Having Metabolic Syndrome doubles the risk for heart disease and multiplies the risk of diabetes by five. It is not a disease itself, but describes a host of related risk factors (high blood pressure, high blood sugar, unhealthy cholesterol levels, obesity and insulin resistance) all with a common cause originally coined 20 years ago with 47 million Americans affected.1
Notice Metabolic Syndrome closely mirrors the symptoms found in those suffering from NAFLD (Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease). NAFLD can be thought of as the liver’s state of Metabolic Syndrome. Following the progression of Metabolic Syndrome and NAFLD, one has a hard time disputing the causal relationship.
Cause & Effect
We need to begin with the typical diet, which has changed significantly over the past fifty plus years. People consume way more of the following; sugar, caffeine, harmful fats, antibiotics, preservatives, pesticides, GMOs and hormones. These are all considered toxins to your body, especially sugar.
In fact, the sugar is the major reason for the overgrowth of candida, which displaces the good bacteria. Why are we discussing the digestive tract? What does the digestive tract have to do with obesity? Let’s take a closer look.
The digestive tract has a very complex function; it must simultaneously do at least two operations.
Create specific enzymes to further breakdown digested food into smaller particles for absorption into the body.
Selectively allow nutrients through without passing harmful invaders like; virus, bacteria and toxins present in the GI tract.
Our digestive tract is not alone in this work; it has between 3-5 lbs of bacteria in the gut to help. However, our new diet promotes rapid growth of harmful bacteria.
When the increase in harmful bacteria and yeast (candida) within the intestine reaches a tipping point, the intestinal wall is breached. This breach allows food particles to pass through the intestine wall and the immune system becomes overwhelmed. The liver, which receives 70% of its blood flow from the intestine, is charged with detoxifying the blood. If the necessary natural components required in the detox phase of liver metabolism are exhausted the liver simply shuttles toxins into fat cells to keep them from circulating in the body. These fat cells are stored in the liver and elsewhere depending on your genes. 2
Excess accumulation of fat cells in the liver begins a destructive cycle where the liver becomes less efficient, leading to a build-up of toxins including fatty acids and insulin. This spike in oxidative stress and unprocessed insulin leads to insulin resistance in type II diabetes. Tests will confirm the overload of fatty acids referred to as lipotoxicity. This cascade shows the typical risk factors relating to Metabolic Syndrome.
Fortunately nature provides us with the solution. Studies have shown Silybin (an active compound in milk thistle), medium chain triglycerides like Vitamin E (specifically highly concentrated tocotrienols), NAC, Phosphatidylcholine and Glutathione to work best complimented by a healthy diet and moderate exercise. The success of these natural ingredients relies on rapid replenishment of Glutathione, a critically important liver antioxidant. 3, 4
Extracts from milk thistle have a long history of being used for liver protection. We are just now starting to rediscover this through scientific discovery. One very effective combination of silymarin, Vitamin E and Phosphatidylcholine improved insulin sensitivity, while reversing damaged liver cells by reducing oxidative stress and improving Glutathione levels in the liver. 5, 6
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC) is a sulfur-rich compound used primarily to neutralize the damaging effects of aspirin on the liver. It rapidly restores Glutathione. A recent animal study showed it to prevent NAFLD in a liver disease diet 7. Similarly, SAMe had been found to increase Glutathione levels in humans with Non-Alcohol Fatty Liver Disease. 8
One can think of supplements as putting a person on the highway to good health, but there is no substitute for eating well and getting regular exercise. No supplement is going to offset poor health habits. Successful diets for those suffering from liver problems include FODMAPs designed by researchers at Stanford University. If severe intestinal problems exist, elimination diets and anti-histamine diets should be considered with a physician’s supervision.
Kwon do Y, Jung YS, Kim SJ, Park HK, Park JH, Kim YC. Impaired sulfur-amino acid metabolism and oxidative stress in nonalcoholic fatty liver are alleviated by betaine supplementation in rats. Journal of Nutrition. 2009 Jan;139(1):63
-Caballero F, Fernandez A, Matias N, et al. Specific contribution of methionine and choline in nutritional nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: impact on mitochondrial S-adenosyl-L-methionine and glutathione. J Biological Chemistry. 2010 Jun 11;285(24):18528-
Loguercio C, Federico A, Trappoliere M, et al. The effect of a silybin-vitamin E-phospholipid complex on nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a pilot study. Digestive Disease & Sciences. 2007 Sep;52(9):2387-95.
Serviddio G, Bellanti F, Giudetti AM, et al. A silybin-phospholipid complex prevents mitochondrial dysfunction in a rodent model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics. 2010 Mar;332(3):922-32.
Baumgardner JN, Shankar K, Hennings L, Albano E, Badger TM, Ronis MJ. N-acetylcysteine attenuates progression of liver pathology in a rat model of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Journal of Nutrition. 2008 Oct;138(10):1872-9
.Vendemiale G, Altomare E, Trizio T, et al. Effects of oral S-adenosyl-L-methionine on hepatic glutathione in patients with liver disease. Scand Journal of Gastroenterology. 1989 May;24(4):407-15.