It’s that time of year again: the Broyles family liver cleanse!  The kids groan and make yuck faces, my husband wishes he could do the same and instead gives me a compliant smile that says “sure honey, I’ll give up  my beer for two weeks…”  The liver healthy autoimmune diet that we must follow for the next two weeks (and honestly try to stick to most of the time)  requires us to avoid alcohol (my husband’s microbrew), sugar (my daughter’s lifeblood), dairy (my weakness for sure), caffeine other than one cup of coffee daily, soy and gluten.  I make more vegetarian meals despite my teenage son asking each night “where is the meat?”  Why put us all through these gustatory withdrawals?  It’s worth it!  Two weeks of drinking pea protein and vitamin shakes and eating this diet leaves my mind sharp, my waist slimmer, the scale happier, and my energy soaring.  You also should avoid taking tylenol during the cleanse as it halts your liver’s ability to detox.  If you’ve never done a liver cleanse or any detoxing before, it is normal for the first few days to a week to feel “detoxy.” These symptoms include fatigue, brain fog, body aches, headaches, even nausea or upset stomach.  Most of the time these symptoms are brief and week two I feel fantastic, but I have had some patients get so sick in those first few days that they had to drink the shakes only once a day, or every other day.  How sick you feel initially correlates with how much of a toxin ‘purge’ you are experiencing.  If you eat organic, avoid alcohol and eat a diet rich in vegetables and low in meats other than fish, chances are you will feel just dandy during the cleanse.  For those that are feeling quite miserable, activated charcoal 500mg taken between meals, hot soaks in epsom salts and drinking lots of water will help “clean out the trash!”  Your liver is your primary detox organ, filtering pesticides, flame retardants, plastic residues and other carcinogens out of your blood and sending them to the poop chute.  It’s extremely important that your bowels move daily to allow frequent removal of these waste products.  If you are constipated, ie not having a daily bowel movement, then you experience recycling of these toxins through the intestinal walls back into the bloodstream, recycling them again and again, driving up inflammation levels.  Chronic inflammation leads to cancer, cognitive decline, premature aging, arthritis, the list goes on!   The liver also regulates cholesterol levels and helps maintain healthy melatonin and hormone levels. There are many liver cleanse products on the market, some only a few days, others lasting an entire month.  I chose a two week cleanse (Vegecleanse 14 day detox by Designs for Health) as the most practical, effective and affordable detox program and have enjoyed its benefits for myself and my family for 5 years now.   If you are interested in this product click on my supplements tab, then ehealthpro website and use my discount to receive it 25% off.  For those of us that are healthy, once yearly is enough.  For people with autoimmune disease or cancer, or other chronic health challenges I recommend it every six months.  Well, off to drink a shake!