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Alcohol May Not Be the Only Reason Behind Your Failing Liver

posted on 6/16/2016 Facebook Facebook

Who doesn’t enjoy the occasional euphoria of alcohol? Well, most of us do. But, we also know that too much of alcohol can be injurious to health, especially our livers. Therefore, doctors recommend that we limit the intake to only a few drinks (2 drinks for men and 1 for women per day). While all these healthy recommendations are in place, alcohol still remains the most popularly abused substance in the world—especially amongst the younger population. Excessive consumption of alcohol can cause serious damage to your liver. 

But did you know that drinking alcohol is not the primary cause behind most liver diseases? Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), popularly known as fatty liver is the number one cause of liver damage in the western world at present. Non-alcoholic fatty liver can lead to liver cirrhosis and even cause liver cancer. It is a serious problem and is projected to be the number one reason for liver transplantation across the globe in the next decade. 

When Your Genes Are The Real Culprit
Indians are thought to have a higher prevalence of fatty liver disease as compared to Europeans. A 2013 study carried out by scientists at the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences and National Diabetes, Obesity and Cholesterol Foundation highlighted that people who carry Patatin-like phospholipase-3 (PNPLA3) gene may be prone serious liver problems regardless of how much alcohol they drink. 

People who suffer from metabolic syndrome are known to be at a heightened risk for fatty liver disease. If you have a genetic predisposition for fatty liver and consume high quantities of sugar especially fructose, your risk is increased by about five-fold. Why? Fructose is more readily converted to lipids by the liver as compared to glucose. This form of sugar also does not signal our brains when satiated, which can lead us to eat more contributing to obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and fatty liver. 

Variations in three specific genes: PNPLA3, APOC3, and GCKR are known to be specifically associated with fatty liver. 

People who carry a risk variant in PNPLA3 gene have a reduced capacity to break down triglycerides, which can result in an excessive buildup of fat in the liver. This variation is largely found in Hispanics, Native American''''s and Asians. 

APOC3 is known to regulate another gene called LPL which in turn regulates the metabolism of triglycerides in the body.  Variations in either of these genes lead to hindered metabolism of triglycerides and increased levels in the bloodstream. 

GCKR is involved in the regulation of sugar uptake in the cells. Carriers of variations in this gene have an increased difficulty in controlling blood glucose levels. This in turn, increases the production of triglycerides and fatty liver. 

Prevent Fatty Liver Disease With These Tips 
One can reduce their risk of developing NAFL D by eating healthy, maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly. Here are some tips to help you:
1. Limit your intake of fat and processed carbohydrates. Diets rich in carbohydrates can promote fatty liver, as the liver converts any excess carbohydrates into fats. Avoid bread, pasta, rice, breakfast cereals etc. 

2. Cut out all high fructose corn syrup from your diet especially soda and sweetened beverages.  Check your food labels to avoid any offenders.
 
3. Load on healthy fruits and vegetables, particularly vitamin E rich foods like spinach, broccoli, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts etc. 

4. Take a good liver tonic to detoxify your organ and support its function. The herb Milk Thistle is best suited for the liver because it contains silymarin, a flavonoid that heads straight to the liver to repair damaged cells. Speak to your doctor before taking any natural herbal supplements. 

References:
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2. Puppala J, Siddapuram SP, Akka J, Munshi A. Genetics of nonalcoholic Fatty liver disease: an overview. J Genet Genomics. 2013 Jan 20;40(1):15-22. doi:10.1016/j.jgg.2012.12.001. Epub 2012 Dec 26. Review. PubMed PMID: 23357341.
3. Anstee QM, Seth D, Day CP. Genetic Factors That Affect Risk of Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Gastroenterology. 2016 Feb 9. pii: S0016-5085(16)00138-4. doi: 10.1053/j.gastro.2016.01.037. [Epub ahead of print] PubMed PMID: 26873399.
4. Dongiovanni P, Romeo S, Valenti L. Genetic Factors in the Pathogenesis of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver and Steatohepatitis. Biomed Res Int. 2015;2015:460190. doi: 10.1155/2015/460190. Epub 2015 Jul 27. Review. PubMed PMID: 26273621; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4530215.
5. Cave M, Deaciuc I, Mendez C, Song Z, Joshi-Barve S, Barve S, McClain C. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: predisposing factors and the role of nutrition. J Nutr Biochem. 2007 Mar;18(3):184-95. Review. PubMed PMID: 17296492.
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