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Liver Health + Gut Health: How Rebalancing Your Microbiome Can Help Your Liver Thrive
Have you checked in with your liver lately? If you answered no, you're not alone. MOST people don't even think about their liver...until there's a problem.
But you might not take your liver for granted after reading this: Your liver is vulnerable to a growing health epidemic that no one's really talking about.
This growing health concern is called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and it’s harming and killing millions of people every year. What’s more, you probably won’t notice any symptoms until your liver is in real danger… that’s why liver disease is sometimes called a “silent killer.”
Luckily for all of us and our livers, researchers are making great strides when it comes to testing for - and treating - this sneaky disease. And both of those solutions start with rethinking how you take care of your gut microbiome (a.k.a. the trillions of good and bad bacteria that live in your gut).
Bottom line? There are truly clues in your gut that tell how healthy your liver is! Let's find out more...
A Few Fun Liver Facts
Before we keep going, let's stop to ponder how important your liver is to your body and overall health...
Your liver is responsible for more than 500 critical functions – all necessary for life. In fact, your liver is so important, it’s the only organ that can regenerate on its own. WOW!
The liver is also set up differently than other organs. It’s made up of a bunch of liver “blocks” called lobules. There are lots of connectors (called canals) that carry things like bile and blood between those blocks.
Blood goes straight from your digestive system thorough the portal vein, which connects your gut and liver. That blood carries everything from medications to nutrients to toxins to the liver. Then, your liver processes all of those and decides what to do with them next.
Some things – like nutrients – go back in the blood to circulate to other organs. Other things – like toxins – are cleaned out, contained, detoxified, and then sent through for elimination. In fact, your liver acts as your main detox organ, filtering out all sorts of harmful substances. Who knew?!
And your liver has some more specialized functions, including:
- Producing special proteins that (along with vitamin K) help blood clot
- Breaking down fats to produce energy
- Making the bile your digestive system needs to break down and absorb fats
- Producing cholesterol needed to create hormones and bile
- Storing essential vitamins A, B12, D, E, and K
- Keeping blood sugar levels steady
- Storing energy with glycogen (a special form of sugar)
When your liver stops working properly, your overall health can decline very quickly. And since your liver and gut are directly connected, problems with your gut bacteria – especially toxic streaming – can take a nasty toll on your liver.
Did you know your liver did all this?!
The Danger of NAFLD
When most people think about liver damage, their minds usually go straight to alcohol. But non-alcoholic fatty liver disease affects many more people… nearly 100 million in the U.S. alone! It’s the main cause of liver disease and it’s affecting more people every day.
Like the name spells out, NAFLD involves a build up of excess fat in the liver. Without treatment, this condition can develop into NASH (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis), a much more serious form of the disease. With NASH, the fatty liver becomes inflamed and covered with scar tissue, which can lead to liver cancer or liver failure.
While no one really knows exactly how or why NAFLD develops, there are a few things that we do know:
- People with diabetes or obesity have a higher risk of developing NAFLD
- High fructose corn syrup (HCFS) is a major contributor to this disease
- The bacteria in your gut microbiome can make NAFLD worse…or better :)
The Gut-Liver Connection
Your gut and your liver communicate constantly over a direct connection – the portal vein. When everything is working properly, your small intestine absorbs nutrients, and then sends them along to your liver for processing.
But when bad bacteria out-number good bacteria (a.k.a. probiotics) in your microbiome (a condition called dysbiosis), your liver is in trouble. (read about this here). Dysbiosis causes a whole host of problems that can trigger liver damage and make existing damage worse (and read more about that here).
A recent animal study found that “fatty liver disease development is determined by gut bacteria.” That’s because bacteria produce compounds called metabolites. And some of those metabolites (mainly ones created by pathogenic bacteria) harm the liver.
The researchers also realized that one of the biggest issues leading to NAFLD was leaky gut – a condition where the intestinal barrier weakens allowing toxins and other compounds to escape. Some of those escapees head straight to the liver, where they cause inflammation and damage. The most damaging are lipopolysaccharides, also called LPS toxins that set off a storm of toxic streaming (read all about toxic streaming here - it's important to know about!).
Toxic Streaming Attacks Your Liver
LPS toxins are a normal cast-off of pathogenic bacteria. And when your microbiome is well-balanced and your beneficial bacteria outnumber the pathogens in your system, your body can easily dispose of LPS toxins.
But when bad pathogenic bacteria outnumber the amount of probiotics (beneficial bacteria) in your system, your body encounters a situation where there are too many LPS toxins for your body to handle. They start to damage the tight junctions of the your intestinal walls, the barrier between your large intestine and the rest of your body (which basically keep all the "stuff" that's supposed to be in your intestines actually IN your intestines!). When those tight junctions are damaged, they can no longer prevent anything from escaping your gut/intestines and invading your bloodstream...and so pathogens, food particles, and LPS toxins are free to leak right into your body.
Once those LPS toxins break through, they can attack your liver. (read the research here)
Gut Bacteria Provides an Early Warning
NAFLD usually doesn’t cause noticeable symptoms in the early, most treatable stages. That leaves people like you and I vulnerable to advanced liver disease, which is much harder to deal with (but still treatable).
But even though NAFLD stays hidden for years, your gut holds the key to finding it in the earliest stages. According to ground-breaking research, a simple compound produced by certain gut bacteria might be the alarm bell needed for early detection. Now, this science is brand new, and the tests haven’t been developed…yet. But at least now researchers are looking in the right place – the microbiome!!
Heres the deal: Gut bacteria produce a compound called PAA (phenylacetic acid). PAA has been linked to the early stages of NAFLD. It seems to be connected to the build up of excess fat in the liver. Scientists believe that PAA could be an early indicator of NAFLD, and that a simple blood test might be able to diagnose it.
Further more, taking necessary steps to recondition your microbiome with beneficial spore probiotics can make an even bigger difference for the health of your liver.
Gut Bacteria & Your Liver
Taking proper steps to rebalance your microbiome, thereby allowing beneficial bacteria to thrive, helps your body support optimal liver function.
And taking a spore probiotic offers a wealth of benefits to your liver and your overall health:
- They produce short-chain fatty acids (such as butyrate) that may keep NAFLD from getting worse and progressing (read more)
- They produce powerful antioxidants such as lycopene, which is being studied as a “protective agent” in NAFLD because it reduces inflammation and oxidative damage
- They repair tight junctions in the intestinal barrier and prevent toxic streaming.
- They produce vitamin K2, which has been shown to promote the creation of healthy new liver cells (liver cell regeneration).
And we know that this works. A brand new placebo-controlled clinical trial (read about it here) – just published in April 2019 – showed that probiotic supplements brought significant improvements to obese patients with NAFLD. After just 12 weeks, the patients taking probiotics:
- Lost weight, especially in the abdominal area
- Saw a 34-point reduction in triglycerides
- Lowered their cholesterol by more than 20 points
- Reduced the amount of fat in their livers by nearly 3%
A recent meta-analysis study offered similarly positive results. The researchers studied the outcomes of 25 studies involving 1,309 NAFLD patients. And they found that patients who improved their gut microbiomes:
- Reduced their BMI
- Lowered their cholesterol and triglycerides
- Improved their liver function
And the research isn’t stopping there. Right now, there are at least 5 more clinical trials in progress looking at literally "curing" NAFLD by treating the patients’ microbiomes.
But the evidence is mighty clear: A healthy microbiome is your best protection against liver disease.
Give Your Liver Some Love with Just Thrive Probiotic
Here's the good news: there IS something you can do to:
- stop toxic streaming in its tracks;
- repair and seal tight junctions;
- rebalance your microbiome;
- and help your liver thrive.
What is it?! Take a daily high-quality spore probiotic!! Yep - it's as easy as that.
Start protecting your liver today with Just Thrive spore probiotics. The clinically proven strains of spore probiotics in Just Thrive keep pathogenic bacteria under control so a wide variety of beneficial bacteria can grow and multiply. That’s exactly what you need to get your microbiome back into a healthy balance.
The four proven spore probiotics in Just Thrive include:
- Bacillus indicus HU36, a vitamin and antioxidant “factory” that produces a wide variety of carotenoids – including lycopene and astaxanthin – as well as essential B vitamins and vitamin K2
- Bacillus subtilis HU58, which produces more than a dozen natural antibiotic compounds that help kill off bad bacteria, limiting LPS toxins
- Bacillus clausii, known around the world for its ability to reduce inflammation and balance immune system response
- Bacillus coagulans, which produces beneficial short chain fatty acids including butyrate
So set the stage for a healthy microbiome by adding Just Thrive spore probiotics to your routine today. You – and your liver – will be glad you did.