Fatty liver may be one of the most rampant diseases of our time.
Because, as its name implies, the incidence of fatty liver is directly correlated to the incidence of obesity, which has skyrocketed in the U.S. over the past decades.
And the disease can lead to severe scarring of the liver, called cirrhosis, and to liver cancer.
What makes the disease even more frightening is the fact that it’s hard to detect. In fact, you could be living with fatty liver disease right now and not even know it. That’s because fatty liver often comes with no signs or symptoms and is only discovered if your doctor decides to run specific blood tests to look at your liver enzymes.
This can allow the disease to continue to progress silently until it’s too late.
Yet, in all of the bad, there is good news…
Since the most common cause of fatty liver is being overweight, it’s also very preventable. Keep your body weight down and you keep your liver fat down.
And now there’s even more good news.
A brand-new research study has found a simple and inexpensive way to help your liver slim down, a gut-healthy prebiotic you can pick up online or at your local health food store.
Feeding the good bacteria in your gut
But before we get into the name of the prebiotic and how it works, we’ve got to go back just a bit.
You see, the team’s research actually started with an earlier study.
They theorized that increasing the levels of a specific gut microbe known as Faecalibacterium prausnitzii that has known anti-inflammatory properties would help to prevent and even reverse fatty liver disease.
And they were right!
But while the news was good, there was a snag…
Faecalibacterium prausnitzii isn’t a supplement that you can pick up at the store or even get a prescription for at the pharmacy. And the researchers wanted people everywhere to be able to use their findings to improve the health of their livers.
So, they kept going with a second study, the new research we’ve been talking about.
They decided to see if instead of directly supplementing with Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, they could instead provide a prebiotic known for feeding the bacteria’s growth and get the same results.
If you haven’t heard of them before, prebiotics are fiber sources that can’t be digested in your gut, but instead, serve as food for your good gut microbes — microbes like Faecalibacterium prausnitzii.
Significantly decreased liver fat
So the team first gave a group of rats fatty liver disease and then set out to reverse it by feeding them prebiotic Xylo-oligosaccharides.
And once again, their research paid off — big!
They discovered that not only did Xylo-oligosaccharides (or XOS for short) increase the growth of Faecalibacterium prausnitzii, adding them to the diet “significantly decreased the liver fat content of the rats.”
As a bonus, the team says that XOS also improved glucose metabolism — think blood sugar.
And while you may be wondering if the results the team observed in the rats with fatty liver can be translated to humans, never fear. They’ve already conducted their first study of the effects of XOS on the liver in people and say that their results are promising.
XOS in your diet
So, if you want to guard your liver, include foods that contain XOS in your diet regularly. XOS can be found naturally in fruits, vegetables, milk, honey and bamboo shoots.
You can also find XOS as a prebiotic supplement. And a big plus here: Unlike with some other prebiotics, XOS is effective at lower doses. That means experiencing less of the bloating or abdominal pain that many people experience when they begin taking some high-dose prebiotics. In fact, XOS produce no gassy end-products.
Another big plus is that XOS helps boost the probiotic Bifidobacterium, which is associated with decreased blood lipopolysaccharides (LPS). LPS are linked to inflammatory metabolic conditions and with the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines. You’ve probably read plenty lately about poor COVID-19 outcomes and the phenomenon involved known as a “cytokine storm.” So, the less of that, the better!
The skinny on fatty liver disease — Harvard Health
Xylooligosaccharides, a New Kind of Prebiotic — Designs for Health