes a mix of some of these things. Two brands that I’ve used in the past and were recommended to me by my naturopath are Hepacaps and Thorne SAT Liver Support.

4. Make Sure Your Digestion is Running Smoothly

The primary way that toxins come to your liver is via the digestive system.

After your intestines break down your food into individual amino acids, vitamins, minerals and the accompanying toxins, the liver absorbs this in the form of nutrient rich blood via the hepatic portal vein.

If your digestion is inefficient, fewer nutrients get to your liver, and more toxins do. Therefore, one of the best things you can do is make sure your digestion runs smoothly.

  • Take probiotics and live fermented foods to ensure you have a healthy garden of good bacteria. The more bad bacteria in your gut, the more toxins they create.
  • Take HCL betaine if you suspect you have low stomach acid.
  • Take an expandable soluble fibre to help with constipation and to absorb and bind toxins on their way out. I like psyllium husk, but others prefer ground flax seed or chia seeds.
  • If you suspect you have a leaky gut (which is when the intestine is irritated and lets in larger molecules and more toxins to the blood stream than it should), consider taking the amino acid L-glutamine.
  • Chew your food thoroughly and eat mindfully. Don’t eat while stressed.

Watch This Article in Video Form

Yes, I’m wearing a silly hat but it was quite hot out that day!

photo from Resource Naturopathy