Fatty liver depletes your body of collagen

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Fatty liver causes inflammation and damage to liver cells. When liver cells are inflamed, they release enzymes that cause the break down and destruction of collagen inside your body. This can speed up the rate of ageing. It can also cause you to lose collagen from your joints, leading to stiffness, aches and pains, and eventual osteoarthritis. Taking collagen powders, drinking bone broth and ensuring adequate protein intake is important, but for best results it’s important to reverse a fatty liver.

Your liver is responsible for more jobs in your body than any other organ. That’s why having an unhealthy liver can manifest as so many varied symptoms. Because your liver is so important, it has the ability to repair and regenerate itself. If three quarters of your liver was cut out, the rest can grow back, as long as it was healthy to begin with. Your liver can only take so much insult though; with repeated injury it can eventually form scar tissue (cirrhosis).

In a normal, healthy liver, matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are responsible for regenerating and repairing liver cells that may have become injured while detoxing your body and carrying out their regular functions. A fatty or inflamed liver attempts to regenerate itself more rapidly, thus production of MMPs increases. Your liver is trying to help you out, but having too many MMPs in your body isn’t good. MMPs don’t just stay in your liver. They enter systemic circulation and every part of your body they reach can suffer with consequences. When produced in excess, MMPs lead to tissue breakdown and degeneration. MMPs are responsible for the turnover and breakdown of matrix proteins, including collagen, gelatin, elastin and fibronectin. If your connective tissue breaks down too quickly, you can suffer with pain and stiffness.

A recent study showed that a 10 percent weight loss led to a 50 percent reduction in pain in obese adults with knee osteoarthritis. This is because their liver no longer produced as high levels of MMPs, thus cartilage destruction in their knees was reduced. The good news is, if you have a fatty liver and you’re overweight, the first place you lose weight is from your liver. So only a small degree of weight loss can give you significant pain relief from arthritis. Many people think joint pain is caused by the physical load of carrying excess body weight. It is true that placing a heavy load on the joints of your hips, legs and feet can eventually lead to pain. However, weight loss will also help reduce joint pain from the upper body such as the neck, shoulders, hands and arms.

Type 2 diabetics are more likely to suffer with tendinopathy. Almost all type 2 diabetics have a fatty liver. Examples of tendinopathy include Achilles tendon and frozen shoulder issues. These conditions can be triggered by an injury, but having high levels of MMPs in your bloodstream means your body may not be able to heal the damaged tendons, thus the condition becomes chronic. A complicating factor in people with elevated blood sugar is the production of advanced glycation end-products. Sugar binds with proteins in the body, such as collagen in the tendons, damaging them and impairing proper function. Sugar also binds to collagen and elastin in our skin, speeding up the rate of sagging. You can find out how much glycation is happening in your body by having a blood test called HbA1c. This measures how much glucose has stuck to the proteins in your red blood cells. Your red blood cells live for approximately 120 days, so the test gives us a good average. Advanced glycation end-products stiffen the collagen in your body. That means your body can feel stiff and achy.

How to save your collagen and protect your joints

As we get older, it is important to keep levels of visceral fat low. Visceral fat is the fat around the torso. This type of fat gets into and around important organs, including the liver. It is easiest to lose fat from your liver and keep your blood sugar level in the healthy range with a low carbohydrate diet. See our books Fatty Liver: You Can Reverse It and Diabetes Type 2: You Can Reverse It Naturally for help.

Make sure your body has sufficient building blocks for collagen production by consuming adequate protein and gelatin-rich foods. Examples include beef cheeks, bone broth, chicken soup made using an entire chicken, osso bucco or oxtail stew.

Ensure you are getting enough of the nutrients you need in order to manufacture collagen. Eating collagen rich foods like the ones mentioned above is great, but you’ll digest them and break them down into their component amino acids. In order to create collagen and elastin in your body, you need vitamin C, zinc, biotin and sufficient sulfur. These nutrients are found in Collagen Food powder.

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