Good news about a silent health threat

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  • A top health threat that creeps up on people
  • The vegetable that can help with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)
  • A surprising health tonic for your liver

I was quite surprised by this…

But chronic liver disease comes 12th in the top causes of death, worldwide.

It’s one of those silent killers…

It creeps up on people, often catching them out before they realise it’s too late.

I recall a BBC report from a few years back about a 53-year old man Portsmouth, who went to his GP complaining of tiredness…. which turned out to be liver cirrhosis.

“I had no idea” he said.

Inflammation and fibrosis of the liver tissue, which about 10% of us here in Britain. If left without treatment it can lead to cancer.

However, liver disease is preventable. This is because it’s our daily lifestyle choices which decide whether our livers stay healthy or take a battering.

The obvious culprit is alcohol…

A point which serves as a bit of a counterpoint against my Is Beer Good for You? email from last week.

But this common truth about booze lets a lot of people off the hook…

After all, if you don’t drink alcohol, or don’t drink much, it’s not an issue is it?

Why worry?

Well, one of the factors behind a massive rise in liver disease is a diet heavy in processed foods and refined sugars.

It even has a snappy name: “non-alcoholic fatty liver disease” or NAFLD.

(Seriously!)

When you eat too many fatty, sugary foods it triggers inflammation in your liver.

To prevent this, your immune system reacts…

But this can actually trigger more inflammation, until it spirals out of control and causes damage to the liver.

However, diet can also be the key to a heathier liver.

The vegetable that can slow down the ageing process

The obvious choice for a healthier liver is to eat fresh fruit and vegetables. More of those, and less of the processed stuff and you cannot go too far wrong.

For instance, back in 2016, a study by the University of Illinois showed that eating more broccoli can help protect against liver cancer and counter the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

The study’s authors notes:

“We found that the Westernized diet did increase fatty liver, but we saw that the broccoli protected against it. Broccoli stopped too much uptake of fat into the liver by decreasing the uptake and increasing the output of lipid from the liver”.

Broccoli (as well as cabbage, cucumber and avocado) also contains something called NMN, a compound which can slow down ageing.

This is according to the journal Cell Metabolism in October last year. Researchers showed that NMM stopped age-related weight gain, restored energy and reversed metabolic dysfunction in the skeletal muscles, heart, liver and blood lipids.

So adding broccoli and other green vegetables to your meals is a pretty easy way to adjust your diet to help your liver.

But here’s a less obvious preventative…

Coffee for liver health?

According to a new study in the Journal of Hepatology, published in June this year, scientists showed that drinking coffee and herbal tea can against liver fibrosis – measured by something known as ‘liver stiffness’.

Having regular daily cups of coffee was significantly linked to lower chance of developing the symptoms of liver stiffness, which included less scarring of the liver.

It goes beyond that, too…

Sarwa Darwish Murad, MD, PhD, principal investigator of the study say: There is quite some epidemiological, but also experimental data suggesting that coffee has health benefits on liver enzyme elevations, viral hepatitis, NAFLD, cirrhosis, and liver cancer.”

If you want some more information of coffee, check out our website: Here’s how much longer – IN MINUTES – that coffee could help you live…

Hate coffee? Here’s an alternative

And if you hate coffee, you’ve been advised against it, or find it gives you problems with shaking or sleeping, there’s good news…

The research I’ve just mentioned from the Journal of Hepatology shows that herbal tea, even when drunk in small amounts, can have a similar effect on the liver.

Green tea is a classic option and easily available. There’s also a free form of tea which can really help your liver and is in abundance around you.

The common weed dandelion is packed with zinc, iron, and potassium. Many herbalists use it to improve the function of the liver and gallbladder. It’s also a diuretic that can help your body get rid of toxins.

Just remember that when you pick dandelions you should wash them thoroughly – avoid any place you think’s might have been treated with pesticides. And note that the younger and tender the plants are, the less bitter the taste.

I recommend you brew a tea with dandelion, let it cool a bit and add some healthy local honey to taste.

On that subject, I wrote about a walk with a friend who’s into natural herbal remedies, which might be of interest. You can read it here.

Until next time.

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