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New in the Battle Against Fatty Liver Disease

According to a new study published in the journal Science Signaling, a natural sugar called trehalose may help people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects approximately a quarter of the population in the United States; it is linked to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Drug-based therapy is not available for the condition; treatment is centered on weight loss and insulin therapy. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is indicated when the liver contains 5-10% or more fat. It can  cause swollen liver, liver cancer and liver failure. It is believed to develop when the liver works to process dietary sugar and fructose --- particularly those found in  high-fructose sugars in soft drinks and processed food. Unlike artificial sugars, trehalose is a natural sugar found in plants and insects which is approved by the FDA for human consumption. Doctors from St. Louis Children's Hospital in Missouri found that the mice that develop fatty livers in response to a high-fructose diet have a protein on the surface of their liver cells -- the protein is named GLUT8. Researchers directed their efforts at blocking the GLUT8. They decided to test trehalose. For the study, they fed mice a combination of ahigh-fructose diet and drinking water that contained 3% trehalose. The results? Trehalose completely blocked the development of a fatty liver. Additionally, the mice had a lower body weight while and cholesterol levels, fatty acids and triglycerides were all reduced! Mushrooms, particularly shiitake, maitake and Judas ear, are great sources of trehalose. Mushrooms contain 1% to 17% percent of trehalose in dry weight form. Trehalose is also being researched for its protective properties against neuro-degenerative diseases.

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