Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is common.
So common that some researchers refer to it as an epidemic. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is closely associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and what is known as metabolic syndrome.
- In the United States, researchers estimate that 30 million adults have NAFLD.
- 1.6 million American children are affected by NAFLD. (1)
- On average, 20% of all cases lead to fibrosis and cirrhosis of the liver, making this disease a life-threatening condition.
What is most shocking about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is that its cause is rooted in lifestyle. Lifestyle is so significant that factors such as diet and exercise can completely reverse disease progression.
If you think that you may be at risk for NAFLD or that you may already have it, let your physician know. They will run a test to look for elevated liver enzymes.
Think again! One of the most common reasons why non-alcoholic fatty liver develops is found in the diet but not in the fats that we eat.
In fact, excessive sugar, especially in the form of high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), is now understood to be partially responsible for the massive increase in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in the United States.
Think about it:
- HFCS hit market shelves recently. The last 100 years have seen a dramatic shift away from traditional foods and toward foods that are processed and preserved with chemicals, while having little nutritional value.
- HFCS is found in many packaged foods. HFCS is what is known as a hidden sugar because it is found even in savory foods, like lunchmeats and condiments! Did you know that HFCS is not only excessively sweet and toxic to the liver, but that it also acts as a food preservative? HFCS gives baked goods their golden brown color and keeps them “fresh.”
- Mercury in HFCS? It turns out that this common sweetener and food preservative can actually be manufactured with a mercury-containing agent. In 2008, researchers looked at the HFCS in 55 popular and common foods pulled from supermarket shelves. While not all HFCS contains mercury, they found that 1 out of 3 popular food items containing HFCS also contained toxic levels of mercury. (2)
A Double-Edged Sword: Heavy Metals in HFCS Damage the Liver
High fructose corn syrup acts in the body exactly as it sounds: the body reads HFCS as a whole lot of fructose. We already know that HFCS has a strong association to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is because, unlike glucose, which all cells readily understand and absorb, the liver is the organ that processes fructose. This takes a great deal of energy and leads to oxidative stress.
When heavy metals, like mercury, are delivered into the body in the package of fructose, they can contribute to fibrosis and scarring within the liver. The liver is dense network of vessels carrying blood. Once this tissue becomes scarred, bits of the vascular network become interrupted and stop functioning.
- Fibrosis is the development of thick, fibrous tissue within the liver.
- NAFLD also leads to fibrosis.
- If this fibrotic tissue develops too often, we see cirrhosis and more advanced forms of liver disease that can be fatal.
Mercury, which is a toxic heavy metal, is found in amalgam dental fillings and high fructose corn syrup. Researchers now know that toxins, such as heavy metals, play a significant role in the development of fatty liver.
- Toxins and heavy metals lead to the rapid depletion of antioxidants and the formation of free radicals.
- Any time there is a prolonged inflammatory response within the body, this prompts the production of fat.
- Fat cells do more than store fat! They can actually act as endocrine tissue that produces their own inflammatory messengers.
- Inflammatory messengers prompt the production of more fat. This happens both in the abdominal cavity around organs and in the liver itself when heavy metals and high levels of fructose are involved.
- What we see is an endless circular cascade of events.
One way is with antioxidants. Antioxidants prevent the breakdown of tissue and cool down the inflammatory response. When choosing an antioxidant, you can go broad-spectrum, such as with vitamin C, or with a botanical that has a direct focus.
Certain plants have a powerful antioxidant effect. Milk thistle, for example, is an herb that has been used for centuries to address liver ailments.
- We now know the chemical properties of milk thistle.
- We know that milk thistle is full of antioxidants.
- The most active antioxidants are a group of flavonoids called silymarin.
- Milk thistle is especially suited for the liver because its most active component, silymarin, goes directly to the liver and helps to repair damaged tissue.
Body Ecology LivAmend is full of antioxidants that specifically target liver and gallbladder function.
LivAmend is a formula designed to:
- Encourage bile flow.
- Cleanse the liver of toxic buildup, such as mercury and other heavy metals.
- Boost levels of antioxidants circulating throughout liver tissue, which protects liver cells from damage.
- Repair damaged liver tissue, which is often the result of non-alcoholic fatty liver.
Milk thistle is a premier herb in treating many forms of liver disease, ranging from cirrhosis to viral hepatitis. This is largely due to the antioxidant group silymarin. Body Ecology has formulated LivAmend to include other powerful antioxidant botanicals such as artichoke, wasabi, and sarsaparilla, along with milk thistle. Each herb in LivAmend has shown a tremendous benefit in protecting and enhancing the function of the liver and gallbladder.
Steps to Heal Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
When dealing with non-alcoholic fatty liver, adjustments in lifestyle are mandatory. Incorporating one or two strong antioxidant elements, especially products like Body Ecology LivAmend, into the diet will help the liver to detoxify and repair damaged tissue. Remember:
- Removing HFCS and processed foods from the diet is a must since these foods have an oxidative effect in the body.
- Removing toxins, especially heavy metals from the diet and environment, eases the workload of the liver, preventing inflammation and scarring.
- Gentle, moderate exercise supports the body in detoxification and helps to generate antioxidants.
- Having an overall program that makes up for nutritional deficiencies will build the immune system and digestive system and aid in detoxification. Body Ecology’s Core Program was designed with such a purpose.
What to Remember Most About This Article:
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is common in the US, affecting more than 30 million adults. The root cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is due to lifestyle choices. Changes in diet and exercise can completely reverse the progression of the disease.
But cutting fat out of the diet isn't the solution to reversing fatty liver disease. The biggest culprit is excessive sugar, namely high fructose corn syrup, found in processed foods. High fructose corn syrup may also contain mercury at a toxic level to further damage the liver.
One way to protect against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is with antioxidants, such as milk thistle. Body Ecology LivAmend is a powerful product that contains milk thistle and other antioxidants to cleanse the liver from mercury and prevent liver damage.
You can begin to fight non-alcoholic fatty liver disease by removing processed foods and toxins from your diet and by beginning a diet and exercise program to improve digestive health and aid in detoxification.
- International Liver Congress, Berlin, Germany, March 30-April 3, 2011. News release, European Association for the Study of the Liver.
- Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, news release, Jan. 26, 2009