Right now, millions of Americans are in danger of deadly liver disease because of the foods they eat and the weight they’re gaining.
But one nutrient could save them, say researchers.
The trouble is that the human liver was not built to cope with today’s typical American diet containing large amounts of processed food filled with sugar and bad-for-you fats. Especially when, at the same time, the liver is trying to cope with a surge in inflammation stemming from a bulging waistline.
When you eat these types of foods and gain enough weight to be considered obese – as about 90 million Americans have done – you’re at serious risk for fatty liver disease, which involves liver cell damage and inflammation.
However, researchers at the University of Oregon have identified one nutrient – fundamental to good health – that may stop this condition from developing the complications that can kill you.
Fat in The Liver
Exactly why putting on pounds and eating processed foods causes fatty liver is not precisely known. But lab tests in Europe show that over-indulgence in unhealthy foods can cause proteins in liver cells to malfunction and allow fat to accumulate where it doesn’t belong.1
What’s more, an international study led by scientists at the University of Texas Medical Center shows that if you have inherited a tendency to deposit fat in your liver, gaining a lot of weight can be a serious health issue.2
Collecting fat in your liver can eventually lead to liver cirrhosis – scarring – as well as liver cancer. It is estimated that fatty liver disease — the condition doctors call nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – will be the leading reason for liver transplants within three years.
The condition can be reversed with weight loss, but till now there’s been no other treatment for it.
Doctors Learn Crucial Nutrient Can Help
The researchers at Oregon State say that even though they haven’t found a new way to reverse NASH, they can stop it from turning into a life-threatening situation.
They’ve discovered that the nutrient that stops liver damage is DHA – docosahexaenoic acid, a fatty acid contained in fish oil. Plus, their lab tests demonstrated that DHA can protect the liver even if you insist on continuing a diet high in processed foods.3
“Considering there are no FDA-approved ways to stop NASH progression, other than weight loss therapy, this supplement may be of significant help,” says researcher Donald Jump, Ph.D.. “In the time frame that we studied, DHA supplementation was not able to achieve full remission of NASH, but it did stop it from getting worse. NASH is a serious disease, an enormous health care cost, and we need to put the brakes on it. There’s clear evidence this might help.”
Professor Jump and his fellow scientists point out that studies show people with NASH have very low levels of omega 3 fats.
And even if your liver isn’t fatty, you need the omega 3 fats – found primarily in fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and tuna. They’re crucial for helping the body make its own fatty acids and process triglycerides (blood fats).
They are also important for promoting the repair of liver damage. And as an added bonus, they reduce inflammation.
In my opinion, the best way to deal with fatty liver is to eat fish and take fish oil supplements while losing weight and going on an exercise program. But whatever you do, get some DHA into your body. Don’t be a victim of the fatty liver epidemic. You can’t live without a healthy liver.