Detox diets are a thing. You are likely to have done several of those over the years with mixed results.
But as a Dietitian, they were very much controversial to me for as long as I can remember.
Until I developed a deeper understanding of how the liver functions and what it needs to do the job well.
In this episode, we talk about why liver function is critical for hormonal balance and overall health and 12 things that you can start implementing to supercharge your liver function.
Hello and welcome to today’s episode of the Beauty in Balance podcast.
I think today’s topic has been a very controversial one for me for many years!
I remember during one of my lectures at university, while studying dietetics, one of my lecturers taught us that there is no such thing as a detox diet.
The liver is performing detoxification 24 hours of each day and therefore detox diets are just something that natural health people and the media thought up to sell their diets and products, or whatever it is that they do.
But i think over the last few years, I’ve developed a much more balanced opinion on the topic, and I want to share that with you today.
But before we get there, I want you to know that, without prioritzing your liver health, it will be impossible to have hormonal health and overall heatlh. Your liver is the largest organ in your body, and for good reason. It performs over 500 functions a day, and most of us is doing nothing to support it. In fact, we are making it’s job so much harder.
Some of the functions include:
The production of bile, which is important for carry waste away and for breaking down fats
It’s responsible for fat metabolism
It metabolises, or breaks down hormones after it has been used by the body
It Supports regulation of blood glucose
It stores vitamins and minerals
One of it’s biggest jobs is to filter the blood and process toxins which could be fatal if the liver did not perform that job
It produces immune factors
It regulates blood clotting
It produces cholesterol, which is important for the production of hormones and also for protecting our blood vessels against any damage, like that from free radicals
And just so so much more.
Because of the liver’s major role that it plays in metabolising hormones, a sluggish liver would lead to hormonal imbalances and symptoms may include
Sleep and mental disturbances
Sensitivity to medicine
Mental confusion or brain fog
Being chronically fatigued and
Disrupted cholesterol or abnormal cholesterol profiles
And i really just wanna emphasise this.
Often, clients of mine would get their blood testing done or come to me with tests that were ordered by their doctors and 9 out of 10 times, when lipid profiles are not normal, their gp or healthcare worker would tell them that everything is normal.
And if anything is mentioned about the cholesterol and lipid profile, it will either go 1 of 2 ways.
The doctor recommends they cut all fat out of their diet
Or they prescribe statins, which are drugs to lower cholesterol.
Disrupted cholesterol and lipid profiles are an indication that either there is vascular damage which the liver is trying to patch up with cholesterol, or the liver is not able to process cholesterol appropriately due to impaired function.
So again, it is important to find the underlying cause here.
Ok, so what is the most important function of the liver when it comes to hormones:
It’s the breaking down and removal of hormones, in particular estrogen. If the liver can not perform this function properly, it leads to estrogen dominance. And this is only one hormone that we’re talking about.
Estrogen is really important for mental health, fertility, menstrual health, reproductive health and so many different reasons.
But when it is not balanced, we all know it can create all kinds of issues
So if you have a sluggish liver, this is likely to lead to estrogen dominance, which can lead to fibroids in the breast, ovarian fibroids, hot flashes, heavy and painful periods, mood disturbances, cysts on the ovaries.
Now there are 2 main steps that the liver perform when it comes to female hormone balance:
The 2 phases of liver detoxification.
Phase 1 known as oxidation and phase 2 is called conjugation.
During phase 1, the liver enzymes, oxygen and vital nutrients work together to break down toxins - this is the oxidation step.
This is where toxins are converted into a more soluble form plus water so it can be excreted through the gut and kidneys
What makes things complicated here, is that most toxins that come into the body is fat soluble, so it’s crucial for the liver convert these in step , so that these toxins can be water soluble for effective elimination.
Did you know that the chemicals that are produced during this phase is more toxic than those that are originally entering into the body
A lot of things can disrupt phase 1 of detoxification. If we don’t take care of our liver and it’s not getting to do this conversion during the first phase properly, we have a big problem on our hands
So what disrupts this phase of detoxification?
Firstly, nutritional deficiencies, like B vitamins, cofactors, and minerals
Also, excessive toxic exposure for instance toxins in our environment and specifically things that we spray on our body. Please hear this today. The perfumes and deodorants that you are spraying on your body every day is not only disrupting your endocrine system, but also phase one of liver detoxification.
Alcohol consumption also disrupts this phase. When it comes to detoxifying toxins, your liver will always prioritise toxins that are not known to the body. They are always perceived as more life threatening than the toxins created by your body during normal body functions. So if you consume alcohol, all the other toxins are pushed to the back of the line and your liver will prioritise processing the alcohol. And what happens in this case, is that estrogen will be recirculated into your body, increasing your estrogen levels and disrupting the balance between estrogen and your other hormones, specifically progesterone.
Low prot intake will also disrupt this first phase of detoxification because amino acids are really important for the production of liver enzymes
And then also medications will disrupt this phase, as again, it is an external chemical that needs to be processed by the liver. So be very mindful of using any over the counter drugs unless it’s really necessary. These include pain meds, antacids, antiflammatories, etc.
Then we move on to the Second phase, where these dangerous toxins that were produced during the first phase, is now detoxified by combining it with sulphur, amino acids, and organic acids and it then gets excreted in the bile and urine.
Now it’s important to understand that detoxification in both these pathways happens every moment of every single day. The liver never gets a break and it’s always breaking down toxins, hormones, proteins and other substances.
And it’s really critical that the liver get what it needs to be able to metabolise all of these toxins, including all of the hormones that were already used by our body.
And remember we specifically talked about getting rid of estrogen as soon as possible after it has performed all of its amazing functions. We need to use it and lose it.
So here’s my new perspective on detoxification diets and retreats.
Nothing that you do, can detox your body. Your liver does that, every single day, every single second.
But what you CAN do, is to support your liver to perform these detox functions well.
Because if we don’t, we’ll soon start to feel the effects.
And just doing a detox diet for 4 or 6 weeks or however long, will support your liver for that short while, but then you go back to old habits and your liver is back to where it was. And you might even feel sicker.
So my perspective on detox is that your liver needs love on the daily!
Liver detox program is great, but it’s just like giving your liver on a holiday and then coming back into the real world
Your liver needs more than just a vacation - it needs ongoing support every single day.
So let’s talk about 10 ways that you can support and love your liver every single day, so that you can see those hormones and your body heal.
Increase plant foods in your diet. An easy way to do this is by counting all the plantbased foods on your plate every time you have a meal. If you’re not having loads of veggies at the moment, start by increasing your veggie intake by 1 per meal. You wanna eventually aim for having between 5 and 10 different plantbased foods per meal. So salads are a really easy way to get there. And remember plantbased foods include things like quinoa, nuts, seeds, beans and legumes.
Try to avoid saturated fats, so in short, avoid fried foods and take outs, and increase the good fats like those in salmon, nuts, seeds, olives, avocado, etc
A refined carbs, sugars and alcohol. So stay away from the baked goods, unless you use things like almond flour. Be mindful of all the foods that you load into your trolley when you do your grocery shopping. Make sure you check the labels and that sugar is not one of the first 5 ingredients.
Eat a ton of fibre. Did you know that the average western diet has about 11g of fibre, and we need 40-50g every day to keep the gut healthy. So by increasing your plantbased foods as per point 1, you’ll naturally increase your fibre content.
Include loads of good quality, lean proteins. Look out for meat that is grass-fed, organic, antibiotic and hormone free. It is important to include proteins in every single meal and snack that you have. So this might take a little bit more planning and thinking, but it can be quite uncomplicated if you add nuts to your snacks, have leftover dinner for lunch and add protein powder to your morning smoothie or cook up some beautiful veggies and egg for breakfast, which is a favourite in our household.
Include a good quality Vit B complex supplement daily. This supports the detoxification pathways. By good quality, I mean b vitamins that are methylated. This will make sure that they are absorbable by your body.
Moving your body every day! Your liver and hormones love and thrive when you move your body. The key here, is that you exercise consistently- which helps to burn triglycerides for fuel and this can support a fatty liver. A fatty liver can not perform all of these hundreds of functions well and it’s frightening how many people under age of 30 are diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver. Let me just remind you again disrupted cholesterol and lipid profiles are quite possibly a reflection of liver function or a fatty liver. So instead of using meds, consider how well your liver is processing these fatty acids. That could potentially be the root cause of disrupted lipid profile
Avoid toxins, which will injure your liver cells. So try to limit direct contact with cleaning products, insecticides, aerosol products, chemicals, additives, smoke. And better still, find environmentally friendly cleaning products. I usually say, if I’m not willing to spray the cleaning products on my food, I won’t use it in my home. Remember that your skin is the biggest organ in your body and is literally like a big mouth. It absorbs everything in your environment and that you put on it.
Use alcohol responsibly - especially with the holidays coming. Using alcohol regularly can create a lot of health issues, not just liver, but will scar the liver and lead to liver cirrhosis. My recommendation would be only one drink in a 24 hour window, with no more than 2 drinks per week.
Eat liver cleansing food - especially foods that are bitter - these foods contain compounds that aid and cleanse the liver and they include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, collard greens, kale, bok choy, herbs and brussel sprouts. Avocado has also been shown to protect the liver from toxic overload. Turmeric will protect liver against toxins, it’s one of the most powerful liver cleansers out there and phenomenal for supporting the phase 2 detox pathway
Be mindful with fruit - fructose has to be broken down to glucose in the liver before we can actually use it in our cells in the mitochondria to create energy in the body. Fruit is great for all the fibre, vitamins, and minerals, but too much can be a burden on the liver. So I generally recommend no more than 2 fruit per day plus some berries. Again, focus on low GI fruit, like berries, citrus, pomegranate seeds and apples.
Ease up on meds whenever possible. We know that the liver has to work really hard to get rid of these. Freq used over the counter meds can lead to liver issues and also destroys your gut. Your liver is silently being damaged by all the pain meds, antacides,etc. Just because they are available over the counter doesn’t mean it’s safe for chronic use. And this is why I love using essential oils. Because they are a lot less taxing on the liver. And they can be very effective in bringing the body back to balance
Use EOs to reduce toxic burden and support detoxification pathways. Not only can the use of essential oils help you to reduce toxic exposure by replacing cleaning products, beauty products, over the counter meds, etc., but with over 70 000 different chemical constituents found in eo’s, many of which mimic the molecules used in our bodies for support, maintenance and regeneration, these are really such a great solution. Me and my family have been using oils in the last 18 months or so to address any common health ailments. We even got Michiel off his chronic reflux meds by using the power of essential oils. The number one reason I started using EO was because I was suffering from really low levels of both estrogen and progesterone and I learned about the effect of toxins on our liver, which leads to severe hormonal imbalances. And I’ve swapped out most of our cleaning products, and healthcare products in the last few months. I’ve never felt this great. My family have their hormones, their liver, gut and overall health in the best possible place!
My top 5 oil eo’s for liver health include:
Rosemary, which is good for the liver, brain, and immune system. It flushes harmful toxins, can help overcome liver disorders, stimulate production and flow of bile - which is essential for fat metabolism and detoxification, and it also reduces plasma liver enzymes which have been linked to type 2 diabetes. Research shows that daily use protects against chemical induced liver injury - isn’t that amazing
Geranium - which supports normal kidney function and helps to discharge toxins from the liver, it dilates the bile ducts for liver detoxification and helps to regulate hormones. Such a beautiful hormone oil and I love using geranium every day on my skin, cause the smell is just beautiful!
Helichrysum - now this is not one of the cheapest oils, it acts as a chelating agent for metals, chemicals and toxins and also stimulates function of the liver cells.
Research indicates it’s got powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant, antiviral and antibacterial properties. This is literally a liquid bandaid and also works great for any cuts or gashes.
Frankincense, the queen bee of all oils. It contains lots of amazing chemicals that will help the liver and kidneys to detoxify and has a stimulating effect on the brain and body and it’s also one of my favourite immune system support oils.
And then my favourite for liver support, is the citrus oils. They help by serving as a liver decongestant, it has diuretic properties and powerfully cleanses the body by supporting both phases of liver detoxification. You can use all or some of the citrus oils to get the job done, but let me tell you what I do:
I use a blend made my Young Living Called Citrus Fresh.
Once I open the new bottle of Citrus Fresh, I add 30 drops of Juvacleanse to the bottle.
So we use 5 drops of that blend every morning, with 5 drops of lemon, and 5 drops of grapefruit eo,
We take that with 30ml of ningxia red, which is a goji or wolfberry tonic from Young Living. Which brings me to another one of my favourite liver support oils:
Juvacleanse which is a blend containing helichrysum, ledum and celery seed oils of which all of these are known to support liver function. Ledum acts as a liver enzyme, therefore helping to support the detoxification pathways.
So you can either consume the juvacleanse with citrus oils like I’ve just explained, or you can make a blend in a roller that you can use topically.
So you’ll need a 10ml roller and add:
2 drops rosemary
3 drops juvacleanse
7 drops frankinsence
7 drops lavender
And then top that with fractionated coconut oil and apply on the liver every night which will be a great way of providing extra support for your liver
All these oils have purifying and cleansing properties so not just for your liver, but also for your skin, metabolism and digestive system.
Here is another idea for a refreshing drink that you can consume every day to support liver detoxification
In a 2ljug of water, combine the following:
½ rugby grapefruit, juiced;
1 lemon juiced, ;
1 drop of grapefruit eo;
1 drop lemon eo; and
1 dandelion tea bag.
So you’ll steep the 1 cup of dandelion tea and let it cool down
Then add to the 2L jug with water, juiced grapefruit and lemon, oils and refrigerate and sip throughout the day or over a few days and you can keep adding water over a few days and keep enjoying it.
Just a tip also, add the oils to the cup of tea after it has cooled a little bit. Never to the boiling water, as you’ll destroy most of the good qualities of the oil.
But add when it’s still slightly warm and then add all of the rest of the ingredients. If you add it last, the oil will just remain on top of the water surface and actually burn your lips as you drink it.
So those are some really simple, practical ideas for supporting your liver and therefore your hormones.
And hopefully you’ll take away from this episode that you need to support your liver every single day by including plenty of veggies and plantbased foods, avoiding saturated fats and refined carbohydrates, eating tons of fibre and good quality proteins, taking a good quality B vitamin, moving your body every single day, Avoiding toxins and alcohol, eating liver cleansing foods, limiting fruit to 2 pieces a day, easing up on those over the counter meds and using essential oils to replace your cleaning products and also for supporting those liver detoxification pathways.
Thanx again for stopping by and sharing yet another episode with me.
I hope you’ve found this useful and I’m looking forward to seeing you again next week.
Bye for now