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Liver Detox

The liver, is an organ which has the role of detoxing various metabolites, synthesizing proteins, and producing biochemicals necessary for digestion.

In humans, it is located in the right upper quadrant of the abdomen, below the diaphragm. Its other roles in metabolism include the regulation of glycogen storage (which is basically energy storage), the decomposition of red blood cells and the production of hormones. It is also involved in lipid metabolism, it controls cholesterol synthesis, lipogenesis, and regulates the production of triglycerides, and a lot of the body’s lipoproteins are actually synthesized in the liver. The liver plays a key role in digestion, by producing and excreting bile, necessary for emulsifying fats and helps the absorption of some vitamins, for example vitamin K, from our diet. Some of the bile is drained directly into the duodenum, and some of it instead, is stored in the gallbladder, which is directly connected to the liver. It is also able to convert some metabolites or toxins from fat soluble to water soluble in order to easily get rid of these via urine. There is no way to compensate the liver functions so far and an artificial liver does not exist. Liver dialysis is a short-term solution. Therefore, better for us to look after it. It is very popular to undergo different detox procedures for the liver. This is to get rid of a lot of the toxins that accumulate every day. Either of chemical origin or coming from food. So, it is good from time to time, especially in case of an irregular lifestyle, to undergo a cycle of detoxification.

After menopause, women undergo drastic changes in their bodies mostly due to the lack of oestrogen.

In fact, going through menopause can increase the probability of developing fatty liver disease because women in general are at greater risk of gaining more weight caused by the hormonal changes and because they may not exercise as much for many social and medical reasons. Therefore, when women gain weight, fat inevitably accumulates in their liver cells. This creates a kind of toxic environment for the liver, leading to fibrosis, then cirrhosis and eventually cancer. Fatty liver is fast becoming one of the first reasons for liver transplants. A pivotal role is played in lifestyle at this point. Liver detox is a very popular practice and there are good and bad elements related to it. It is important to underline that there are quite a lot of clinical studies out there, most of them are not performed with enough control groups that have shown that commercial detox diets enhance liver detoxification and eliminate some of the persistent organic pollutants from the body. There is therefore, preliminary evidence to suggest that certain foods such as coriander, nori and olestra have proper detoxification properties, although the majority of these studies have been performed with animals and not repeated properly in humans. So far, from the scientific literature, no randomised controlled trials have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of commercial detox diets in humans. This is an area that deserves attention because there are potential benefits and risks of detox programmes.

Here is a list of foods which are considered as good in helping your liver to detox:

  • Fresh fruit and vegetables; they have a high fibre content as well as water, vitamins and minerals.
  • Cruciferous vegetables, (broccoli, cabbage, watercress just to name a few)
  • Water to assist the body eliminating toxins
  • Brightly “coloured” fruits and vegetables (for example strawberries and blueberries) as they contain antioxidants that help fight the damage from free radicals generated from toxins. Mixing these foods together can be even better, (because in this “pre-digested” state, 100% of their food value is available and in an easier form to be absorbed)
  • Consume oils rich in essential fatty acids as the ones found in avocado, salmon, olives and coconut oil. Essential fatty acids maintains a healthy and nourished colon.
  • Increase the amount of bitter greens for example endives and rocket.
  • A good amount of amino acids found in fish, chicken and eggs are very good sources of nutrients that we need in the liver detoxification process.
  • Increase the amount of fibre also in the form of psyllium husks, oat bran fibre also removes excess oestrogen (if you are taking medication and still need to find your precise dosage). If you suffer from irregular bowels, oestrogen can be reabsorbed by the body leading to an excess of oestrogen circulating.
  • Reduce exposure to some toxins by consuming moderate amount of caffeine, refined sugars, food additives and alcohol.

Moreover, what you can do is also avoid/ eliminate most of the sources that bring toxins into your body, especially if you are going through menopause. Sources of toxins include metals, plastic, household products and cosmetics (see articles already published on megsmenopause).

To conclude, we only have one liver that works to keep our body as clean as possible, so it is a good idea to help it out from time to time.

Author Dr Ornella Cappellari

References:

J Hum Nutr Diet. 2015 Dec;28(6):675-86. doi: 10.1111/jhn.12286. Epub 2014 Dec 18. Detox diets for toxin elimination and weight management: a critical review of the evidence. Klein AV, Kiat H.

Altern Ther Health Med. 2015 May-Jun;21(3):54-62. Nutritional aspects of detoxification in clinical practice. Cline JC.

Int J Cancer. 2019 Feb 27. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32240. [Epub ahead of print] Linear age-course effects on the associations between body mass index, triglycerides, and female breast and male liver cancer risk: An internal replication study of 800,000 individuals. Häggström C, Jonsson H, Bjørge T, Nagel G, Manjer J, Ulmer H, Drake I, Ghaderi S, Lang A, Engeland A, Stattin P, Stocks T. 

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