What is fatty liver and what can I do to help?
Q. Dear Terry, “My doctor told me I have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. What is fatty liver and what can I do to help?” — Rob H., Sacramento, CA
A. Dear Rob, The liver is one of the hardest-working organs in the body, and because of that, it needs specific nutrients to remain active and effective. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects at least 30% of the adult population in the United States and is quickly becoming the most widespread chronic liver condition in the world.
NAFLD is an accumulation of fat in the liver and is primarily influenced by our diet and lifestyle. This is good news because it means we can positively influence this condition with what we put into our bodies.
Many people have heard of milk thistle for overall liver health. Scientists have identified two key components in milk thistle – silymarin and silybin – as being the most effective phytonutrients for saving and restoring the liver. Silymarin, the main complex in milk thistle contains silybin, a powerful flavonoid that has specific detoxifying abilities. It’s important to find a silybin that is bound to the milk thistle fruit phytosome (a combination of milk thistle fruit bound to a phospholipid) because otherwise it can be difficult for the body to absorb and use. But when it is bound to a phytosome, clinical research shows that it can be present in the body for up to 8 hours.
Sesame seeds contain a very liver-healthy compound, sesamin, which helps to restore the liver and stop liver damage. Sesamin is especially important for NAFLD because it helps the liver to process fatty acids more efficiently so they are not stored in the liver. Sesamin has also been shown to reduce inflammation and cholesterol oxidation in patients with borderline fatty liver disease.
I recommend a combination of milk thistle seed extract that is standardized to 80% silymarin, milk thistle fruit phytosome complex that is standardized to contain at least 29% silybin, and sesame seed extract standardized to 60% sesamin and 70% total lignans. I would take 390 mg of these three ingredients twice per day.
As you may know, curcumin is my favorite ingredient, and research has shown great promise for its effects against NAFLD. Curcumin has been shown in scientific studies to reduce fatty deposits in the liver, protect liver cells from oxidative stress, and help keep our own antioxidants functioning optimally. I recommend taking a curcumin that is blended with turmeric essential oils in a patented process. I would take 750 mg twice per day.
Terry . . . Naturally