Review supports omega-3 for liver health

January 13, 2010

     Fatty liver is reportedly on the rise in the US affecting possibly one quarter to one half of all adult Americans, and the prevalence off non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has increased in line with the ongoing obesity epidemic. Apparently the insulin resistance triggered by excessive belly fat leads to fatty infiltration of the liver with inflammation and scarring. The scarring can lead to a build up of fibrous scar tissue leading to cirrhosis.
     A review of four human studies found that the fatty acids found in fish could improve liver health and function, and increase insulin sensitivity in people suffering from fatty liver, a condition that is usually symptomless but said to increase the risk for liver inflammation, and ultimately results in liver failure.
     The researchers led by Dr Gail Masterton from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh in Scotland report their findings online ahead of print in the journal Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics. It is biologically plausible that omega-3 fatty acids may improve liver health, said the reviewers because “they have several potential mechanisms of action, the most important being to alter hepatic gene expression, thereby switching intracellular metabolism from lipogenesis and storage to fatty acid oxidation and catabolism. “There is also evidence that they improve insulin sensitivity, are anti-inflammatory and reduce TNF levels so offering several potential therapeutic mechanisms,” they added.