Give your Liver a 9 Day Detox

Never mind diamonds, your liver is your best friend. It is the greatest multi-tasking organ, and as a result its function – or dysfunction – has an incredibly important impact on how you feel. While you’ve been having a good time over-indulging over the festive season it’s been working hard for your benefit behind the scenes. Breaking down and eliminating toxins and excess hormones. Balancing your blood sugar. Producing bile, the stuff that helps you digest fat and cholesterol, and it also puts vital nutrients into storage for a rainy day. It’s the unsung hero of your health so why not give your liver a 9 day holiday? In return it will give you a healthy New Year.

In fact, just about any allergic, inflammatory or metabolic disorder may involve or create impaired liver function, resulting in eczema, asthma, chronic fatigue, chronic infections, to name but a few, which in turn affect liver function. Because the liver struggles valiantly on, working hard, it can be some time before serious symptoms of dysfunction appear. However, you may find that you are feeling tired and sluggish, blocked up or headachy, with less tolerance of alcohol, sugary foods or caffeine – this is a possible sign that your liver may benefit from a detox. But what’s the solution?

In the old days of total fasts, where you drank only water, naturopaths used to talk about the ‘healing crisis’ where you felt worse before you felt better. But often this was really just a crisis! For safety, our bodies store excess toxins in fat. When we lose weight rapidly, those toxins are released, and the liver ¬ as an organ of detoxification – has to deal with them. The idea of a liver detox is to support and take the load off the organ by providing the nutrients it needs – not to give it even more work to do!

A lot of detox diets are not based on what your liver actually needs in the way of nutrients. My 9-Day Liver Detox is built on nothing but sound nutritional principles. It aims to support your liver’s ability to do its job detoxing your body by removing anti-nutrients – in other words, toxins – from the diet and replacing them with the very nutrients it needs for optimum efficiency. You will be taking in a large quantity of the nutrients that are directly beneficial to your liver and which will actively support its detoxification function. It can then do its job of safely removing toxins from your fat stores and processing them appropriately without any ill effects. When your liver is firing on all cylinders you experience

• Increased energy and vitality
• Clearer skin
• Freedom from digestive complaints
• Regular bowel movements
• Fresh breath
• Clearer sinuses
• Fewer infections
• Brighter eyes
• Sharper mind

There are five habits to break, and four habits to make:


1. Wheat The gluten in wheat, called gliadi, irritates the gut. Give your inside a break by avoiding all bread made from wheat and all commercially made cakes, biscuits, pastries and pasta. Also, check the labels of all other commercially made foods to ensure that no wheat is included. Instead, buy non-wheat, gliadin-free alternatives such as oats and oat cakes, brown rice and rice cakes, quinoa, corn, millet or buckwheat.

2. Milk If I told you I was breastfeeding at the age of 56from another species of animal would you think I was weird? Us adult humans are simply not designed to drink milk and you help Detox your body by having a break from milk products from any animal source, cheese, cream, butter, ice cream, yogurt and food with milk solids, whey or casein on the label. Instead, buy rice, almond, coconut or quinoa milk, coconut or pumpkin seed butter, or tahini or soya cream (or make your own with finely ground cashews and water), or any nut or seed butter.

3. Caffeine is treated as a toxin by the body. Give yourself a break from coffee, black tea, colas and diet colas, Red Bull and other caffeinated drinks. Reduce coffee to a maximum of one cup a day before starting the detox, or you could be in for a ferocious headache as your body detoxifies. Substitute up to two weak cups of green tea, rooibos, herbal tea or water. Stay away from decaf.

4. Alcohol is your liver’s enemy. Give your liver a total break. Replace with tonic water or organic grape juice in a wine glass so that you feel (and look) as though you are having an alcoholic drink.

5. Bad fats Take a break from all meat, all fried food (including any vegetables, French fries and crisps), all processed foods containing hydrogenated (or partially hydrogenated) oils, commercial mayonnaise and all margarines and spreads. Substitute with essential fats from fish (but not fried fish), eggs, olive oil, raw nuts and seeds, and nut and seed butters and oils. (But don’t cook with them; if you are intending to use oil in cooking, use only olive oil or coconut butter.)


1. Drink eight glasses of water each day, ideally filtered or bottled natural mineral water. Your detox potential is enhanced if you have a mug of hot water with the juice of half a lemon twice a day, as this encourages bile flow, which helps remove toxins. So, you will also need nine lemons.

2. Eat the big five superfoods each day. These are seeds – pumpkin, sunflower and sesame seeds, and flaxseeds, which contain the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fats to help repair damaged cell membranes. They are also rich in the minerals needed for the detoxification and antioxidant enzymes. Have the equivalent of a tablespoon a day.

Dark green leafy vegetables are rich in vitamin C, folate, chlorophyll and antioxidants. They are best eaten raw in a salad, as cooking destroys their vitamin content. Cruciferous vegetables (brassicas), comprising broccoli (Tenderstem is particularly good), Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, kale, turnip, kohlrabi. These contain a number of essential compounds that help support detoxification. Onions (especially red), spring onions, shallots and garlic. These produce the sulphur necessary for the detoxification process and can reduce inflammation. Again, eat raw if you can! Eat berries because they are the best for antioxidants. Make or buy a berry smoothie with any combination of berries (especially strawberries, blueberries, raspberries) or pomegranates for their antioxidant properties.

3. Take detoxifying supplements. The most important are extra antioxidant nutrients. Take 2 grams of vitamin C a day, plus an all-round antioxidant supplement containing alpha lipoic acid glutathione and/or n-acetyl cysteine (NAC). My 9 Day DTX Pack contains all these nutrients, plus a daily sachet of glutamine powder, your gut and liver’s best friend, as well as digestive enzymes and probiotics. It is designed to be taken along with the Optimum Nutrition Pack.

4. Do detoxifying exercises each day. The best kind of exercise to do is something that generates ‘chi’ – T’ai chi, other martial arts or yoga. Alternatively go for a jog or a brisk walk in fresh air.


Here’s a typical day from my 9-Day Liver Detox Diet (Piatkus), the recipes for which can be found in the book.

Breakfast: Cinnamon Fruit Porridge including Essential Seed Mix
Morning snack: Avocado with lemon juice
Lunch: Superboost Sesame Salad
Afternoon snack: Apple plus a handful of walnuts
Patrick’s Primordial Soup – stir in a serving of Super Greens Mix

You needs seeds every day. Buy yourself some chia seeds – they contain everything. Alternatively get some flax seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. Fill a container half with flax seeds, the other half with the rest. Keep this in your fridge. Every day, put a handful in your now redundant coffee grinder and have a heaped tablespoon. Alternatively, snack on pumpkin seeds.

One of the golden rules is to up your intake of greens so I recommend a serving of Super Greens every day. This is like a pesto made from a handful of watercress, baby leaf spinach, basil leaves, parsley leaves and about 1tbsp, of extra-virgin olive oil or an omega-rich seed oil such as Udos Choice. Whizz all the ingredients together in a mini blender or food processor, or, if you don’t have one of these handy, finely chop the herbs. Stir in the oil.

Also, snack on fruit – berries, pears or apples – and have a smoothie every day. One of my favourites is watermelon juice, made by blending the flesh and seeds of the watermelon. The outer black husk of the seed will crack and sink to the bottom, leaving the seeds, rich in essential fats, selenium and vitamin E, to blend in with the antioxidant rich fruit, also high in potassium which helps your body detoxify.

During these nine days get your protein from eggs and oily fish (salmon, trout, herring, pilchards, mackerel, sardines, anchovies and fresh tuna – but eat tuna only once during the nine days, as it contains heavy metals) as well as nuts, seeds, lentils and beans. Have a break from meat. Eggs are the purest form of protein, and they also contain sulphur for detoxification, whereas oily fish are rich in omega-3 essential fats. Have the eggs boiled to avoid adding any fats during cooking.

For more details read The Holford 9-Day Liver Detox available from