The liver detox trend is an amazing phenomenon. All-juice cleanses and detox diets have been all the rage the past few years. And recently, there’s been a new player on the scene: activated charcoal.
Your liver is pretty resilient organ. It has to be—it’s responsible for filtering and metabolizing toxins and nutrients. If it were easy to destroy, we’d all be in big trouble.
Overall health is closely tied to liver health. When it fails to function properly, you are generally in store for some trouble. The thing is, simply ceasing behavior that’s harmful to the liver can allow time for it to recover. It’s an impressive organ.
Alcohol, processed foods, and weight gain put your liver at risk. These factors contribute to liver disease, cirrhosis, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.
But can taking activated charcoal really help keep your liver healthy?
Likely not, unfortunately. It’s true that in substantial doses administered at a hospital, activated charcoal can prevent the body from absorbing toxic substances. If charcoal is taken quickly after ingesting a toxin, it may help absorb the toxin before it reaches the stomach.
After the toxin has reached the stomach, however, that megadose of charcoal is highly unlikely to help you. And the idea of taking some activated charcoal capsules before drinking or eating unhealthful food will not save your liver from doing its job.
Protecting your liver comes down to watching your diet, alcohol consumption, and reaching a healthy weight. There are some foods with unique liver protecting abilities, including broccoli, kale, and artichoke, but an overall healthy diet is likely to keep your second largest organ running effectively.
Detox plans seem appealing but don’t really do much for your long-term health. Any improvements you experience are likely related to the fact that you’re simply not consuming many calories or eating the types of foods you typically would.
If you’ve got a healthy diet, it’s unlikely that you need to take special steps for your liver. At most, boosting cruciferous vegetable intake and other antioxidant-rich items may help.