A night out can result in dehydration, nausea, and light sensitivity. But those are only the obvious, short-term symptoms of a hangover. You may not be thinking about long-term health effects as you down a drink at the bar, but alcohol consumption can also lead to permanent liver damage.1
Are you wondering how to cleanse your liver from alcohol? Luckily, there are a few habits you can pick up—from cutting alcohol consumption completely to exercising more—that help protect both your liver and long-term health.
Your Liver and Alcohol
Before we jump into how to cleanse your liver, let’s discuss what exactly the liver is and does.
The liver is your body’s processing center. Nutrients, toxins, and minerals are all filtered out by the liver, and it processes up to 90% of the alcohol you drink. Heavy drinking, especially over an extended period, can overload the liver, causing jaundice and fatigue.2
Here’s the good news: if you were wondering how long does it take for the liver to heal, the liver is self-healing, meaning that a single night of drinking alcohol isn’t likely to affect it long-term. But continued alcohol use can permanently damage the organ. Permanent damage results in serious complications and could require a costly liver transplant.
It’s important to notice the signs of liver damage and liver failure before things progress too far.
The Signs of Liver Damage
It can be difficult to detect liver damage, given that it is an internal organ. Still, there are some ways to spot possible liver damage:
- Abdominal swelling – If your abdomen appears swollen, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible. While abdominal swelling can indicate a few possible complications, it usually points to serious damage when it’s a result of liver damage.
- Jaundice – Jaundice is yellowish or greenish skin coloration, which can also affect the whites of your eyes. An overloaded liver, unable to properly process incoming substances, causes jaundice.
- Dark-colored urine – If your urine looks darker than usual, it may be a sign that your liver is overloaded. Urea is made in the liver, meaning significant changes in its color is a common indicator of liver complications.
Fatigue, nausea, and confusion can also be caused by a damaged liver. Alcohol abuse is the leading cause of liver complications, which, when left untreated, can result in complete liver shut down. Knowing the signs that your liver is detoxing and liver problems can go a long way in helping prevent further issues.
Thankfully, cleansing the liver is a fairly straightforward process. However, this process can take anywhere from a couple of weeks to a few months, depending on the damage done.
Realistically, the easiest way to keep a clean, healthy liver is to avoid excess alcohol consumption on a regular basis. But once you’ve reached this point, there are some actionable steps you can take to get yourself back on track.
#1 Cut Back on Alcohol
Naturally, cutting back on your consumption provides the best method for cleansing your liver of alcohol. As already discussed, the liver is self-healing, meaning it can get better over time. Though continual excess alcohol consumption can cause irreversible liver scarring (also called cirrhosis), it’s possible to repair liver damage in most cases.3 Check out our latest blog on what alcohol does to your liver to learn more.
Moderate alcohol use is considered anywhere between one and three drinks per day, depending on your height and weight. Any more than that, and your liver may be overworked. Most major liver problems are caused by alcohol, including:
- Alcoholic hepatitis – Alcoholic hepatitis is inflammation of the liver as a direct result of alcohol consumption. This condition can be fatal in some cases but can be reversed by cutting alcohol from a person’s diet completely.
- Alcoholic cirrhosis – Alcoholic cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) is diagnosable in 15% to 30% of heavy drinkers, and up to 90% of the 26,000 annual deaths caused by cirrhosis are alcohol-related. A cirrhotic liver is severely damaged, and may eventually fail.4
Both hepatitis and cirrhosis may indicate permanent liver damage. Diagnosing either disease requires a lengthy, expensive process that might include an ultrasound or biochemical testing.
Ceasing your alcohol consumption for a week or two off can do wonders for your body’s filtration system and give it time to recalibrate for the road ahead. Should you choose to continue drinking, limit alcohol consumption to one drink per day.
So long as your liver is not permanently damaged, you should be fine to resume healthy drinking habits after some time.
#2 Detox Your Liver
Detoxing is a common approach to liver cleansing. Drinking more water while avoiding fatty, salty, and sugary foods takes a significant burden off your liver. For some, it may be helpful to avoid solid foods altogether for about a week. Nutrients are absorbed more easily from smoothies, protein shakes, and juices because your blender breaks down difficult-to-digest substances, such as plant walls.
Regardless of how you detox, the goal is to reduce the workload on your liver.5
Eating pro-liver foods such as berries, sprouted nuts, and grapes, and avoiding pasteurized/conventional dairy products and fried food for at least a week will give the liver a much-needed rest after a few days of heavy drinking. High-fiber foods are an essential component in smooth healthy liver function. Grains and vegetables, in addition to the already listed fruits, provide your digestive system with further support. There are plenty of detox-friendly foods to choose from.
As for supplements, Activated Charcoal can bind with toxins in the gut, preventing their absorption into the bloodstream. It has even been used by emergency departments to curb the adverse effects of a drug overdose. Fewer toxins mean less work for your liver.
A daily dose of activated charcoal can go a long way during the detoxing process.6 After all, the most important part of a liver detox is consistency. Detoxes rarely last more than a week or two, but achieving the best results depends on avoiding all foods outside your chosen diet during that time. Detoxing for a few days, then splurging on fried foods can reverse all the good work you just did. If you choose to start a liver detox, be sure to persevere through the full length of it.
#3 Exercise Regularly
Although the liver deals with most of the toxins in your body, it doesn’t process all of them. Sweat helps detox from heavy metals and eliminates some chemicals from your body.
Exercise, for many reasons, is an important component of positive self-care. Aerobic exercise, focused on the cardiovascular system, helps oxygenate your blood. The sweat generated from this type of exercise can slightly reduce the workload on your liver, though the main benefit of exercise is to your overall health.7
The Benefits of Exercise on Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease is one of the most common liver diseases in the US, and its negative effects are enhanced by alcohol consumption.
A healthy liver has between 5% and 10% fat. Beyond that threshold, scarring and inflammation become much more likely. While proper dieting and limited alcohol consumption can diminish the negative effects of fatty liver disease, the best way to help cleanse your liver is with proper exercise.
Results from a test conducted by the University of Missouri School of Medicine showed that higher physical activity levels protected participants against the metabolic disruptions caused by alcohol in the liver. These disruptions are the eventual cause of permanent liver damage. This means that regular exercise offers both liver cleansing now as well as a means to prevent future damage.8
#4 Supplement Your Health
Adding certain supplements to your diet can help cleanse your liver while supporting associated organs and bodily functions. In general, the supplements you choose will depend on the severity of the symptoms suffered.
High-quality B-vitamin supplements can help metabolic processes like liver function while giving you a boost of needed energy. B vitamins are also known to help form red blood cells and improve cognitive ability.
Liposomal Sulforaphane, another health-promoting supplement, assists the detoxification process while strengthening your cells. It exists naturally in cruciferous vegetables, including broccoli, cauliflower, and radishes. Liposomal Sulforaphane can also lower inflammation and protect healthy cells. Combined with diet and exercise, a dose each day can get your liver back to its peak function in no time.
Liposomal Sulforaphane and the Three Phases of Cellular Detoxification
There are three phases of cellular detoxification, and liposomal sulforaphane can help with each. The phases are as follows:9
- The generation of water-soluble intermediaries
- The neutralization of toxic water-soluble intermediaries
- The excretion of the neutralized intermediaries
In the second phase of detoxification, the liver uses major enzyme pathways to remove toxic substances from the body, such as alcohol. Sulforaphane induces the Phase II enzymes, resulting in a streamlined detoxification process.10
Health Solutions for You
The best way to clean your liver after drinking is to avoid or limit future drinking, as most major liver complications are driven by alcohol consumption. Still, maintaining a consistent exercise routine and healthy diet—including vitamins, minerals, and supplements—can prevent some damage.
Whether you need liver support or simply more nutrients in your diet, Cymbiotika has organic solutions for you, including our activated charcoal, B12 vitamins, and Longevity Mushrooms.
We care about providing worthwhile solutions for all of your health needs. That’s why each of our products is made with quality ingredients and has been tested extensively by our team of expert scientists. If you’re looking for meaningful self-care and a healthy life, we’ve got you covered.
- Mayo Clinic. Hangovers - Symptoms and causes. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/hangovers/symptoms-causes/syc-20373012
- UC Santa Cruz. Alcohol and Your Body. https://shop.ucsc.edu/alcohol-other-drugs/alcohol/your-body.html
- Piedmont. How Quickly The Liver Can Repair Itself. https://www.piedmont.org/living-better/how-quickly-the-liver-can-repair-itself
- NIAAA. Exploring Alcohol's Effects on Liver Function. https://pubs.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/arh21-1/05.pdf
- Livestrong. Is Drinking a Smoothie Like Eating Solids? https://www.livestrong.com/article/463643-is-drinking-a-smoothie-like-eating-solids/
- GoodRx. Activated Charcoal. https://www.goodrx.com/blog/what-is-activated-charcoal-detox-medication-interactions/
- Livestrong. The Effect of Exercise on Liver Function. https://www.livestrong.com/article/287774-the-effect-of-exercise-on-liver-function/
- Futurity. Exercise may protect the liver from booze. https://www.futurity.org/liver-aerobic-exercise-alcohol-1106552-2/
- Metagenics Institute. Infographic: The 3 Phases of Detoxification. https://www.metagenicsinstitute.com/ce-education/clinical-tools/3-phases-detoxification/
- Cymbiotika. Liposomal Sulforaphane Matrix. https://cymbiotika.com/products/liposomal-sulforaphane-matrix