Volume 6, Issue 13 | April 4, 2013
How to avoid fatty liver disease
and lose those extra pounds
Just because you eat plenty of a particular nutrient in your diet always means that your body will be able to use it, right? Not exactly. Almost all of us have genetic variations that make it impossible to get everything our body needs from diet alone. This is especially true of oils.

A recent study shows that if you have weight issues or have a history of fatty liver, you will not be able to get the essential oils you need from diet alone. You will have to take supplements. But before I can tell you about the remarkable findings in the study, I need to explain how your body uses oils. Hang with me. This is a little complicated, but it's important and worth the effort.

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There are two oils that you must get in your diet. You cannot synthesize them, and they are critical for your health. That's why they are called "essential oils." One is linoleic acid (LA) and the other is alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). LA is an omega-6 oil and ALA is an omega-3 oil. LA comes from grains and certain seeds, such as safflower and sunflower. ALA comes from vegetables and other seeds, such as flax and hemp. As long as you eat enough grains, vegetables, and seeds, you will not have a problem with essential oils, right? Once again, there's more to it than that. Here's why.

The thing to remember about both LA and ALA is that by themselves they are useless. They work their “essential” magic only when your body converts them to other fats. There are two enzymes that convert LA and ALA to the critical oils that your body needs. They are D6D (delta-6 desaturase) and D5D (delta-5 desaturase). As long as these enzymes are alive and well, you will not have a problem using the LA and ALA in your diet. But what if they aren't? Now I can tell you about the study.

The researchers looked at 13 patients who were obese and had fatty infiltrations in their livers. I have talked about fatty liver disorders before. Many overweight adults and children have fatty livers. It is becoming increasingly common, and the only way to determine if your liver is fatty is with an ultrasound examination of the liver. The researchers measured the activity of the D5D and D6D enzymes in these patients. And then they compared the activity of the enzymes in 15 non-obese patients without fatty liver. The results were startling.

The activity of D6D in the obese patients was 87% less. And the activity of D5D was 66% less. This means that even though they were eating the essential oils LA and ALA, they were not able to adequately use them. Remember, just because you eat something doesn't mean that you can efficiently use it. This is why we have supplements. The authors speculate that this lack of the converting enzymes is a genetic difference. And they also believe that it is one of the reasons the patients were obese and explains why they developed fatty livers. So how do you know if you have a deficiency of D5D and D6D?

So far, there is no way to measure the activity of these enzymes like the authors did in the study. But if you are overweight, or have diabetes, metabolic syndrome, elevated blood triglycerides, inflammation, heart disease, decreased memory, or high blood pressure, the odds are good that you have a deficiency. And, in that case, what can you do?

It's easy. Just take supplements containing the oils that D5D and D6D convert LA and ALA to. In the case of LA, that would be evening primrose or borage oil capsules. I prefer borage oil because it is more concentrated. Take about 1-2 grams per day. In the case of ALA, the supplement is fish oil. I prefer the concentrated fish oils in Complete Daily Oils

Since most people have a diet that is heavily skewed toward LA, even though they have low D5D and D6D activity, they usually have enough conversion and don't typically need to take borage or evening primrose. So for most people, the most critical supplement is fish oil. 

Finding your Real Cures,

Frank Shallenberger, MD

REF: Araya J, Rodrigo R, et al. Decreased liver fatty acid delta-6 and delta-5 desaturase activity in obese patients. Obesity (Silver Spring). 2010 Jul;18(7):1460-3.

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