How To Improve Liver Health: Tips and Strategies
Published by Dr. Venn-Watson
Dr. Eric Venn-Watson’s Highlights
Your liver health can be damaged by certain medications, lifestyle habits, and even your diet.
Making changes in these areas of your life can support your liver health and increase it’s function.
Taking a supplement like fatty15 can help give your liver support on the cellular level.
Maybe you’re on a mission to restore your liver from the damage you did to it in your youth. Or, maybe your doctor has told you that your recent blood panel indicates your liver function might be compromised. Maybe you’re just looking for ways to ensure your liver remains healthy as you age.
No matter your reason for reading this article, you’re motivated to protect your liver, and that’s a worthy goal. We’ll explain the benefits of a healthy liver and what you can do to improve your liver health.
We’ll also cover risk factors for liver damage and the health implications of liver issues.
Understanding the Liver
The liver is a large organ located in the upper right side of your body. It has many functions, like ensuring the fluids in your blood don’t leak out onto other tissues and even storing vital nutrients your body needs to thrive.
Three key functions of the liver are filtration, breakdown of fats, and glycogen storage.
Filtration. All of your blood passes through your liver for filtration. The liver’s job is to remove toxins and impurities from the blood and send it back into your body. Without this filtration system, your blood would become unusable to your body.
Fat breakdown. By producing bile, the liver is also considered part of your gastrointestinal tract. Bile is used to help break down and properly digest the fats in your diet.
Stores glycogen. In addition to breaking down fat, the liver stores excess glucose from the bloodstream that isn’t currently needed for cellular energy. When insulin brings glucose to the liver, it is converted to glycogen and stored for when it is needed. When your body needs it, the liver converts it back to glucose and sends it back into the bloodstream.
You can’t live without your liver; keeping it healthy is vital to keeping your entire body healthy. Before diving into ways to support your liver health, let’s look at some of the risk factors associated with liver disease.
Risk Factors for Developing Liver Disease
It’s said that the best defense is a good offense. Making sure you don’t place yourself at unnecessary risk for developing liver disease is essential for helping you improve your liver.
- Alcohol misuse. Chronic alcohol use can damage your liver and lead to cirrhosis. No amount of alcohol is considered safe for your liver. Each time you consume alcohol, your liver cells become damaged. This damage is usually repairable, but over time, alcohol consumption can damage the liver. If you choose to drink alcohol, do it in moderation.
- Obesity. There are numerous benefits to maintaining a healthy body weight, and one of them is a healthier liver. Being obese places you at a higher risk of developing liver-related issues.
- Underlying illness. Chronic diseases like high cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure are categorized as metabolic diseases. These diseases carry a risk of developing secondary conditions, like fatty liver disease.
- Genetics. Some people inherit a faulty gene that can cause problems with the liver, but this is very rare.
- Lifestyle habits. Sharing needles, having tattoos or body piercings done with dirty utensils, and practicing unsafe sexual activity can lead to infections that can damage the liver, like hepatitis.
There are several different types of liver disease, and being at risk for them can have a negative impact on your health.
Issues with the liver may eventually have symptoms, but in the beginning, you may have no symptoms.
Symptoms of liver disease can include:
- Yellowing of the skin and eyes (also known as jaundice)
- Pain and swelling in the abdomen, especially in the upper right side of your abdomen
- Dark urine and pale stool
- Easy bruising
- Nausea and vomiting
Not all liver diseases affect the liver the same way, and some liver issues can be managed with lifestyle changes.
- NAFLD. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is a disease caused by excess fat stored in the liver in a person who drinks little to no alcohol and can progress to inflammation and scarring of the liver, known as NASH or nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.
- Hepatitis. Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, and Hepatitis C all affect how the liver functions. These are transmitted differently through direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, or contaminated water.
- Cirrhosis. Liver fibrosis and scarring leads to permanent damage of the liver, which is referred to as cirrhosis.
- Liver cancer. Cancer of the liver can include bile duct cancer.
If you suspect your liver is at risk, you should speak to your healthcare provider for medical advice. A simple blood test can check your liver enzymes to determine if there is an issue, and an ultrasound may be ordered to help give your doctor better insight.
In the meantime, you can take steps to improve your liver health.
Improving Your Liver Health
Keeping your liver healthy (and even improving its health) is possible with a few simple lifestyle changes.
1. Don’t drink too much alcohol.
People who are alcoholics are not the only ones at risk of liver failure. Just four ounces of hard liquor per day (and just two ounces for women) is enough to cause scarring in the liver that can lead to cirrhosis.
The World Health Organization considers alcohol a class 1 carcinogen. While we don’t want to ruin anyone’s fun, it’s incredibly important to your liver health to use alcohol carefully and sparingly.
2. Maintain a healthy weight.
If you need to consider a weight loss plan, now’s a great time to do it. Your liver health depends on it. There are numerous health problems associated with carrying excess weight. About 70 percent of Americans are overweight (with close to 40 percent categorized as obese).
Eating a balanced diet, aiming for more complex carbohydrates, fresh fruits and vegetables, and lean proteins, and getting plenty of exercise can support your weight loss goals and help you support your liver health.
3. Protect against hepatitis.
Hepatitis A and B are viral hepatitis diseases. You can protect yourself by getting vaccinated against them. Hepatitis B and C can be transmitted through blood and bodily fluids. Safer lifestyle practices can help you avoid transmitting these diseases.
Hepatitis A can be spread through contaminated water and food. Always wash your produce and make sure you trust your water source or your water filtration system.
4. Be careful with your medicine.
Medications can be damaging to your liver. Your healthcare provider is the best information source regarding your medications. You should always consult your doctor before taking a new medication to ensure it is safe for you and not toxic to your liver.
You can check for liver toxicity and drug interactions on the government’s LiverTox website.
5. Consider a supplement.
Many supplements say they support liver health, but finding one that is research-backed can be a challenge. One supplement that science supports for liver health is C15:0.
C15:0 is an essential, odd-chain, saturated fatty acid that helps support your body by integrating into your cells and modulating their functions, rescuing damaged energy pathways, keeping their structures safe, and literally reversing the aging process in the foundations of your health.
C15:0 was discovered as a beneficial fatty acid by a veterinary epidemiologist studying how to continually improve the health and welfare of older dolphins. This epidemiologist found that some older dolphins, but not all, developed aging-associated conditions. One of the key differences? The healthier, older dolphins had more C15:0 in their diet.
Watch her TEDx talk to learn more about the origins of this discovery and how it is changing the way we think about longevity.
This epidemiologist furthered her research and published a paper establishing that the same benefits seen in the dolphin population were also seen in human populations. Since that time, over 70 peer reviewed publications have been published from academic institutions around the world highlighting the essentiality and benefits of C15:0.
How It Works
C15:0 works through several specific mechanisms.
- Strengthening cellular membranes. As we age, the protective membranes that surround our cells and give them their shapes become flimsy and weak. C15:0 is a sturdy fatty acid that integrates into cell membranes to keep them fortified and strong, increasing their ability to protect your cells by 80%.
- Clearing damaged cells. Cells should naturally reach apoptosis (cellular death) when they no longer function. This process becomes damaged with age, causing cells that no longer function to remain in place. C15:0 activates AMPK, a molecule that helps clear away damaged cells.
- Regulating inflammatory response. By now, we all know that chronic, low-level inflammation can underlie diseases that negatively impact our health. C15:0 significantly calms and lowers proinflammatory cytokines, which are key drivers in the aging process.
- Protecting and repairing mitochondria. C15:0 repairs mitochondrial function, helping your cells produce more energy and decreasing the amount of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that your mitochondria produce. In peer-reviewed studies, C15:0 increased cellular ATP (energy) levels by 350%.
- Activating AMPK. By activating AMPK, C15:0 helps restore homeostasis to functions like glucose uptake and immunity.
- Activating PPARɑ and PPARẟ receptors. These receptors control functions like mood, appetite, sleep, and heart and liver health. By activating these receptors, C15:0 helps recalibrate them and bring them into balance.
Numerous studies support that daily supplementation with C15:0 promotes healthy glucose and cholesterol levels, as well as healthy liver and red blood cell function. Importantly, dozens of large-scale population studies have linked C15:0 to better metabolic, liver, and heart health, as well as increased longevity in humans.
How To Get C15:0
C15:0 is found primarily in whole-fat dairy products, like whole milk and full-fat butter. Increasing your intake of these foods may not be the best idea because you’d get additional calories and the ‘bad’, even-chain saturated fats that you want to avoid. The solution? Fatty15.
Fatty15 is the first and only supplement that contains the pure powder, vegan-friendly, sustainably-produced, and award-winning version of C15:0 known as FA15™.
There are a few reasons why taking a supplement to obtain this essential fatty acid may be beneficial.
- First, it's made ready to absorb. In milk (and other foods), C15:0 is attached to branches of lipids called triacylglycerides, aka triglycerides. That means our gut has to use digestive enzymes to break down these triacylglycerides to release C15:0 as a free fatty acid. Once C15:0 is released, it is ready to be absorbed. These multiple steps can make our absorption of C15:0 from foods less efficient. In contrast, FA15 in fatty15 is our proprietary pure, powder C15:0 ingredient already in free fatty acid form. Less work for the gut, more good C15:0 for our bodies.
- It's not mixed with bad saturated fats. While the good C15:0 fatty acid is present in whole-fat dairy products in trace levels, there are much higher levels of “bad” even-chain saturated fatty acids that continue to be associated with poorer health. That is why studies evaluating the effects of milk on our health are mixed (some say dairy fat is bad for us, while others say it is good for us). Fatty15 provides just the good fat without the bad fats.
Fatty15 skips the cows and calories (it only has one calorie per dose).
Here’s To Your Liver Health
The next time you raise a toast, raise a glass of sparkling water and use it to swallow your fatty15. You’ll help keep your liver healthy and improve your overall wellness at the same time. That’s definitely something to celebrate.
Broader and safer clinically-relevant activities of pentadecanoic acid compared to omega-3: Evaluation of an emerging essential fatty acid across twelve primary human cell-based disease systems | PLOS ONE
Eric Venn-Watson M.D.
Senior Scientist, Co-Founder
Eric is a physician, U.S. Navy veteran, and Co-founder and COO of Seraphina Therapeutics. Eric served over 25 years as a Navy and Marine Corps physician, working with the special forces community to improve their health and fitness. Seraphina Therapeutics is a health and wellness company dedicated to advancing global health through the discovery of essential fatty acids and micronutrient therapeutics.
You May Also Like...
Science Deep Dive: Fatty15, a Pure C15:0 Supplement, Rivals Top Anti-Aging Drugs
The search for the holy grail of healthy aging has been ongoing for hundreds of years, and a recent study just sent fatty15 to the top of...
How To Stay Motivated To Eat Healthy: Complete Guide
If your January goal of eating healthy has started to take a backseat to life, that’s completely normal. Even the most determined and self-driven among us struggle to stay on track.
Summer barbecues, work events, birthdays, and holidays...