By Ann Louise Gittleman PhD, CNS, Experience Life
After more than two decades working as a nutritionist specializing in weight loss and detoxification, I am still completely in awe of the liver. As far as I’m concerned, this amazing organ, nestled away in the right side of the abdomen, has more than earned its name, which derives from an Old English word for “life.”
Your liver is your largest internal organ, and it’s responsible for an astonishing variety of life-sustaining and health-promoting tasks — including those that make healthy weight loss and weight management possible. Integral to countless metabolic processes, the liver supports the digestive system, controls blood sugar and regulates fat storage. It stores and mobilizes energy, and produces more proteins than any other organ in the body.
One of your liver’s most important functions, though — and the one most crucial to your weight loss — is chemically breaking down everything that enters your body, from the healthiest bite of organic food to the poisonous pesticides that may linger on your salad; from the purest filtered water to a glass of wine; from your daily vitamin supplement to your blood pressure medication.
It’s your liver’s job to distinguish between the nutrients you need to absorb and the dangerous or unnecessary substances that must be filtered out of your bloodstream. But when the liver is clogged and overwhelmed with toxins, it can’t do a very effective job of processing nutrients and fats. The upshot: The more toxic your body becomes, the more difficulty you’ll have losing weight and keeping it off.
The Low-Carb Diet Problem
Ironically, many of the low-carb diets that people adopt only make matters worse. By encouraging us to eat a lot of meat (much of which is laden with toxins) and discouraging us from eating enough fiber-rich, water-dense fruits and vegetables, such diets can slow elimination. By loading us up with so many proteins that our stomachs can’t produce enough acid to digest them all, these diets also can inhibit proper digestion, overloading our livers and intestines with a stream of nasty, internally produced poisons such as indican, ammonia, cadaverine and histide.
Fortunately, the liver, in its infinite wisdom, produces bile, a crucial substance for detoxifying our bodies. Bile lubricates our intestines and works with fiber to prevent constipation. Bile is also where the liver dumps all the drugs, heavy metals, xenoestrogens, excess sex hormones from birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy, medications, pesticides, industrial chemicals, and other toxins, so they can eventually be eliminated from the body.
One of bile’s other main duties is to help our bodies break down the fats we need and to assimilate fat-soluble vitamins. Without bile, we couldn’t convert beta-carotene into vitamin A, nor could we use calcium. But when our bile becomes overly congested with the toxins it’s trying to filter out, it simply can’t function properly. It becomes thick, viscous and highly inefficient in breaking down fats. The result: You are more likely to gain weight and to have greater difficulty losing it.
Cleansing the liver helps it produce better, more efficient bile. That helps your body flush toxins and break down fat more effectively. It also makes more energy-giving nutrients available to your body and reduces strain on your digestive and immune systems. Your elimination improves, and your colon is relieved of unnecessary burdens. The net effect: You look and feel better, and it becomes far easier for you to achieve and maintain your ideal weight.
The Fast Track: A Three-Stage Process
Ready to give your liver a healthy boost — and give your entire system a thorough cleaning? Challenge yourself to complete the three parts of the Fast Track Detox plan. The three parts include a seven-day preparation, a one-day juice fast, and a three day-sequel. All parts are described in great detail in my book, The Fast Track Detox Diet (Broadway, 2006). Below you will find part one of the detox diet; Care2 members, stay tuned for the second half of the diet plan, coming next week.
Next: The Fast Track Detox Plan: Part One