Ready or not, the holidays are here. If you're like the majority of Americans, you really enjoy all the festive foods around the holidays. Unfortunately, these holiday foods can cause a lot of health problems. The fatty foods cause your liver to produce more cholesterol. The carbohydrates raise your triglyceride levels. And all the sugar forces your liver to produce more insulin. Each of these can raise your risk of heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.
Wouldn't it be nice if there was a nutrient that can treat each of these problems, and reduce the negative effects of our holiday indulgences? Well, I've got just the nutrient - milk thistle. Milk thistle isn't just a nutrient, it's also a very popular food in Europe. They use the young leaves in salads. They eat the stalks like asparagus. And they boil the heads like artichoke.
But milk thistle is more than a food. It's a powerful medicine that people have used for over 2,000 years, most commonly for the treatment of chronic liver ailments and gallbladder disorders. Several studies from Europe show oral milk thistle works wonders for cirrhosis. In experiments up to five years long, milk thistle has improved liver function and decreased the number of deaths that occur in cirrhotic patients. If you drink a lot during the holidays, make sure you take some milk thistle to protect your liver.
But alcohol isn't the only cause of liver problems. We also know that a poor diet can wreak havoc on the organ. So the holidays are especially hard on it. The extra fat, carbohydrates, and sugars stress the liver's ability to break down the extra toxins. So now is a great time to take advantage of milk thistle's ability to cleanse your liver before you damage it.
In addition, scientists recently discovered the herbal supplement has beneficial effects on blood sugar levels, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol levels, and triglyceride levels.
In this new study, fasting glucose levels dropped by 15% when the participants took 200 mg of milk thistle three times daily. A 15% reduction in glucose levels means your body doesn't need as much insulin. And you probably know that too much insulin can cause all sorts of health problems, from peripheral neuropathy to cancer to heart disease. So this is great news, especially for diabetics.
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But that's not all the scientists found. They also discovered that blood levels of total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol dropped by 12% and triglyceride levels fell by a whopping 25%.
How can milk thistle do all this to help your liver? It's most likely due to a flavonoid complex called silymarin. Silymarin protects the liver in two ways. It strengthens the outer membranes of liver cells, which prevent toxins from penetrating. It also stimulates an enzymatic action that, in turn, increases protein synthesis. This stimulates the ability of the liver to form new cells and repair itself.
One component of silymarin reduces cholesterol in bile. And because silymarin increases bile solubility, it can help prevent or alleviate gallstones.
Many European studies have investigated the effects of silymarin on liver diseases. One Finnish study showed a significant decrease of elevated enzymes after patients took milk thistle capsules. More recently, an Italian study showed that as an antioxidant, silymarin reduced damage to liver cells caused by chronic use of some prescription drugs.
Supplement manufacturers extract silymarin from the seeds of the plant and turn it into a powerful extract. You can find this extract at most health food stores. And you can find it in Advanced Liver Support, along with several other nutrients that are beneficial to your liver. Whichever supplement you use, make sure it is standardized at 80% silymarin. The recommended average daily dose is 400 mg of silymarin, the amount contained in a daily serving of Advanced Liver Support.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.