Non alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) affects about one-third of Americans and most people are completely unaware and haven’t been diagnosed. Symptoms of NAFLD range from: diabetes, obesity, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), leaky gut, chronic fatigue, chronic inflammation, food allergies and metabolic syndrome.
Left untreated NAFLD morphs into more advanced stages like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and liver failure. Adults are not alone; shockingly 10% of children in America are also effected. Statistics for people living with advanced liver diseases are grim.
NAFLD is the accumulation of fat cells in the liver, interrupting normal liver function in the absence of alcohol consumption. Although this kind of liver damage is common among alcohol consumers, this disease now affects those with diets high in processed foods with similar results. This typically causes inflammation and in more severe cases tissue death and fibrosis.
Excess fat cells accumulate in the liver beginning a destructive cycle and the liver becomes less efficient, leading to a build-up of toxins including fatty acids and insulin. The result is insulin resistance in type II diabetes. Tests that confirm the overload of fatty acids known as lipotoxicity can lead to metabolic syndrome and NAFLD.
In the past, the scientific community had been confused about the causes of NAFLD; now recent studies point to a leaking gut with an influx of free floating food particles and toxins in the body as a culprit. Leaky Gut is an improper balance of bacteria in the body leading to intestinal wall breach with a destructive cascade of health problems.
When the liver can no longer detoxify the influx of foreign substances they are swept into fat cells to be broken down later. While the obesity it produces can be observed externally, dangerous conditions compromise the health of the body’s organs internally.
There are two main systems designed to remove these invaders–the immune system and the liver. As Americans consume increasing amounts of sugar, caffeine, antibiotics, GMOs, pesticides, and hormones these two systems become overwhelmed.
What Doesn’t Work
The pharmaceutical industry has been working on cures for NAFLD and related diseases with little success. Thus far Metformin has had moderate success and is one of the few attempts by the industry. Metformin has limited effectiveness as it is an insulin-sensitizing drug that only addresses part of the issue, though it represents a marked improvement over preceding pharmaceutical alternatives.
Fortunately, nature provides us with the solution. Studies demonstrate that silybin (active compound in milk thistle), SAMe, vitamin E (specifically, highly concentrated tocotrienols), NAC, Phosphatidylcholine and Glutathione work best with repeatable results. The success of these natural ingredients relies on rapid replenishment of Glutathione, a critically important liver antioxidant.
Extracts from milk thistle have a long history in liver protection. Its rediscovery by science offers a renewed appreciation for its properties and health benefits. One very effective combination of silymarin, Vitamin E and Phosphatidylcholine, is an improvement in insulin sensitivity while reversing damaged liver cells reducing oxidative stress and improving Glutathione levels in the liver.
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a sulfur-rich compound used primarily to neutralize the damaging effects of aspirin on the liver. It rapidly restores Glutathione. A recent animal study finds it prevents NAFLD in a liver disease diet. Similarly, SAMe had been found to increase Glutathione levels in humans with fatty liver disease.
Very few, if any products on the market contain all these ingredients and they are very expensive when purchased individually.
While we have discussed the mechanism and treatment for the liver, we can’t ignore the source of the problem. A healthy diet promotes a healthy gut and is critically important in ensuring that fatty liver disease does not return.
Often missed in attempts to return to a healthy gut balance is the removal of biofilm, which is a frequent obstacle in improving gut health. A healthy probiotic with an inclusion of Monolaurin to remove harmful biofilm is an excellent step. The proper use of these products not only reverses liver damage it also protects against future damage.