Contrary to popular belief, the leading liver problem in the United States is not alcoholic cirrhosis or hepatitis, but nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Afflicting roughly one in four Americans, it is not caused by alcohol or a virus, but by obesity and insulin resistance—and at least half of all type 2 diabetics are affected.
NAFLD is a progressive disease marked by three distinct stages. Simple fatty liver, or steatosis, is characterized by elevations in liver enzymes and fatty deposits in the liver (at least 10 percent of the liver cells are replaced by fat). If the disease is arrested in this stage, it remains relatively benign.
Unfortunately, for one in five patients, it progresses to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, which involves more serious inflammation of the liver. From there, half of these people develop cirrhosis, which is marked by advanced and irreversible scarring, fibrosis, and loss of liver function.
Why am I telling you this? Because the most significant risk factors for progression of NAFLDinclude type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. By far the best treatment for preventing and treating NAFLD is weight loss. Losing just 10 percent of body weight lowers fatty deposits and improves liver enzymes. Slow, gradual loss of a pound or two a week is most desirable, for rapid weight loss may actually worsen the condition. Getting diabetes and other manifestations of insulin resistance under control are also helpful. For tips on how to do this naturally, visit drwhitaker.com.
You should also focus on nutrients that enhance liver function (particularly detoxification). Look for the following products—as stand-alone supplements or combination formulas—in your health food store:
- Lipoic acid, 100 mg
- Silymarin, 420 mg
- Selenium, 70 mcg
- Calcium-d-glucarate, 200 mg
- N-acetyl-cysteine, 600 mg
- Ellagic acid, 50 mg
- Trimethylglycine, 300 mg