Scientists Find Probiotics May Protect Against Liver Damage
Your liver is one of the most important organs in your body. It works 24/7 to filter and remove toxic substances that can be harmful to your health. Alcohol, food additives, medications and other damaging compounds are all sent to your liver for processing. And it’s taking a toll!
At last count, nearly four million people here in the U.S. are living with liver disease. And in recent years, death rates from chronic liver disease are on the rise, especially among individuals between the ages of 45 and 64.
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Sadly, there are very few medical interventions for the treatment of liver damage. However, new evidence presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology meeting finds that what is good for your gut may be good for your liver, too.
Growing Evidence Shows Probiotics May Protect Against Liver Damage
Today scientists are dedicating a great deal of their resources in an effort to understand the role of gut microbiota in health and disease. And we are finding, over and over again, that probiotics can play a very large role when it comes to restoring the balance of healthy microflora in the digestive tract.
Now, growing evidence shows that probiotics may also protect against liver damage.
In a new study, researchers gave mice food laced with the probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus, or LGG for short. Then, they examined how the mice responded to a high dose of acetaminophen. (Taking too acetaminophen can cause severe liver damage. In fact, many experts estimate that it is a leading cause of liver failure in the U.S.)
The researchers found that mice receiving the probiotic treatment suffered less liver damage when taking an overdose of acetaminophen compared with mice that did not receive probiotics.
“This study provides evidence that the effects of probiotics extend beyond the gastrointestinal tract,” said Bejan Saeedi, who conducted the research. “Administration of the probiotic LGG to mice improves the antioxidant response of the liver, protecting it from oxidative damage produced by drugs such as acetaminophen.”
How to Get More Probiotics in Your Diet
Previous research suggests that probiotics may be able to extend liver function in cirrhosis, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease. As a consequence, there is an increasing interest in probiotics for preventing and treating these conditions.
In the meantime, treating liver disorders with probiotics is not yet common in clinical practice. However, that does not mean they are not available to you.
You can add more probiotics to your diet by eating certain foods that are rich in “friendly” bacteria. This includes fermented vegetables (like sauerkraut and kimchi), kefir, natto and plain Greek yogurt.
Probiotic supplements are also available. Look for one that contains multiple bacterial strains, guarantees at least 15 billion colony forming units (CFU), and has an added prebiotic.
For more information on how probiotics can boost your health, check out our article 10 Surprising Perks of Getting More Probiotics.
Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last updated: October 6, 2016
QuickStats: Death Rates for Chronic Liver Disease and Cirrhosis, by Sex and Age Group — National Vital Statistics System, United States, 2000 and 2015. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sept 2017/66(38);1031
Lancaster EM, et al. Acetaminophen hepatotoxicity: an updated review. Arch Toxicol. 2015 Feb;89(2):193-9.
Experimental Biology 2018. “Growing evidence that probiotics are good for your liver: In mice, probiotic treatment shown to protect against liver damage from acetaminophen.” ScienceDaily. Apr 2018.
Lo RS, et al. Is There a Role for Probiotics in Liver Disease? The Scientific World Journal. Nov 2014; Article ID 874768, 7 pages.
Dana Nicholas is a freelance writer and researcher in the field of natural and alternative healing. She has over 20 years of experience working with many noted health authors and anti-aging professionals, including James Balch, M.D., Dr. Linda Page, “Amazon” John Easterling and Al Sears M.D. Dana’s goal is to keep you up-to-date on information, news and breakthroughs that can have a direct impact on your health, your quality of life… and your lifespan. “I’m absolutely convinced that America’s misguided trust in mainstream medicine – including reliance on the government to regulate our food and medicine supply – is killing us, slowly but surely,” she cautions. “By sharing what I’ve learned throughout the years I hope I can empower others to take control over their own health.”