A healthy liver plays a vital role in digestion, filtering food and drinks you ingest, purifying the blood, and performing literally hundreds of functions every day. The liver is the largest internal organ in the human body, and we cannot live without it.
Many self-proclaimed health experts recommend a liver detox to rid the body of toxins and cleanse the liver. But is this truly necessary?
How Your Body Detoxes Naturally
Your liver detoxifies the body constantly. By filtering out toxins and converting them to waste products that your body excretes, the liver protects the body from harmful chemicals.
At the same time, the liver helps to convert useful substances in food to nutrients needed for the body to run smoothly. The liver works with the kidneys to provide a highly effective filtering and processing center needed for good health.
Are Liver Detoxes Safe?
There is no FDA-approved liver-detoxification product, so items that are sold as liver detoxes may not be safe. Although some ingredients in detox solutions have shown promising medicinal applications, the lack of research (as well as the lack of uniformity of concentration and sourcing) means the safety and effectiveness of the detox cannot be determined.
That said, milk thistle is a plant that may reduce liver inflammation, and turmeric may have protective properties for the liver. Including these in your diet can be part of your overall healthy lifestyle.
What Causes Liver Damage?
Although there is no medical evidence that points to toxins accumulating in the liver and needing to be “flushed out,” liver damage can be caused by your own habits and actions, such as:
- Drinking alcohol – Excessive alcohol consumption damages the liver. Men who regularly consume more than three drinks per day, and women who consume more than two drinks per day, are making the liver work too hard in filtering out all of those toxins.
- Obesity – Being overweight puts stress on your liver and can cause fatty liver disease.
- Viral hepatitis – Behaviors that increase your risk of contracting viral hepatitis include sharing needles when injecting drugs, getting tattoos in a non-sterile environment, and having unprotected sex with multiple partners.
- Some medications – Overuse of certain medications has been shown to cause liver damage, such as acetaminophen.
Can Your Liver Heal from Damage?
The liver is an amazingly resilient organ. Any damage done from an unhealthy lifestyle can usually be reversed just by stopping the behavior.
The liver is able to regenerate itself from most damage unless it is severe. Heavy drinkers who quit drinking alcohol can have a liver restored to perfect health just by allowing it time to heal.
How to Keep Your Liver Healthy
Avoiding alcohol, staying away from dangerous drugs, and eating a healthy diet can help to maintain liver health every day. Keeping poisons out of your body makes your liver’s daily detoxing job easier and helps ensure good digestion – and better health overall.
Gastroenterologists in Central Pennsylvania
Our board-certified gastroenterologists at Carlisle Digestive Disease Associates have helped patients with all kinds of digestive and liver conditions since 1990. Expert hepatologists on our team can advise you on diet recommendations or other treatments that help to maintain good liver health.
For preventive screenings or treatment for acute or chronic GI conditions, call our Carlisle office for an appointment at (717) 245-2228, or fill out our appointment request form online. We look forward to serving you.