Your liver is a powerhouse organ, essential for detoxifying harmful substances, metabolising nutrients, and supporting overall health. However, modern lifestyles can burden the liver with toxins from processed foods, environmental pollutants, and stress. This month’s blog delves into the functional medicine approach to liver detoxification, offering science-backed strategies to enhance your liver function and promote optimal health.

Nearly 1 in 10 people who receive a liver scan show signs of liver damage, whilst liver disease has become one of the fastest-growing causes of premature death in the UK, with about 10,500 premature deaths reported in 2021.

Understanding The Role Of The Liver In Detoxification

Your liver stands guard at the gateway between your gut and the rest of your body, intercepting toxins and harmful substances and converting them into harmless substances that can be excreted from the body.

This process involves two primary phases to detoxify substances:

  1. Phase 1 Detoxification: Involves enzymatic reactions that transform fat-soluble toxins into less harmful compounds. This phase primarily uses the cytochrome P450 enzyme system to modify these toxins through oxidation, reduction, and hydrolysis​. While this detoxification phase is crucial, it can produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) and other intermediate compounds that can be more toxic than the original substances, hence the importance of sufficient antioxidant support to prevent cellular damage​.
  2. Phase 2 Detoxification: Binds these compounds with molecules like glutathione or glycine, making them water-soluble for easier excretion via urine or faeces.

Common Toxins Impacting Liver Health

Identifying and understanding the common toxins that impact your liver health is one of the first steps in taking preventive dietary and lifestyle steps to reduce liver strain.

  • Environmental Toxins: Pesticides, heavy metals, air pollutants.
  • Dietary Toxins: Processed foods, artificial additives, excessive alcohol.
  • Endogenous Toxins: Byproducts of normal metabolism.

Symptoms Your Liver Might Be Struggling

Recognising the signs that your liver may be struggling is crucial for early intervention. Here are some common symptoms that indicate potential liver issues:

  • Sugar cravings that seem insatiable.
  • Lingering fatigue despite ample rest.
  • Irregular bowel movements. Pale stool.
  • Skin blemishes or irritation.
  • Heightened sensitivity to environmental chemicals.
  • Concerns about body odour or persistent bad breath.
  • Wrestling with stress and anxiety.
  • Difficulty achieving desired weight goals.
  • Belly pain and swelling.

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How To Improve Liver Health With Functional Medicine

Functional medicine takes a holistic and personalised approach to health, emphasising the body’s natural ability to heal and detoxify. When it comes to liver health, this approach focuses on tailored nutrition, identifying and eliminating toxins, and incorporating specific nutrients and lifestyle changes that support optimal liver function. By addressing the root causes of liver stress and providing targeted support, functional medicine helps you achieve and maintain a healthy, efficient detoxification system.

1. Detoxify Your Liver With Personalised Nutrition

Personalised nutrition is one of the fundamental pillars of functional medicine as well as supporting liver health. In one-to-one consultationsa functional medicine practitioner will identify and eliminate specific toxins impacting your liver by assessing your diet and as well as using health testing to identify heavy metals, pesticides, and other toxins in your system. Some of the key principles of this approach are:

  • Antioxidant Rich Foods: Antioxidants protect liver cells from damage. Vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and phytonutrients from fruits such as berries and vegetables like leafy greens quench free radicals generated during detoxification, safeguarding liver cells from oxidative damage.
  • Healthy Fats: These support cell membrane integrity and aid in nutrient absorption. Essential fatty acids found in salmon, flaxseeds, avocado and olive oil modulate inflammation and improve liver lipid metabolism, reducing the risk of fatty liver disease and enhancing detoxification capacity.
  • High Fibre Foods: Fibre found in foods such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables aids in the elimination of toxins through bile and stool.
  • Hydration: Often overlooked, adequate water intake is crucial for detoxification, aiding kidney function and toxin elimination through urine. Opt for filtered or spring water and consider adding a splash of lemon or apple cider vinegar to enhance digestion and support lymphatic function. Teas such as dandelion, nettle tea, ginger can also be beneficial.
  • Intermittent Fasting: Promotes your body’s self-cleansing mechanisms. Embrace a 16-hour fasting window to optimise sugar metabolism and promote cellular detoxification.
  • Polyphenols: Found in green tea, turmeric, and berries, polyphenols contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, supporting liver health and mitigating cellular damage.
  • Sulphurous Foods: These help boost glutathione production, a critical antioxidant for detoxification. Eggs, garlic, onions and cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and brussell sprouts contain sulfur compounds like sulforaphane and glucosinolates, which promote Phase II detoxification and enhance toxin elimination.

2. Make Lifestyle Modifications To Cleanse Your Liver

Another key component of the Functional medicine approach that helps support liver health is a focus on lifestyle modifications that promote liver function and reduce toxicity.

  • Avoid Toxins: Minimise your exposure to alcohol, tobacco and pollution and be conscious of where possible choose cosmetics and cleaning products without toxins. Drinking filtered water is also a good idea as, depending on where you live, there are often heavy metals and toxic residues found in tap water. By reducing the burden of exogenous toxins, we alleviate the strain on the liver’s detoxification capacity.
  • Get Adequate Sleep: Sleep is essential for the body’s detoxification processes. Aim for 7-9 hours of quality sleep per night and avoid electronic devices one hour before going to sleep, and half an hour after waking up. Allow your body and mind to be still and free from overstimulation right before and after sleep.
  • Manage Your Stress: Chronic stress can impair liver function, and exacerbates inflammation. Practices like meditation, yoga, and deep-breathing exercises can help reduce stress levels. Stress management does not require a big budget or extravagant spa day. Take time for yourself with an aromatherapy bath at home, or engage in activities that promote tranquility and presence, such as gardening or cooking.
  • Regular Exercise: Engage in aerobic exercises, strength training, and daily sweat sessions to enhance liver function, promote detoxification, and combat inflammation. Keeping active aids blood circulation and helps maintain a healthy weight, reducing liver fat accumulation. Aim for a combination of aerobic exercise (walking, swimming, dancing) and resistance training to optimise liver function.

3. Take Supplements For Targeted Liver Support

While a balanced diet is crucial, certain supplements can provide additional support for liver health.

Please note that the supplements mentioned below are a general guideline. You should always check with your doctor and consult with a functional medicine practitioner to ensure you are taking the right supplements, particularly if you are taking medication or have food sensitivities.

  • Supplement Strategically:Ensure you are getting that extra support for your liver by using liver-friendly supplements such as milk thistle, glutathione, turmeric, N-acetyl-L-cysteine, Alpha lipoid acid, vitamin C, chlorella, activated charcoal, and selenium to fortify your body’s natural defences.

Book a Free Discovery Call

Speak to one of our trusted practitioners to find out how we can help you detoxify and support your liver with personalised, online therapy.


Detoxifying your liver is not about quick fixes but involves a holistic approach that integrates nutrition, lifestyle changes, and targeted supplements. At Nutrition Diets, our functional medicine specialists approach liver health and detoxification by considering your unique genetic makeup, diet, environmental exposures, lifestyle factors, and health history:

1) Expert one-to-one therapy
2) Personalised nutrition and lifestyle plans
3) Easy, at-home functional testing

By understanding and applying the principles of functional medicine, you can support your liver’s natural detoxification processes and promote long-lasting health.

We offer thorough clinical assessment and therapy via convenient online consultations. Getting started is simple and free so why not take charge of your health today with our evidence-based strategies to support your liver?

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