Don’t Try to Liver Cleanse without Reading this First

Is it time for a liver cleanse?
Is it time for a liver cleanse?

Most people have been lead to believe that a liver cleanse is a simple matter. Just combine a lemon detox diet with a “Feb Fast” or “Dry July”, right?  Well allow me to set the record straight!

Time To Liver Cleanse

So you’re feeling like crap, hey? Was it 1 too many drinks over the weekend or just a slow decline into a sloth-like toxic state of being?

Either way you’ve decided that enough is enough. It’s time to clean out the old bod! Well a liver cleanse or detox is a great place to start, and you’re about to find out what it takes to make sure you succeed!

Beneath The Surface

Despite the dumbed-down approach to liver detox diets by trendy celebrity magazines, it’s actually a delicate 3(ish)-phase process.

You should also be aware that liver cleanse is a misleading term! You cannot manually force toxins from your body, so the idea of consuming weird and wacky potions is simply a ploy to make you buy unneeded products.

The BEST approach you can take for a liver cleanse is to consistently make positive diet and lifestyle choices that allow your body to naturally purge toxins.


For those looking for a technical explanation on what actually happens during the liver detox process I’ve covered the main “science-y” elements beneath (face it, I’m a foodie nerd).

If science is not your thing then skip to the next article and get the simple summary of what to do!


Phase 1 Liver Detox/Cleanse – Toxin “Conversion”

There are three phases of liver detoxification and all involve slightly different enzymes, nutrients and processes.

The first phase of liver detoxification mainly involves the family of P450 enzymes. These little critters are responsible for converting toxins that enter your system into “intermediate metabolites”. This is like round 1 of a boxing match where you soften up your opponent before looking for the knockout!

An important side note: these metabolites are actually MORE toxic than the original toxins! Which is why it’s REALLY important that the whole system is working well and we transition into Phase 2 pronto.

How did those toxins get there? Through your food, alcohol, the air you breathe, your own endogenous (internal) hormone production, chemical products that you put on your body and various other compounds that you come into contact with. (MAJOR CLUE 1)

Are you already beginning to see that there’s more to a liver detox than simply cutting back on your weekend binges?

Phase 2 Liver Detox/Cleanse – Toxin “Breakdown”

In Phase 2 our little toxic metabolites are changed yet again. They’re turned into water-soluble molecules, allowing them to be excreted safely through bile, stool and urine.

The main processes that ensure this happens include glucuronidation, sulfation, glycination, glutathionation and amino acid conjugation. Holy cow Batgirl!

The only thing you need to know about these tongue-twisting terms is that they need nutrients  to work properly. (MAJOR CLUE 2)

Phase 1 and 2 Liver Detox Process
Phase 1 and 2 Liver Detox Process (Image Credit: thepaleomom.com)

Phase 3 Liver Cleanse – Toxin “Purge”

If you thought Phase 2 sounded complex then Phase 3 makes it look like finger painting.

An “antiporter activity” system is triggered in your small intestine, hence why gut health is so important to detoxification. (MAJOR CLUE 3)

Once Phase 2 has converted our metabolites into water-soluble compounds, these antiporter proteins get to work. They act as pumps, pushing the hydrophilic (water loving) metabolites out of hepatocytes (liver cells).

This is where things commonly go wrong. If there’s underlying inflammation in the liver, then Phase 3 detox occurs very sluggishly.

Highly toxic metabolites start to accumulate, like a quickly growing traffic jam of angry motorists stuck behind a poor L-plater (we’ve all been there).

I picture Augustus Gloop stuck in Willy Wonkers chocolate pipe, moments before the pressure becomes too great and he’s rapidly ejected! See what happens when you eat too much chocolate…

A Note On Intermittent Fasting

The same toxic build up occurs if you practise intermittent fasting but have inadequate gut health.

In this instance, fasting is a form of detoxification because it causes your cells to break down fat. And fat is largely where the body stores excess toxins.

This then becomes a big problem if the liver doesn’t have enough nutrients available to convert and purge toxins. And it’s compounded by inadequate movement of waste out of your system.

So if your gut and liver health is poor already then you have no way to eliminate these free-floating toxins and the vicious cycle repeats itself!

Nutrients and Bacteria For A Successful Liver Cleanse

As you can see, liver detox is quite a complex process! It’s important to note that Phases 2 and 3 especially require more nutrients than you would get purely from a green juice fast alone.

Bacteria also play a significant role in these processes. Beneficial bacteria strains help support the detox process to run as smoothly as possible.

However, the reverse is also true of dysbiotic or pathogenic bacteria. Dysbiosis (a.k.a. an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut) can actually increase the recirculation of toxins which is definitely not what we want!

So we started this conversation around a Liver Cleanse, but the biggest take away should be to LOOK AFTER YOUR GUT HEALTH!

Where To Start With Optimising Your Gut Health

STEP 1: Get your free copy of “The Perfect Digestion Solution” (see sign-up bar above right)

STEP 2: Get your copy of my A-Z guide for “Healing Digestive Discomfort

STEP 3: Search for “gut health” in the search bar and browse my previous posts, podcasts and recipes

STEP 4: Still in trouble? Stop suffering and start healing ASAP by booking in to see me! I offer personalised Skype consults for anybody, anywhere.


Liver Cleanse Wrap-Up

So that wraps up today’s lesson. I trust that you now know a lot more about how to go about a liver cleanse!

For the follow-up to this article, I’ve outlined 10 things you MUST INCLUDE with any liver cleanse, and 10 things you MUST AVOID.

Oh, and if you like what you’re reading then SHARE IT with someone who needs to know!!!

Nat x

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1 thought on “Don’t Try to Liver Cleanse without Reading this First”

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    Hi, I made things even more confusing for myself by seeing 2 naturopaths..Perimenopause has given me sky rocket estrogen levels and no progesterone. One N said liver/copper cleanse (she also decided i had high copper)and 1 said gut first using metagenics brand products.Nor sure which way to go!Michelle

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