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Your Liver Thanks You for That Daily Cup of Coffee


Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease is a growing health concern. Worldwide, 70% of people diagnosed with diabetes and obesity have NAFLD. In the US, it is estimated that 30% of adults are afflicted. Healthy eating and exercising regularly may help prevent liver damage from starting or reverse it in the early stages.

An international team of researchers led by Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and Duke University School of Medicine have found that increased caffeine intake may reduce fatty liver in people with NAFLD. Using cell cultures and mouse models, Paul Yen MD and Rohit Sinha PhD observed that caffeine stimulates the metabolization of lipids stored in liver cells and increased the fatty liver of mice fed a high-fat diet.

The suggested intake for this benefit is about four cups of coffee or tea per day.

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Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease tends to develop in people who are overweight or obese, have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high triglycerides. Rapid weight loss and poor eating habits also may lead to NAFLD. When fat builds up within the liver tissue, it can potentially cause inflammation and scarring of the organ, impairing its ability to function properly.

NAFLD often has no symptoms. When symptoms do occur, they may include fatigue, weakness, weight loss, loss of appetite, nausea, abdominal pain, spider-like blood vessels, yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice), itching, fluid build-up and swelling of the legs (edema) and abdomen (ascites), and mental confusion.

In addition to the potential benefit caffeine may play (check with your doctor first), these steps should be taken for treatment of NAFLD:
• See a doctor who specializes in the liver regularly
• Talk to your doctor about ways to improve your liver health
• Lose weight, if you are overweight or obese
• Lower your cholesterol and triglycerides
• Control your diabetes
• Avoid alcohol

Journal Reference:
Rohit Anthony Sinha, Benjamin L. Farah, Brijesh K. Singh, Monowarul Mobin Siddique, Ying Li, Yajun Wu, Olga R. Ilkayeva, Jessica Gooding, Jianhong Ching, Jin Zhou, Laura Martinez, Sherwin Xie, Boon-Huat Bay, Scott A. Summers, Christopher B. Newgard, Paul M. Yen. Caffeine stimulateshepatic lipid metabolism via autophagy-lysosomal pathway. Hepatology, 2013; DOI: 10.1002/hep.26667

Additional Resources:
The Liver Foundation
The Cleveland Clinic