After Mehmet Oz, M.D., revealed his latest weight-loss breakthrough on a recent episode of The Dr. Oz Show, many women immediately dove into the diet and were soon online buzzing about the benefits. As fans reported, the plan works wonders! The secret: eating to slim your liver.
Yep, you read that right! Turns out, all the hidden sugar and processed junk in modern diets cause the liver — which plays a large role in metabolism and fat burning — to become clogged with fat deposits. An estimated 80 million Americans now have fatty livers, which can lead to weight gain and health problems. “It’s a real epidemic,” Dr. Oz noted. Luckily, he and his go-to liver experts have the simple steps to reverse the problem. Try them for yourself, and he promises, “Your liver will get you skinny.”
Just how skinny? According to Cleveland Clinic consultant Kristin Kirkpatrick, M.S., R.D., author of Skinny Liver ($10.87, Amazon), “I’ve seen losses of 25, 50, even 100 pounds,” Kirkpatrick, who helped Dr. Oz create this “liver reboot,” adds that the approach comes with myriad health benefits, from soaring energy and sharper thinking to steadier blood sugar and a healthier heart. It’s a win-win-win and then some. No wonder Dr. Oz urged, “Start acting now.”
Is your liver fatty?
Though there are often no symptoms and blood tests pick up the problem only about 33 percent of the time, “if you eat lots of sugar and flour, you probably have a fatty liver,” says Mark Hyman, MD, director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine and another of Dr. Oz’s advisors.
Dr. Hyman explains that the liver must turn excess carbs into fat for storage. Since we eat so many carbs (300 pounds of sugar and flour per person per year), our livers are constantly churning out fat, and are often unable to process it fast enough. So, as Dr. Oz has explained, “The fat gets stuck inside the liver.”
The consequences: “Once more than 5 percent of your liver is infiltrated with fat, it begins to struggle to accomplish its jobs,” which include fat metabolism and filtering away fattening toxins, says Kirkpatrick. A fatty liver also becomes inflamed, making it more sluggish and putting overall health at risk. But catch it early enough, Dr. Oz has said, and it’s easy to reverse.
How to Detox Your Liver
Think of the liver as a fat-production factory. Depending on what you eat, “you can turn fat production on or off,” says Dr. Hyman. Sugar, processed carbs, and alcohol are the main ingredients that turn fat production on. Simply steering clear for a couple of weeks stops the constant release of new fat, giving the liver time to clear out the existing fat blockages.
What you replace sugar and carbs with is also key, Dr. Oz has explained. A moderate amount of protein — four to six ounces per sitting — gives your liver the raw materials it needs to function optimally. Add more foods good for liver health, such as a little bit of low-sugar fruit and lots of veggies, which are loaded with compounds that help heal and protect the liver.
Most importantly, emphasize natural sources of fat. “Research shows natural fats can heal a fatty liver,” notes Dr. Hyman, author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat? ($12.63, Amazon). He says that after 10 days of eating this way, “we see changes in liver function tests.” And some folks have shed up to 25 pounds in just 10 days.
“The metabolic machine of your body is the liver,” Dr. Oz has said. “If the liver is not happy, you’re not happy and that’s when you gain weight.”
How to Cleanse Your Liver: A Success Story
San Diego reader Laury Coultas, 60, used Dr. Oz’s tips to shed 60 pounds and heal her fatty liver. And Susan Gayle, 65, lost 35 pounds as she reversed her fatty liver. “I learned to stay away from sugar most of the time, and it’s working very well!” says the Chicago-area reader.
Then there’s Johanna Rivera, 34. Diagnosed with a fatty liver after routine blood work, she read Skinny Liver and several of Dr. Hyman’s books. “I began to see processed food as poison for my body. Now I crave organic fruit, veggies, grass-fed meat, and healthy fat.” She’s dropped 46 pounds and is still losing. “My liver tests are normal now, and I just keep feeling better and better.”
Liver-Cleansing Foods That Speed Slimming
Simply working these liver-healing superfoods into your diet can improve liver health to help you feel great, whether you do the full plan or not.
Coconut oil: Like all natural fat, it “helps you feel satisfied and reduces sugar cravings,” notes Dr. Hyman. Plus, preliminary studies suggest that coconut oil heals the liver even for people who don’t switch to a healthier diet. Aim for one to two Tbsp. per day.
Cruciferous veggies: “Broccoli, kale, collards, and radishes all help raise levels of glutathione, an antioxidant that’s a liver detoxifier and anti-inflammatory,” says Dr. Hyman. Aim for two cups a day.
Sulfur-rich veggies: Onions and garlic help the liver produce bile to break down fat, which in turn makes it easier for the body to burn carbs for energy. Dandelion greens are another bile-booster. Aim for one serving daily.
Coffee: Many studies show a link between coffee consumption and a healthier liver, “likely because of coffee’s powerful antioxidants,” says Kirkpatrick. Aim for one to two cups daily.
Turmeric: This spice is rich in the antioxidant curcumin, which is so good for the liver, studies show it can even improve fat burning in people with genetic liver problems! Aim for 1–2 tsp. daily.
Milk thistle tea: This ancient brew “helps liver cells recover if they’ve been injured,” Dr. Oz has told his audience. For a brand we like, try Buddha Teas ($11.49, Amazon). Aim for two to three cups daily.
Lemon juice: A squeeze of it in your water provides vitamin C that helps the liver emulsify fat. Aim for one Tbsp. daily.
Your Liver Detox Menus
Our nutrition team used guidelines from Dr. Oz and his liver detox experts to create this menu. It skips snacks since Dutch research found they led to a 110 percent increase in liver fat. Hungry between meals? Try adding more fat-rich foods to main meals. While using this plan, drink plenty of water with lemon and other liver-friendly beverages like black coffee and milk thistle tea. Season meals to your liking with unprocessed and low-carb options like herbs, spices, vinegar and mustard. A tip to speed results: Gentle exercise (like walking) has been shown to reduce liver fat. As always, get a doctor’s okay to try any new plan.
(Choose One Daily; Enjoy With Coffee Or Green Tea)
Option 1: Two eggs scrambled with veggies, 1/2 avocado with lemon juice and salt, 1/2 cup berries.
Option 2: Liver Detox Smoothie: In blender, blitz 1/2 cup frozen raspberries, one scoop plant-based protein powder, handful pumpkin seeds, handful spinach, one cup light unsweetened coconut milk, and a dash of turmeric and ice to taste.
Lunch & Dinner
(Choose One At Each Sitting Daily)
Option 1: Johanna’s Cauliflower Soup: In four cups vegetable stock, simmer one diced onion, two diced stalks celery, two diced carrots, a diced head of cauliflower. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Purée (in batches in blender, or using an immersion blender). Season to taste. Makes two to three servings. Top each serving with four ounces shredded chicken and one Tbsp. each pumpkin seeds and coconut milk.
Option 2: Liver Detox Salad: Four to six ounces lean protein, two cups mixed greens, one to two cups nonstarchy salad veggies (including cruciferous and sulfur-rich options), 1/4 cup nuts or seeds, optional olives or avocado with olive-oil vinaigrette, herbs and spices.
Option 3: Six ounces salmon baked with salt, pepper, and Dijon mustard, unlimited steamed broccoli, grass-fed butter and lemon, unlimited cauliflower rice.
Option 4: Four to six ounces broiled grass-fed lean steak seasoned to taste, kale sautéed in coconut oil, 1/2 baked sweet potato or 1/2 cup roasted beets (optional).
Skinny Sweet Smoothie Recipe
In a blender, blitz coconut milk with frozen berries to enjoy after dinner. Dr. Oz said, “It tastes like ice cream!”
DIY Liver Detox Menus
At each sitting, enjoy four to six ounces tofu, eggs, fish, beef, or poultry with unlimited nonstarchy vegetables, herbs and spices, plus one to two servings of good fat (such as 1/2 ounce nuts, one Tbsp. oil, or two Tbsp. vinaigrette). Buy organic when possible. Enjoy one cup low-sugar fruit (berries, watermelon, or kiwi) plus an optional 1/2 cup serving of sweet potato or beets daily. After two weeks, test other unprocessed foods you like (such as bananas, grass-fed dairy, and corn); if they don’t cause fatigue, bloat, or weight gain, include them in moderation going forward.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.