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Safety Bulletin: Pain Relievers and Liver Disease

10% Weight Loss Could Save Your Liver

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Of particular benefit to the liver, reducing hunger and squashing food cravings healthfully can help you achieve an ideal weight.

It isn’t too hard to notice the obvious: scores of Americans are overweight. Considering how inundated our culture is with fad diets and weight loss supplements, the burden of obesity is hardly a secret. In addition to wanting to improve one’s self-image and lowering the likelihood of developing diabetes, fatty liver disease is emerging as a primary risk of being overweight.

Particularly valuable for the liver’s health, achieving – and maintaining – a healthy weight is probably our society’s largest unmet goal.

About Fatty Liver

According to the American Liver Foundation, an estimated 25 percent of people in the U.S. have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Some experts believe that 25 percent is an underestimate and that a fatty liver impacts up to one in three American adults. Luckily, the early stage of NAFLD is usually reversible with a commitment to lifestyle changes.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is exactly as it sounds, an accumulation of excessive fat in the liver that is not due to alcohol consumption. According to a review in the 2009 November/December issue of the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology, NAFLD is believed to be one of the most common forms of liver disease worldwide, and its prevalence is growing in proportion to the rapid rise in obesity.

In general, NAFLD is classified in two stages:

  1. Hepatic Steatosis – The early stage of NAFLD, hepatic steatosis is considered a reversible condition where fat accumulates in the liver cells but has not yet caused much damage.
  2. Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) – The more severe form, NASH involves not only fat accumulation (steatosis) in the liver but also inflammation. Steatohepatitis can lead to fibrosis and eventually to cirrhosis, which is severe scarring that can lead to liver failure.

Especially when NAFLD has progressed to NASH, many studies have demonstrated that weight reduction greatly improves the prognosis.

Achieving a Healthy Weight

Despite being a major generalization, many experts believe the rising incidence of NAFLD is because our society is becoming fatter. This phenomenon is frequently blamed on our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and a food supply laden with sugar, fat and chemicals. Research continually shows us that the risk of a fatty liver is directly associated with and proportional to the degree of obesity – particularly abdominal obesity.

While fatty liver disease is a complex problem with several different factors contributing to its evolution, the primary solution is healthfully attained weight loss in those who are overweight.

According to a 2014 U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report, 69 percent of adults in the U.S. aged 20 and over are overweight. Many physicians and scientists believe that the most valuable step in preventing and treating NAFLD is achieving and maintaining a healthy weight. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases recommends that individuals who are overweight lose up to 10 percent of their body weight through regular exercise and dieting.

Reducing Hunger and Cravings

A person who weighs 200 pounds must lose 20 pounds to shed 10 percent of his or her body weight. For a majority of overweight Americans, such a feat is no easy task. Most of us know what would help us lose extra weight: regular exercise combined with a healthy diet consisting of fewer calories. Unfortunately, keeping up with an exercise routine while eating less food rarely lasts long. Such a plan is usually short-lived because of hunger and food cravings.

While it obviously requires willpower, eating fewer calories to achieve a healthy weight is easier to accomplish when hunger is satiated. This is where a dense, nutrient-filled protein shake like UltraNourish can be extremely helpful. In just one serving that has 92 calories, UltraNourish supplies 16 grams of protein (from peas which are easily tolerated) – with less than 3 grams of sugar. In addition, UltraNourish is loaded with vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that support a healthy immune system, digestive tract, cardiovascular system and liver.

Enjoy delicious UltraNourish recipes, like the Raspberry Peach Smoothie, Peanut Butter Shake, or the Chocolate Peppermint Green Smoothie!

Protein Shake Comparison

Comparing UltraNourish to a Special K protein shake makes it is easy to appreciate the difference. Per serving, a Special K protein shake contains 190 calories, supplies 10 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber – not to mention that the protein is derived from milk (a common allergen) and it contains 18 grams of sugar. In addition, the Special K protein shake contains chemicals that are known to further stress a fatty liver such as sucralose, acesulfame potassium, polydextrose and artificial flavors.

By reducing cravings and hunger, protein shakes are great allies in the quest for achieving a healthy weight. However, not all protein shakes are created equally. A shake that is high in digestible protein, under 100 calories per serving, without harmful chemicals and contains nutrients aimed at preserving liver health is your best bet for maintaining a healthy weight.

Since a 10 percent weight loss in the 69 percent of overweight Americans can reverse or prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, a wisely chosen protein shake can literally save your liver from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.


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http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/obesity-overweight.htm, Obesity and Overweight, Retrieved August 9, 2015 US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015.

http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/hepatology/nonalcoholic-fatty-liver-disease-march-13/, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Emily Carey, et al, Retrieved August 9, 2015, The Cleveland Clinic Foundation, 2015.

http://www.liverfoundation.org/abouttheliver/info/nafld/, NAFLD, Retrieved August 7, 2015, American Liver Foundation, 2015.

http://www.specialk.com/en_us/products/protein-shakes/chocolate.html, Milk Chocolate Protein Shakes, Retrieved August 9, 2015, Kellogg, NA, Co, 2015.

http://www.todaysdietitian.com/newarchives/121409p28.shtml, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease ”” Strategies for Prevention and Treatment of an Emerging Condition, Christen C. Cooper, MS, RD, Retrieved August 9, 2015, Today’s Dietician, December 2009.

http://www.walmart.com/ip/Kellogg-s-Special-K-Milk-Chocolate-Protein-Shake-10-oz-8ct/19500146, Kellog’s Special K Milk Protein Shake, Retrieved August 9, 2015, Walmart Stores, Inc., 2015.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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