What exactly does a liver cleanse entail?

©iStockphoto/Sebastian Kaulitzki

It's time for a little anatomy trivia. Which organ typically weighs an average of 49 ounces (1.4 kg) and ranges between 8 to 9 inches (20 to 23 cm) in diameter [source: Waltz]? Need another hint? It's an organ often forgotten until it fails, which is usually due to various strains, such as excessive drinking. If you guessed the liver, you're right. This essential organ demands to be healthy and when that demand isn't met, it can cause an array of medical problems, even death.

Your liver is responsible for much of your body's detoxification functions. The organ is armed with the capability of eliminating toxins and essentially cleansing your body. It's an important piece to your body's puzzle -- producing bile for digesting food, storing glucose for energy, metabolizing proteins and fats, and breaking down toxins you might ingest [source: MSN/Encarta].

There's little rest for this crucial organ due to the hefty load on its plate. If healthy, the processes it carries out will go smoothly [source: Hoffman]. But when your liver isn't healthy, it can't handle its workload and becomes overwhelmed by a surplus of toxins, which can include pollution, food additives, pesticides, alcohol and drugs.

While there are other options -- such as improving your diet -- that might help your liver function better, some people suggest a yearly liver cleanse [source: Willis]. So what exactly does this cleanse entail? Keep reading to sort out the typical process of a liver cleanse, the side effects and the foods that are best for maintaining a healthy liver.

 

Read on to find out what you can expect if you plan to complete a liver cleanse.