Written by: Ravinder Lilly
With the festive season now over, February is the ideal time to take stock and focus on your health – and that includes the health of your liver. Keeping your liver healthy is important. This large organ is a major way that your body cleanses itself of toxins and processes nutrients from food – all the blood from your digestive system filters through to your liver where it is cleaned before travelling around your body.
A build up of toxins can lead to an accumulation of fat in the liver (a place where fat is not normally stored); this is called fatty liver.
Drinking too much alcohol used to be the most common cause of fatty liver. But increasingly, doctors are seeing fatty liver being caused by eating an unhealthy diet, carrying too much body weight and not exercising enough.
Being overweight can cause fatty liver
Studies suggest that more than half of all Australian women (52%) and two-thirds of men (67%) are overweight or obesei. And, according to experts from the university of Notre Dame in Western Australia, non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects around 25-30% of Australiansii as a result of being overweight or obese.
Fatty liver used to be considered generally a harmless condition but now, experts agree that the condition can progress to more serious health problems if left unchecked.
Thankfully, most cases of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease respond well to lifestyle changes. You can help to protect your liver and your general health by:
- Getting into a healthy weight range.
- Enjoying a diet that’s rich in vegetables and fruits. These contain protective antioxidant plant pigments called flavonoids (which help to neutralise damaging free radicals) plus antioxidants vitamins and fibre.
- Eating a diet that’s low in saturated fat (from animal foods like fatty meats and fried foods). Eating more unsaturated fats from oily fish, nuts, seeds and olive oil but replacing total fat (because this is the most concentrated form of calories around).
- Eating more wholegrains and replacing foods made with white flour with wholegrains such as heavy, grainy breads, wholegrains cereals and opting for low GI options wherever possible.
- Avoiding or reducing alcohol intake – the NHMRC recommends a maximum of two standard drinks per day.
- Exercising moderately on most days of the week – any moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) should make you feel out of breath but still able to carry on a conversation. If you have any medical conditions or you haven’t exercised for some time, consult your GP before starting an exercise regime.
USANA’s HepaPlus™ and liver health
This unique blend has been specifically developed to help protect liver cells and positively support the regeneration of new liver cells.
Milk thistle: an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory which can help to protect the liver and may also stimulate new growth of new liver cells. Used for over 2000 years as a liver tonic, the active ingredients in milk thistle, sylymarin may assist in the production of several antioxidant enzymes involved in the detoxification processiii thus helping to protect liver cells. USANA’s HepaPlus contains around 200mg of milk thistle extract per tablet.
Other antioxidants: USANA’s HepaPlus contains potent antioxidants from green tea extract, olive fruit and broccoli concentrate.
Choline: a substance which helps to emulsify (break down) fats helping them to be removed from the liver.
Turmeric: used for thousands of years in Ayurvedic medicine, the active turmeric has major antioxidant propertiesiv.
Alpha lipoic acid (ALA): a naturally-occurring antioxidant that helps neutralise free radicalsv vi. ALA can enter both the fatty and the aqueous (water-based) sections of the cell and this boosts its ability to trap free radicals wherever they are.
USANA’s HepaPlus provides comprehensive support for the liver and in the maintenance of general wellbeing. Laboratory tested, quality guaranteed HepaPlus meets British Pharmacopoeia specifications for potency, uniformity and disintegration where applicable. USANA’s HepaPlus is suitable for vegetarians.
i What is the prevalence of overweight and obesity among Australian adults and children? The Australia and New Zealand Obesity Society. Reviewed 2008.
Accessed 1/2/2012/. Acvailable from: http://www.asso.org.au/profiles/general/faq/prevalence
ii The University of Notre Dame, Australia. Diabetes and Obesity. Accessed 31/1/12. Available from: http://www.nd.edu.au/research/ihrr/diabetes_obesity.shtml
iii Flora K, et al. Milk thistle (silybum marianum) for the therapy of liver disease. Am J Gastroenterol 1998;93(2):139-43. Accessed 31/1/12. Available from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9468229
iv Balasubramanyam M, et al. J Biosci 2003;28(6):715-21. Accessed 31/1/2012. Available from http://www.usana.com/media/File/dotCom/company/science/crb/CR_HepasilDTX_Poster.pdf
v Bustamante J, Lodge JK, Marcocci L, Tritschler HJ, Packer L, Rihn BH. Influence of alpha lipoic acid on antioxidant status in D-galactosamine-induced hepatic injury. Toxicol Ind Health. 2008 Nov;24(10):635-42. Accessed 31/1/2012. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19141568
vi Bustamante J, Lodge JK, Marcocci L, Tritschler HJ, Packer L, Rihn BH.Alpha-lipoic acid in liver metabolism and disease. Free Radic Biol Med. 1998 Apr;24(6):1023-39. Accessed 31/1/2012. Available from: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9607614