Q. Dear Terry, “I have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), even though I don’t have any symptoms. My doctor said there aren’t any medications specifically for NAFLD, but I wouldn’t take them anyway. I’m interested in learning about natural ways to help my liver. What are your recommendations?” – Forrest S., Oklahoma City, OK
A. Dear Forrest, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD or “fatty liver”) 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 largely influenced by our diet and lifestyle (exercise being one of the most important). This is good news because it means we can positively influence this condition with what we put into our bodies.
If you have NAFLD, I believe it’s important to restrict all sugar and foods made with sugar, refined flour, and carbohydrates. That means soft drinks, sweetened and diet, crackers, candy, cookies, bread, pasta, cakes, and ice cream. While I understand this takes a huge effort, it can make a real difference. Click on my healthy diet plan for more information. For additional information, I also recommend checking out the following websites: www.ketogenic-diet-resource.com, www.drperlmutter.com, and www.dietdoctor.com. You should also read the books, Grain Brain by Dr. David Perlmutter and Wheat Belly by Dr. William Davis.
Many people have heard of milk thistle’s supportive properties for the liver. One of the compounds in milk thistle, called silybin, has been shown to prevent the formation of free radicals, turn off inflammation signals, inhibit fibrosis (a buildup of scar tissue in the liver), which are all important when it comes to the prevention or treatment of NAFLD. Milk thistle also protects the liver from fat accumulation and severe liver changes or dysfunction. I prefer milk thistle that is standardized to at least 29% silybin.
Andrographis has been used in Ayurvedic practice for thousands of years and is highly valued for its role in liver support. Andrographis increases the activity of a protein called Nrf2, which is like an “on switch” for antioxidant defenses, like glutathione and superoxide dismutase. One of the big contributors to liver dysfunction is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Andrographis has been shown to reduce fatty acid content in the liver by 33% and decrease the laboratory measures of liver damage. I prefer andrographis that is standardized to the key compound andrographolide.
Grape seed extract protects liver cells from oxidative damage and shows great promise for people suffering from NAFLD by reducing the accumulation of fat deposits in the liver. Other research shows that grape seed extract can protect the liver from heavy metal damage. I prefer French grape seed extract that is tannin free with small, easily absorbed oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPCs). Low-molecular weight OPCs are considered the most beneficial compounds in grape seed extract. Tannins, another form of OPC, are not readily absorbed and therefore, cannot protect your liver.
I recommend taking 100 mg of milk thistle, 200 mg of andrographis, and 100 mg of French grape seed extract, twice daily.
Additionally, curcumin is one of my favorite ingredients, 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, prevent the progression of NAFLD, protect liver cells from oxidative stress, and help keep our own antioxidants functioning optimally. I prefer curcumin enhanced with turmeric essential oil. I would take 750 mg of curcumin per day for NAFLD.
Terry . . . Naturally