The fruit that could protect against alcohol-induced liver disease

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According to research, the antioxidant naringin may protect against alcohol-induced liver steatosis by reducing oxidative stress, says a team from the School of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The NHS clarifies that steatosis is the term to describe a “build-up of fat in the liver cells”. While this is the first stage of fatty liver disease, eating grapefruit, which contains naringin, could “improve resistance to oxidative stress and inflammation”.

The researchers noted in 2019: “Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) is a leading health risk worldwide.”

For the study, the team bred “transgenic zebrafish” with a “liver-specific eGFP expression”.

The zebrafish were exposed to two percent ethanol (pure alcohol) for 32 hours to “establish an ALD model”.

To establish the effect, the team studied what “morphological changes in liver shape” took place, any histological changes, and oxidative stress-related free radical levels.

Treatment with naringin was shown to reduce alcoholic hepatic steatosis, which was “dose dependent”.

They concluded: “This finding suggested that naringin may inhibit alcoholic-induced liver steatosis and injury by attenuating lipid accumulation and reducing oxidative stress and apoptosis.”

Such research has limitations as zebrafish, and not humans, were looked at.

The Hepatitis Foundation of New Zealand pointed out that citrus fruits, such as grapefruit, “stimulate the liver”.

Citrus fruits are said to turn “toxic materials into substances that can be absorbed by water”.

The organisation added: “Grapefruit is especially good as it contains naringin and naringenin, which are antioxidants that reduce inflammation to protect the liver from injury.

“Grapefruit can, however, interact with some medications, so it’s recommended you talk to your doctor if you have concerns.”

While adding grapefruit to your diet could be helpful in protecting the liver, continued alcohol consumption could lead to further disease.

Alcohol-related liver disease “is common in the UK”, the NHS points out.

And while the liver can generate new cells, prolonged alcohol misuse over many years can reduce its healing ability.

“This can result in serious and permanent damage to your liver,” the national health service adds.

Only when the liver has been “severely damaged” would symptoms of the condition appear.

When this happens, symptoms could include:

  • Feeling sick
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellowing of the whites of the eyes or skin (jaundice)
  • Swelling in the ankles and tummy
  • Confusion or drowsiness
  • Vomiting blood or passing blood in your stools.

There is no treatment for alcohol-related fatty liver disease, aside from abstinence from alcohol.

“If a person is dependent on alcohol, stopping drinking can be very difficult,” the NHS says.

Alcohol addiction support services can be found on NHS Services.

The research study was published in the National Library of Medicine.

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