Fast Track Liver Detox: Part One

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

Part One: Seven-Day Prequel
Before you begin the detoxifying one-day juice fast, it’s essential that you prepare your body by strengthening your liver and colon for the work ahead. If you don’t do this, you might end up more bloated, constipated and more “toxic” than you were before. You may also inadvertently put the brakes on desired weight loss.

Fasting can be dangerous if it’s not done properly. Why? Fasting releases toxins that were previously lodged in your fat cells and shuttles them into your bloodstream for filtration and transport through your body’s elimination channels. But without prior liver and colon support to help these toxins clear from your system, the poisons may simply get relocated within the body, settling into any number of sensitive organs and making you feel tired, anxious, headachy and more fatigued than when you started.

1. Each day, for seven days, choose at least one serving from each group of the following liver-loving foods:

  • Crucifers, such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, broccoli sprouts
  • Green, leafy vegetables and herbs, like parsley, kale, watercress, chard, cilantro, beet greens, collards, escarole, dandelion greens and mustard greens
  • Citrus, like oranges, lemons and limes (avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice, which contain a compound called naringen that can interfere with the liver-cleansing process)
  • Sulfur-rich foods, like garlic, onions, eggs and daikon radish
  • Liver healers, such as artichoke, asparagus, beets, celery, dandelion-root tea, whey and nutritional yeast flakes

2. Each day, choose at least two of the following colon-caring foods: powdered psyllium husks, milled or ground flaxseeds, carrots, apples, pears, or berries.

3. Each day, drink half your body weight in ounces of filtered or purified water.

4. Each day, make sure you have at least two servings (the size of the palm of your hand) of protein in the form of lean beef, lamb, skinless chicken, turkey or fish, or, if you’re a vegan or vegetarian, at least 2 tablespoons a day of a high-quality blue-green algae or a spirulina source (available in natural foods and health stores).

5. Each day, make sure you have 1 to 2 tablespoons of oil in the form of olive oil or flaxseed oil.

6. Avoid the following “detox detractors”:

  • Excess dietary fats, especially trans fats and fried foods
  • Any form of sugar, including honey and maple syrup
  • Artificial sweeteners, refined carbohydrates, including white rice and products made from white flour Gluten, found in wheat, rye, barley and all their related products, such as packaged cereals, macaroni and cheese, pizza dough, pasta, tortillas, pancake or waffle mixes, and cookies.
  • Gluten also appears in many “low-carb” products, vegetable proteins, some soy sauces and distilled vinegars
  • Soy protein isolates, found in many protein energy bars and processed soy foods
  • Alcohol, over-the-counter drugs and caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, etc.)

Stay tuned for next week’s Fast Track Liver Detox, which includes the latter portion of this detox plan.

Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS, is the award-winning author of more than 30 books, including The New York Times bestsellers Before the Change: Taking Charge of Your Perimenopause (Harper San Francisco, 1999) and The Fat Flush Plan (McGraw-Hill, 2002). This article was adapted with permission from The Fast Track Detox Diet (Broadway, 2006). More at

Experience Life magazine is an award-winning health and fitness publication that aims to empower people to live their best, most authentic lives, and challenges the conventions of hype, gimmicks and superficiality in favor of a discerning, whole-person perspective. Visit to learn more and to sign up for the Experience Life newsletter.


Melissa DogLover
Melissa DogLover3 years ago

cool stuff

Teresa Garcia
Teresa García4 years ago

Marvelous! :)

Eliza D.
Past Member 7 years ago

We have a problem with the 10 glasses of water, though cleansing the liver is hard since its job is to clean our blood. Capable of regeneration as well. I have heard of a lady dying from drowning from drinking too much water. Good article for discussions.
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Caralien S.
Caralien S8 years ago

George--the avoid list is stuff to avoid while on the liver detox, not something to avoid permanently. I too hate whole wheat pasta--would rather go without than eat that mealy crap--and am not a fan of brown rice (hulled barley, on the other hand, I do like).

The only times I've really done detoxes, aka extreme eating avoidance diets, was to see if I could do it; mine consisted of nothing overly processed (fresh, frozen, dried 1-ingredient foods only, hence no pasta), no sugar, no caffeine, no salt, no alcohol, no headache medication...6 weeks. I didn't lose any weight, my skin didn't get better or worse, but I did manage to feel the pain of caffeine withdrawal, and have since stopped my daily pots of coffee (8 years ago). My energy level remained the same (high), but my social life came to a standstill.

George Deane
George Deane8 years ago

Your list of times to avoid- never eat refined sugar, pasta, white rice, tortillas, honey - eating borders on the masochistic. Although I can see that the consumption of such products should be noted and reduced, I must demand some proof that the MODERATE consumption of such items create a serious health risk. Can you cite any long range studies that the purists who abide by such restrictions live longer, are healthier, are less prone to serious disease than those who do eat a diet of fruits and vegetables but also eat white rice, pasta, tortillas, honey, etc.? I frankly don’t like brown rice, I don’t like whole grain pasta and just won’t eat it.But I am a vegetarian. I cannot and will not abandon the foods I have eaten all my life, many of which you anathemize And I must say at the age of 68 where I am right now I suffer from no degenerative diseases and don’t feel much different than I did 25 years ago. I want proof that the products on your banned list present an unacceptable health risk

Tiffany B.
Tiffany B.8 years ago

I am not sure why she comments that a low-arb diet discourages the consumption of low-fiber vegetables. That is entirely not true. When I look at a list of high-fiber veggies the only "veggies" a low-carb diet discourages is startchy ones like potatoes and yams, which do not contain much fiber anyway. I feel this part of the article is VERY mis-leading and that she could stand to educate herself about low-carb dieting. It also does not encourage you to only eat meat, cheese and nuts are also a part of a healthy low-carb diet. If you a lowcarb eater (it is a lifestyle change) or considering changing to low-carb please, please educate yourself beyond this article.

Carol H.
Past Member 8 years ago

If we gave our bodies a chance they would cure themselves because that was God gave us for free but we abuse and use our bodies everyday just by the way eat and our body can't be run correctly on junk and that is a fact.

Gailnina Anderson

Teresa T has read the instructions quite logically - they seem to tell the reader to calculate half their body weight and then drink it daily in ounces. I'm guessing Theresa weighs 154.5 pounds. She's calculated that this is 2464 ounces, and halved that to get the apparent instruction to drink 1232 ounces of water per day. We've been told to drink half our body weight in ounces (I've mentioned elsewhere that for those who think in stones or kilos this simply doesn't convey what the author intended anyway). It's a logical (if alarming) reading of that instruction to take the "in ounces" bit as meaning something like "ounce by ounce". The compacted prose style of the original simply fails to convey the idea that you calculate in imperial pounds, divide by two, then drink one ounce of water for each pound of the result.
Teresa - try 77ounces of water per day (roughly 2.27 litres) That is, of course, assuming that those ounces you're meant to drink are US fluid ounces. UK fluid ounces are smaller, so 77 of those is nearer 2.18 litres. America-centric, this site? Surely not!
Or better still, eat something you really enjoy, have a glass of wine and sod your liver.
By the way, what did happen to Juliet's posting? Is this site subject to censorship of anything that challenges its preconceptions?

Tara M.
Tara M8 years ago

I think the third instruction, "Each day, drink half your body weight in ounces of filtered or purified water." is just badly written. I am 126 lbs. If I cut my weight in half, I come up with the number 63. Now, 63 ozs. is not an unreasonable amount of water to drink every day.
I am quite impressed with this plan. My son has been bloating painfully off and on since we had some kolbassa that tasted OK but left us all feeling awful. He's now afraid to eat, and I am afraid to feed him. We have naturally migrated to a diet somewhat like the plan here because these foods are the only ones that don't bring him any pain. Although this detox is designed to help people lose weight, maybe it will help my son start growing and gaining weight again instead.

roseannn S.
rose s8 years ago

Fasting in this extreme method can be not advisable for the aged or people with weak immune system.Too much of water intake can cause the blood pressure to rise quickly.More effective is to use moderation in the food intake.As they say too much of one thing is good for 'nothing'