Fatty Liver Disease: Stop It From Becoming Cancer
When I started my practice, patients who came to me with liver problems either had a hepatitis infection or some sort of drug problem: alcohol, prescription overload, or occasionally illegal drugs.
These days, I see more and more patients whose cirrhosis and liver cancer started out as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Your doctor may not have heard of fatty liver disease. Because fatty liver disease is symptom-free for up to a decade, it has only recently been recognized as a big problem.
Why is this happening?
Fatty liver disease is another one of the outcomes of metabolic syndrome. It occurs when the liver is overrun by fat cells. These cells clog up the system and interfere with liver functions of detoxifying the blood and metabolizing nutrients.
It is linked to health issues like diabetes, high cholesterol and triglycerides, and obesity. Just having fatty livermakes you more likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes and triples your risk of having a stroke.
Symptoms of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Fatty liver disease has no symptoms in its early stages, but as the condition progresses and your liver becomes inflamed, individuals may experience one or more of the following:
- Weight gain
- Loss of appetite, unintended weight loss
- Pain in the upper-right abdomen
- Confusion or disorientation
- Patches of dark skin on neck or underarms
Dangers of Fatty Liver
While fatty liver itself is not life threatening, it can escalate into far more serious conditions, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, and ultimately liver failure. Your liver can regenerate and heal damage, but not forever. An onslaught of poor diet, drugs (including alcohol), exposure to everyday toxins, plus other health complications scar the liver, leading to permanent malfunctions, and, eventually, liver failure. At that point, the only remedy is a liver transplant, a costly, complicated procedure with no guarantee of success.
Big Pharma is working on fatty liver remedies that they can make lots of money on, so far without success. In the meantime, plenty of things can be done to make your liver healthy again, right now.
Eat Raw Foods
f you have or suspect fatty liver disease, you should follow a predominantly organic raw foods diet. My patients eating organic, raw foods have the best results. Eating more raw organic fruits and vegetables accomplishes several things:
- Weight loss, one of the most important remedies for fatty liver.
- Reduced toxicity, ingesting fewer dangerous chemicals eases the burden on your liver, giving it a chance to hel.
- Increased nutrient and fiber intake, which raw, organic food has in abundance and the processed, prepared foods which caused the fatty liver are missing
Researchers have found that diets high in saturated fats and fructose contribute to NASH, or serious inflammation of the liver. Instead, build your diet around liver supportive foods.
- Pink grapefruit
Supplements for Liver Health
Here are a few nutritional supplements that can help support a healthy liver.
- Milk thistle: In clinical trials involving silymarin, the active ingredient in milk thistle, researchers found the herb rejuvenates and repairs damage to the liver. I recommend taking 200 mg of milk thistle three times each day.
- Vitamin E: A powerhouse antioxidant, vitamin E prevents damage to cell membranes, among other things. Look for a product containing natural vitamin E, which you can identify by its chemical name, d-alpha-tocopherol. The form dl-alpha-tocopherol is synthetic and not nearly as effective. I recommend 400 IU daily.
- Curcumin: The active ingredient in the spice turmeric, curcumin has a long list of benefits, including heart health and fewer signs of aging. A recent study has found that curcumin protects liver cells from the type of damage commonly found in fatty liver and related conditions. I suggest 500 mg daily. If you are taking blood-thinning medications (including Coumadin or warfarin), please consult your physician before adding curcumin to your daily regimen.
- Phosphatydilcholine (PC): This extract of lecithin helps liver cells regenerate. Try 900 mg twice daily.
- Probiotics: Our intestinal tract is home to billions of good bacteria that are absolute necessities for a healthy immune system, proper digestion, and much more. Now research is showing that probiotics can prevent fat from accumulating in the liver. Look for a product containing at least 10 billion live organisms, and take one dose daily with a meal.
- Omega 3 EFAs: Try 2,000 to 3,000 mg taken in two or three 1,000 mg doses during the day.
- Digestive enzymes: If you take my suggestion for the raw-food diet and experience any problems with digestion, digestive enzymes can help. These enzymes target specific types of foods. For example:
- Proteolytic enzymes help digest protein
- Amylases target carbohydrates
- Lipases help with fats
Combination products include all three types, so these are a good place to begin. Follow the instructions on the product you choose, or seek advice from a nutritionally knowledgeable health-care professional
- Betaine hydrochloride (HCI): Supplements of HCI combine with enzymes to further ease the liver’s burden and reduce inflammation. I suggest taking one 500 mg dose before or with each meal.
Fatty liver disease may be silent in terms of symptoms, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. This is a serious condition with a distinct tendency to grow worse, opening the door to diabetes, stroke, and even more dangerous liver diseases. If you or someone you know has fatty liver, the key to getting the condition under control is weight loss; organic, raw foods; and liver supportive supplements like milk thistle, curcumin, and the others listed above. Controlling fatty liver disease will make a tremendous difference in your health and well-being for years to come.