I have just been diagnosed with fatty liver. I've heard milk thistle is good for the liver, but would it help with fatty liver?
Fatty liver (Liver Congestion/ Toxicity; Liver Steatosis) is an ailment where there is an excessive accumulation or infiltration of fats (triglycerides) present in and around the liver. There are two types of fatty liver, one is alcohol induced (alcohol liver disease) and one is not. Fortunately the cells of the liver are able to regenerate (up to 2/3) if the health of an individual is improved; many people can recover from fatty liver congestion if the appropriate steps are taken. The primary function of the liver is to liberate toxic wastes from the circulation and eliminate them from the body. Improving the health of the liver will ensure that this organ can properly perform this task as well as others such as blood cleansing, production of bile (digestion of fats), cholesterol (synthesis of hormones) and proteins, processing of nutrients via digestion and producing new energy via glycogenesis.
Make an appointment to see a Healthcare professional who will be able to provide the ongoing support that this condition requires. They will also properly assess your health by taking into consideration past health, family history, medication and supplementation use, diet, lifestyle and exercise.
What causes fatty liver:
- Excessive consumption of carbohydrates because the excess Carbohydrates may be converted to fat in the liver rather than being used for immediate energy production.
- Excessive consumption of alcohol
- Diabetes/ insulin resistance
- High glycaemic index diet
Fatty liver and St Marys ThistleMilk Thistle (St Marys Thistle) is a powerful herbal medicine which may help to stimulate the regeneration of liver cells and improve the digestion of fats due to its cholagogue effects. It contains a constituent called Silymarin which contains anti-oxidant properties as well as being restorative to liver function. It is an herb which has been historically used for the health of the liver and many Naturopaths will prescribe it for all kinds of liver related ailments, including fatty liver.
Diet tips for a fatty liver
- Include a vegetable juice each day in your diet (beetroot, carrot, celery and ginger)
- Begin each day with a warm glass of water with 1/2 a lemon squeezed in it as this stimulates the digestion of fats, digestion and liver function.
- Ensure adequate hydration
- Increase fruits and vegetables in your diet as fibre helps to expel any accumulations of fats in the blood
- Avoid saturated fats and simple sugars
- Eat foods which help the liver to detoxify such as onions, garlic, beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts and cabbage
Lifestyle factors for a fatty liver
- Exercise and weight control
- Consider doing a gentle detoxification regime
- Reduce alcohol and pharmaceutical drugs, lipids (dietary fats and oils) and sugar intake
Natural remedies for a fatty liver
- Betaine found in beetroot, spinach, grains and shellfish contains enzymes to support liver function and raise S-adenosylmethionine (SAM) - a potent liver anti-oxidant needed to detoxify
- The amino acids Taurine, Cysteine and Carnitine may improve the metabolism of dietary fats
- Globe Artichoke, St Marys Thistle, Bupleurum, Dandelion, Garlic, Green Tea, Grape Seed, Cordyceps, Japanese Knotweed (Polygonum), Rhubarb, Chamomile, Red Rice, Golden Rod, Spirulina, Jiaogulan (Gynostemma pentaphyllum) improve liver function, triglyceride digestion and detoxification
- B Vitamins, Choline, Folic acid, Inositol are all essential nutrients for the production of the amino acid Methionine another potent liver detoxifier
- Anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, Zinc and Selenium may inhibit the ability of alcohol to cause fatty liver due to their hepatoprotective effects
For further information see the Ask a Naturopath.com webpage concerning liver detoxification