Your liver, what it does and why detox products don’t work

The basics about your liver

Your liver is the largest internal organ in your body. It weighs about 1.5kg. It works as part of your digestive system. It has two blood supplies, which is unusual in our bodies. It gets blood that is rich in oxygen from the hepatic artery and also blood rich in nutrients from the portal vein.

When you eat food, it gets digested and then processed by the liver. Glucose, fat, vitamins and minerals are stored by liver cells. These cells also release glucose so your body can use it for energy.

The liver is your main detox organ because it removes poisons (toxins) and bacteria from the blood. It breaks down old red blood cells. It also breaks down fat from food you’ve eaten and uses this to make bile, which is a digestive fluid. The liver converts waste and toxins into less harmful substances.

As the liver works, it releases heat. This helps keep your body warm and is an important part of keeping you alive (as well as the whole detoxing process).

Just behind the liver, is the gall bladder. It looks like a green bag the size of a kiwi fruit. This is where the greenish-brown liquid called bile is stored. Bile plays an important part in the digestion of fats and is also partly a waste product of the liver’s chemical processes.

What products can you buy to detox your body?

The short answer is, none.

The only detox that can be done to you, is if you’ve ingested a poison and have a medical treatment done by doctors at a hospital. Other than that, no tea, smoothie, diet, supplement or colonic irrigation is going to detox your body. It’s just not medically possible.

Inside your body, the liver isn’t alone in detoxing you. Your kidneys, lungs and skin help out too. You don’t end up with a whole load of toxins sitting around, not being able to be removed naturally. The body has a process of waste removal and it can’t be increased or improved by buying something to eat or drink or having a particular complementary therapy. You can help your body by eating a balanced, healthy diet, not drinking too much alcohol and having regular exercise. That’s it really.

Detoxing isn’t a thing

Think about it, if you could swallow a pill or drink something that could make your liver and other organs work faster, would that even be good for you? If it did, it might end up being dangerous and doing you harm. The fact that detox products don’t usually do any harm, is because they don’t actually affect toxin removal. The only increased removal is of money from your wallet.

Medical professionals vs complementary therapists

Complementary therapists are not medical professionals. They may wear a pseudo-medical uniform and be great at sales talk about buying a product or therapy to make you feel better. Just because a therapist believes in a product or therapy, doesn’t mean it’s scientifically sound.

If you need advice about nutrition, see a registered dietician. Dieticians are qualified health professionals who have a degree in the science of nutrition. The term “nutritionist” is not a protected term and there are courses that vary in quality, from being asked online multiple choice questions to get a certificate to weekend workshops or longer, more intensive courses. The problem is, you won’t know which type of course was completed.

A registered dietician will give you advice on what you should eat to stay healthy from a scientific and medical viewpoint. A nutritionist may do the same, or may suggest buying products from them. I like the easy route as much as the next person, but there are limits to what is actually possible.

If you’ve taken the easy route and skipped all the way down to the end of this article, here’s the gist: stick to a mainly healthy lifestyle and your liver should be absolutely fine and do its job as it should. You don’t need to waste money on detox products or services as there’s no scientific proof they work at all.

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