So, you went out last night, you’re feeling a little tender, and you’re hoping a juice cleanse will heal or protect your liver? Try again — there is no evidence that doing a juice cleanse will heal or flush your damaged liver from the toxins of alcohol abuse. The good news is that you can heal your liver by staying in control of or stopping drinking altogether.
How Alcohol Affects the Liver
The liver is the largest organ in the human body, and it performs hundreds of functions. The liver breaks down the foods you eat and converts them into energy. It also acts as a filter, speeding waste through your system, while aiding the immune system in fighting infections.
When the liver fails, it can be fatal — and, unfortunately, the early symptoms of liver disease usually pass unnoticed. One of the fastest ways to develop a fatal liver problem is to drink more than recommended. You are at risk for liver failure if you drink more than four drinks a day if you’re a man, or three drinks a day if you’re a woman.
Drinking too much is dangerous because the liver turns alcohol into poison during the breakdown process. Repeated heavy consumption damages the liver by producing scar tissue and inflammation as it tries to heal itself.
Heavy alcohol consumption also damages the intestines. This releases unhealthy gut bacteria into the liver. These gut bacteria also cause inflammation and scarring. With prolonged abuse, the liver cannot keep healing itself, and the toxins cause failure. Liver failure can result in death unless a transplant can occur. However, many hospital ethics and transplant committees will not approve a liver transplant for a known alcoholic or someone with a history of drug use.
The Good News
Although liver inflammation and scarring sounds like a recipe for a health disaster — and it can be — stopping drinking can return a pre-disease fatty liver to its normal size before it’s too late. It only takes two to three weeks before your liver grows fatty — it also takes about two weeks of stopping drinking before your liver returns to its normal size. If you continue to drink, you are at risk of developing liver disease.
The earliest symptoms of liver disease are easy to overlook. The suffering person may attribute symptoms to the flu, as they include vomiting, diarrhea, fatigue, and abdominal cramping. Unfortunately, as time passes, the symptoms become more obvious — yellowed skin, vomiting blood, easy bruising, itchiness, swollen ankles or belly, and increased effects from consuming alcohol or drugs. This heightened sensitivity occurs because the liver can no longer process the substances.
In the most serious cases, cirrhosis develops. Without complete cessation of alcohol, dying from liver failure is the likely result. The bottom line? Juice cleanses won’t clean your liver of alcohol toxins — only abstinence or safe consumption can.