More Evidence That a Fatty Liver Benefits from Probiotics

While there is still much to learn about fatty liver disease, there is a growing recognition that beneficial bacteria in the gut can play a major role in preventing fat accumulation in the liver.

Experts estimate that a quarter of American adults have fatty liver disease. Whether or not those with this condition have received a diagnosis yet, awareness of fatty liver prevention is growing. The top recommendations for preventing fat accumulation in the liver include eating a healthful, high-fiber, low-fat diet and regular physical activity. Although these two lifestyle choices are extremely important for liver health, they are joined by another popular wellness trend. Typically suggested for individuals who have been inundated with antibiotics or for people with vague gastrointestinal discomfort, probiotics also appear to battle the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

About NAFLD
Along with the increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes in Western countries, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease has risen steadily. Encompassing two conditions that affect people who drink little or no alcohol, NAFLD can be mild or it can progress to a more severe stage:

1.    Steatosis – A mild condition, steatosis is a simple fatty liver where there is rarely any liver damage.

2.    Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) – When the accumulation of fat in the liver is accompanied by inflammation, fatty liver has escalated to NASH. Fibrous tissue can form with NASH, which could progress to cirrhosis or liver cancer.

Although experts still have a lot to learn about NAFLD, it is typically diagnosed in people who are overweight, diabetic or pre-diabetic and who have elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels. A person is considered to have a fatty liver when the fat makes up at least 10 percent of his or her liver. Especially if addressed during the first stage, steatosis, it is possible to reverse NAFLD. At the very least, instituting lifestyle changes that support a healthy liver can help prevent a fatty liver from getting worse.

About Probiotics
The opposite of antibiotics, probiotics refers to specific digestive bacteria that produce healthy intestinal flora. Examples of probiotics include:

•    Bifidobacteria
•    Lactobacilli
•    Bacteroides
•    Fusobacteria

Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that support the health of the gastrointestinal system by suppressing or destroying harmful bacteria. The regular use of probiotics is believed to re-colonize the digestive tract with enough normal flora to prevent potentially damaging microbes from gaining dominance.

Often advised for a wide range of gastrointestinal issues that could benefit from an influx of beneficial bacteria, probiotics are a part of many peoples’ health routines. While there are a wide range of strengths and strains available, probiotics have traditionally been found as a supplement in pill or powder form. However, our knowledge of probiotics’ value is steadily increasing – a movement that has led to their availability in many foods such as yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and a growing list of fermented foods.

Evidence that Probiotics Benefit a Fatty Liver
Documentation that improving the gut bacterial balance impacts fat accumulation in the liver has gained significant momentum over the past decade:

•    2003 – Researchers at Johns Hopkins University found that intestinal bacteria play a pathogenic role in hepatic insulin resistance (a marker of pre-diabetes) and NAFLD.

•    2008 – In an animal study, researchers at the Imperial College of London found that probiotic exposure altered fat metabolism in the liver.

•    2009 – Italian researchers found that NAFLD is associated with gut permeability that is related to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth.

•    2011 – Because their effects have proved to be beneficial in NAFLD, researchers from University of Naples described probiotics as an emerging therapeutic strategy for fatty liver disease.

There is no substitute for eating the right foods and getting regular exercise for preventing fat accumulation in the liver. However, adding probiotics to these lifestyle standards increases your lean liver efforts. As we continue to witness how improving the ratio of friendly bacteria to detrimental bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract reduces the incidence of fatty liver disease, more resources will be poured into this healthful strategy.

References:

http://altmedicine.about.com/b/2009/05/23/probiotics-may-protect-your-liver.htm, Probiotics May Protect Your Liver, Retrieved February 7, 2011, About.com, 2011.

http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.22848/abstract, Increased intestinal permeability and tight junction alterations in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Luca Miele, et al, Retrieved February 11, 2011, Hepatology, January 2009.

http://www.betterhealthresearch.com/news/probiotics-may-one-day-lower-fat-levels-in-liver-experts-say-800384845/, Probiotics May One Day Lower Fat Levels In Liver, Experts Say, Retrieved February 7, 2011, Better Health Research, 2011.

http://www.liversupport.com/wordpress/2007/03/probiotics-help-support-liver-health/, Probiotics Help Support Liver Health, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved February 7, 2011, Natural Wellness, 2011.

http://www.liversupport.com/wordpress/2006/05/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease-and-insulin-resistance/, How to Prevent a Fatty Liver, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac, Natural Wellness, 2011.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18197175, Probiotic modulation of symbiotic gut microbial-host metabolic interactions in a humanized microbiome mouse model, Martin FP, et al, Retrieved February 11, 2011, Molecular Systems Biology, January 2008.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21292470, Probiotics as an emerging therapeutic strategy to treat NAFLD: focus on molecular and biochemical mechanisms, Iacono A, et al, Retrieved February 11, 2011, The Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, February 2011.

  • Christine Eubanks

    “Typically suggested for individuals who have been inundated with
    antibiotics or for people with vague gastrointestinal discomfort,
    probiotics also appear to battle the development of non-alcoholic fatty
    liver disease (NAFLD).”

    Can you specify or elaborate more on the process of the battle between probiotics and fatty liver disease?

  • Roger

    My wife and I are firm believers in certain suppliments especially Probotics. However nothing could have prepared us for what happened to my wife on 10 October 2011. She was a very healthy person, had not been ill or under any doctor and drunk very little alcohol but suddenly and without warning she developed jaundice and within days of being hospitalized she had an immediate life saving liver transplant, which as she had no prior illness put us all in shock.

    Natrually after the transplant she was put on a cocktail of heavy drugs some she has to take for the rest of her life. Realizing the affect they would have on her system and body, after three months, I discussed with her surgeon the possibilty of introducing the use of Probotics again, which my wife and I knew would support her system as this article suggest. Much to my surpise and delight he had no hesitation on giving us the OK explaining the benefits of Probotics to a trainee that was sitting in.

    My wife’s condition has been put down to sero-negative hepatitis (they do not know what caused the failure of her liver) an autoimmune disease. I am pleased to say that she continues to make a great recovery.

  • Amaraj N

    I want to kwon more about above matter.I mean it can used at hepatatis c cronic.

    • Pw4ubo

      If you have active Hep C and are or are not doing treatment I would suggest that supplymenting with no additive  probiotics  would be benificial.  There are supplyments and foods that will support your liver and help you to pamper it.   This is one of them.

  • martins membere

    that is an encouraging discovery.

Free Newsletter

Sign up here for liver health news, articles, and special offers.

PLUS a free liver healthy recipes E-Cookbook!

We value your privacy. We will not rent your email to anyone.

Questions or comments about any articles? Contact Us.

RSS Feed