Can Brown Seaweed Help Reduce Fatty Liver?

Susanna Sisson's picture
brown seaweed

If you are overweight or if you have been on a diet trying to lose weight or if you have had weight loss surgery and have had rapid weight loss, chances are you have a fatty liver or steatosis. It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 5 people has fatty liver disease which is usually caused by an underlying condition such as diabetes, insulin resistance (IR), high triglycerides, malnutrition, and is associated with alcohol consumption (ASH). When not associated with alcohol it is referred to as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis or NASH.

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The disease process is most often diagnosed in people age 40-60 but can happen at any age. With the rise in obesity among children, fatty liver disease is a growing concern. While most people typically do not experience severe symptoms in NASH unless in late stages when the liver becomes inflamed and cirrhotic, there are other ramifications. The liver acts as the body’s filtering system and detoxifier but with too much fat in the liver those processes are interrupted. The liver is also responsible for the breakdown of food and energy storage, producing bile which is necessary for digestion and making proteins that are necessary for our blood to clot.

What are possible symptoms of fatty liver or NASH?

People with either disease may experience fatigue, weakness, pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen and in severe cases fatty liver may lead to confusion, symptoms of liver failure such as jaundice and even coma and death. The good news is fatty liver disease is reversible and the liver is capable of repairing itself.

How is NASH or Alcohol Related Steatohepatitis Diagnosed?

In general your doctor or nurse practitioner will make a differential diagnosis through patient history and physical examination and palpation of the liver which if enlarge is a good indication of NASH and may confirm by using an ultrasound, CT or MRI. A definitive and more invasive diagnosis is made via needle biopsy. Blood work may reveal elevated liver enzymes and in many cases there are comorbidities such as high blood sugar.

What are ways to prevent or reverse NASH or ASH?

• Manage your diet and avoid high intake of sugars.
• Lower triglyceride levels through diet and exercise or medications if unable to control with a low carb diet which may enable you to get off the medication eventually.
• Manage underlying health issues such as diabetes
• Limit or avoid alcohol altogether.
• When losing weight do so slowly – rapid weight loss dumps loads of fatty acids into the system which can cause inflammation. A pound or two a week is safe and you’ll be more likely to keep the weight off.

Pediatric Concerns
According to new information released by the Centers for Disease Control in August 2015, childhood obesity has doubled in children and quadruped in adolescents over the last 30 years. That means the numbers of children with diabetes, cardiovascular disease, joint problems and arthritis, sleep apnea, problems with body image and self-esteem, as well as cancer are increased. It’s estimated that 70% of children who are overweight and obese already have at least one risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But being overweight also increases the risk of cancers including: breast, colon, endometrium, esophagus, kidney, pancreas, gall bladder, thyroid, ovary, cervix, and prostate, as well as multiple myeloma and Hodgkin’s lymphoma.[6]

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Teach your children to eat vegetables, fruits such as berries which are low in sugar, and contain antioxidants which help prevent a number of illnesses including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and NASH. Encourage exercise rather than being sedentary. Set a good example.

The Power of Superfood Nutrition found in Brown Seaweed

When most people think of seaweed they imagine the slimy fishy stuff found on most beaches. But, seaweed is actually a vegetable and a delicacy and staple of diets for many people. Coastal American Indians ate seaweed. The Japanese, famous for their longevity and lack of diseases that plague Americans, eat seaweed in soups, salads and sushi. There are now companies that extract vital nutrients from seaweed, one in particular called fucoidan, and bottle the nutrient with fruits to make it palatable. The health benefits of fucoidan are widely diverse but not many Americans know about the nutrient or health benefits. However, with more research that may change.

Researchers at Minia University in Egypt have found that fucoidan reverses NASH by lowering triglycerides, cholesterol, liver enzymes and inflammation. In addition, fucoidan significantly decreased serum insulin, fasting glucose, insulin resistance, and lowered body fat. [4]

Fucoidan is currently being used in stem cell research to regenerate organs. Likely in the next ten years it will be possible to grow an autologous organ for liver transplant in the event of irreversible damage.

Why Use Probiotics?

There is now evidence to show that gut health is a major factor in the development of NASH and ASH. Probiotic use as been shown to lower the inflammatory response and replace helpful bacteria that can reduce the risk of many disease processes. [5]

While fatty liver disease may not be a topic you’ve ever considered it is a real health issue that can lead to or exacerbate other health issues. Being aware is the first step to better health.

Resources:
1. http://www.healthline.com/health/fatty-liver#Types4
2. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/diseases_conditions/liver-disease/hic_Fatty_Liver
3. http://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/obesity/facts.htm
4. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26498267
5. http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/27/8/2057.full
6. Kushi LH, Byers T, Doyle C, Bandera EV, McCullough M, Gansler T, et al. American Cancer Society guidelines on nutrition and physical activity for cancer prevention: reducing the risk of cancer with healthy food choices and physical activity. CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 2006;56:254–281.

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Comments

my question is can I give a one-year-old brown seaweed I have looked all over the Internet and cannot find this answer