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Are There Benefits to a Liver Cleanse?

By Jill Corleone, RDN, LD ; Updated August 14, 2017

No liver cleanse diet is going to offer any benefits except to help you lose a little water weight and, if you're lucky, some fat weight. A liver cleanse is a fad diet that makes big claims without any evidence to back it up. In fact, such a diet may do more harm than good.

About Liver Cleanses

While there is a wide variety of cleansing diets, they all follow a similar pattern. The diets usually require you to give up unhealthy foods and fast or consume a special tea or juice for a specified period of time that can last as long as 10 days. The idea is that eliminating the unhealthy foods and restricting your intake helps your liver purge itself and your body of toxic substances. However, there is no scientific evidence to support any of these claims, according to an article published in "Today's Dietitian" in 2008.

Lose Water Weight

If you're following a low-calorie liver cleanse, such as one that limits your intake to a special tea blend, you may lose weight. However, you may not be losing those unwanted fat pounds. When you lose weight quickly, more than 2 pounds a week, you're most likely losing water and muscle, not fat, according to FamilyDoctor.org. Not only that, you'll regain the weight quickly after your liver cleanse ends, unless you continue to restrict your caloric intake.

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Health Concerns

There's also concern that a liver cleanse may affect your health. The "Today's Dietitian" article notes that a detox diet may alter your electrolyte balance, and in extreme cases it may lead to a heart attack. Detox diets may also cause diarrhea, dizziness or fatigue.

In addition, you should not do any type of liver cleanse or detox diet if you have an underlying health condition, such as diabetes or heart disease, or if you're pregnant.

Diet To Keep Liver Healthy

As long as your liver is in good working order, it should be able to cleanse your body of toxic substances every day without needing to follow a restrictive diet. You can, however, help keep your liver healthy by following a low-fat, high-fiber diet. You should also fill your diet with plenty of nutrient-rich foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins and low-fat dairy foods, to give your liver the nutrients it needs to function properly. Drinking plenty of water is also important for liver health.

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