301: Liver Detox for Kids + Babies w/ Jennifer Brand, MS, MPH, CNS

Brought to you by Quell

This episode is bought to you by Quell — to help support rebuilding healthy skin from the outside-in + inside-out!

Take 10% off your next order! Use promo code QUELL10 at check out — Get started HERE!

– – –

Should you do a liver detox or cleanse on your child or baby?

This is the question that many of my listeners have actually written asking me if a liver detox would be a good idea after reading my liver detox posts.

I'm always entirely forthright because I don't work with children and babies. Thus my advice is based on working with adults!

Since I refer out all kids to today's guest, I figured that she was the right person to dive into this topic of liver detoxes for kids and babies because their needs + what's appropriate for them is different than for adults!

My guest today is Jennifer Brand, MPH, MS, CNS, LDN. She's a clinical nutritionist and the CEO of Jennifer Caryn Brand Nutrition LLC. Jennifer helps children with dry, flaky, weepy, red, itchy, painful rashes navigate the journey to healthy skin and enjoy a childhood free from disruptive skin symptoms. Instead of managing symptoms with more diet restrictions, environment changes, and stronger prescription creams, Jennifer uses her 5 step signature approach, functional testing, and a detailed health history to uncover unique imbalances at the heart of the problem and provides a roadmap to restore balance so that your child can eat more foods, feel good in their skin, and regain normalcy.

Jennifer’s own struggle with gut problems and disordered eating made worse with elimination diets, and her father’s, brother’s, and mother’s struggles with psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo left Jennifer frustrated. Conventional recommendations fell flat and didn’t help her or her loved ones get relief from these health problems. These experiences inspired her to search for a different approach, one that addresses the root causes of health problems like these.

Jennifer has been a faculty member of LearnSkin, and her work has been featured in peer-reviewed scientific journals, Voyage LA, as well as on podcasts, online summits, and in-person presentations at venues such as Casa Colina Hospital in California.

What helped your child's eczema the most? Please tell me what worked and what didn't in the comments!

Or, listen on your favorite app: iTunes (Apple Podcasts) | Spotify | Stitcher | TuneIn | Subscribe on Android

In this episode:

  • Overview of liver detoxification in regards to children
  • Is it appropriate (OR EVEN SAFE) to do a liver detox in young kids + babies?
  • Why your child MUST poop at least once a day- even if your doc says that it can be “normal”
  • 4 strategies you can start NOW to help support your child’s liver and detoxification pathways
  • How much water + protein is really needed for skin + wound healing in kids?
  • Additional supplements beyond the diet that could be helpful (AND safe) for kids


“Detoxification IS a really important step in the process. It's a piece of the puzzle to get your child's skin healthy and get that life-changing transformation for them, but if you're focusing on that just by itself, you're missing really important pieces of the puzzle.” [02:54]

“What I suggest to parents is to make sure that they're getting in at least 1.5, if not two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily (WOW!) to fuel growth and development and healing. So it's a lot higher than the standard guidelines actually say. And that's because, you know, when you look at the guidelines and what's out there, those recommendations are to prevent deficiency. They're not for optimal health. They're certainly not adequate for a healing journey.” [13:54]


Find Jennifer Brand Online | Instagram | Facebook

FREE Guide – Detoxification And Your Child's Chronic Skin Rashes: 4 Mistakes You're Making & 4 Strategies To Implement Instead

Healthy Skin Show ep. 008: Identifying The Chemical Triggers Behind Your Skin Flare-Ups w/ Jennifer Brand

Healthy Skin Show ep. 110: Missing Links Between Your Little One's Skin Rashes & Mom's Health w/ Jennifer Brand, MS, CNS

Healthy Skin Show ep. 178: Using Probiotics For Eczema in Little Ones w/ Jennifer Brand, MS, MPH, CNS

Healthy Skin Show ep. 222: Food Allergies + Skin Rashes in Kids w/ Jennifer Brand, MS, MPH, CNS


301: Liver Detox for Kids + Babies w/ Jennifer Brand, MS, MPH, CNS FULL TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer Fugo (00:11.945)
Jen, I am so excited to have you back on the Healthy Skin show. It's been a while, but I wanted to have you come back because for all the listeners out there, especially parents, grandparents, caretakers of children, I know that you have all listened to my liver detox episodes and that you possibly are wondering how that might apply to a child or even a baby with skin rashes. And I know this because some of you have actually written me asking if your child could do a liver detox and whatnot. And the reality is, I don't know. I don't work with children and babies. I actually refer all of those little ones to Jen Brand, because that's exactly whom she works with. So I'm excited to talk about this topic of liver detoxification from the perspective of children and babies. And I'm so glad that you're here to help me dive into this.

Jennifer Brand (01:15.33)
Thank you for having me, Jen. I'm so thrilled to be back, and I'm so glad that we are having this conversation about children and detoxification. And it really is so important, because I do hear from a lot of the parents that I work with that there's really just so much confusion and misunderstanding, and really completely inappropriate interventions that are being implemented out there, which can really all contribute to your child's skin not healing, and in fact, it can even make it worse. And I hear from so many people, and as we know too, right?

You go online and you look up detox and you think, “Well, I just need to do a detox to heal my child's skin and the problem with this Is that the interventions that you typically find often aren't science-based, they aren't based on how the liver actually does function, and often they are also incorrect and can be dangerous for children. They are not geared for children. Children, babies, and adults are all different, so that is something really important to keep in mind. And I know it can be tempting to try something that you do see online for your child, but it's so important to know that there are certain things that you can do to appropriately support your child's detox pathways, because that really is an important aspect of getting results and healing what's happening on the skin. And today I really wanna share with you, what some of the biggest mistakes I see people making when it comes to detox for their child. I wanna teach you what those are, and then also talk about what you can do instead.

Another thing that I like to point out to folks too, is that detoxification is a really important step in the process. It's a piece of the puzzle to get your child's skin healthy and get that life-changing transformation for them. But if you're focusing on that just by itself, you're missing really important pieces of the puzzle in addition to detox.

Jennifer Fugo (03:15.813)
Yeah, and there are problems that can hinder or block appropriate detoxification, just like there are in adults. But I would imagine that it might be a little different in kids. Again, I don't work with kids. So what are some of the things in children and maybe even in babies that could impair liver detox?

Jennifer Brand (03:40.076)
Yeah, really good question. So just to back up a little bit too, because this is something that probably a lot of listeners have experienced and I hear this from a lot of parents and I think Jen you probably hear this from a lot of people too. We get clients that come to us and say, well I tried to candida cleanse, I tried to parasite cleanse and I hear this from parents that they're doing these things for their child and things got a lot worse, right? And this is not a coincidence because what's happening is that you're creating a bigger toxic burden before taking into account not only how the body actually does detox, but also the already overloaded burden on your child's system. So instead of focusing on detox or cleansing, right, which is often what people think of when they want to detox in general and certainly detox their child, you really need to focus on how to best support your child's detox pathways as part of an overall approach to heal what's happening on the skin. So I think it's so important.

So like we don't want to cleanse or detox the liver, we wanna support the liver. And some of the ways that are most important to do that, and this will get us into those four biggest mistakes that I see with people. And so Jen, we're kind of, I'm not gonna back up too much because I know you've talked about this, as you mentioned a lot in your great episodes that you already have about detox and how it really works. And I know you've talked a lot about phase one, phase two, phase three. So building on top of that, the areas in with kids in my practice are like phase two and phase three. And this tends to be because phase three gets backed up, which then backs up phase two. So phase three, if you recall, involves the gut and the kidneys, right? So this takes toxins that are processed in phase two. The toxins that are processed in phase two go to the gut or the kidneys, and we either poop or we pee them out.

One of the areas where I see this first backup, and this is where the first mistake comes up is really what's happening in the gut plays a huge role in how well detoxification is going to work and many kids in my practice struggle with constipation. So that means toxins are not getting out. So the number one mistake that I see people making is thinking that having a bowel movement less than daily is normal or even healthy, even if your doctor says so. So that along with not addressing your child's overall gut microbiome health, if that's not happening, you are missing one of the biggest pieces of your child's skin rash puzzle. And this actually goes for whether or not your child has any gut symptoms at all. And so that number one…

Jennifer Fugo (06:24.601)
And Jen, can I just ask you a quick question? You mentioned about the doctor, the pediatricians are saying that it's okay to not, for the child, the baby, the child, to not have a bowel movement daily? That's considered normal?

Jennifer Brand (06:45.343)
I've had parents tell me that they have infants that have not had a bowel movement in well over a week. I've heard 10 days. I've heard longer than that. And the parents are told that it's not of much concern. Yeah.

Jennifer Fugo (07:02.605)
Wow, I am actually flabbergasted. Okay, so this is a really big deal. And I'm literally, wow.

Jennifer Brand (07:06.677)
Mm-hmm.  Many babies.

Yeah, it's shocking to hear that. And there are some nuances and differences in bowel habits between formula fed babies and breastfed babies. And certainly once somebody starts eating solids, things change. But in a general sense, things are going in, they should be coming out. It's a major route of detoxification. So if your child is not having a daily bowel movement, that is something to address. And it is, it's very common that that's not happening. So, that's really the number one thing to address for your child in terms of their detoxification.

Jennifer Fugo (07:49.713)
Okay, so what would be the second piece to that then?

Jennifer Brand (07:54.814)
Yeah, so the second one follows close in line with the constipation is that very often kids are not drinking enough water. I hear this all the time, that it's a struggle to get children to drink plain water. So this is mistake number two. And when we're not drinking enough water, not only can that contribute to constipation, but we're also not flushing and helping flush toxins out through the kidneys, which remember is another major route for detoxification. So we've gotta make sure that we're getting in enough plain water daily. Kids should be drinking at least one eight ounce glass of water per year of age daily. And once they start eating solids, they can start having some sips of water along with that. So hydration, super, super important for your child as well.

Jennifer Fugo (08:47.737)
And so, okay, so let me just back up a second and make sure that we have that very clear. So you're saying that for every year of the child's age, they should drink one eight ounce glass, quote unquote glass of fluids, water a day. So if you're one year old, you drink eight ounces. If you're two years old, you're going to drink 16 ounces, three is 24. Okay, so I just wanted to make sure that parents are hearing that correctly because I've again, I don't work with kids and babies. So this is not information even I keep stored in my head. So I think this will be really helpful for people to hear because not only do you need the water to, as you say, flush toxins out via urination via the kidney pathway, but also you need it to hydrate the GI track to keep stools moving.

Jennifer Brand (09:42.482)
Absolutely. And it's really interesting too, because most parents that I share this information with are really shocked that it's that much water that their child should be drinking. And I mean, if it's a struggle, if your child is already three, four years old and they're hardly drinking any water, this is not to say go ahead and start pounding them with water today. You can work your way up slowly. And if you're getting in that glass of water is between six to eight ounces, OK. I think that's reasonable. But if your child is not drinking nearly enough water, start bumping that up where you can. And some strategies to help with that that I find really helpful are you could always put a little lemon juice or even some apple cider vinegar in water, which is actually great for digestion as well, which can help with things in the gut, even sometimes help with constipation. You could even, start diluting juice with water. It's okay. You know, if there's a little bit of sugar, at least we're getting hydrated. So there are some strategies to help with that. But yeah, it is, it's, it's, it's shocking to really get a sense of, and to start to understand how many kids are not getting in enough fluids, which again contributes to that constipation.

Jennifer Fugo (11:04.902)
Yeah. OK, so mistake number three.

Jennifer Brand (11:07.598)
Those are two. So, mistake number three, and this one I think is really interesting.  And some of the most important nutrients for liver health, and liver runs off of nutrients from foods we eat. That's how you really support your liver and detoxification is to give the liver what it needs to function. So phase one uses different vitamins and minerals. There are a lot of antioxidants involved between phases one and phases two. And then phase two involves a lot of amino acids, for example.

So mistake number three is being on elimination diets. Well, mistake number three actually has three parts. So number one, elimination diets. So I have to mention this. So many foods get taken out of the diet unnecessarily when there are rashes. This is something I harp on a lot in my practice is that food is not the root cause of the problem. So number one. And unnecessary diet eliminations can set people up for more trouble than they're worth. And when we are on elimination diets, we are missing fuel. That fuel is needed to do all sorts of things, including run liver detoxification and those pathways. So that is 3A, elimination diets, unnecessary diet restrictions. 3B, kids can be picky eaters. So this is also a recipe for not getting in the right nutrients. And some of those important nutrients for liver health again, right, are antioxidant nutrients and those are found in veggies and fruits! Kids historically aren't huge vegetable eaters. So addressing picky eating can be really important for detoxification for your child also. And a third, so like 3C, is not getting in enough protein. So often kids are not getting in enough quality protein. Protein is broken down into amino acids. Those amino acids are the building blocks for every structure in the body down to the cellular level. You need enough to heal the skin and help liver detoxification, especially in phase two, to help those pathways run appropriately. So that is 3C, making sure enough quality, whole complete protein is getting in through the diet. So those are the three biggest mistakes.

Jennifer Fugo (13:32.453)
And Jen, do you? Yeah, and in terms of protein intake, is there a rule of thumb in terms of children and babies as far as how much protein they should consume in a day? Because obviously my what I tell people here on the Healthy Skin Show is for adults.

Jennifer Brand (13:51.11)
It's a lot higher. I think it might actually be similar. But so what I suggest to parents is to make sure that they're getting in at least 1.5, if not two grams of protein per kilogram of body weight daily (WOW!) to fuel growth and development and healing. So it's a lot higher than the standard guidelines actually say. And that's because, you know, when you look at the guidelines and what's out there, those recommendations are to prevent deficiency. They're not for optimal health. They're certainly not adequate for a healing journey.

Jennifer Fugo (14:31.357)
That's really good to know, because again, I wouldn't know that. That is significantly higher than what I'm recommending. I'm like, well, if you could minimally get 70 to 80 grams a day, I feel like sometimes that's a stretch for people. And even that, a lot of times, may not be sufficient. But it's a good starting point for adults. But like you shared in one of your other episodes, you describe children as, what did you call them? Their little b—-?

Jennifer Brand (14:47.649)
Little athletes… They're like little athletes. And so, and this is the thing, and this is why, so you always have to consider too that… your child is growing and developing, and they're on a healing journey. So just growth and development alone, your child has higher metabolic needs than a regular healthy adult, because their body's doing more. So then if you throw a healing journey on top of that, and certainly a skin healing journey, if you've ever taken a look and done any research around wound healing, for example, and what it takes to actually heal the skin, you'll see that the kinds of recommendations are well above the general guidelines for various nutrients, including protein and among others. And so that is something to take into account. So your child is growing and developing and they're on a healing journey. So it takes a lot of fuel. And that is definitely something that is missed and misunderstood that I find with a lot of the clients and the parents that I talk to. They're just not aware that their child actually needs that much nourishment.

And the other interesting thing too, is that when we're talking about chronic skin rashes and these issues on the skin, gut microbiome imbalances are a key piece of that. There are microbiome imbalances in every single one of my clients that have rashes. And so when that's happening, that can start to interfere with digestion and absorption. So even if your child's diet is perfect, they're getting in all the nutrients, they're getting in all the fuel that you think they need, everything's getting in. Well, if they have these issues in the gut, they might not be digesting and absorbing it appropriately, which means that the diet can be perfect, but it's not going to matter much because their body's not going to be able to use that fuel.

Jennifer Fugo (16:48.081)
You make a really good point. And I also just I want to say this, because I think it's important for the listeners to hear this. If you're sitting here going, gee, Jen, I'm surprised that you don't know this information. The reason I don't know this information is I don't work with children and babies. And that's why it is so important to work with someone, if you do decide to work with them, who actually works with the right population. Like Jen knows this type of stuff because she works with kids and babies and that's why for those of you who've ever written me and asked questions about your little ones, I've always referred you to Jen for this exact reason. This just isn't my wheelhouse. That's why I love that you come on the show, Jen. I love that you come here, yeah. So with that said, what is mistake number four?

Jennifer Brand (17:36.514)
So mistake number four, and this goes right in line with what you were just saying about not quite understanding the difference with kids. And so yes, there are supplements. They need to be handled very differently than they are with adults. So the first three things I address for detox for babies and children in my practice are what we just talked about. So you wanna take a look at the constipation. You want to make sure there's enough fluids getting in, hydration. You want to address unnecessary diet restrictions and make sure the diet is as broad as possible so that the body and the liver are fueled as much as they possibly can be. Once those are in place, then we can start considering supplementation. You can't out supplement a diet that is lacking in the first place, so that's number one. And then this is a huge mistake that I do see when people are trying to help their child's skin. Number one using the wrong supplements, the wrong dosing, supplements that are inappropriate for children, and supplements that don't even begin to address how the liver is supposed to function. So generally, again, I focus on the lifestyle factors that we discussed with children. However, there is a place for a few supplements that I'll mention here. Sometimes, depending when I'm working one-on-one with people in a private setting, there might be some other types of supplement interventions that I will implement for detoxification. It's very case specific, it's based on test results, etcetera.

The ones that I can talk about here, number one, it would be a high quality multivitamin that contains the active forms of your B vitamins and your minerals. So just a well-rounded multi. And the reason for that is that liver phase one runs off of a lot of different vitamins, minerals, some really high quality multivitamins actually contain some antioxidants as well. But so making sure that your child's body has those vitamins and those nutrients so you can do that through a multivitamin.

A lot of people also tend to gravitate towards supplementing their children with individual nutrients. That is something that I also don't recommend and don't do in my practice unless I see based on testing that someone is low in a particular nutrient. And that's because all nutrients all work together in the body and if you start supplementing with individual ones, they can push others out of balance. So that's why it's always a really good idea if you're going to supplement with vitamins or minerals like start with a multi, get some testing done, if you need something additional, okay, you know, but just start with a multi.

The other supplement that I do find really helpful for detoxification in children is glycine, which is a single amino acid. And glycine is really important for phase two liver detoxification. It's actually part of the glycine conjugation pathway. And so what that does, it's actually, like if your child is sensitive to salicylates, it could actually be because they're low in glycine. And so this pathway in the liver detoxes salicylates, endotoxins, so like toxins from microbes, like our gut microbes and things that are circulating internally. It detoxes those. It also can detox like different drugs and medications, environmental pollutants. So it's a very robust detox pathway. And so we can support that with a glycine supplement. But before you even supplement with glycine, because it's an amino acid, make sure that amino acid rich foods are getting in the diet, which go back to your protein rich foods. So making sure that your child is getting in that complete quality protein can be really important in general for growth and development, and this is another example of why it's important for detoxification too.

Jennifer Fugo (21:50.361)
And I love that you're sharing this and probably, this also helps reinforce from those who've already listened to my liver detox series, they're like, oh, this is good to hear, it's a good reminder because this is so important. Nutrients are a crucial piece of the detox puzzle, which is so overlooked by all of these detox kits and detox cleanses, liver cleanses, all this stuff. So I think this is a good question to ask you in regards to all of this. So in regards to a baby or a child, I know that sometimes too, online, adults will be recommended to do like a juice cleanse. Do you think a juice cleanse is appropriate for a child or a baby for any reason, including liver detox?

Jennifer Brand (22:38.61)
I'm gonna go with a no, and I'll give a little explanation around that though. I'm gonna say no, however, if you're juicing like vegetables and fruits for your child to just have some veggies and fruits, like those are antioxidant nutrients, so that's a good thing. So do you want to use the juicing to cleanse the liver? No. But you know, there are nutrients in juice, in juices that can actually help support liver function. So from that standpoint, okay, but I would not recommend, you know, like literally just putting your kid on a juice cleanse without food or anything of that nature ever. That's not something I would recommend.

Jennifer Fugo (23:25.865)
So like a juice, right, so a juice fast that adults might do, which some have, and I'm sure some listeners probably have, is inappropriate for a child or for a baby.

Jennifer Brand (23:32.713)
Yes, that would absolutely be inappropriate for a child or a baby. No food. Don't do that. Don't do that. Don't do that for your child. If you want to give your child juice in addition to… you know, whatever their meal is, then you know, I think that that's fine. In particular, if your child is a picky eater and you can get them to get some veggies in, you know, by making a juice, adding some fruit, great. But that should be in addition to a complete whole real foods diet.

Jennifer Fugo (24:14.741)
Yeah, 100% agree. So Jen, with all this said, I feel like we spanned a lot here. I think this was the most shocked I have ever been. You totally shocked me with the constipation thing. I'm not laughing because it's not actually funny, but I'm shocked that that is considered normal. So I have learned a lot. What can the listeners do? What can they take away from this conversation? What are some like quick action steps that they could do if you wanna like summarize or just bullet point some things that you shared that might be helpful for them right now?

Jennifer Brand (24:54.158)
Sure. Number one, address constipation. So if your child is going to the bathroom less than daily, it's definitely something to explore. You know, always start with diet first and make sure that the fiber-rich foods are getting in to help with that. Make sure hydration is happening, not just for constipation, but for overall physiology, skin physiology, helping flush through the kidneys, some other toxins as well. Make sure those things are happening, you want to make sure the diet is as broad as possible and there aren't any unnecessary diet restrictions. Definitely along with the constipation too, if you've done sort of these like first line things like if you've tried diet, if your child's well hydrated, if the fiber rich foods are getting in and there's still constipation, take a deeper dive and look at gut microbiome health and see what's happening in there. Because again, I do see gut imbalances in 100% of my clients that have rashes. So if your child has rashes and you know constipation like you consider that deeper dive with the gut. So also you know you definitely want to consider those three lifestyle factors first get things moving in the gut, the hydration, expand the diet, then after those three things are in place you can consider supplementation for your child. But I would do it in that order.

Jennifer Fugo (26:19.749)
And you also have a whole guide on this that everybody can go and download. It's called Detoxification in Your Child's Chronic Skin Rashes, which is available on your website over at jennifercaronbrandnutrition.com. And we'll make sure to put a link to all of this, both your website and your guide, that people can download for free to walk them through this. Is that the whole point that you're diving into this to help them know what to do or where to start with this whole process?

Jennifer Brand (26:52.166)
Exactly. So the guide will walk you through the four biggest mistakes and what to do instead. It's got some other links and resources within it to learn more about foods that contain those important nutrients for detoxification, some strategies for getting your child to drink more water, as well as to help keep things moving to avoid constipation. And then there's also some info on the supplements that I said today!

Jennifer Fugo (27:24.329)
Perfect, Jen. Well, thank you so much for joining us again. I know that, and just to mention, you have a virtual practice, so you do see clients all over the world, I think which is important for listeners to know if they're looking for help. And you have a really great, informative website and Instagram account, so we'll link up to everything so people can find you. But I just wanna thank you so much for joining us again today, and I'm sure you will be back again in the future because you are one of the fan favorites here at The Healthy Skin Show!

Jennifer Brand (27:55.818)
Thank you so much for having me, Jen. Thank you for wanting to discuss this topic. It really is so important, and I'm glad we had this opportunity, and I definitely hope to be back again soon.

"Detoxification IS a really important step in the process. It's a piece of the puzzle to get your child's skin healthy and get that life-changing transformation for them, but if you're focusing on that just by itself, you're missing really important pieces of the puzzle."