Research finds cholesterol damages the liver in a new way
While it is not a newsflash that too much cholesterol is bad for our health, but in what ways is it actually bad for our body, especially the liver?
A recent study discovers that high fat, high cholesterol diet can in fact alter our immune system, leading to the development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a serious form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that is signified by liver inflammation and high ALT level.
Triggering changes in the immune system
The study, led by a team of researchers in Keck School of Medicine of University of Southern California, shed light on how a combination of dietary fat and cholesterol affect the behaviour of a type of white blood cell in the liver, causing the type of liver inflammation and scarring that is widely seen in patients with NASH.
It is true that our immune system is supposed to fight back against “invaders” that disrupts our internal health. But now it is clear that what we eat has a huge impact on our immunity – affluent eating habits with high cholesterol content can modify the gene expression that is associated with liver inflammation and scar tissue formation.
If that is the case, should we stay completely away from cholesterol to protect our liver health?
The liver and cholesterol – they have a complex relationship
On one hand, the liver produces and breaks down cholesterol for other cells to use; on the other, it removes the extra amount of cholesterol from the body. If the liver is not working properly, it can cause cholesterol to build up, resulting in a condition commonly known as high cholesterol.
Too much or too little causes health problems
Cholesterol is essential for the body to create hormones, vitamin D, and enzymes needed for digestion. Believe it or not, most cholesterol in the body is actually made in the liver and we require a healthy amount of it daily to be in good health.
Too much of it causes liver and heart problems, but too little can increase cancer and mental problem risks.
So how can we achieve a balance?
The best way is to have your cholesterol level and liver health monitored regularly. Keep both cholesterol readings (the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’) and ALT level within range. Once NASH develops, scarring has already occurred and it could affect the blood flow in the liver. And high cholesterol level can further obstruct the blood flow, making it more difficult for blood to circulate. When this happens over time, portal hypertension could develop and it damages both the heart and the liver, creating a dangerous cycle.
If you have experienced the problem of maintaining your ALT and cholesterol levels within range, get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and see how we can help.
- 1. American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, https://aasldpubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/hep.30401, (Accessed Date: 2019-01-10)
- 2. Keck School of Medicine of USC, https://keck.usc.edu/a-diet-high-in-fat-and-cholesterol-can-lead-to-life-threatening-liver-disease/, (Accessed Date: 2019-01-10)
- * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.