Have you thought about your liver lately? Did you know that there is a “liver pandemic” currently occurring? A condition called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD, currently affects ONE IN THREE adults. What’s more is that 10% of children are also affected. The concern with this is that majority of these people don't know they are affected because NAFLD symptoms are non-specific and generally asymptomatic. The prevalence of this condition jumps from 30% to 90% in those who are obese, diabetic, or diagnosed concurrently with high cholesterol. So what’s the big deal about NAFLD anyways? Why should you care about your liver health? Cirrhosis, hepatic cancer, liver transplants…these are what I call the “fear risk factors.” Fear risk factors can be very motivating for many people, however, for a lot of people fears alone aren’t motivating enough to make sustainable changes. I prefer to think about what you can gain from taking care of your liver, as opposed to the possible losses if you don’t. So what can you gain from a healthy liver? A healthy liver means you can possibly experience more energy, improved sleep quality, clearer skin, better digestion, including decreased nausea, better nutrient absorption, and increased appetite. Finally, how can you ensure you keep your liver healthy? There are many things that your naturopathic doctor can do to help! Here’s my top 6 ways to approach liver health. Dr. Hennigar’s Approach to Liver Health 1. Screening
It is very important to have a baseline of where your liver health is. Physical exams, a proper history, labs and sometimes even imaging are required to gain a full picture of your liver health status.
This step is KEY…and probably not the advice you think you will get…i.e. you don't have to cut out fat or calorie count! Research shows that stabilization of blood sugars is key in supporting liver health. Your ND can help create a tailored plan for you to ensure adequate nutrient intake and improved blood sugar stabilization.
The jury is still out on what is considered too much alcohol when it comes to NAFLD, however, there is more than enough evidence to show alcohol has a profound effect on general liver health. Your ND can help in finding ways to limit consumption and make better choices surrounding alcohol.
Studies show that losing 8kg was found to decrease NAFLD risk by 33%. Research shows the most effective form of exercise for liver health being high intensity interval training.
5. Botanical Medicine
There are many different herbs that can aid in liver function. These include but aren’t limited to Silybum marianum, Arctium lappa, Taraxacum off., Curcuma longa, and Cyanara scolymus. Your ND is a great resource for finding, which botanicals, forms, and doses will work best and safest for your case.
6. IV Infusions
What’s great about IV infusions is that they go immediately into the bloodstream. Because gut health and liver health go hand in hand, it is important to utilize other routes of administration such as IV for ensuring the body has the nutrients needed.
For more information and to find out what your liver health baseline is, feel free to book in with Dr. Hennigar by clicking on Book Now. As always, this post is not designed to diagnose or treat you but instead to give you something to think about. Please book a consult with a doctor prior to changing, starting, or stopping medications or protocols. References Bellentani, Scaglioni, Marino & Bedogni, (2010). Epidemiology of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Digestive Diseases.28 (1):155-156. doi: 10.1159/000282080 Liangpunsakul & Chalasani, (2012). What do we recommend our patients with NAFLD about alcohol use? American Journal of Gastroenterology, 107 (7):976-978. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2012.20. Rountree, R. (2016). Nutritional Solutions for Fatty Liver. Thorne Research. Sept, 24, 2016.