Liver Cleansing Diet

Kathryn Vera
woman eating carrot stick

The liver is a vital organ that filters blood, detoxifies chemicals, metabolizes drugs, secretes bile, and promotes blood clotting. Individuals who are interested in improving the function of this organ may want to consider following a specialized diet to promote greater liver health, such as that suggested in The Liver Cleansing Diet by Dr. Sandra Cabot.

Benefits of the Diet

In The Liver Cleansing Diet book, Dr. Cabot suggests that in order to function at its prime, the liver relies on the consumption of foods that are "liver healthy." By adding these foods to one's lifestyle, individuals may expect to experience improvements in a number of areas of liver health including enhanced metabolism and a greater fat burn.

While those who follow the diet are not required to count calories, they may experience weight loss as a result of these improvements in metabolism, notes Cabot, along with increases in energy and improved sleep.

The Diet at a Glance

The Liver Cleansing Diet is a 3-stage, 8-week diet that is mostly vegetarian, low in fat and high in dietary fiber. In The Liver Cleansing Diet, Cabot touts the importance of choosing foods that are minimally processed while incorporating plenty of fruits and vegetables.

For optimal results when following the Liver Cleansing Diet, Cabot recommends compliance with her "12 vital principles." These include:

  • Eat plenty of raw fruits and vegetables
  • Choose healthy fats
  • Avoid artificial chemicals, pesticides, and colorings
  • Choose a variety of diverse, plant-based protein sources
  • Choose natural sugars - not processed ones
  • Aim for 2 liters of fluids daily
  • Go organic
  • Incorporate plenty of dietary fiber
  • Choose quality, not quantity
  • Avoid excessive saturated fats
  • Eat only when you're hungry
  • Don't obsess over calories

Recommended Foods

To ensure success with the Liver Cleansing Diet, making smart food choices is a must. Cabot recommends that individuals incorporate the following foods in their meals:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Raw fruits and vegetables of any type (preferably organic), especially:

    • Vegetables with phytochemicals - carrots, pumpkins, bell peppers, beets

    • Vegetables high in sulfur - onions, leeks, red radish, kale, horseradish, garlic, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower

    • Dark green vegetables - spinach, kale, arugula

Grains

  • Whole grains, including those made with:
    • Whole wheat, buckwheat, sour dough, rye, stone ground, rice, or corn
    • Whole grain pasta and spaghetti, made from whole wheat, spelt, kamut, or buckwheat
    • Whole wheat or gluten-free flour
    • Brown rice or wild rice

Proteins

  • Legumes, including beans, peas, and lentils
  • Soy products such as tofu, soy bean burgers, and soymilk yogurt
  • Raw, unsalted seeds and nuts
  • Fresh or canned seafood
  • Plain, unsweetened cow's milk yogurt
  • Free-range or organic chicken (weeks 1-2 and 7-8 only)
  • Free-range or whole organic eggs (weeks 1-2 and 7-8 only)
  • Free-range or organic egg whites (allowed during weeks 3-6)

Fats

  • Omega-6 fatty acids, including:
    • Sesame, safflower, cotton, sunflower, corn, and soybean oil
    • Raw nuts and legumes
  • Omega-3 fatty acids, including:
    • Cold-water fish
    • Soy-based products
    • Nuts
    • Olive and sesame oil

Foods to Avoid

In addition to incorporating certain foods in your diet, cutting others is a must when it comes to achieving success with the Liver Cleansing Diet, reports Cabot:

  • Processed and refined foods
  • Deep fried foods
  • Fast food/take-out
  • White flour
  • White rice
  • Sugar, especially refined
  • Preserved meats
  • Smoked foods
  • Processed fats like margarine, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils, and shortenings
  • MSG, artificial sweeteners, colorings, and preservatives
  • Stimulants
    • Tea - no more than 2-3 cups/day
    • Coffee - no more than 1 cup/day
    • Alcohol - no more than 3-4 glasses/week

Weeks 1 and 2

The first two weeks of the Liver Cleansing Diet are considered to be a "gentle introduction" to the eating style and allow for greater flexibility. Consider the following menu if thinking about embracing this eating style:

Breakfast:

  • Fresh-pressed carrot-ginger juice
  • 1 hard-boiled egg
  • Oatmeal with seasonal berries (or dried fruit, if berries not in season)

Snack

  • Unsweetened, organic yogurt
  • 1 medium apple
  • Handful unsalted almonds

Lunch

  • Chili and Lime Chicken
  • Roast Root Vegetables
  • Spinach Salad

Snack

  • Broccoli spears with garlic hummus
  • Handful sunflower seeds

Dinner

  • Soybean burger on whole grain bun
  • Mixed green salad
  • Fresh melon salad with basil-lemon dressing

Weeks 3 to 6

In weeks three through six, dieters are encouraged to exclude chicken and egg yolks from their diet.

Breakfast:

  • Spinach and pineapple smoothie with plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • Handful pecans

Snack

  • 1 medium orange
  • Cauliflower spears

Lunch

  • Fried rice with egg whites and vegetables
  • Mushroom and avocado salad
  • Coconut cream and raspberry ice cream

Snack

  • Cottage cheese with stone-ground wheat crackers

Dinner

  • Lentil soup
  • Beet Salad
  • Mixed citrus salad over plain, unsweetened yogurt

Weeks 7 and 8

During the last two weeks of the eating plan, dieters are allowed to incorporate chicken and whole eggs back into their diet.

Breakfast

  • Grapefruit juice
  • 2 poached eggs
  • 1 slice whole wheat toast

Snack

  • Sardines with lemon juice and rice crackers

Lunch

  • Traditional chicken soup
  • Arugula salad with homemade balsamic vinegar dressing
  • 1 baked apple with cinnamon and nutmeg

Snack

  • Snow peas with tahini paste

Dinner

  • Whole grain spaghetti with shredded chicken breast and roasted eggplant sauce
  • Mixed green salad

Sample Recipe: Beet Salad

Ingredients:

  • 9 oz. beets, steamed, skins removed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons red onion, finely diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon walnut oil
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. Chop prepared beets into one-inch cubes.

2. In a mixing bowl, combine next seven ingredients.

3. Add beets and walnuts to the dressing mixture, and toss thoroughly.

4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Starting the Liver Cleansing Diet

Making any substantial changes to your diet can be a big undertaking. Those who are committed to improving liver health, however, may achieve some benefit through the use of the Liver Cleansing Diet. Those who have an existing health condition or are pregnant should talk with their healthcare provider before incorporating this eating style.

Liver Cleansing Diet