Liver Supplements and Spices for Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

The following supplements for your liver help prevent one common factor in the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance is the one common thread for NAFLD that supplements may help to prevent.

When you develop insulin resistance, your body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin. With insulin resistance, you develop high blood sugar and type 2 diabetes. In many cases, your triglycerides increase, and are stored in your liver.

Thus, the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease begins.

Alpha Lipoic Acid Metabolizes Blood Sugar

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) is a fatty acid and antioxidant. It’s found in every cell, and helps produce energy for your body by converting glucose into energy. One unique quality of ALA is that it functions in both water and fat.

Research results indicate ALA improves insulin resistance, according to WebMD, which is a major concern for those of you with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Alpha Lipoic Acid supplements are easily found in most health stores and websites. Small amounts can also be found in foods like spinach, broccoli, yams, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts, carrots and beets. (Also see Alpha Lipoic Acid article by Cathy Wong, ND)

Probiotic: Bifidobacterium longum

Rat studies show the probiotic Bifidobacterium longum (B. longum) slows the accumulation of fat in their liver. B. longum is one of the “good” bacteria in our intestines, and a vital part of our gut flora. This good gut bacteria destroys pathogens in our intestines, and reduces our risks of heart disease and strokes. It’s also believed B. longum reduces polyp formation in your gut. Now you can add prevention of NAFLD to one of its health benefits.

I haven’t been able to find any yogurt brands that specifically list B. longum on their label. But several capsule probiotic brands include it in their formulation, including “Nutrition Now PB 8,” “Jarro-Dophilus EPS,” and “Puritan Pride Probiotic Acidophilus Beads.”

Once you establish a good colony of B. longum in your gut, you need to eat the right foods to keep them healthy. Foods that promote the growth of B. longum are chicory root, artichokes, yams and sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, bananas, leeks, oats, barley and legumes.

Chromium Reduces Insulin Resistance

Studies have shown that chromium enhances insulin activity. In addition, research has shown that people with type 2 diabetes have lower chromium levels than people without type 2 diabetes.

Chromium supplements have been shown to reduce insulin resistance, and help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. With a decrease in insulin resistance, one can also deduce that we can also reduce the risk of fatty liver disease by making sure that we have adequate amounts of chromium in our diets.

The best food sources for chromium are Brewer’s yeast, liver, whole grains and buckwheat. To ensure the greatest amount of biologically active chromium, eat fresh, unprocessed foods.

The two brands of Brewer’s yeast that have the highest levels of chromium are Lewis Labs and Swanson. Of the two, Lewis Labs is the better tasting, but is also the most expensive. Brewer’s Yeast typically has a bitter taste, but Lewis Lab’s Brewer’s Yeast is the least bitter. I find that sweetening it with Stevia and eating it with cereal or oatmeal reduces some of its bitter taste.

Choline Helps Prevent Fatty Liver Disease

Want a guarantee in developing a fatty liver? Eat a diet low in choline, which is found in lecithin.

Recent studies have shown that when people are fed a choline deficient diet, 75 to 80% of them develop fatty liver disease. When choline was returned to their diet, all liver dysfunction disappeared.

Our bodies use choline to transport and metabolize fats. Choline is an essential nutrient, and must be consumed in our diet to maintain good liver and cardiovascular health. It is also an important nutrient for our nervous system.

The best source of choline compounds is soy lecithin granules. Choline can also be found in egg yolks, shrimp, scallops, chicken, turkey, cod, herring, sardines, tuna, salmon, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, Swiss chard, cauliflower, cabbage,  asparagus, green beans  and spinach. Soy lecithin and the vegetable sources are the  most heart healthy. The cold water fish sources give the added health benefits of omega-3 fatty acids.

Good quality and relatively inexpensive soy lecithin granules can be found at most health stores and online. I personally take 1 teaspoon at each meal.

Cinnamon

Recent studies show taking 1500 mg of cinnamon daily reduces fasting blood glucose levels, total cholesterol triglycerides, and improves overall liver health.

I like putting a healthy dose of cinnamon in my morning oatmeal, hot chocolate, and in my hot tea. Be creative and find ways to include cinnamon in your fruit, vegetable and legume recipes.

Curcumin in the Spice Turmeric

Turmeric, the spice that makes yellow mustard yellow, contains the chemical curcumin. More research is needed, but recent studies indicate curcumin may be beneficial in improving liver health for patients suffering from non-alcoholic steatohepatitis of NASH.

I include turmeric in brown rice and legumes dishes, and enjoy a cup of turmeric tea daily. You can find turmeric in bulk on the internet.

DHA Omega-3 Fatty Acid

DHA may reduce the formation of glucose metabolites, which are associated with an increased risk of developing insulin resistance, according to researchers at Oregon State University. New research is also being conducted to determine if this omega-3 fatty acid may prevent or slow NAFLD.

The best supplemental source of DHA is fish oil purified of mercury. Fish oil supplies this omega-3 fatty acid in a form that our bodies can use. Excellent food sources of DHA are salmon, sardines and tuna.

Magnesium Lowers Insulin Resistance

Research in recent years shows magnesium plays an important role in converting blood sugar into energy. This is because magnesium affects both the action and manufacture of insulin. That is why adequate amounts of magnesium in your diet can help decrease your risk of insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. And you decrease your risk of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by reducing your risk of insulin resistance.

Magnesium supplements are available in most grocery, drug and healthcare stores. And it’s cheap. But you can get magnesium in any food containing chlorophyll, because magnesium is to chlorophyll what iron is to the hemoglobin in your blood. Excellent food sources of magnesium are almonds, spinach (and most dark green leafy vegetables including kale and collard greens), cashews, peanuts, beans, cocoa powder and whole grains.

Psyllium Husks Help Control Your Blood Sugar

Psyllium helps reduce and control blood sugar levels, according to a report published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. And you can reduce your risk of NAFLD by controlling and reducing your blood sugar levels.

Psyllium husks are from the seeds of a plant native to India and Pakistan. The husks are an excellent source of soluble dietary fiber. And psyllium expands and becomes thick and glue like when put into water. This thick and gluey nature of psyllium husks is what helps it to prevent unhealthy fats and sugars from entering your bloodstream.

I prefer pure psyllium husks without all the added sugars or sweeteners, salts, preservatives, artificial colors and flavors. You will have to explore the internet for pure psyllium husks, because most stores only sell the version with all the unwanted additives. One brand that I use is Source Naturals Psyllium Husks Powder.

Silymarin May Promote Liver Cell Regeneration

Silymarin supplement is an extract from the milk thistle plant and seeds. The use of Silymarin for liver health is controversial, but several studies show it does have anticancer properties, and may help promote liver cell regeneration. Milk thistle extracts have a good safety record, and chances are good that it helps keep the liver healthy. One published report suggest it also reduces insulin resistance.

Supplements can’t replace a healthy lifestyle. But they can support a healthy lifestyle, and help you restore your liver to health. Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), chromium, choline, magnesium, psyllium husks and silymarin help reduce your risks of insulin resistance, and the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or NAFLD.

In addition to liver supplements for NAFLD, visit the post on Eating Foods That Are Good for Your Liver. You can get the nutrients you need to reduce your risk of insulin resistance and NAFLD from the foods mentioned in that post. Keep your liver healthy and live a long life with the proper diet, exercise and occasionally by taking the supplements mentioned above.

For more information, see Fatty Liver Diet.

References

MedicineNet – Fatty Liver

Choline and Fatty Liver Disease

Lecithin And Choline Redeemed

Role of Chromium in Insulin Resistance

Chromium – All About Nutritional Healing

Soy Lecithin But Not Egg Lecithin Decreased the Plasma Cholesterol Concentration in Golden Syrian Hamsters

Cleveland Clinic Researchers Find Link Between Dietary Fat, Gut Bacteria and Heart Disease

ScienceDaily: Liver Disease News