Doing a deliberate detoxification of your liver occasionally is excellent for your health.
This is especially true if you are interested in lowering your percentage of body fat. Not doing it is one reason why using a reducing diet usually fails.
A toxin is anything that irritates or creates harmful physiological effects. Purging such poisons deliberately is a good idea.
Please, however, never make any major changes in your diet without the prior blessing of your licensed physician or other health-care professional.
If your skin, lungs, kidneys, and intestines as well as your liver are healthy, many toxins never reach the bloodstream. Your body does its best to neutralize them (as, for example, antioxidants neutralize free radicals), transform them (as, for example, fat-soluble chemicals are transformed to water-soluble chemicals), and eliminate them (through urine, feces, sweat, mucus, and breath).
Not only is your liver your largest internal organ, but it’s also your primary fat-burning organ. If you are not kind to your liver, it may be too overworked cleansing toxins to do much fat burning. Liver toxicity blocks fat-burning.
This fact has not gone unnoticed. For example, both fat loss books listed below in Recommended Resources recommend a two-week period of liver detoxification to inaugurate a reducing diet.
There’s nothing magical about two weeks. A liver detoxification should last between 10 and 21 days. Furthermore, it’s an excellent idea even if you do not think your percentage of body fat is too high.
Every minute your liver processes between three and four pints of blood. It actually performs almost 400 different tasks!
Doing a liver detoxification helps it cleanse toxins from your system by making it easier for it to perform its other functions such as metabolizing proteins, carbohydrates, and fats; controlling your hormonal balance; and producing factors that boost your immune system.
A roll of fat around your middle is a sign that you have a “fatty liver.” What has happened is that your liver has stopped processing fat and begun storing it. Unless you have liver disease, doing a detoxification will improve the functioning of your liver and reduce its fattiness within days.
Liver detoxification requires restricting carbohydrates. Except on cheat days (if you use them and they work for you), I have long advocated that everyone restrict daily carbohydrate consumption to 25 grams or less.
With respect to carbohydrate metabolism, your liver converts glucose and other sugars into glycogen for storage. If your blood sugar drops too low because you are limiting carbohydrate consumption, your liver will convert stored glycogen into glucose and release it into your blood stream. If you keep restricting carbohydrate consumption, your liver will convert fat (or protein) into glucose and release it into your blood stream to maintain your blood sugar level.
This explains why low-carbohydrate diets work to reduce body fat. To get fat, consume carbs; to get slim, stop consuming carbs.
In addition to a roll of fat around your middle, other signs that your liver may be struggling include abdominal bloating, indigestion, hypertension, elevated blood cholesterol, fatigue, moodiness, depression, and skin rashes.
In fact, unless your liver is in tip-top condition, all other bodily organs will be affected. Furthermore, any efforts you make toward lowering your percentage of body fat will be obstructed.
Liver detoxification is not just about restricting carbohydrate consumption. It’s about deliberately avoiding all toxins that unnecessarily stress your liver for a period of 10 to 21 days.
(“Endotoxins” are natural by-products of bodily processes, such as the formation of ammonia when your liver breaks down protein. Since the body has ways to eliminate these toxins naturally – as it eliminates the urea from protein processing via the kidneys – liver detoxification is not aimed at eliminating endotoxins.)
In addition to consuming less than 25 grams of carbohydrates daily, what are the major toxins to eliminate during liver detoxification?
There are only three major ones, namely, alcohol, caffeine, and unnecessary medications.
Remember, this does not mean that you must live without alcohol, caffeine, or, say, aspirin for the rest of your life! All it means is eliminating them for the detoxification period.
Just as there is no minimum daily requirement for carbohydrate consumption, so there is no health reason ever to consume alcohol, caffeine, or unnecessary medications. An “unnecessary” medication is one that you have not been prescribed by a licensed physician.
Alcohol unnecessarily stresses the liver. It’s like a super-carbohydrate. Consuming beer, wine, or spirits may not only be enjoyable, but moderate consumption has some genuine health benefits. However, if you are serious about getting the fat out of your liver, consume no alcohol whatsoever during the detox period. Obviously, if you are so attached to alcohol consumption that you cannot easily do without it for a couple of weeks, admit that you are an alcoholic and get some help.
Similarly, caffeine unnecessarily stresses the liver. It, too, may have some health benefits, but none from your liver’s point of view. Eliminate it completely during the detoxification period. If you are addicted to it, spend a week or so prior to the detox period tapering off caffeine; otherwise, if you go cold turkey, you may have to endure withdrawal headaches for a few days. (It may be that women are particularly vulnerable to caffeine’s effects.)
Like food, medications (and certain nutritional supplements) must be processed by your body before they are used. Some (such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs used in hormone-replacement therapy) are really hard on your liver.
If you are using any drugs for lowering cholesterol or triglycerides, antidiabetic drugs, anticonvulsants, or hormones, ask your physician if there is some way that you can get off them at least for the detoxification period. Never stop taking prescription medications without your physician’s guidance. Remember, some of these drugs control the effects of carrying too much body fat, so detoxifying and learning how to eat well should ameliorate the need for them by reducing your percentage of body fat.
I hope that you have already eliminated trans fatty acids (“trans fats”) completely and permanently from your diet. If not, please do so instantly.
Detoxification is not just about eliminating alcohol, caffeine, unnecessary medications, trans fatty acids and seriously reducing sugar intake [all carbohydrates, when digested, become sugar]. It’s also about aiding your liver for the detoxification period. Here are some important suggestions:
Ingest sufficient protein. “Sufficient” here means 1 gram of protein per pound of bodyweight. So, if you weight 200 lbs, ingest at least 200 grams of protein daily. It may be easier to do this if you use a good protein powder. The ones with the most biologically available protein are made from either egg whites or from 100% whey (or whey isolates).
Ingest sufficient clean water. Two or three quarts daily is a minimum. (Some bodybuilders drink several gallons daily.)
Ingest important supplements. If possible, get them from organic sources. Take a multivitamin, multimineral; I use Nutrilite’s Double X. Take 400 to 1000 mg of potassium and an equal amount of magnesium daily (because it helps to maintain the critical potassium balance). Take 200 mg of silymarin (milk thistle). Take at least 100 to 300 mg alpha lipoic acid; I take 600 mg. Take at least 60 mg coenzyme Q-10; I take 400 mg.
If you worry about missing the beneficial ingredients of green tea for a couple of weeks, take a decaffeinated green tea extract. (I use Life Extension’s.)
If you want to ensure sufficient intake of leucine, which is an essential amino acid, take 7500 mg daily. (It comes in either powder or capsules; since it doesn’t mix well in water, I prefer using the capsules.)
If you feel light headed when standing or become too winded with exercise during the detoxification period, add some salt to your diet. (Just eat a dill pickle half twice a day.)
If you do strength training or physically demanding work during the detoxification period, add 1500 or 2500 mg of D-ribose to your daily diet. (You can just add it to your protein shakes.)
Here are three more tips for having an effective liver detox.
First, give blood during the detoxification period (preferably apheresis, if possible).
Second, get plenty of sleep. Allow at least 7 undisturbed hours in total darkness per night.
Third, eat a meal about every 4 waking hours (and not within 3 hours of going to sleep at night).
If you want to lose stomach fat, precede the 2 or 3 week detox period with a few days of gathering supplies and tapering off alcohol and caffeine. Follow the detox period with two weeks of a low carb, relatively high protein diet such as I have recommended elsewhere.
In just 4 or 5 weeks, you may feel much better and more energetic, look better, find that your clothes fit you once again, and receive compliments from others. That’s all in addition to being healthier!
When you hit the percentage of body fat you want, you may reintroduce some moderate alcohol and caffeine consumption and add back in a few more grams of carbs.
If you ever find yourself too fat in the future, just repeat the detox and follow it with two weeks of a really good diet.
Now you have a system that really works!
As always, if you know someone who might benefit by reading this, please forward it.
Additional resources: lasting-weight-loss.com, Ann Louise Gittleman’s The Fat Flush Plan and the Eades’s The Six-Week Cure for the Middle-Aged Middle.