Liver Disorders: The Causes and the Solutions by Dr John Bergman
I if the fat in your liver makes up 5–10 percent of the organ’s weight, then you are diagnosed with fatty liver disease. There are two main types of fatty liver disease, alcoholic liver disease and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Acute fatty liver of pregnancy is another rare condition that happens when fat builds up in the liver of pregnant women.
One of the hardest-working organs in the body, the liver works tirelessly to detoxify our blood, to produce the bile needed to digest fat, to break down hormones, and to store essential vitamins, minerals and iron. This is why it’s so important to take care of our livers or practice a liver cleanse — as when the liver is not functioning optimally, we cannot digest our food properly, especially fats.
It’s the liver’s responsibility to process nutrients absorbed by the intestines so they’re more efficiently absorbed. The liver also regulates blood composition to balance protein, fat and sugar. Finally, it removes toxins from the blood, and breaks down both alcohol and medications.
- Fructose “buzzes” the brain like other narcotics, displaying both dopaminergic and opioid properties, which may be why people find themselves consuming such large amounts even while it is reducing both the quality and length of their lives
- It’s important to carefully limit your intake of fructose, just like your intake of alcohol; an appropriate amount of fructose is no more than 25 grams per day, but if you’re overweight or at risk of (or have) heart disease, cancer, or type 2 diabetes, then you’re probably better off cutting that down to 10-15 grams per day
For people with fatty liver disease, the handling of fat by liver cells is disturbed. Increased amounts of fat are removed from the blood and produced by liver cells, and not enough is disposed of or exported by the cells. As a result of this, fat accumulates in the liver. There is an imbalance between the uptake of fat and its oxidation and export.
According to Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, fructose is a “chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin.” And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – not cellular energy, like glucose
Today, we’re faced with so many environmental toxins occurring in our homes, places of work and in our food supply, so it’s essential for our general health and well-being to keep our livers functioning properly.
What can we do about a sick liver?
Foods that Make Fatty Liver Disease Worse
If you have fatty liver disease, and you are a heavy drinker, quitting is the most important thing to do first. Alcohol is the culprit; it’s what caused the liver disease because your liver cannot break it down quick enough for your body. According to a review conducted at the Bronx Veterans Affairs Medical Center in New York, fatty liver disease is common among alcoholics not only due to malnutrition, but also because of toxicity and inflammation. Even if you have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, it’s best to eliminate alcohol from your diet.
Foods such as bread, rice, grits and corn should be avoided. All white bread and carbs should be eliminated or reduced from your diet, and some whole grain products aren’t great either. When we consume too many refined carbohydrates, insulin levels spike, and insulin sensitivity is a major factor in the cause of liver disease. Read the label on whole grain packages, and avoid buying anything that is labeled “enriched.”
If you want to have some bread here and there, buy fresh bread that is made in the bakery or health food store — you can also try breads from gluten-free flours, like Ezekiel bread, or these sandwich substitutes. If you are going for rice, choose brown rice.
Sports drinks, soda, energy drinks and juice are full of sugar and artificial sweeteners. This sugar that enters your body causes fatty liver disease. The average 12-ounce can of soda, for example, has 10 teaspoons of sugar! Your body isn’t able to break down the amount of sugar that most Americans consume every day, and it’s impacting the liver, big time.
According to a study conducted at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta, sugars, particularly fructose, are suspected to contribute to the development of NAFLD and its progression. There have been substantial links between increased fructose consumption and obesity, dyslipidemia and insulin resistance.
Hydrogenated oils, refined sugar, convenience foods and lunch meats are notoriously toxic to your system. Nitrates and nitrites, for example, are commonly found in processed foods and lunch meat, and they have been linked to serious conditions, including cancer. The high fructose corn syrup found in our processed foods is the single biggest cause of fatty liver; you must stay away from these products in order to heal liver disease.
Foods that Improve Fatty Liver Disease
A review published in the European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry states that natural products that are found in vegetables, as well as fruits, plant extracts and herbs, have been traditionally used for treating liver diseases. It’s so important to add vegetables to your everyday diet.
An easy way to do this is by juicing vegetables for near-perfect health. With impaired liver function, juicing vegetables has the added benefit of making the vegetables easier to digest and more readily available for absorption. Vegetables ideal for a liver detox include kale, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, asparagus, beets and celery; try something like beetroot juice to start.
High-fiber foods help support a healthy digestive tract, hastening the elimination of toxins in the body. For example, ginger root benefits the digestive system. Make ginger tea by boiling ginger slices in green tea or water. You can also add ginger to a stir-fry, salad or smoothie.
Because of there potassium content, sweet potatoes are beneficial because they help cleanse the liver. One sweet potato contains nearly 700 milligrams of potassium! It’s also rich with vitamins B6, C, D, magnesium and iron. Sweet potatoes are easy to eat because they’re naturally sweet, and the sugars are slowly released into the bloodstream through the liver, so it won’t cause a spike in blood sugar. There are a ton of healthy sweet potato recipes that you can try at home today.
Containing 470 milligrams of potassium, banana nutrition is also great for cleansing the liver and overcoming low potassium levels; plus, bananas assist in digestion and help release toxins and heavy metals from the body.
The vitamins and nutrients present in dandelions help cleanse our livers and keep them working properly. Dandelions also aid our digestive system by maintaining the proper flow of bile. They’re natural diuretics and allow the liver to eliminate toxins quickly. Dandelion tea or stems are also high in vitamin C, which helps with mineral absorption, reduces inflammation and prevents the development of disease. Dandelion Root is an ingredient within our Liver Nurse Tea and Liver Nurse Tincture.
As a liver support and aid, milk thistle is a powerful detoxifier. It helps rebuild liver cells while removing toxins from the body that are processed through the liver. According to a study published in Digestive Diseases and Sciences, milk thistle has the power to improve mortality in patients with liver failure; it’s able to naturally reverse the harmful effects of alcohol consumption, pesticides in our food supply, heavy metals in our water supply, pollution in the air that we breathe in and even poisons. Milk Thistle seed is an ingredient within our Liver Nurse Tea and Liver Nurse Tincture.
According to a 2010 study, milk thistle benefits help treat alcoholic liver disease, acute and chronic viral hepatitis, and toxin-induced liver diseases.
Liver Support Stuff
Choline: The “Forgotten” B Vitamin
Choline was first discovered in the 1930’s. It was originally studied for its ability to prevent fat and cholesterol from building up in the liver. But that’s not all it does.
It also gives our cell membranes the ability to transfer both water-soluble and fat-soluble molecules. Without choline, lipid-soluble nutrients could not get into our cells. Likewise, waste products could not pass out. This causes nutrient depletion and toxic buildup at the cellular level. It is estimated that 90 to 98% of western populations do not receive enough Choline in their diets to support efficient liver detoxification.
Another unique aspect of choline is that it contains chemical structures called methyl groups. These components help cells to communicate with each other. They are also used by the body to turn genes on and off. They help produce neurotransmitters. And they have been shown to reduce inflammation and boost detoxification.
It’s no wonder that adequate “methylation” within your body reduces the risk of almost every chronic illness including cancer, heart disease, depression, Alzheimer’s and more.
The richest sources of this vital nutrient include liver, beef, eggs, poultry and seafood. Here is the average choline content in some of these foods:
Beef liver (3 oz/355 mg)
Chicken liver (2 oz./247 mg)
Sardines and mackerel (3 oz/188 mg)
Eggs (1 large/172 mg)
Beef, cooked (4 oz/124mg)
Chicken & Turkey (4 oz/97 mg)
Scallops & Shrimp (4 oz/92 mg)
Unfortunately, most plant foods contain very little choline, so vegetarians may be at risk for deficiency. The richest plant sources are collards, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, crimini mushrooms, asparagus and cauliflower (although these foods provide only about 17-60 mg per cup).
New research, published in The FASEB Journal, found that choline can lower levels of stress. The researchers found that pregnant women who ate 930 mg of choline per day had 33% lower levels of cortisol compared to women who ate only 430 mg daily.
Cortisol is known as the “stress hormone.” And research shows that babies who are exposed to high levels in the womb have an increased risk of type-2 diabetes, high blood pressure and stress-related illness later in life.
Liver from young, healthy, grass-fed cattle or chicken liver pate is full of nutrients and vitamins. It’s rich with vitamins A and B, folic acid, choline, iron, copper, zinc, chromium, and CoQ10; in fact, it’s one of the most nutrient-dense foods that you can eat. If you rather not animal liver, take liver supplements that guarantee no hormones, pesticides or antibiotics were used in the feeding and care of the cattle.
Best Supplements & Natural Remedies for Liver Disease
Research done at the University of Florida suggests that lifestyle changes, along with vitamin E supplements, are helpful for people with liver damage caused by nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Vitamin E benefits include its role as a powerful antioxidant that reduces inflammation; it also increases immunity and helps the body fight serious conditions.
By adding beneficial turmeric to your diet or taking a supplement every day, you reduce inflammation in the body and treat digestive conditions. If using a supplement, take 450 milligrams of curcumin capsules each day, or if you have a serious disease take the Curcumin C3 version which is fare more potent.
Black Seed Oil
This amazing oil can greatly speed the healing process for people with fatty liver disease. A study published in the European Review for Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences measured black seed oil’s ability to inhibit liver oxidative stress markers. The results of the study indicated that black seed oil benefits liver disease patients because it’s able to reduce the complications and progression of fatty liver disease.
The best thing you can do to treat fatty liver disease is maintain a healthy diet. Many people with fatty liver disease are overweight and malnourished. A healthy diet that provides the vitamins and nutrients that your body needs to function is very important. The number one treatment of fatty liver disease is weight loss and a healthy diet. It’s essential that you eat a well-balanced diet that is predominately plant-based; plus, you should exercise regularly — shoot for doing physical activity for at least 30 minutes a day, even if it’s taking a walk, how about Yoga or falun Gong?.
Liver Disease Treatment Recipes
Vegetable juices and detox recipes are a great way to cleanse the liver and reduce inflammation. Zeolite and Blue Green Algae are a great way to start detoxing heavy metals. The 23 environmental metals that are considered “heavy metals” can lead to liver damage, among other dangerous conditions. By ridding the body of these toxic metals, you allow your organs to heal and function properly.
If you’re looking to add turmeric into your diet to reduce swelling and treat the digestive system, try a Turmeric Tea Recipe; it’s creamy, sweet and highly anti-inflammatory.
Coriander and ginger are both great for detoxifying the liver and supporting the immune and digestive systems. Try a Coriander / Ginger Smoothie Recipe to remove toxins from the liver and treat fatty liver disease.
Try our Chinese Hemo tea and our Liver Nurse tea to tonify your liver and cleanse the blood. These will help cleanse the liver of toxins and help with digestion, immunity, metabolism and the storage of nutrients, this is how the chinese would approach healing, with decocted teas, simmering daily on the stove. It also helps to have the right equipment for this, you might like our page of gorgeous stove tea kettles.
Chinese Hemo Tea is based on the ancient prized formula ‘Si Wu Tang Pian’ . This is an elegant, foundational blood tonic formula composed of just four Chinese herbs. The herbs in this formula fall into two groups, based on the role they play in the formula.
- Preserves yin
- Nourishes the blood
- Improves Blood circulation
- Regulates blood loss (menses)
- Regulates the liver & relieves pain
- Reduces Anemia
The first group, consisting of Rehmannia root and White Peony Root, directly tonify the blood. Rehmannia root has a powerful tonifying effect on the blood and Yin, particularly of the Liver and Kidneys. Rehmannia root also tonifies the Jing or essence, and is therefore an important substance used in the treatment of infertility which also feeds the formation of blood made in the bone marrow via the kidney support. White Peony Root also nourishes the Liver and has been shown to alleviate pain and muscle spasms.
The second group of herbs, consisting of Dang Gui (Chinese Angelica Root) and Chuan Xiong (Ligusticum – Lovage Root) regulate the Qi of the blood to dispel and prevent blood stasis, which often develops from chronic blood deficiency.Angelica Roottonifies the blood without cloying and even invigorates the blood, a rare combination for herbs in the blood tonic category. Lovage Root is a blood-invigorating herb, well known for its ability to address issues of irregular or painful menstruation associated with insufficient Qi and blood circulation. Animal studies have shown Lovage Root to have safe anticoagulant effects.
Together, these four medicinals compose an elegant, well balanced and highly regarded Classical formula for the treatment of conditions associated with chronic blood deficiency. You can get Hemo Tea here
Fructose’s Three Major Similarities to Alcohol
Unlike glucose, which can be used by virtually every cell in your body, fructose canonly be metabolized by your liver, because your liver is the only organ that has the transporter for it.
Since all fructose gets shuttled to your liver, and, if you eat a typical Western-style diet, you consume high amounts of it, fructose ends up taxing and damaging your liver in the same way alcohol and other toxins do. In fact, fructose is virtually identical to alcohol with regard to the metabolic havoc it wreaks.
According to Dr. Lustig, Professor of Pediatrics in the Division of Endocrinology at the University of California, fructose is a “chronic, dose-dependent liver toxin.” And just like alcohol, fructose is metabolized directly into fat – not cellular energy, like glucose.
He discussed this topic in the video above, but after the video was produced his paper on the topic was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics,1 Dr. Lustig explains the three similarities between fructose and its fermentation byproduct, ethanol (alcohol):
- Your liver’s metabolism of fructose is similar to alcohol, as they both serve as substrates for converting dietary carbohydrate into fat, which promotes insulin resistance, dyslipidemia (abnormal fat levels in the bloodstream), and fatty liver
- Fructose undergoes the Maillard reaction with proteins, leading to the formation of superoxide free radicals that can result in liver inflammation similar to acetaldehyde, an intermediary metabolite of ethanol
- By “stimulating the ‘hedonic pathway’ of the brain both directly and indirectly,” Dr. Lustig noted, “fructose creates habituation, and possibly dependence; also paralleling ethanol.”
Dr. Lustig concluded:
“Thus, fructose induces alterations in both hepatic [liver] metabolism and central nervous system energy signaling, leading to a ‘vicious cycle’ of excessive consumption and disease consistent with metabolic syndrome. On a societal level, the treatment of fructose as a commodity exhibits market similarities to ethanol. Analogous to ethanol, societal efforts to reduce fructose consumption will likely be necessary to combat the obesity epidemic.”