5 signs your liver needs a detox
It's only natural to feel you need a detox after overindulgence, or feeling you need a cleanse when experiencing bloating, a change in your stools, energy levels or skin condition, or becoming frustrated with being unable to lose weight. Dora Walsh, expert nutritionist (mBANT, CNHC) and UK Health Radio presenter, shares the signs your liver may need a detox and how to avoid a toxic overload that can lead to health conditions, weight gain and low energy.
5 signs you need a liver detox
Here are the 5 tell-tale signs to watch out for and when it may be time to give your liver a detox. You may also enjoy 'The best foods for detoxing your liver'.
1. Fatty floating stools
Bile produced from the liver plays a vital role in separating nutrients from toxins and waste, as well as digesting fat in the small intestine. An under-functioning liver produces less bile and a lack of bile from the liver can lead to a build-up of toxins in our bodies, causing fatty, floating stools due to the fats not being absorbed or broken down properly.
2. Being overweight
As a major fat burning organ, your liver plays a big role in weight loss and your ability to lose weight.
A liver overloaded with excess sugar, alcohol and toxins can become damaged, inflamed or fatty, reducing its efficiency. When your liver becomes inefficient, it stops burning fat and instead begins to store fat, causing you to gain weight. If you feel you're gaining more weight than you'd expect with your diet and lifestyle, it can be a sign your liver needs a detox.
Read our nutritionists' advice for 'Losing weight healthily'.
3. Tired all the time
The liver plays an important role in converting dietary fibre and carbohydrates into energy. An under-functioning liver doesn't produce the energy from your diet that your body needs and can be at the root of tiredness and fatigue.
If you feel constantly fatigued or struggle to get up in the morning, or find your energy dwindles too easily during the day despite a good night's sleep and plenty of rest, it can be a sign your liver needs a detox. If you are regularly tired and suffer poor sleep, it might also be due to excess levels of your stress hormone, cortisol, which inhibits melatonin, your sleep hormone. Heightened levels of cortisol make it harder to get to sleep, stay asleep, and enjoy deeper, rejuvenating sleep.
Learn more in 'What is cortisol', including how to lower your cortisol levels.
4. New allergies and sensitivities
Reduced liver function and a less efficient detoxification system can lead to an accumulation of high levels of toxins in your body, which in turn can lead to new food and nutrient sensitivities you may not have experienced before.
New allergies and sensitivities resulting from a reduced liver function can include:
- Frequent headaches
- Rhinitis (inflammation of the inside of the nose)
- Laryngitis (when your voice box becomes inflamed from irritation or infection)
- Itchy skin or rashes
- Muscle and joint aches
- Inability to focus and concentrate
5. Over exposure to toxins
Your liver works to transform toxins to be released out of your body, but your liver doesn't have an infinite capacity to remove them.
If you're constantly exposed to toxins from fast foods and snacks, air pollution, pesticides, toiletries and beauty products with high chemical contents, or home detergents and cleaning products that you can encounter in everyday life, these can all put your liver under strain without you realising it.
Understand your diet. Create your free online Diet Profile.
A body overburdened with toxins will show various signs and symptoms such as a change in your stools, weight, skin health and others, and unless released, the toxins end up stored deep in your body's fat.
4 tips for liver health
There are simple changes you can make to your diet and lifestyle to improve your liver health and help naturally detoxify your liver. Great foods for detoxifying your liver include onions, garlic, artichoke, brazil nuts, lentils, grapefruit and beetroot.
Learn more in 'The best foods for detoxifying your liver' and here are some simple tips to follow.
1. Eat bitter foods and herbs
Reach for bitter foods, herbs and spices such as rocket salad, beetroot, artichoke, curcumin and turmeric, dandelion, chicory, and fenugreek seeds - these can all help stimulate bile production and support the liver at fulfilling its job of removing toxins from the body.
2. Eat cruciferous vegetables
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kale are all excellent for helping naturally detoxify your liver. These foods help increase the liver's natural detoxification enzymes, protect it from damage, and improve your blood levels of liver enzymes.
Why not try our Baked Chilli tofu with Kale & Noodles recipe.
3. Hydrate yourself well
While dehydration affects your brain's performance and will lead you to feeling tired and lethargic, it will also directly affect your liver's ability to detoxify your body, making it harder for waste products to be expelled.
Aim to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day, preferably filtered or mineral water, and drink more in hot weather or when you're exercising to replace fluids you lose through sweat.
4. Avoid aerosols and toxic personal care products
If you do use aerosols, make sure you do so in a well-ventilated area and wear a mask to avoid exposure. Or you can try sustainable, plastic and toxin-free deodorant from Wild Deodorant.
Wear gloves and long sleeves when using cleaning solutions, insecticides and other toxic chemicals and if you're inside, keep the room well ventilated. Also, make the switch from chemically based to natural personal care products to avoid further toxic burden on the body.
Dora Walsh is a Registered Nutritional Therapist mBANT CNHC and Registered Nutritionist mBANT. She runs Nutriheal, specialising in nutritional therapy and lifestyle medicine.
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