A recent study was conducted on how green tea impacts a fatty liver. Discover why experts now encourage those living with fatty liver disease to make drinking this beverage a daily ritual.
A condition that could lead to liver damage, cirrhosis or liver failure, an estimated 1 in 4 American adults have fatty liver disease. Because fatty liver disease can have such grave consequences, researchers are continually searching for ways to keep the liver lean. Scientists from the University of Connecticut have found that a common hot beverage – green tea – is capable of that very feat. While daily ingestion of green tea has been linked to an array of health benefits, this new research adds preventing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease to green tea’s capabilities.
About Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a disease where fat accumulates in the liver in individuals who do not consume excessive amounts of alcohol. Ranging from mild and reversible to severe and irreversible, the wide spectrum of NAFLD is described below:
· Steatosis – A reversible condition, fat infiltrates the liver without evidence of inflammation or scarring.
· NASH – Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is accompanied by inflammation and scarring.
· Cirrhosis – Irreversible, advanced scarring of the liver.
Although the exact cause of NAFLD is still unknown, evidence supports a strong connection between fat accumulation in the liver and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance occurs when the normal amount of insulin secreted by the pancreas is not able to remove sugar (glucose) from the blood into the cells for use as energy or storage for future use. One of the consequences of excessive amounts of sugar in the blood is the accumulation of fat in the body’s midsection. Thus, insulin resistance is commonly associated with fat accumulation in the liver. In extreme cases of insulin resistance, diabetes mellitus develops.
Fatty Liver Reduction Strategies
There is currently no single, effective treatment for a fatty liver. However, the following strategies have proven themselves as helpful in reducing NAFLD:
· Loss of excessive weight
· Lowering elevated cholesterol or triglycerides
· Balancing blood sugar levels
While there are a variety of prescription medications to help accomplish these goals, all healthcare experts agree that lifestyle modifications represent the best hope for reducing a fatty liver. The following strategies for weight reduction are typically suggested for those with NAFLD:
· Regular aerobic and weight-bearing exercise
· Low-fat, high fiber diet
· Alcohol abstinence
For those already working with their doctor and heeding lifestyle choices to support a lean liver, there is a common beverage now recognized to help attain a lean liver. Featured on the cover of the February 2009 issue of The Journal of Nutrition, researchers from the University of Connecticut investigated the effects of green tea on NAFLD.
After feeding genetically obese mice green tea extract for six weeks at doses equivalent to about three to seven cups of liquid green tea per day for humans, researchers found that green tea has the following effects:
· Green tea blocks the amount of fat stored in the livers of obese mice that otherwise develop severe fatty liver disease.
· Green tea improves liver function.
· Green tea reverses declines in antioxidant defenses in the liver.
While the specific process by which green tea offers these liver benefits is not yet understood, the researchers are currently exploring whether green tea:
· interferes with fat absorption,
· enhances the rate at which fat is used for energy by the liver and
· blocks fat synthesis in the liver.
For those ready to embrace green tea’s benefits, lead researcher of this study Richard Bruno warns against taking green tea supplements. He advises drinking brewed green tea because supplements likely contain only one of this beverage’s active ingredients.
For the estimated 40 million people in the U.S. with fatty liver disease: taking prescribed medications, engaging in regular exercise, eating a low-fat, high fiber diet and abstaining from alcohol can all help their liver. However, this new research indicates that anyone concerned with fat accumulation in his/her liver should also add drinking green tea to his/her daily routine.
To learn more about green tea’s benefits for the liver, read How Green Tea Protects Against Liver Fibrosis.
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