Everyday detox tips

Everyday detox tips

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Mary Cotter has been sharing tips on how to get your liver functioning well and why this is important. Also…

Janet Johnston

By Janet Johnston


Mary Cotter has been sharing tips on how to get your liver functioning well and why this is important. Also demystifying the concept of ‘detoxing’ – what is your body actually doing and what do you need to know?

Where do toxins come from? 

  1. Normal body processes produce many compounds (free radicals, spent hormones, neurotransmitters) all of which need to be safely deactivated and excreted once they have done their job. 
  2. The food, drink and medications we consume need to be detoxified 
  3. Many things we are exposed to daily – fumes, alcohol, cleaning chemicals, cigarette smoke, plastics, heavy metals.

What might typical signs of poor detoxification be?

  • Brain fog
  • Severe hangovers
  • Sensitivity to caffeine
  • Night sweats
  • Hormone imbalances (e.g. poor oestrogen detoxification)
  • Adverse reactions to chemicals in the air – cleaning products, perfumes, petrol fumes – wheezing, sneezing, nasal drip
  • Excessive recovery time from general anaesthesia

Possible long-term effects:

  • Premature ageing
  • Inflammation 
  • Disease 
  • Chronic fatigue

How does the liver detoxification system work?

Your liver works in two phases. Phase 1 is all about breaking toxins down and transforming them into water soluble substances so that they can be safely eliminated in Phase 2.

Think of your liver as a bath tub. Phase one is the running tap pouring water into the bath tub. Phase 2 is your drain. How well can you drain the toxins out of your bath tub, and safely out of your body. The two should ideally remain in balance. Different nutrients are required for phase 1 and phase 2 in order to function optimally. Antioxidants are also important in order to reduce free radical damage during this metabolic process. 

Sufficient bile is also helpful because the liver makes bile and this carries toxic loads to the intestines to be absorbed by fibre and excreted via the stool. Keeping your digestive system moving twice daily is a good way to support liver detoxification.  

Liver friendly foods

  • Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli detox used hormones and make glutathione (a powerful antioxidant).
  • Beetroot contains phytonutrients called betalains, which help with detoxification and are anti-inflammatory. Juice as part of a healthy breakfast, grate some raw into a salad or eat cooked. Beetroot is also very high in fibre.  
  • Citrus fruit is rich in vitamin C and limonoids, a phytonutrient that promotes the formation of the antioxidant glutathione. Use lemon juice in your salad dressing or add to water.
  • Parsley and coriander are useful herbs to support detoxification and include limonene. They have diuretic properties to ease fluid retention. 
  • Artichokes support bile flow from the liver to the gallbladder helping digestion of fats and reduction in cholesterol and are also a great source of fibre. 
  • Dandelion and nettle also support bile and glutathione production. Try switching to dandelion coffee or coffee alternatives made from chicory, barley and rye to help make bile.

Foods to avoid

  • Alcohol – it rapidly depletes glutathione stores in the liver. Alcohol converts to acetaldehyde (which causes hangover symptoms) and is far more toxic than alcohol itself and is linked to cancer risk. Milk thistle contains bioflavonoids called silymarin which can protect liver cells from the poisonous effects of excess alcohol and other toxins and it can maintain levels of glutathione. It can also help stimulate bile. 
  • Minimise bbq foods, charred foods and burnt food.
  • Avoid excessive saturated fats as it can reduce bile production leading to increased cholesterol and less efficient excretion of toxins. 
  • Avoid exposure to environmental pollutants, chemical air fresheners and fumes. 
  • Minimise substances that interfere with proper liver function, such as caffeine, alcohol, recreational and medicinal drugs. 

You have the opportunity to chat to a nutritionist and think a bit more about what you eat at all our Revive Days – Karen Scobie will be available for you at our Glasgow Revive Days at Move and Mary Cotter will be back at our Edinburgh warehouse days in autumn: @stellar_health_mary 

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