Nearly 40 percent of Americans have fatty liver – here’s how to treat it

Nearly 40 percent of Americans are suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Many people don’t even realize that they have the condition because the symptoms of liver disease in its early stages tend to be mild or unnoticeable. Worse still, NAFLD, when left untreated, progresses to a more serious condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) — which causes liver scarring, liver failure, and even liver cancer.

It is important to keep the liver healthy because it has many important functions in the body, such as neutralizing and removing toxins and waste products from the body. It is also in charge of making bile, which is needed to digest fat. The liver also stores essential vitamins and minerals and breaks down and detoxifies alcohol, drugs, and environmental toxins. When a person develops liver disease, liver function is impaired. Fortunately, there are natural remedies available that help treat liver disease. These include:

  • Silymarin: Silymarin, which can be found in milk thistle, has been reported to detoxify the liver, reduce oxidative damage caused by free radicals, and fight liver inflammation. It has also been shown to regulate fat metabolism and remove toxins in the blood. The compound has also been shown to effectively reduce liver cancer cell growth and prolong survival rates in people with liver cancer. Silymarin can also enhance insulin resistance, helping to prevent diabetes — which also compromises liver health. Moreover, silymarin can reverse the damage caused by alcohol consumption and exposure to pesticides and heavy metals due to its ability to rebuild liver cells. For better liver health, experts typically recommend 280 milligrams (mg) to 450 mg of silymarin each day. (Related: Your liver needs help in today’s toxic world: use this proven herb.)
  • Curcumin: Curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, is an antioxidant flavonoid. Studies have shown that curcumin reduces fat and inflammation in the liver, aids in healthy bile production, and promotes detoxification. Health experts usually recommend 450 mg to 1,000 mg daily for liver support.
  • Vitamin C: Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and immune system booster. It protects the liver from damage caused by free radicals and helps decrease accumulated fat. Take at least 500 mg of vitamin C daily for fatty liver prevention.
  • Glutathione: Glutathione, deemed as the master antioxidant in the body, plays an important role in detoxification. However, glutathione levels in the body decline with age and with chronic disease. Glutathione levels can be increased by eating foods that contain high amounts of the amino acids cysteine, glycine, and glutamic acid – which are the building blocks of this antioxidant. These include asparagus, avocado, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, eggs, garlic, green tea, and spinach.
  • N-acetyl cysteine (NAC): NAC, a supplementary form of cysteine, is important for proper liver function. This amino acid restores and replenishes glutathione levels in the body. Studies also reveal that it can significantly improve liver function in people with NAFLD. A typical dose for better liver health is 500 mg to 1,000 mg a day.
  • Alpha-lipoic acid (ALA): As a water-soluble, vitamin-like compound, ALA can easily penetrate cell membranes for therapeutic effect. This antioxidant also boosts the effects of glutathione, leading to better neutralization and elimination of toxic heavy metals. It can also reduce the scarring linked to liver injury. For liver support, take 100 to 300 mg ALA each day.

People who consume processed sugars and fatty foods or take drugs, those who are overweight, and those who live a sedentary lifestyle are at risk for developing liver disease. Therefore, it is important to avoid these foods, as well as alcohol and drugs; lose weight; and be more physically active to prevent liver disease. Eating foods such as grapefruit, grapes, blueberries, cranberries, prickly pear, beetroot, cruciferous vegetables, nuts, fatty fish, and olive oil can provide extra liver protection.

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