In anticipation of a new year and New Year’s resolutions, I decided to embark on a 30-day liver cleanse this past December. I’m not one for fad diets or restrictive food plans, but for me, the time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s typically entails running around to parties, eating sugary sweets (my weakness), drinking copious amounts of alcohol, and consuming fatty foods.
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These habits often leave me feeling not-so-great, so to end the cycle, I asked the wellness experts at Nutrafol to help me clean up my diet, amp up my supplement routine, and change my habits for a healthier liver in 2020.
Keep scrolling for a full breakdown of my supplement dosage, grocery list, and lifestyle while on the cleanse, as well as how I felt before, during, and after the 30 days.
Why I went on a 30-day liver cleanse
Although I knew a cleanse would be positive for my well-being, I didn’t know how much my liver was actually doing on a regular basis. I learned that as part of the digestive system, the liver carries out 500 or so tasks. Some highlights include bile production (which helps the small intestine break down and absorb fats), vitamin and mineral storage (including Vitamins A, D, E, K, and B12), filtering blood and metabolizing toxins, and so much more.
As it turns out, poor liver health can also impact one’s hair.
“Toxins come into the body from our environment in many ways. These toxins can disrupt our mitochondria, shift our hormones, and directly damage the follicle,” said Dr. Tess Marshall, ND, the director of product development and science marketing at Nutrafol. When our liver is working optimally, it helps to rid the body of toxins so they don’t wreak havoc on our hair.
Before embarking on this 30-day liver challenge, I clearly hadn’t considered what the liver does, let alone how my diet affects my hair. Sure, I figured ingredients in my hair care products and environmental toxins (thanks, NYC!) were probably affecting my hair health, but food wasn’t at the top of my mind — and neither were supplements.
My supplement routine
To improve my habits, liver health, and hair, I sought the advice of Dr. Marshall, who told me what to eat, drink, supplement with, and more for this 30-day liver cleanse. The first thing she did was personalize a liver-focused GrowthPlan®, which included a month’s supply of Nutrafol Women and a targeted Liver Support booster and Vitamin B-Booster.
In the mornings with breakfast, I took four Nutrafol Women capsules, which contain curcumin, selenium, resveratrol, zinc, tocotrienol complex, and saw palmetto to support my hair by targeting nutrition, environmental toxins, stress, my immune system, and hormones. Everyone’s system is different, but Nutrafol’s Core formula covers my basics.
After taking the Nutafol Women capsules, I swallowed two Nutrafol B-Booster dropperfuls, which contain seven B vitamins. The body uses these micronutrients to stay energized when it’s stressed — and even when it’s not.
The body also uses B vitamins to increase the cellular energy needed to maintain a healthy hair growth cycle and to support the metabolism of toxins and hormones. When the body is deficient in certain B vitamins, it can lead to changes in your hair.
At night, right before bed, I took two Nutrafol Liver Support capsules, containing milk thistle, artichoke, and yellow dock, which support my ability to make glutathione, the body’s chief antioxidant.
Foods I ate in abundance
Before I started my 30-day liver challenge, Dr. Marshall equipped me with a list of plant-based, whole foods that I could eat with abandon.
- Gluten-free grains
- Hormone-free eggs
- Free-range poultry
- Grass-fed and finished beef
- Low mercury fish
- Organic bone broth
- Organic fruits & veggies
- Seeds like chia and flax
- Soluble fiber like oats and pears
For my fruit and veggie needs, I utilized Misfits Market, which reduces food waste by delivering “ugly” (read: less-than-perfect-looking) organic produce (like carrots, onions, eggplant, kale, and oranges) directly to my door once a week for four weeks.
Each Misfits Market bundle lasted for an entire week of meals! I liked it so much the first week, I kept getting it throughout my entire challenge.
Foods I cut out of my diet
In addition to my beloved coffee (and caffeine in general), I was instructed to avoid the following.
- Saturated fats
- Refined sugar
- Alcohol (2 glasses of wine permissible on occasion)
- Caffeine (try herbal tea instead or green tea if you *really* need caffeine)
- Non-organic produce
Instead of focusing on what I was giving up (trust me, refined sugar is a big one), I did my best to turn my attention to other elements I enjoy, like exercise.
Flushing out toxins
Dr. Marshall outlined some lifestyle tweaks and advice to help me flush as many toxins as possible while I was supporting my liver with the right diet and supplements.
- Sweat 4-5 times per week. Whether in the sauna or at a yoga or exercise class
- Drink a minimum of 64 ounces of water per day. Start the day with lemon water. Herbal tea (try dandelion!) counts toward the daily goal.
- Poop! “If you are cleansing the liver and not using the bathroom, it is trouble,” wrote Dr. Marshall. “Use magnesium or smooth move tea if necessary.”
- Try intermittent fasting for a week. Dr. Marshall recommends a 16-hour fast from after dinner to lunch the next day, but listen to your body and adjust as needed.
- Make a castor oil pack for your belly. Rub castor oil on your belly, cover with a thin towel, and top with a heat pack. Leave on for 30 minutes to one hour. Repeat 2 to 3 times per week.
WEEK 1: Settling into my new routine
During week one, my main goal was to remember to take the supplements each day and night. Truthfully, I missed one morning and one evening because I was rushing to get out of the house and also fell asleep, respectively.
I went to Rumble Boxing four times during this first week and made sure I was sweating out as many toxins as I could.
Admittedly, I snuck some vegan coconut ice cream into my week. While I was making changes already (certainly consuming fewer servings of sugar), my sweet tooth crept up on me! And, true to form: I still consumed black coffee.
WEEK 2: Knocking out sugar cravings
By week two, I finally got in the swing of taking supplements each day. I even stored some at my boyfriend’s apartment, so I didn’t have to carry them with me or accidentally forget them at home.
I kept up with my organic fruits and vegetables delivery from Misfits Market, which proved to be super helpful while I was meal prepping. While I typically choose the same produce each and every time I grocery shop, the boxes often changed contents and even featured items I wouldn’t normally purchase, like radishes and celery.
I stuck with the same Rumble Boxing routine, attending and sweating it out four times that week.
Although I had a few glasses of wine and some dessert on one night, I didn’t crave sugar as much as I had previously. I drank half as much coffee and tried substituting with herbal and green tea.
WEEK 3: Clear skin and sounder sleep
In week three, I noticed I was checking more labels to ensure foods were organic before consuming them. Dr. Marshall challenged me to go to yoga three times a week and the sauna two times a week. Instead, I combined the two (for efficiency) and went to hot yoga at CorePower Yoga in NYC four times a week.
I noticed I was sleeping better (and falling asleep more quickly) than I had before. My skin hadn’t had a breakout since beginning the challenge, and despite the normal holiday stresses, I seemed to move through my days feeling less bogged down by the little things.
WEEK 4: The final stretch
During week four, I fell off the wagon a little bit. I went out during the weekend with friends and indulged in non-organic foods and drinks. However, despite my slip up, I found that jumping back into my liver cleanse routine was a cinch because I had developed a healthy routine that began every morning and concluded each night with supplements. I simply resumed my regimen the next day.
My results and final thoughts
Truth be told, I went into this challenge feeling a little anxious. I was concerned I’d feel restricted by the dietary parameters and ultimately rebel (which, early on, I subtly did with sweets and caffeine). Despite my less-than-enthusiastic stance on giving up refined sugar and coffee, I ultimately felt that the other changes I made were significant. Small shifts in my habits, like reading labels on grocery store proteins, took seconds. Swapping pasta and other gluten-heavy carbs for veggies took no time, thanks to my special food deliveries.
Working out and sweating was still fun and engaging. I actually felt less lethargic while exercising. I wasn’t trying to lose weight, but I ended up dropping a few pounds in 30 days.
While I’m not 100% sure all of my changes will stick in the long run (specifically in the categories of eliminating sugar and coffee), I do think other elements of my liver cleanse, like incorporating more organic fruits and vegetables, doing yoga more often, and certainly eating more organic foods, will continue.
I’ve also gotten into the habit of taking supplements, which is a no-brainer — I’ll surely be continuing to take those.