October 9, 2011 By John Phillip
As many as 1in 3 Americans are living with a ticking bomb known as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The condition is virtually symptomless until the liver becomes inflamed or scarred from decades of dietary abuse.
While a small percentage of cases are attributable to a genetic failure to metabolize fats properly, the vast majority of NAFLD is caused by poor dietary choices that increase dangerous blood fat levels.
As a consequence fat is deposited in the liver cells where it triggers inflammation and the release of chemical messengers known as adipokines as the liver attempts to repair itself. Left unchecked, NAFLD can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure. Emerging research provides powerful nutritional options including milk thistle and vitamin E that can dramatically lower the risk of developing fatty liver disease.
Understanding the Cause of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Many chronic conditions are known to initiate and progress due to inflammation within our body and fatty liver disease is no exception. The liver is responsible for metabolizing cholesterol and influences how fat is either burned for energy or stored for future use. An increasing burden is placed on the organ as we eat excess calories from sugar, refined carbohydrates and hydrogenated fats. Fat metabolism is disrupted as high levels of blood fats become stored in the liver. Eventually this leads to a decline in liver function and finally to total organ failure and death.
Study Supports the Antioxidant Power of Vitamin E
Natural nutrients that are known to exert strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties have proven more effective than any pharmaceutical in the prevention and treatment of NAFLD. Researchers from the Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center compared the effect of vitamin E and the drug Actos on lowering liver enzymes that are associated with advancement of liver disease. They found that the insulin-sensitizing drug had no effect while vitamin E (800 IU per day) was shown to provide significantly lowered enzyme markers and improved scarring when liver biopsies were performed.
Fish Oil Fatty Acids Improve Blood Lipids, Improve Liver Function
EPA and DHA Omega-3 fats have gained notoriety for their ability to positively regulate cholesterol ratios and lower triglycerides. Research published on the British Medical Journal found that supplementing with 1,000 mg of Omega-3 fats per day markedly decreased serum markers of liver cell damage, triglyceride levels and glucose. Any natural therapy that helps the body eliminate triglycerides and lower blood sugar levels will lower the underlying risk factors for NAFLD.
Milk Thistle Shown to Directly Target the Liver
The active compound in milk thistle, known as silymarin is a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory agent that directly impacts liver function. Researchers have discovered that milk thistle inhibits the release of cytokines from the liver that normally increases with fatty liver inflammation. This action allows the liver to begin the natural healing process while reducing fat accumulation and reducing blood markers associated with liver damage.
Vitamin E, Omega-3 fats and milk thistle each help to restore normal liver function for the millions of men, women and children that suffer the silent effects of fatty liver disease. Including all three of these powerful natural nutrients in your daily disease-fighting arsenal will provide a multi-modal defense against NAFLD.