- Liver damage can occur as a
result of poor diet choices and its consequences like obesity.
- There are no effective FDA approved medicines for
the treatment of liver damage caused by nonalcoholic
- New findings state that a diet rich in a type of omega 3 fatty acid called DHA, helps prevent serious liver damage in obese people consuming an
Being obese and
making poor diet choices can lead to significant liver damage. According to new
findings, a type of omega 3 fatty acid called docosahexenoic
, helps prevent serious liver damage in
cannot effectively be prevented by drugs. The
only means of obtaining liver health is through significant
weight loss based on a very healthy diet, which should be sustained.
‘Docosahexenoic acid (DHA) can be used as a dietary supplement for the treatment of western diet induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which halts the progression of disease into liver damage.’
Supplementing Lab Animals with DHA
The study by a
team of researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) was conducted on
experiment, when lab rats were supplemented with DHA, one of the most
critically important of the omega
3 fatty acids
, it was shown to stop the progression of non-alcoholic
, or NASH
into life-threatening health problems such
The results were
positive even when the lab animals were fed with 'western diet' - one that is rich in fat, sugar and cholesterol.
According to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the
United States, around 80 million adults and 13 million children are obese, and
about 30% of the nation's population is estimated to have some form of chronic
fatty liver disease.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver
is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is the most extreme form of
non-alcoholic fatty charaterized by liver inflammation,
oxidative stress and fibrosis.
the risk for cirrhosis and liver cancer and failure.
of adults in the United States have NAFLD and 3% to 12% have NASH. Around 20%
of people with NAFLD have NASH. NASH is predicted to be the leading cause of
liver transplant by 2020. Currently there are no effective FDA approved
treatments for NASH.
there are no FDA-approved ways to stop NASH progression, other than weight loss
therapy, this supplement may be of significant help," said Donald Jump, a
professor in the OSU College of Public Health and Human Sciences, and principal
investigator with the Linus Pauling Institute.
time frame that we studied, DHA supplementation was not able to achieve full
remission of NASH, but it did stop it from getting worse. NASH is a serious
disease, an enormous health care cost and we need to put the brakes on it.
There's clear evidence this might help." Jump added.
In the 10 year
study period, among the NASH sufferers, 20% died due to cirrhosis and 12% died
from liver-related conditions.
The study has
helped to show that people diagnosed with NASH have very low levels of omega 3
fatty acids. But when the levels of omega fatty acids are raised, it helps to
stop the progression of the disease.
Role of DHA
Omega 3 fatty
acids form an important part of cell membranes and affect cell receptors in
these membranes. They play an active role in making hormones that regulate
clotting of blood and contraction and relaxation of artery walls. They also
regulate important biological pathways, including fatty acid synthesis,
oxidation, and breakdown of triglycerides or fats in the blood.
Due to all these
reasons, omega 3 fatty fats acids have been proven beneficial against heart
disease and stroke and also play protective roles in cancer and other
DHA, which is
the most significant of the omega 3 fatty acids, is a natural nutrient and
plays a role in repairing liver damage.
Oily fish such
as salmon, mackerel, tuna and sardines are rich in DHA.
They are found in lesser levels in some foods such as poultry, liver, egg
yolks, and some types of algae.
Due to its
importance to the developing fetus, DHA is being included in some prenatal
vitamin and mineral formulas.
approach to manage NASH is through diet and exercise. This method if sustained,
can help in complete reversal of liver damage.
In the current
study, researchers noted that "this treatment, while ideal for clinical
use, is likely not sustainable in NASH patients due to poor compliance."
DHA is a readily
available supplement and is safe to use, researchers say.
scenario will likely be used clinically since patient compliance to low-fat,
low-sucrose dietary recommendations has historically been poor." the
will be published in PLOS ONE.
- Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease & NASH - (https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids: An Essential Contribution -
- Kelli A. Lytle et al. Docosahexaenoic acid blocks progression of
western diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in obese Ldlr-/- mice.PLOS ONE; (2017) doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0173376