The liver is the second largest organ in the human body, weighing in at around 3 pounds. It is probably one of the most valuable organs in the human body, if not the most important, and has the remarkable ability to rebuild itself. Growing as fast as most cancers, it has the capability to restore itself in size and function, by regenerating damaged or even dead tissues.
There are many reasons why the liver is so important, and among these are immunity, metabolism, digestion, detoxification, production, and the storage of specific nutrients inside your body. A quick explanation of these various functions follows. All you need is a short overview of how your liver works, so that you can understand why it is so important that you maintain its health.
Immunity is an important part of the survival of the human body, and through the Kupffer Cells, it functions almost primarily as an organ of the immune system. These cells capture and actually digest fungi, bacteria, parasites, and cellular debris including worn-out blood cells. Large volumes of blood pass through the liver, allowing the Kupffer Cells to clean these large volumes of blood.
A cleaner liver promotes a stronger immunity, and with a strong liver, you can fight off most infections, viral or bacterial.
With metabolism, fatty acids pass through the liver, carried by the blood. The hepatocytes then absorb these fatty acids, which are metabolized, producing energy known as ATP. Amino acids, which enter the liver, also need to be processed metabolically before their conversion to an energy source.
The livers production of bile makes it an integral role-player in digestion. This mixture of bile salts, bilirubin, cholesterol, and bile salts is stored in the gallbladder, and when fatty-rich foods reach the duodenum, the cells there stimulate the release of bile from the gallbladder. The bile then emulsifies these large amounts of fat.
Detoxification occurs when the hepatocytes of the liver, after monitoring blood contents, remove many potentially toxic substances before these can reach the rest of the body. Hormones are also regulated to within homeostatic levels by the liver’s metabolization and removal of hormones, which are produced by the body’s own glands from circulation.
Fibrinogen, prothrombin, and albumins are important protein components of blood plasma, the production of which takes place in the liver. Albumins maintain the isotonic environment of blood, while prothrombin and fibrinogen are factors in coagulation, assisting with the formation of blood clots.
The liver also serves as a storage facility for many essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients. These are obtained from the blood as it passes through the system known as the hepatic portal system. Among the vitamins and minerals that are stored in the liver are vitamins K, A, D, E and B12, as well as minerals such as copper and iron. This provides a constant supply to the tissues of the body of these essential minerals and vitamins.
Now you understand why your liver is so important. As said previously, you do not need an in-depth understanding of these functions, just a basic knowledge of what they are. Knowing what your liver does, or is supposed to do, will also help you to know when your liver is compromised.
Although your liver is able to regenerate itself, it can become damaged beyond repair, rendering it unable to function. When this happens, you are said to have liver failure. Generally, liver failure is a progressive disorder, occurring gradually, over many years. Acute liver failure however, is a rapidly occurring condition, usually within 48-hours, making initial detection difficult.
Chronic liver failure, which occurs over months or years, is caused by:
Long-term excessive alcohol consumption
Hepatitis B & C
Hemochromatosis, which is an inherited condition resulting in the absorption and storage of too much iron
Acute liver failure, which occurs more rapidly, is caused by:
Hepatitis A, B & C in children
Reactions to certain prescription medication
Reactions to certain herbal medication, and
The ingestion of poisonous wild mushrooms
Because the initial symptoms of liver failure can be due to various different conditions, liver failure is often misdiagnosed. Among the early signs that your liver is failing, are:
Loss of appetite
In its progression, the symptoms of liver failure become a little more serious, and include:
A swollen abdomen
Liver failure, if detected early enough, can be treated and reversed. You can receive supportive treatment of the symptoms, even if a virus causes your liver failure, until the virus works itself out of your system. Your liver will most likely recover on its own.
Long-term deterioration can be treated by trying to save those parts of the liver that are still functioning properly. In severe cases, a liver transplant may be required. This is fortunately a common procedure, with a high success rate.
You can however, do certain things to avoid getting to this point. You can even reverse the damage done to your liver by simply changing your diet. Let us now discuss what some of these foods are, and give your liver a fighting chance, particularly in today’s stressful environment, where fast food and alcohol have become a crutch for many of us.
Eating healthier meals seems to be an obvious way to ensure that your body functions well. Today, however, this is becoming increasingly difficult. We spend a lot of time building careers and managing our lives, that we usually grab the easiest thing just to fill us up.
A healthy eating plan, particularly for your liver, for the most part, is one that is:
High in fiber
Rich in raw vegetables
Rich in fruits
High in fluids, including water and juices
Your diet should promote weight loss, and lead to an effective metabolism. This is because your liver is an integral part of your metabolic process, and having a healthy liver will promote a faster, healthier metabolism.
Correcting poor liver function is vital if you are to have the benefits of a healthy body. Detoxing your liver will help you to overcome chronic medical situations by reducing the liver’s toxic load, and improving overall liver function.
Organic raw fruits and vegetables
Vegetable juice, squeezed from raw vegetables
Whole wheat or other gluten-free breads
Whole grain pastas
Brown or wild rice
Seeds and nuts
Brown rice syrup
This list is not exhaustive, and it is not written in stone. However, these food items, or related items, will promote the effective detoxification of the liver, and as a result detox your entire body, and leave you with much more energy, over long, sustained periods.
There are healthy fats too that promote and support the detoxing of your liver.
Omega-3 essential fatty acids
Omega-6 essential fatty acids
Cold-pressed virgin olive oil, and
Cold-pressed sesame oil
Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids are easily obtained from sunflower seeds, legumes, rainbow trout, shrimp, walnuts, and leafy greens, to name but a few sources. These foods are easily available, and relatively affordable, so you can incorporate them easily into your lifestyle.
The following chapter will outline your 7-day detox program, and set you up for successful implementation of these foods into your daily life. You will not need to do this too often, in fact it is better that you do not. Occasional application of the program will, however, ensure the longevity of your liver, and even reverse some of the damage that you are doing to your liver, without even being aware of it.
The purpose of this diet is to take the load off your liver, and to improve its function and performance. It will increase your energy levels, and improve digestion. There are some items to avoid during this detox week, and these include:
Artificial sugars, and
Remember: This diet is not an eating plan, per se. It is a to-do list for 7 days to reset your liver. Yes, there are foods that should be incorporated, and foods which you should exclude, but it is ultimately a lifestyle change, for just 7 days, to reboot your liver, and as a result, your entire body.
Before breakfast, you should squeeze the juice of half a lemon in a cup of hot water, and drink it. This might seem to be an old wives tale, but it is an incredibly effective way to cleanse your system, and kick start your digestion.
You should drink at least three liters of fluid a day. This can be a combination of spring water, vegetable juices and herbal teas. You do not need to stick to just drinking water. This will also help you to detox your kidneys.
Cut out cooking, and eat as much raw fruit and vegetables as possible. The content of nutrients and enzymes is much higher in raw vegetables, so you get the direct benefit of these, without consuming synthetic pills. Also, you want to chew your food at least ten to twelve times before swallowing, which will aid in the digestion.
You are generally advised not to exercise during any detox program, but it is important that you do with the liver detox.
You should engage in some sort of vigorous exercise for at least an hour a day during this program, which will help with the elimination of toxins through sweat.
Day 1 and 2 should be concentrated on vegan foods. These can be consumed in any arrangement, and prepared using virgin olive, canola or sesame oils. Herbs should be used to season the food. Completely eliminate caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and sugar. Foods to avoid are also eggs, dairy, meat and wheat.
On Day 3 you need to eat only fruits and vegetables. You do not need to worry about portion size, or combinations. Just eliminate legumes, grains and nuts.
Day 4 is a hard day. You avoid all solid foods, taking in only water, juices and herbal teas.
Repeat Day 3 on Day 5, and
Day 6 and 7 should mirror Day 1 and 2
Day 1 and 2
You should take in fresh vegetables, fruits, and mushrooms. Healthy grains including brown rice, quinoa, and oatmeal are also recommended. Further recommendations are:
The use of cold pressed oils in the preparation of your vegetables
Healthy seasonings and spices should be used, except salt and sugar
Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water, including diluted fruit juices
Drink herbal teas throughout the day
Snack on dried fruits, nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables
As an option, you can use herbal supplements
If possible, spend up to 30 minutes in a sauna
Spend an hour doing vigorous exercise like running, Pilates, or biking
Meditation and breathing exercises are also recommended
On this day, you need to eliminate nuts, grains, seeds, legumes, mushrooms, and all beans. You are to eat only fruit and vegetables. You are allowed, as with the first two days, to eat as much as you want, and you are allowed to eat these in any form, dried, frozen, or fresh!
The further recommendations are the same as day 1 and 2, with the possible addition of massage therapy, which assists your lymphatic system and helps your body eliminate toxins.
As with the simple approach, on this day, you eliminate the consumption of all solid foods. Only water, juice and tea should be consumed on this day. Modify your intake of juice and water depending on what your body is telling you.
Do not exercise on this day, and avoid strenuous work. In fact, if you can, take the day off work completely. Do not take any supplements either on this day, and keep liquids close at hand. Focus instead on meditation, and perhaps journaling.
As a further option, consider taking Activated Charcoal capsules, three times a day for this day only, to bind toxins to waste and allow these to be eliminated through your bowel.
Repeat the regimen as on Day 3, avoiding exercise though. You do not want to stress your body out, with the reintroduction of fruits and vegetables, so take it easy on this day.
Day 6 and 7
Repeat the regimen as on Day 1 and 2, exactly.
As an option for Day 4, you can introduce a vitalizing beverage, to assist you on this day where you will only have liquids to drink.
The recipe for this beverage is as follows:
1-2 Tablespoons of lemon juice
1-2 Tablespoons of real maple syrup
A pinch of cayenne pepper
Purified mineral water
You can enjoy this throughout Day 4, and it should be mixed in a tall glass. You can also use carbonated mineral water, if you prefer.
If you to reboot and revitalize your liver, you may choose to commit 7 days out of your life to this liver detox plan.
You will enjoy more energy, and find it easier to eliminate toxins from your body.
1. Let Sunday be your Day 4
By starting the detox diet on Thursday, then Day 4 falls on a Sunday, which is already a day of rest, depending on your culture and tradition, and you will most likely be at home and not doing very much. By Wednesday the following week, you will be finished with the seven-day program, and ready for the weekend.
2. You should not attempt this program if you are already feeling unwell. Making your body do what it is not ready for, will have the adverse effect on what you are trying to achieve. Understanding your body is very important therefore, and you might need to consult with your doctor before you make an attempt of this.
3. Preparation is key
One of the best ways to effortlessly introduce the liver detox plan into your life is to be prepared.
Take the time the night before to pack fresh fruits and edible vegetables into your lunch, into your bag, into your car, into your life, so that you are not tempted to veer off the path.
Also, pack bottles of water, pre-make your tea, and have special bottles for your juices, so that you can dilute them and have them at the ready.
This is the only way to ensure that you stick to this diet, and ensure that you see it through to the end.
When you are prepared, you will feel the responsibility to carry out your plan, and 7 days will not be too long.