. . . it’s estimated that more than 30% of the US population does
Just what we need, a new epidemic! A disease that didn’t even have a name until 1980, Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) has been claiming more and more victims, and is now estimated to affect 30-40% of Americans including increasing numbers of teenagers. Unless it becomes quite advanced, it usually has no symptoms other than fatigue, general malaise, or an occasional feeling of fullness or dull pain on the right side of the abdomen just below the rib cage. Yet it is a silent source of chronic inflammation and free radical stress, and significantly elevates risk for serious, sometimes fatal, liver disease, as well as for heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
NAFLD is thought to be caused primarily by obesity, lack of exercise, poor diet and nutrient deficiency. If you’re overweight, insulin resistant or have diabetes or metabolic syndrome, you are at particular risk. Metabolic syndrome is defined as having three of the following: abdominal obesity, triglycerides of 150 or more, low HDL (less than 50 for women, less than 40 for men), blood pressure at or greater than 130/85 and fasting glucose of 110 or more. Dr. Mona Morstein reports that more than 90% of NAFLD patients have at least one feature of metabolic syndrome, and a third have three.
Early NAFLD is characterized by increasing fatty accumulations in the liver. The normal liver contains about 5% fat. An excess of 10% fat indicates a pathological and pro-inflammatory condition. Most NAFLD is either contained at this stage or reversed. However, in up to 30% of cases, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant defenses are insufficient to contain the disease, and it progresses to a second stage called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). In NASH the liver tissue becomes inflamed (hepatitis), and scarring (fibrosis) occurs. Up to 20% of NASH leads to irreversible scarring and loss of liver function (cirrhosis), and a smaller percentage to liver failure and the need for a transplant.
There are various reasons that fat might accumulate in the liver. Fatty liver has been produced in laboratory animals by giving them high sucrose, high fructose and high corn oil diets, especially in the absence of adequate nutritional support, like magnesium, choline and the B vitamins, which are needed to burn fat as energy. Dr. Russell Blaylock has reported on the work of Dr. Kate Collison, whose studies have strongly correlated transfats, MSG and high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) with fatty liver. Certain metabolic abnormalities, drugs and environmental pollutants can also cause fatty liver.
Unfortunately, short of a liver biopsy, testing doesn’t always reveal NAFLD or even NASH. Liver enzymes are often elevated, but not always. Fatty accumulation of more than 15% is usually observable by ultrasound. However if you have the risk factors mentioned above, the chance that you could have or develop NAFLD should be additional incentive to work on your health even without a definitive diagnosis.
If you follow the Beyond Health lifestyle, including avoiding the Big Four, getting regular exercise and keeping your weight in a healthy range, taking a strong supplement program with plenty of antioxidants, and supporting your liver with nutrients, toxin-avoidance and infrared saunas, you are highly unlikely to develop NAFLD. This same lifestyle, with particularly attention to liver and strong antioxidant support, can help to reverse NAFLD and keep it from escalating into NASH. Especially pertinent would be vitamins C and E and the carotenes, Cell Detox Formula (lipotropics help the liver to break down fats), probiotics, curcumin, Cell Repair Formula (quercetin), green tea and Thiodox. Glutathione is the primary antioxidant produced by the body. NAFLD puts a strain on antioxidant reserves, often depleting the body’s stores of glutathione. Thiodox helps to restore it. Fish oil activates PPAR-alpha, metabolic sensors that suppress the liver’s production of new fat molecules. It moderates inflammation and has been shown to reduce various features of metabolic syndrome.