Got any plans this weekend? Bet a liver cleanse isn’t on your agenda—but maybe it should be! Cleanses have a reputation for being difficult, life-interrupting processes, but doing a short, food-based cleanse is actually pretty painless and a lot easier than you think. Your liver is the second-largest organ in the body (only skin is larger), so giving it a break from toxins, preservatives and hard-to-process foods helps it function better every day. Liver health is crucial, as this organ supports your skin and hormones, as well as your immune, reproductive, and digestive systems.
In order to do all of this amazing work, your liver needs nutritional support. There are lots of awesome juice cleanses out there that can help flush out toxins, but more and more naturopaths and other practitioners are recommending a food-based approach to cleansing as a more frequent practice, with juice cleanses done less frequently.
A food-based cleanse helps ensure you get all the “right stuff” (nutrients), and it’s gentler on your system, making it great for beginners or for those who don’t want to commit to doing just a juice cleanse. Food-based cleanses also minimize the deprivation and withdrawal (and metabolism crash) one can sometimes experience when only consuming liquids. Follow this menu for a liver-friendly cleanse you can do in a weekend!
What to Cut Out During a Liver Cleanse
Yes, you can eat while on a liver cleanse, but you’ll need to give up the following:
- Sugary foods (a minimal amount of fruit is okay)
- Dairy products
- Breads, pasta and other gluten products
- Highly processed foods
- High-sodium foods
- Meat (if you normally eat meat, a little roasted chicken will be okay)
- Soy (tempeh is okay if you’re used to soy)
- Vegetable/Canola oils
10 Ways to Love Your Liver Daily
Here are 10 suggestions for loving your liver and reducing its workload:
1. Eliminate the toxic load of what you ingest through food and drink. Try to eat organic when possible. Cut any alcohol during the detox and keep alcohol consumption moderate going forward.
2. Reduce toxins in your home by choosing natural beauty products and cleaning products when possible.
3. Consume cleansing lemon water every morning upon rising.
4. Stay hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water daily. For a boost in cellular regeneration and liver support, add 1 teaspoon of chlorophyll, spirulina or any green powder to 10 ounces of water from once a day up to 3 times a day during your cleanse.
5. Support a healthy colon by drinking flax tea (add 1 tablespoon of flax seeds to one cup of water, steep and strain), or add extra fiber, such as chia or flax seeds, to meals. Fiber is vital for removing toxic wastes from the colon.
6. Eat foods that naturally cleanse the liver, such as apples, lemons, limes, asparagus, broccoli, radish, cucumber, spinach, watercress, parsley, cilantro and other bitter greens.
8. Close the kitchen 2 hours before bedtime. Sleep is when the liver begins to clean the body of wastes.
10. Get plenty of sleep! Your body restores itself while it rests, promoting optimal digestion and organ function.
Weekend Liver Cleanse Menu
Eat a healthy dinner and stock up on veggies and other clean foods for the weekend. Prep a chia seed breakfast pudding so breakfast is ready for you in the morning, and plan on getting at least 8 hours of sleep. Drink a soothing turmeric tea or sip on some cleanse water before bed.
If you usually reach for a cup of coffee in the morning, grab some antioxidant-rich green tea or a homemade energy drink instead. Top your chia seed pudding with pistachios or pumpkin seeds and a few berries to get plenty of fiber and healthy fats which will keep you feeling full all morning. If you feel peckish later, opt for a cleansing liver-detox juice or a detox-friendly green smoothie that contains even more good fats and fiber.
Prepare a rainbow veggie salad with kelp noodles (add some roasted tempeh if you need more sustenance), and serve it with apple slices dipped in a little bit of unsalted almond butter. If you need a snack during the afternoon, try a handful of raw veggies or unsalted walnuts, pecans, almonds or cashews. Sip on vitamin-infused water throughout the afternoon to keep flushing toxins from your liver.
Eat a satisfying Detox Wrap with Sunflower Seed Spread for dinner. Have a detox-friendly (and gut-friendly) happy hour by sipping on some kombucha or lacto-fermented lemonade, which will help get your digestion on track. Before bed, do a castor oil pack then take a relaxing shower or detox bath. Carve out at least 8 hours for sleep, and be sure to stop eating and drinking 2 hours before bedtime.
Have some chilled avocado soup served alongside spiralized zucchini noodles topped with detox pesto. For a crunchy snack, try homemade apple or radish chips, or fresh veggies with homemade bean dip or hummus. Some light yoga, meditation or another low-key detox workout will help you relax at the the end of your weekend. Drink cleanse water or a liver cleanse juice afterwards.
Help yourself to a heaping bowl of glowing skin salad with detox dressing (add 1/3 cup beans, roasted chicken or tempeh if you feel you need more protein). A detox probiotic smoothie will help your digestion and support your liver during this last stretch of the cleanse. Do another castor oil pack tonight if you like.
Don’t shock your system by immediately reverting to old habits. Segue back into “normal” eating with a protein-rich, clean breakfast like scrambled eggs with avocado, or one of the breakfasts you made over the weekend, like the chia pudding. See if you can stave off the coffee cravings with green tea or water, avoid alcohol for a while, and make sure you continue to eat and drink lots of veggies! Click here to find even more detox recipes to keep the cleanse going.24