by Joanna Foley, RD, CLT January 11, 2022 4 min read

The liver is one of the most important — yet often overlooked — organs in your body. As your body's primary detoxification organ, it helps keep your body healthy and functioning as it should.

There are two key phases of liver detoxification, each of which requires specific nutrients in order to work effectively. Keep reading to learn more about what your liver does and what you can do to help support it.

What Does Your Liver Do?

Your liver is one of your hardest-working organs. It performs over 500 vital functions that are essential for life and good health. One of its main roles is to filter your blood and break down toxins it is exposed to, byproducts and other harmful substances, such as pollutants, medications, drugs, alcohol and caffeine. This helps detoxify your body and support healthy levels of inflammation to keep your body in a balanced state.

There are two key phases involved in the detoxification process by the liver:

  • Phase one involves a number of enzymes that help break down harmful fat-soluble toxins and other products that get stored in your fat cells and send the raw materials to phase two

  • Phase two mobilizes and transforms the byproducts of phase one into new, water-soluble waste products in a process called conjugation. This waste can then safely be removed from your body via urine, stool, sweat and breath.

    • This phase also requires help from key nutrients such as the most powerful antioxidant glutathione, sulfur based compounds and amino acids, as well as minerals, including zinc and selenium.

In addition to detoxification, some other essential functions of the liver include:

  • Producing bile to help digest and absorb fats and carry waste away from the liver

  • Producing certain proteins for the blood and proteins that transport fat through the body

  • A storage site for vitamins and minerals

  • Helps support a strong immune system
  • Helping regulate blood clotting

  • Helps to balance blood sugar levels by converting stored liver glucose (glycogen) back into glucose for energy when needed

How To Naturally Support the Phases of Liver Detoxification

There are many things that can get in the way of your liver's ability to do its job correctly, such as overexposure to toxins from a poor diet or from the environment. This can lead to many health issues and more serious conditions over time. You can take proactive steps in your daily life to naturally support your liver's ability to detox. Here are some tips to get started:

  • Eat cruciferous vegetables. These vegetables provide sulfur-rich compounds that are essential to produce glutathione, the master antioxidant that supports detoxification. Try to incorporate a few servings of cruciferous vegetables at every meal that include broccoli, cabbage, bok choy, cauliflower and brussels sprouts.

  • Focus on fiber. Fiber is an indigestible type of carbohydrate that has various health benefits. Fiber supports the antioxidant and enzyme activity required for liver detoxification. It also helps bulk up your stool and promote regular passage of bowel movements, which removes toxins from the body. All plant foods are good sources of dietary fiber, including whole grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds.

  • Stay hydrated. Drinking more water helps cleanse and detoxify the liver. This is because sufficient hydration is required to promote blood circulation and dissolve nutrients. Staying hydrated also helps produce urine, which is another key way the body rids itself of toxins. It is important that you use a water filter or drink mineral water as tap water contains many chemicals and other harmful substances that add to your toxic load.

  • Move your Body. Daily movement and incorporating formal physical activity is also key for a healthy liver and body. Exercise can facilitate weight loss or support maintaining a healthy body weight by increasing the breakdown of fatty acids and reducing toxins stored in fat cells. Exercise helps increase the breakdown of Doing physical activity can increase sweat production, promote circulation and increase breathing - all detoxification routes that expel toxins. Like fiber, exercise can also help keep your bowel movements regular, supporting the elimination of toxins via the stool.

  • Consider using supportive supplements. Milk thistle and turmeric are two herbs with anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant properties they can support the liver and more effective detoxification. Completing a functional medicine liver detox seasonally is also a great way to restore any nutrient deficiencies and effectively remove excess toxicities that accumulate in the body and increase the toxic load on the liver.

  • Incorporate self-care activities into your wellness routine.This can include daily dry brushing, coffee enemas and massage. These actions can help by improving circulation, promoting lymph flow and drainage and promoting more efficient elimination of toxins overall.

Your liver is your body's essential built-in detoxification organ. Completing a Functional Medicine detox provides all the nutrients and herbs your body needs to support and upregulate both phases of liver detoxification as well as promote the effective and safe elimination of stored toxins. It is a science-backed powerful weight loss, wellness and anti-aging solution that can rebalance the body at a deeper level by restoring nutrient deficiencies and removing accumulated toxicities.

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