Omega-3 fats may help treat common fatty liver disease

Credit: Louis Hansel / Unsplash

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common condition that affects people who don’t drink alcohol excessively.

It’s characterized by the accumulation of fat in the liver, which can lead to inflammation and damage over time.

NAFLD is associated with obesity, insulin resistance, and other metabolic disorders, and it’s estimated to affect up to 25% of the population worldwide.

While there is no single treatment for NAFLD, researchers have been investigating the potential of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) as a therapeutic option.

Omega-3 PUFAs are a type of healthy fat that are found in certain foods like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and walnuts, and they have been shown to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects.

In a recent study, researchers conducted an umbrella meta-analysis of eight different articles that included a total of 6,561 people to see if omega-3 PUFAs could help improve liver function and reduce liver fat in people with NAFLD.

They found that taking omega-3 PUFAs had a positive effect on liver function tests and liver fat.

Specifically, the researchers found that taking omega-3 PUFAs led to lower levels of liver enzymes like alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT).

Elevated levels of these enzymes are typically seen in people with liver disease, so reducing them is a good indication that liver health is improving.

The researchers also found that omega-3 PUFAs helped to reduce liver fat, which is a key feature of NAFLD.

This is important because reducing liver fat can help prevent further damage to the liver and may even help reverse some of the damage that has already been done.

So what’s the mechanism behind omega-3 PUFAs’ beneficial effects on the liver?

It’s thought that omega-3 PUFAs help to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress in the liver, which are two key factors that contribute to the development and progression of NAFLD.

By reducing inflammation and oxidative stress, omega-3 PUFAs may help to prevent liver damage and promote liver health.

It’s worth noting that while this study provides promising evidence for the potential of omega-3 PUFAs in treating NAFLD, more research is needed to fully understand the benefits and risks of using omega-3 PUFAs for this condition.

It’s also important to note that omega-3 PUFAs should not be used as a replacement for other treatments or lifestyle changes that may be recommended for NAFLD, such as losing weight, exercising regularly, and improving your diet.

In conclusion, NAFLD is a common condition that affects many people worldwide, and researchers are continuing to investigate new treatments and therapies that may be effective in treating it.

Omega-3 PUFAs show promise as a therapeutic option for NAFLD, and more research is needed to fully understand their potential benefits and risks.

If you have NAFLD or are concerned about your liver health, it’s important to talk to your doctor to determine the best course of treatment for your individual needs.

The research is published in Clinical and Experimental Pharmacology and Physiology.

Copyright © 2023 Scientific Diet. All rights reserved.