A liver and gallbladder detox or flush can seem like a good idea to boost vitality. In the CNN.com article "How Crash Diets Harm Your Health," cardiologist Isadore Rosenfeld, MD, of Weill Cornell Medical College, says that most detoxifying programs and cleanses are misleading, however, since they exist based on the erroneous theory that the body needs our assistance in eliminating toxins and waste 1. Certain foods and health practices, however, can support and encourage liver and gallbladder vitality and performance.
If you are experiencing serious medical symptoms, seek emergency treatment immediately.
The largest internal organ in the body, the liver, converts food into energy, produces the bile necessary for digestion and cleans the blood of alcohol, food toxins and poisons, according to MedlinePlus 2. The gallbladder functions as a storage unit for the bile produced by the liver. Both organs are essential for digestion.
Foods to Avoid
High fat, sugar and fast food especially disturb liver function, according to Brent Tetri, M.D., one of America's leading experts on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and professor of internal medicine at the Saint Louis University Liver Center 4. Tetri led an animal study in 2008 in which mice were fed a diet patterned after the average fast-food meal – 40 percent fat, and full of high-fructose corn syrup. Within a month, Tetri’s mice showed a marked increase in liver enzymes – a key marker for liver damage – not to mention glucose intolerance, an indicator of Type 2 diabetes. Similarly, foods high in cholesterol and trans fats can cause gallstones, according to the American College of Gastroenterology 5.
There are many delicious and nutrient-dense foods available that support the detoxifying operation of the liver and gallbladder overall. According to "Real Age" magazine, eating foods that are unprocessed and devoid of chemicals and additives energizes the cleansing enzymes in your liver and gives it what it needs to perform at optimal capacity 6. The chlorophyll found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach helps mop up heavy metals and pesticides from the environment and protects the liver. Garlic also activates liver enzymes, while green tea contains catechins – antioxidants – that accelerate liver activity. Reducing overall dietary fat serves as a means to help the gallbladder do its job and support the liver’s detoxifying efforts without becoming overloaded, thereby avoiding gallbladder disease.
According to Nemours TeensHealth, the human body was built to purify itself. At present, no conclusive scientific evidence or research exists to validate detoxifying programs, and there is no scientific proof that a detoxifying regime actually works. In the case of the liver and the gallbladder, these organs will do the job they've been designed to do if your diet includes fiber, fruits, vegetables, and plenty of water.
Healthy skepticism goes a long way in the world of liver and gallbladder detox products, plans, and specialized diets. Exercise caution — if a product claims to detoxify the body and includes harsh restrictions or deprivations, it's probably hype. It is always prudent to consult a medical doctor prior to beginning any kind of detox program.
- CNN Health: How Crash Diets Harm Your Health
- MedlinePlus: Liver Diseases
- MedlinePlus: Gallbladder Diseases
- Fast-Food Liver Damage Can Be Reversed, Experts Say
- American College of Gastroenterology: Biliary Tract Disorders, Gallbladder Disorders And Gallstone Pancreatitis
- "Real Age": Top 10 Detox Foods
- TUGIO MURATA/amanaimagesRF/amana images/Getty Images