By Lauren Fischer
Think of the liver as the body’s toxin processing plant. Most toxins, like pesticides, household cleaning agents, dry-cleaning chemicals and hormone disruptors in beauty products, are fat-soluble. In order to be eliminated from the body, fat-soluble toxins must be converted to a water-soluble form. The liver accomplishes this through a two-step process with the help of glutathione, B vitamins, magnesium, vitamin C, selenium and amino acids. Once water-soluble, the toxins are excreted from the body through urine, sweat and bowel movements.
Our modern environment is overloaded with toxins, causing our livers to work overtime. However, we can support our livers with foods that fuel the detoxification process.
According to Alisa Vitti, functional nutritionist and founder of Flo Living, cilantro contains a compound called linalool that helps cleanse the liver. Cilantro pesto is delicious way to add the liver-cleansing herb to meats, vegetables and grains.
Glutathione is a master antioxidant and crucial for detoxification. Foods that contain glutathione or provide the building blocks for glutathione production include whey protein, cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower), garlic, apples, asparagus, avocado, broccoli, carrots, melon and spinach.
The liver and gall bladder are a powerful detoxification duo. The liver is the toxin processing plant and the gall bladder is the bile storage tank. Bile held in the gall bladder absorbs water-soluble toxins from the liver. The toxin-filled bile is released when the gall bladder contracts and eventually excreted through bowel movements. A healthy liver depends on a healthy gall bladder. Beets make bile thin and free flowing, allowing it to efficiently absorb and remove toxins from the body. Shredded raw beets or a fermented beverage called beet kvass provide the most bile benefit.
Dandelion root is another friend of the gall bladder. It makes bile thin and free flowing like beets, but also increases bile production and causes gall bladder contractions. The easiest way to add dandelion root to your diet is with dandelion root tea, which you can find at your local health food store.