Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Part 2

One of the comments in the last post asked why I picked this topic, namely NAFLD, and what its relevance is. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a result of lifestyle and nutritional choices, is on the rise, is linked with obesity and type 2 diabetes and can lead to cirrhosis and even hepatic carcinoma. In this sense, it can be prevented by the choices we make in our lives. Some investigators believe that NAFLD is actually a component of the metabolic syndrome. And if so, the subsequent cardiovascular disease will get you if the liver disease does not. In the last post, I outlined possible etiologic factors for NAFLA. In this post, I will offer some advice on healing and prevention.

It has been hypothesized that oxidative stress plays a role in this form of liver disease. Antioxidants, such as Vitamin E and Vitamin C may be of value. In some clinical trials supplementation with E with or without C improved liver enzyme levels and decreased the severity of the disease process.

L-Carnitine plays a role in fat metabolism by facilitating transport of fatty acids into the cells’ mitochondria. In a double blind trial supplementation with L-Carnitine as an adjunct to diet significantly improved lab parameters and histologic findings in patients with NAFLD.

Choline functions as a “methyl-donor”. Inadequate dietary intake of methyl groups results in fatty infiltration of the liver due to impaired fat metabolism. Choline status may be suboptimal in patients with NAFLD and supplementation may have a positive influence on fatty metabolism in the liver.

Betaine is a metabolite of choline and a normal component of the human diet. Like choline, betaine functions as a methyl donor. Rich dietary sources of betaine include shellfish, wheat germ or bran, spinach and beets. Supplementation of betaine for one year resulted in significant biochemical and histologic improvement in NAFLD.

Magnesium and zinc are two nutrients found to be deficient in patients with NAFLD. Their replenishment does improve NAFLD. The magnesium deficiency may explain the insulin resistance found to play a role in NAFLD.

Other nutrients such as lysine, Omega-3 fatty acids, taurine and pantothenic acids have shown to be beneficial in the prevention of and/or the resolution of NAFLD.

In summary, the recommendations for patients with NAFLD include weight loss if overweight. One should avoid sucrose, fructose, trans fatty acids and brominated vegetable oil. Emphasize whole grains over refined grains. Start an antioxidant regimen including Vitamins E and C. Supplement with L-Carnitine and perhaps include choline and betaine also.

Remember, this disease process ca be largely diminished by proper nutritional and lifestyle changes and that means that you alone are the engineer of this entire process. Take your role seriously and avoid the dietary pitfalls that can lead to NAFLD. Again, thanks for reading…

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