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World Liver Day is observed annually on April 19. (Image: Shutterstock)

Dr Arvinder Singh Soin, Chairman, Liver Transplant, Medanta, Gurugram shares how liver detoxification works

The concept of detoxification, particularly liver detoxification, has gained popularity in recent years. Cleansing diets, juice fasts, and detox supplements are flooding the market, promising to rid your body of toxins. But is there any truth to these claims? Let’s deep dive into the science behind liver detoxification and separate fact from fiction.

The liver is our body’s unsung hero, performing over 500 essential functions. One of its primary roles is detoxification. It acts as a natural filter, processing everything the body ingests – food, medications, and even environmental toxins. The liver breaks down these substances into harmless components that are then eliminated through bile and urine.

Does Your Liver Need a Detox?

The short answer is no. The liver is remarkably efficient and constantly working to remove toxins. It doesn’t need a special cleanse to function optimally. In fact, most detox diets and supplements lack scientific backing for their purported benefits.

The Allure of Detox and Potential Risks

India faces a significant burden of liver disease. Metabolic dysfunction associated fatty liver disease (MASLD), alcoholic liver disease and Viral hepatitis C and B are the leading causes of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer. MASLD (fatty liver disease) is the new scourge. Linked to obesity, deranged lipid profile and diabetes, recent years have seen an alarming rise in its incidence.

Despite the lack of scientific evidence, detox programs remain popular for several reasons.

Some of these reasons are:

* Quick Fixes: Detox programs promise quick weight loss and better health, which sounds great for people who want an easy fix.

* Misinformation: Abundant online information, often from unreliable sources, spread the myth that our livers need a detox. However, such online sources and websites are not always reliable.

On the contrary, the so-called detox programs can pose health risks:

* Nutrient Deficiencies: Restrictive diets often lack essential nutrients, leading to fatigue, weakness, and malnutrition.

* Electrolyte Imbalances: Detox programs that promote excessive purging can lead to electrolyte imbalances, impacting heart and muscle function.

* Liver Damage: Certain supplements or herbs used in detoxes can be toxic to the liver itself.

The Way Forward: Supporting Your Liver Naturally

While your liver doesn’t need a detox, you can certainly support its natural detoxification process:

* Balanced Diet: Choose a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. These foods provide essential nutrients that aid liver function.

* Limit Alcohol and Toxins: Excessive alcohol consumption and exposure to environmental toxins can overburden the liver. Practice moderation and minimize exposure to pollutants.

* Maintain a Healthy Weight: Obesity contributes to fatty liver disease. Aim for a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.

* Consult a Doctor: If you suspect liver problems, consult a liver specialist for proper diagnosis and treatment.

The liver is a remarkable organ, constantly working to detoxify our bodies. While detox diets and supplements may be tempting, they are unnecessary and potentially harmful. By focusing on a healthy lifestyle with a balanced diet, regular exercise, and responsible habits, you can support your liver’s natural detoxification process for optimal health. If you’re concerned about your liver health, a consultation with a qualified medical professional is the best course of action.

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