Why Liver Health is so important? (Or, did you know that in the U.S. 100 million people may have fatty livers?)
Let's face it; the liver is the primary organ in the body that often gets overlooked when it comes to health. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the liver is the organ responsible for the smooth flow of emotions, as well as Qi (Energy) and blood. It is the organ that is most affected by excess stress or emotions.Ii]
The liver is responsible for numerous functions in the body. Its primary functions are to filter the blood of toxins and neutralize toxins. Additionally, the liver provides these functions:
- Production of bile, which helps carry away waste and break down fats in the small intestine during digestion
- Production of specific proteins for blood plasma
- Production of cholesterol and special proteins to help carry fats through the body
- Store and release glucose as needed
- Processing of hemoglobin for the use of its iron content (the liver stores iron)
- Clearing the blood of drugs and other harmful substances
- Regulating blood clotting
- Resisting infections by producing immune factors and removing bacteria from the bloodstream
- Clearance of bilirubin (if there is a buildup of bilirubin, the skin and eyes turn yellow)
Considering the many functions of the liver, maintaining a healthy liver will have a significant impact on your overall health and wellbeing. Here are some of the areas in which studies indicated having a healthy liver may be of benefit:
- Improved overall health
- weight loss
- slowed aging
- increased energy
- potentially fewer aches and pains
- healthier skin and hair
- Hormonal balancing
- Decreased sinus and allergy issues
- Stronger immune system
- Less digestive complaints, i.e., gas, bloating and more regularity
- Fresher breath and oral health
- A positive mood and sharper mind
With the increase in unhealthy lifestyle choices, there is an increase in the need to incorporate supplements into the daily routine. The rise in people being overweight/obese, diets high in refined/processed foods, decreased activity levels, medication use, alcohol consumption, consuming non-organic foods/beverages, exposure to environmental toxins and high stress lives all contribute to the potential for an unhealthy liver. Luckily studies which were conducted on several supplements have shown positive results and might be beneficial for general liver health:
The active substance in milk thistle is silvmarin. which is made up of several natural plant molecules. Studies shows that silymarin may help with the regeneration of liver cells, decrease inflammation and protect liver cells from damage in an antioxidant type mannerriiil
« Read: Study shows FucoVital to be more effective than silvmarin in preventing harmful fat accumulation in liver cells »
Artichoke has been used in traditional medicine for centuries as a specific liver and gallbladder remedy. The active ingredient in artichoke is cynarin which is found in highest concentrations in the leaves. Like silymarin, at several studies cynarin has demonstrated liver protecting and regenerating effectsNvl.
Dandelion has been tested against various drugs and chemical-induced chronic liver diseases in experimental animals with promising results. In vitro studies also show hepatoprotective, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties[v].
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver (NAFL)
Beyond supporting the liver and its ability to detoxify the body, there are other areas of liver health we need to focus on as well. The most significant area of focus with regards to liver health is the unwanted buildup of fat deposits in the liver. This condition is known as nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL). Researchers have found NAFL in 40 to 80 percent of people who have type 2 diabetes and in 30 to 90 percent of people who are obese.^ Additionally, it is estimated that 1 in 4 people around the world have some sort of NAFL while in the U.S. up to 100 million people may have fatty livers.fviil Even though the above metabolic conditions contribute to having a fatty liver, it is not limited to people with these challenges. Certain medications, high blood fats, certain types of infections and even pregnancy can be an underlying cause of fatty deposits to form in the liver.fviiil
As mentioned, there are several known nutritional ingredients which might support liver health. Recently fucoxanthin has joined to this respected list, following several studies that show great promise for this novel ingredient, fucoxanthin is a specific carotenoid in nature that is found in seaweed and microalgae, and has many bioactivities.
When we take a closer look at the research done with fucoxanthin, we see that there is a building body of evidence showing it affects many of the underlying risk factors for developing NAFL and directly on fatty liver.
In the article published in the journal Hepatobiliary Surgery and Nutrition, researchers found that supplementation with the combination of fucoxanthin and pomegranate reduced body weight, body and liver fat content, and improved liver function tests in obese premenopausal women with NAFL. They also found that consuming fucoxanthin was effective in improving lipids and cholesterol metabolism.^
Another study evaluated the impact of consuming fucoxanthin in rats on a high-fat diet and the effect of the amount of fat buildup in the liver. The results showed that the total amount of fat, cholesterols, and triglycerides were 'significantly reduced' in the group consuming fucoxanthin.^ An article published in Evidence-Based Complementary Alternative Medicine in 2015 found that 'fucoxanthin had no side effects'.
FucoVital™ proprietary fucoxanthin pleoresin: Is the world's first microalgae derived extract standardized to 3% fucoxanthin, plus naturally occurring omega-3's (EPA) and other beneficial fatty acids. Fucoxanthin is a safe ingredient that has been sold in the U.S. and Asia as a dietary supplement for many years, primarily as concentrates or extracts of seaweed such as Macrocystis, Laminaria and Undaria. Existing fucoxanthin production relies solely on harvesting seaweed which has extremely low fucoxanthin concentrations. Moreover, supply of seaweed has always been limited, relying on the harvest seasons and subject to issues with heavy metals and other contamination accumulated from ocean pollution.