Liver Survival Guide: Battling Toxins, Fatty Liver and the American Diet
10/23/2023 | Season 3, Episode 88
In this special presentation of Be HEALTHistic, naturopathic physician Dr. Drew Sinatra welcomes his Healthy Directions colleague, internist Dr. Ken Redcross, to discuss one of the body’s most important yet neglected organs — the liver. The liver works by both filtering and neutralizing toxins so they can be removed from the body. It is constantly working to break down not only environmental toxins that we encounter, but also toxins that we are exposed to daily, such as those in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the medications we take. The liver has a lot to do in our bodies and it's very important to keep it healthy — but the poor quality of the American diet and a rise in fatty liver disease has the liver working overtime. Today, the doctors discuss this vital organ and provide tips for keeping it in optimal shape.
First, the doctors discuss how the liver functions in the body and the signs they look for in their patients that could suggest liver issues. They talk about detoxification and the role the liver plays in filtering out tons of different environmental toxins, from plastics to car emissions to the chemicals found in our home and beauty products. Then, the doctors do a deep dive on fatty liver disease — what it is, why it’s on the rise and how alcohol comes into play. They also discuss the impact of diet, most specifically the American diet, and give suggestions for healthy meal plans that are realistic for weight loss.
Next, the doctors talk about fasting and exercise, and how both can positively impact a fatty liver. They discuss the value in knowing cholesterol and triglyceride levels when it comes to the liver, and why those metrics are informative. Finally, the doctors share some nutrient strategies for liver support and suggest some natural supplements, such as berberine, to help keep the liver strong. Don’t miss this informative episode of Be HEALTHistic!
LINKS & RESOURCES
- Visit the Healthy Directions website for more health and wellness content and information!
- Check out the Healthy Directions Articles Archive, where you can search for specific, health-related content from all of our Healthy Directions doctors and experts.
- The doctors talked about this supplement and how it’s beneficial for liver support. Due to all the buzz about berberine, Dr. Drew wanted to address some questions about it; learn all you need to know about berberine.
- The doctors talked about how their patient’s health history helps to inform them about any liver issues; check out this advice from Dr. Ken on how to maximize your doctor’s appointments.
- This episode demonstrated how important it is to keep the liver functioning at an optimal level; get more advice from Dr. Drew on how to keep your liver healthy.
- The doctors talked about the epidemic of obesity and metabolic syndrome in the U.S. due to the American diet; check out this article from Dr. Ken on how to lose weight and reduce your diabetes risk.
- Ozempic has been in the news lately as a weight loss tool; check out this information from Dr. Drew with what you need to know about Ozempic and weight loss.
- Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that is crucial to overall good health; learn more from Dr. Ken about whether low vitamin D can cause high blood sugar.
- A healthy liver starts with rituals that can help your body detoxify environmental toxins more easily; learn more from Dr. Drew on the healthy habits to incorporate for a long life.
- Detoxification and keeping our liver healthy is vital to overall health and wellness. If you missed it the first time or you want to see it again, watch Episode 9: Healthy Detoxification: Spring Cleaning for Your Body to find out more about how to detoxify in a healthy way.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Hi, and welcome to a special presentation of the Be HEALTHistic podcast, presented by Healthy Directions. Today we're focusing on a very important organ system — the body's main organ for carrying out cleansing and metabolic functions, storing and releasing energy from foods, and acting as the body's natural filter. If you haven't guessed already, it's the liver. And when the liver is not functioning properly, energy and digestion are sure to suffer.
The liver works by both filtering and neutralizing toxins so they can be removed from the body through our urine and stool. It is constantly working to break down not only environmental toxins that we encounter, but also toxins that we are exposed to daily, such as those in the food we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the medications we take. The liver also secretes a fluid called bile, which helps break down fats, preparing them for further digestion and absorption. The liver has a lot to do in our bodies and it's very important to keep it healthy.
Today I'm going to discuss this topic with Internal Medicine specialist and my Healthy Directions colleague, Dr. Ken Redcross, whose experience being an internist will add a lot of value and expertise to the conversation.
Welcome, Dr. Ken!
Dr. Ken Redcross: Oh, thank you for having me on, Drew. It's great to be back.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, the liver is like this organ that we just don't talk about all that much, but we really need to bring it to people's attention. I always thought it'd be funny to have a shirt that said “Love Your Liver.”
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yes, it'd probably be a number one seller, too.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It might be a number one seller. Maybe I should do that, maybe I should do that.
Dr. Ken Redcross: I'll be your manager.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, you do it. Let's do it.
So let's dive into this so important organ that we have that is often neglected. In your practice, what do you do, what see around the liver in terms of needing support that people might be aware of? When do you think about the liver in regards to health?
Dr. Ken Redcross: A lot, Drew, because, look, a lot of what we take, whether it's something where I need my prescription pad or whether it's even other supplementation, I mean, everything either is going to go through the liver or through the kidneys, but especially the liver. The other thing I do, you're right, it's like the liver is the forgotten organ on how important it is, everyone. I mean, the liver performs almost 500 particular things for our bodies right there in the liver.
So the reason why it usually comes up, unfortunately, as we talk a lot about blood sugar issues and issues with being overweight and obese, it tends to be when you see that some of the blood tests show a little bit of an elevation in the liver, and you start to realize it's because of their weight or what have you, that they probably have fatty liver. So that's really bringing it kind of top of mind these days.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, so we'll definitely get into the fatty liver piece because that is a major issue that a lot of people aren't aware of. But good news is that we can treat the fatty liver, so we'll get into that shortly.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Absolutely.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I tend to think of just the overall toxicity of our environment has been increasing steadily over a couple of centuries now.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah. No, it really has.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And the liver is really the organ that is feeling the burden from that because its major role is filtering out toxins and toxicants and such. And so there's more burden on the liver these days more than ever. And especially with just the poor diet that people are eating, they're not exercising as much, all these factors are playing a role for putting more pressure on the liver and for it needing more support.
So really quickly, I don't want to get into biochemistry, I know you're big into biochemistry, but when we think about liver detox, we think about Phase 1, Phase 2. And really, with Phase 1 we're thinking about more enzymes, like cytochrome P450 enzymes, people may have heard of this before. What that does is that breaks down a toxicant from the environment and it brings it into Phase 2, which is more of a conjugation-type step in the process of detoxification. So a methylation group might be added, or there's glucuronidation, there's glutathione conjugation, all these different pathways that exist in Phase 2. And what that does is that you make this toxicant that your body's exposed to into a less toxic form, so that it can be excreted through the kidneys or the liver.
And so, this is such an important process, and unfortunately we have a lot of environmental toxins that are gunking up these phases and really preventing them from functioning properly. So we'll get into some liver supportive treatments that you can do today to really optimize your liver's detox.
But I wanted to mention that because I think that's number one for people, too. They think about detox for the liver and I think it's such an important concept.
Dr. Ken Redcross: And you're right, Drew, and I'm glad that you explained it that way because it's complex, everyone. Each one of those steps that you're talking about, which takes to kind of detoxify, lets you know that the liver is such an important organ to help with just that. And all these insults are thrown at us each and every day, Drew, that we don't really think about. You think about, you're eating your food, you're like, "Oh, it's all right. It's just this one meal," and so forth.
But then you're realizing that it's affecting such an important organ that's there to eliminate all the bad stuff, and it's there for it. It's already inside of us, we just need to take care of it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly. Okay, so we just reviewed this whole Phase 1, Phase 2 process of the liver detoxification. I wanted to give our listeners an understanding of what are we dealing with here, what kind of toxicants are we talking about? And really there's just this onslaught from all different angles.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Totally.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I mean, really, like the food we're eating, it's laden with pesticides and herbicides, fungicides. We've got glyphosate. I know it's a very controversial substance, but I do think that it's not good for our bodies. We've got BPA, Bisphenol A, which was a compound that was used in a lot of plastics and such for a long time.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Exactly. And phthalates, phthalates, as we're talking about plastic.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly. Yep. And we've tried to make healthier compounds, I guess, or less toxic compounds like BPF and BPS, derivatives of BPA — but they're just as toxic, from what I've read.
Dr. Ken Redcross: I know, I know.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So we try our best…
Dr. Ken Redcross: They just have a different name. Drew. You're right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly. I mean, we try our best to get rid of these things, but ultimately we're just doing more harm to our system.
And then another big source of toxicants and toxins is really our home care and our personal care products. What we use as cleaning supplies in our home. People don't think about these things, they think, "Well, it's on the shelf in the supermarket, it has to be safe." But a lot of these chemicals and such are not even tested, or at least we don't even know the combination and interplay of this chemical versus this chemical, and the exposure limits, and all that kind of stuff. So I always tell people, clean up your home. Clean up your home. Make sure that you're using just really clean and green personal care products, hygiene products, and also cleaning products. And then when it comes to food, try to buy organic when possible, then you're limiting your exposure to those pesticides and herbicides and such.
Dr. Ken Redcross: That's right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: I recommend a water filter for everyone, even though a lot of people tell me, "Oh, tap water is just fine." I don't buy it. I think that with what happened in Flint, Michigan, that people just didn't know…
Dr. Ken Redcross: Exactly. That's where I was heading.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ...with lead in the water.
Dr. Ken Redcross: That's where I was heading.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's likely happening at other areas of the country that we don't know about.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Right. That we don't know about, everyone. And then so, Drew, when you mentioned these toxins, everyone, it's easy…to your point, Drew, it's easy to think about things that we're eating and saying like, "Okay, those are definitely bad for us and we should eat organic." But you're right. When you talk about things such as your makeup and your cleaning supplies. I mean, think about it. Whether you have someone helping you clean or what have you, they may use your product, but the point is, you're getting that each and every day and that leeches into your body.
When you talk about Flint, Michigan…you come in, everyone, you go see the blood tests of those poor folks that are out in Flint, Michigan. I can look at the blood test and see that they were toxic. I could see under the microscope by the reading that they're toxic because of the way their red blood cells look. It could be the same for all of us without knowing those things, when we're going to the doctor and not realizing like, "Gosh, there's something to where my liver's really doing some heavy lifting here and I didn't know it."
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, and the fact is, we don't see or taste or any sort of sensory with any of these chemicals. They're hidden. You can't see them, you can't feel them. Our liver is responsible, primarily, for helping get this stuff out of our system, and it gets burdened and it needs support, obviously.
Dr. Ken Redcross: It does, it does. And when you mention those things, and the phthalates you mentioned, with plastics, everyone, it can be…even women I've had who have had challenges getting pregnant. So when you're thinking of these things and you're going to see us in the doctor's office, and to your point, Drew, is, we're thinking about, what sort of things should I think of with the liver, you would never think about that and maybe infertility and phthalates and how all that works, but it's all intertwined, everyone.
And so that's why it's important. And I'm glad that you have this platform that we're talking on, Drew, to really talk about an organ that is underappreciated.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. And I think as time comes along we'll begin to support the liver more and give it the help that it needs, really.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: But again, it's so neglected these days.
Dr. Ken Redcross: No, it is. And I will say one thing, Drew, it's funny when you said that. So as we're talking about everyone recognizing more about their liver health, I've had patients that asked me about these wildfires that we had in Quebec and in New York City, where I am, everyone. I mean, it was everywhere. And they were asking how that impacted. And I had never thought about it, because New York wasn't one of those big, big time populated places before that happened.
But that's part of it, too. Your liver is going into overdrive with that pollution. In addition to some of the things that we do to ourselves, such as smoking, which is a no-brainer and a super Dr. Redcross and likely Dr. Drew no-no, anyway, to make sure we…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Definitely not.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Exactly. To make sure…
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Even vaping, I don't endorse vaping by any means.
Dr. Ken Redcross: I'm with you. Once again, we are aligned once again.
So, I say all that to say that there's all these little insults that's going on every day, everyone, and you just don't know it, and to make sure that the liver is supported, it's going to be so huge. Especially now with kind of life-changing with what we're seeing and what we're being exposed to.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. I mean, the climate's changing, as we all know, and so wildfires that normally didn't happen. In and around New York, you guys are feeling it there. I mean, we felt it on the West Coast for many years, and that particulate matter, it needs to be processed in the body and your liver's partly responsible for that.
Dr. Ken Redcross: There you go.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And then think about just all the car emissions, too. I mean, all these unseen chemicals that are being coming out of the tailpipes of cars and such, I mean, we're having to deal with that, as well. So many different angles that we're having to deal with pollution and such, and our liver, again, is one of the primary organs that's responsible for that.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Absolutely.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So in the beginning you mentioned fatty liver, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. I really want to dive into that and talk a bit about that because that is a major, major issue these days. And apparently, from what I've read, according to the stats, we're looking at 25% of the population likely has fatty liver. So that's a big segment of the population.
Dr. Ken Redcross: No, it really is, everyone. And let me go back. I've been blessed enough to be in practice over 20 years now, Drew. And I remember at the beginning, when someone came in, you would get an ultrasound or a CAT scan, everyone, and you see a little bit of fat in the liver. You're like, "Okay, all right. Well, whatever. That's no big issue. It wasn't this," or whatever we were looking for. We would blow it off.
Fast-forward now a couple of decades later and we're talking about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, which has a bifurcation there, everyone. There's non-alcoholic fatty liver and also another condition which the acronym is NASH. It's a different way…that's just fatty liver with inflammation, much bigger issue. We're talking about fatty liver, which you're talking about, Drew, and how that's affecting so many people. And now we're recognizing that it can lead to chronic liver disease, or cirrhosis, even.
So it's something that you can't blow off anymore. But we're seeing so much of it, because of a little bit of the poor diet and also of the obesity challenge and epidemic that we're seeing, as well.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. And when we're talking about fatty liver, people may be wondering, "What the heck is that?" Well, it's actually fat in the liver. It's the triglycerides that are going into the hepatocytes, the liver cells. And as you can see on a CT, like you mentioned, you can also see it on an MRI or an ultrasound, if that's something you want to start off with, the basic, you can see this presentation of fat there.
So sometimes that's the only warning sign that we see. Other times, people may come in with an elevated liver function test like an ALT or an AST. It might just be slightly over the edge.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Exactly, exactly.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And that's what leaves you to suspect, "Maybe I should be testing for fatty liver," looking at it through an ultrasound or something like that. So there's a whole process that comes along with this.
So they come in, elevated liver enzymes. You just need to rule out the basic stuff, the hepatitis, that sort of thing. And then once you've learned that you have fatty liver, that's when we can really jump into treatments and such for it.
Dr. Ken Redcross: And so, when you think about the fatty liver, think about, you mentioned, Drew, this beautiful filtration system, this beautiful liver, and to have all of this fat interweaved in there, it makes sense that it can't do what it needs to do. But like you mentioned already, Drew, the good thing is, guys, we have some wonderful things that can be really beneficial to turn it on its ear and really get back to good health.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. And before we even jump into the treatments, I wanted to mention, there is actually a condition, it's called TAFLD. And this is toxicant-associated fatty liver disease. I heard about it at a conference, I looked it up, it's for real.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Nice.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And this is documented fatty liver from toxicant exposure, like some of those toxicants that we were talking about previously. And this is crazy because we're talking about PCB here. We're talking about polychlorinated bisphenol. This is a compound that was banned in 1977, but yet it's still showing up in our bodies and in our livers.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Wow. Wow.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: We also know that fungicides and herbicides, they can have an effect on this toxicant fatty liver. And there's also a compound called PFAS, which is perfluoroalkylated substances. These are surfactants used in industry and such.
Oh my gosh, for years we're dealing with more of the obesity and blood sugar issues that may have led up to this, poor diet. We're also just dealing with this overall toxicity that we talked about. And boy, this is rough.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah, it is super rough, and the reason why that...as you're talking about some of those things, Drew, you're getting back to the liver because when all of those are there, we're also getting a bunch of inflammation. And when you're getting all this inflammation, once again, the liver is important to help to create cholesterol, because cholesterol is not all bad. It lines all of our cells. So cholesterol, when it's appropriate, it's great.
But you talk about those things that we're learning even more in an environment, and it makes even more sense of how you're getting deposition of fat or the cholesterol, and how it's going backwards.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Can you just say one more time for our audience, this is coming from an internist, everyone, your stance on cholesterol and how it's not always bad?
Dr. Ken Redcross: Oh yeah, everyone. Yeah, and I'll say this again, cholesterol is not always bad. Remember, your cells...you all remember cells in class, it's like this nice rectangle. It's all got a cholesterol border. So all cholesterol is 100% not bad. It's just when it's out of whack and we need to realign it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: That's awesome. Thank you for clarifying that. Now, one more toxicant I wanted to mention, and this is sort of like the elephant in the room, it's really alcohol.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Alcohol, as we know, is not good for the liver. Even though it's this socially acceptable substance that most of us drink. I've turned people onto this podcast, I think it was the Huberman podcast, where he talked about all the studies on alcohol, and even low doses of alcohol are not good for us.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, I agree with you. I agree.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It just puts more burden on the liver. And so that's why we've come up with this term of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease because we're not dealing with alcohol. Yes, people can certainly develop fatty liver from alcohol consumption, but we're dealing with a subset of people that are not drinking alcohol, related to alcohol, that is developing into fatty liver. So I just wanted to mention that.
Dr. Ken Redcross: No, you're right. And I'm glad you mentioned that, because it gets back to when I mentioned that the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The reason why it's important to get in to your doctor, especially if you have some of those risk factors that we talked about, is that it needs to be managed and dealt with, because just like alcoholic hepatitis, it can lead to the same outcome — cirrhosis, which is a much bigger issue and a bigger challenge. So it needs to be taken seriously now, especially.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly. So we talked about all these toxicants. Try to minimize your exposure, eat organic foods, use a water filter. Air purifier even, we didn't talk about that, but just making sure your air that your breathing is clean.
Dr. Ken Redcross: True, true.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So once we've kind of checked off that box, what are the next steps that you think about in terms of reducing, reversing, or stabilizing fatty liver in someone? What do you think about?
Dr. Ken Redcross: Well, the bigger one is the one that we talk about so much now. I know it gets older for everyone, but it gets back once again to being at that weight that our body wants to be in, to making sure that we're not overweight or we're not at the level of what they would say is obesity.
And once again, we're very fortunate and blessed, Drew, there's things we can do about that that we can control. But that's where it always begins for me. And if my patient isn't particularly overweight or obese, then it gets me really into that toxin sort of thing, and doing a little bit more of an occupational, slash, home assessment as to what sort of things do you have going on there.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And when you think about losing weight, I mean, obviously people ask the question, "Well, what do I do? What do I follow for a diet? What do I eat?" What do you typically suggest as options for people for weight loss?
Dr. Ken Redcross: All right, so I usually like to...I kind of have this 60/20/40 rule that I try to do with each meal, and with each of my meals, everyone. So it's 60 grams of carbs, 40 grams of protein, and 20 grams of fat. Number one, that reminds me of the importance of balance. And each one of those are healthy. In other words, the healthy fats I'm talking about can be nuts, it can be nut butters, it can be olive oil. It's not a Twinkie or a Ho Ho or something like that. It's important to make sure that there needs to be balance in that whenever I talk about that.
And I also try to be careful not to turn everyone off with as far as diet. I don't even like the word “diet” all the time, I just call it more of a food plan, into making sure that we're getting a lot of those things that we don't necessarily get in our diets here in the Western world. We need more nuts, we need more seeds. Things that you're like, "Where do I even get...that's never even an option for us,” but it's following pretty much that Mediterranean diet. A lot less red meat, a lot more fish, a lot more lean meats, if you're going to do that. Things that we know, it's proven already to show the longevity that you get with that when we eat the way we're supposed to when we were cave people, is the way that they ate.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: And I think people will see on social media and read about ketogenic diet and that may lead to weight loss. What are your thoughts on that and fatty liver?
Dr. Ken Redcross: All right, guys. I don't know if I'll lose any friends here, but I hope not. I'll be your friend no matter what.
All right, that's not my go-to. Like I said, everyone, for me it's that 60/40/20. And it's because when I have someone who comes in that has their blood sugar or diabetic or what have you, I can talk about 60 grams of carbs and what that looks like. For me it's a half cup of beans and a cup of white rice. I'm sorry, not white rice, yellow rice or wild rice sort of thing.
So once again, you can get that balance there, not necessarily get those high sugar spikes. That 40 grams of protein can be five ounces of salmon. So it allows me to arrange my plate all around, without something that's one of these diets that, once again, too much of one thing usually isn't good for us at all.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, I'm in total agreement with you around the keto meal plan, as we'll call it.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah, yeah, there you go.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, I would not suggest that for those that have fatty liver, because it could be more damaging even with all the fat intake.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Absolutely, absolutely. Getting back to inflammation as well, which you get a lot with too much red meat, to be quite honest. I usually tell patients, if you're going to do red meat, I try to hold them to two to three times a month. I really do, try to get them to ascribe to that and see what the benefits can be.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. I mean, while we're on this topic of diet, I just wanted to say to our listeners, you're going to hear all this stuff around diets like paleo diet, Mediterranean diet, carnivore diet, low salicylate diet, oxalate diet, vegan diet, the list goes on and on. You got to go with what feels right for yourself. Because you can hear both sides of every diet and say, "Oh, this is really good for you. This might be bad for you."
And it's changing all the time, too. I mean, I remember when carnivore diet came out four or five years ago, I thought it was the most insane thing ever. And the more I even learn about it, I think it's crazier. But people get onto that, and yes, I have had patients do the carnivore diet and their GI symptoms have cleared up. Sure, you can do that perhaps temporarily, but not as a long-term solution.
Dr. Ken Redcross: No.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Just like you don't want to be on keto long-term. So I love what you're talking about, this ratio thing, because I feel like it gives people an understanding of what real foods they should be eating, while not necessarily sticking to a dietary plan or diet.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Right, right. Because when I talk about my 60/40/20, Drew, it could be...you can intermingle whatever you want in there. I just like that ratio because you still can swap and put in things that work for you. But the thing is, everything in there is healthy, at the 20 to 40 or the 60, so that way...and it ends up happening that patients lose...
And so when you talk about fatty liver, you want to have patients, or a lot of the studies have mentioned, trying to lose up to 7% of the body weight. 5 to 7%, 10 is ideal if you can. But my point is, it gives you a number to shoot for. And I tend to find that the calories in that point are restricted when I can give some ratios, because they look at their labels, they realize like, "Oh, I'm spilling, up 80 grams carbs now for what doc said. Let me come back down." So it becomes kind of some fun, so that it doesn't have to be so hard, and it becomes doable. To your point, like you said, it has to work for you, and your diet and your lifestyle and that sort of thing.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: So we talked about diet, let's briefly mention fasting, and then also exercise. I want to get your take on those two things for fatty liver.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah. Look, when you're talking about exercise, we've talked about exercise, and in the past, we all know the exercise is important to make sure that the blood sugar is going to be well controlled, as well. It's a little bit of the same for cholesterol because they're so intertwined with one another. We know that when the blood sugar is in the right range, that the kind of ratio of the lipids improve. The HDL goes up, everyone.
I always talk about cholesterol, the good, the bad, and the ugly. So the good cholesterol we know is that HDL. So think about your blood vessel, we're looking through it, everyone, and it's nice and slippery, so therefore we can't have any blockages, that's the HDL. We know that the bad is the triglycerides. Those are things that we control by what we put at the table.
And the ugly is that horrible looking LDL. And that's what we really try to get away from, as well. And so as I think about it and talk about those things, that's the way I think about that, Drew, at least directly for that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, I'm happy you mentioned triglycerides because that is one marker that people can get on their lipid panel, and we tend to see that elevated with fatty liver.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Absolutely.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It might be in the 200 range or something like that. Tell our listeners about what increases triglycerides in the body.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Well, the main thing we know is that it's what we're taking as far as in our diet, and once again, and how it's being processed, and that famous liver that we're all talking about. It's also something you see in the metabolic syndrome, Drew, which you talk a lot about.
In particular, everyone, triglycerides are a really, really big issue and they're taking on a renewed discussion. We know LDL is bad, but we're recognizing that triglycerides may have been slipping under the radar a bit of their importance, as well. And that's like hot off the presses.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, exactly. That's a good point, that's a good point.
So what do you think about in terms of other measures that we can do to support fatty liver, like other liver nutrients for example, or vitamins or minerals, or different compounds that you think of for liver support?
Dr. Ken Redcross: All right. Now this is an interesting one, guys, because...so some of the patients I've had have, whether they've had hepatitis C in the past or other liver disorders, they live by a couple of things. They talk a lot about milk thistle. And it's interesting when I look at milk thistle and, Drew, you can let me know what your thoughts are on this, as well, because with milk thistle, I've seen my patients who are taking it and they've gotten benefits. But yet the data is back and forth about if it's efficacious or not as efficacious, but I've seen the benefit. I think lots of times it gets back to the source, too, of where they're getting it and that sort of thing. But that tends to be a unique one that people have mentioned before.
I've had other people who are already on berberine for the benefits of the blood sugar support and now the cholesterol piece. And if I think about that, that makes sense because I know it's helping with their cholesterol panel, so therefore I'm eliminating some of it that way.
And then I always mention a lot of vitamin D, which is once again, kind of the basis for a lot of my supplementation that I talk about, in addition to diet and exercise.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, the milk thistle piece, like you mentioned, we know that milk thistle can be liver regenerative, there's lots of studies on that. But you're right, I mean, in terms of reversing fatty liver per se, I mean, I don't think we really have any concrete evidence there.
But I will say that if we combine it with other things that we've just talked about, maybe it's berberine, maybe it's some herbs like artichoke or burdock root. There's a compound called 4-Liver, which is really this combination of two Ayurvedic adaptogens. I feel like you can make some headway, you can make a little change here if you use more of a combination formula and use multiple compounds to help support fatty liver. There's also alpha-lipoic acid, NAC is really good for supporting the liver.
Dr. Ken Redcross: True, true.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: In fact, people should know this, too. If you ever have any sort of poisoning in the hospital, if you're there in the hospital, you have poisoning, they sometimes use NAC as a way to support the liver and getting it functioning better and boosting glutathione levels. This is an antioxidant that you and I haven't even mentioned today. Oh my gosh.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yep, yeah. I know. How did that happen?
Dr. Drew Sinatra: But NAC is a really good compound for the liver, as well. So, gosh, there's just so much that you can do out there in terms of taking certain supplements to help support liver function, as well.
Dr. Ken Redcross: No, and I like that you mentioned NAC. And you're right, Drew, I remember, we had a patient that came in…in New York we see a lot of different disease states, and we had a patient that came in and fulminant liver failure. In other words, everyone, really bad liver failure.
And the point is, NAC was a therapy, was a mainstay of therapy. And it's funny, Drew, because this is before my education on the holistic side of healing actually came around. So it's great to see these things married into Western medicine to show the benefits that we can get with some of these things that now we have access to.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah, and like you said, I mean, you may have not had the training, but you saw it clinically where a patient experienced this or that effect. And I think that's just amazing that our patients teach us.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Yeah, totally do, every day.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Right. I wanted to mention this 4-Liver product again.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Oh, yeah.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It's this combination, it's got two Ayurvedic adaptogenic herbs in it. There's a lot of clinical research on this particular formula. It's been shown to decrease some liver enzyme, so ALT and AST. It clinically reduced alk phos, also GGT, which is another liver enzyme. It has a favorable effect on lipid profile, as well. And it's been shown to actually reduce the fatty acid index. So it's got all these great things that are helping support it in terms of fatty liver. And additionally, this combination formula also helps support digestive health, as well. People reported having less digestive complaints while taking it.
So is there anything else that you want to add about the liver, fatty liver, anything that we've been chatting about today? Anything else that you think is really important for our listeners?
Dr. Ken Redcross: Look, everyone, I think the main thing is, Drew, you and I, Dr. Drew, we joked a little bit about the liver being a forgotten organ, but it really is. It's a way to really stay healthy. And we talked about some simple things that you can control to make it healthy as well, along with some other support, whether it's 4-Liver or artichoke or berberine and that sort of thing. A lot of things that you can add to your regimen to keep your liver healthy.
I think if anything, I'd leave with everyone, it's just to recognize that it's kind of… to stand up and start to also focus a little bit more on liver health than maybe you were thinking before we talked today.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Yeah. Because if you do or if you are suffering with fatty liver, know that you can reverse it. It is possible to reverse this condition. You just got to really be motivated to make some changes in your life in terms of diet and movement, exercise, reducing toxicant exposure, maybe some supplements. You got to be really on board, but you can certainly do that. And then that's going to prevent any, or at least reduce the chances, of developing fibrosis, cirrhosis…
Dr. Ken Redcross: That's right.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: ...or at the very end will be liver cancer, of course.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Exactly. And it's very, very well said, Drew, because there's not a lot in medicine, everyone, that we can say that looking right there at that person in the mirror, you can reverse it.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Exactly.
Dr. Ken Redcross: And so, I'm glad that you mentioned that.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Well, Ken, thank you so much for coming on. I mean, I just feel like you and I, we always talk about some great topics here.
Dr. Ken Redcross: We do, we do.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: It's just terrific.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Well, look, thank you for having me on and please, everyone, stay well and give your liver a break.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: Give your liver some love.
Dr. Ken Redcross: There you go. I like that better. Give your liver some love.
Dr. Drew Sinatra: All right, talk to you soon, everyone.
Dr. Ken Redcross: Take care. Be well.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to this special presentation of Be HEALTHistic, presented by Healthy Directions. If you enjoyed this episode, don't forget to like, comment and share wherever you listen or watch. To subscribe to our podcast or to listen to past episodes, visit our website at BeHealthisticPodcast.com. See you next time.
Don't Miss Out!
Advice from our doctors plus valuable savings, sent right to your inbox! Plus, 20% off and free shipping on your next order!
Meet Dr. Drew Sinatra
Dr. Drew Sinatra is a board-certified naturopathic doctor and self-described “health detective” with a passion for promoting natural healing, wellness, and improving quality of life by addressing the root cause of illness in patients of all ages. His vibrant practice focuses on treating the whole person (mind, body, and spirit) and finding missed connections between symptoms and health issues that are often overlooked by conventional medicine.
Meet Dr. Ken Redcross
Board-certified internist and best-selling author, Dr. Ken Redcross helps patients achieve remarkable health outcomes by addressing overlooked metabolic imbalances and nutrient deficiencies.