Uncle Ben is your friend, vitamin makers not so much

When your liver isn't healthy a lot of bad things happen to other organs.  Just one example is that your digestive system doesn't work well and as the liver loses function ammonia can cause mental problems. When you get hepatic encephalopathy, HE, the treatment is lactulose which is an indigestible sugar.  Its main purpose is to provide a source of food for bacteria in the colon.  If you can grow a good crop they will make the colon acidic which traps the ammonia in an insoluble form so it is taken out of your bloodstream. Few people like lactulose and the side effect of lots of diarrhea doesn't make many fans so is there any way to help that isn't hard to take?


Maybe a bit of chemistry might help.  If you cook a starch like rice or potato in water then cool it and let it sit overnight part of it turns to what is called resistant starch because it isn't digestible by the enzymes in the small bowel.  The starch molecule combines with the water to form a type of crystal that is tougher than the original starch.  The good news is that it is usable by the colon bacteria as food in much the same way that lactulose is. It doesn't mean you can just eat rice and give up lactulose but it may allow you to use a lower dose and if you don't yet have HE a little rice may help you keep it that way.

So why Uncle Ben's.  Hardly anyone knows it but Uncle Ben's converted rice is preprocessed to be a resistant starch and is healthier than the ordinary rice you see.  You can read about it here if you wish wikipedia.org/wiki/Parboiled_rice.

So Uncle Ben is your friend if you have or fear HE.

That's the good news.  Now some disturbing info from the recent Liver Meeting of the AASLD.  A study was done taking 200 generally available supplements from a health food store and testing them to see if they actually had what the label said.  It turned out that 69% couldn't be shown to have the ingredients, or the amounts, claimed on the label and some of the material was toxic to the liver.  You aren't going to get specific names or brands because that just sets off a storm of lawsuits but the work was done by real researchers in real labs.  Make of it what you will, but understand that there are makers of dietary supplements who don't care at all if you die so long as you buy their stuff.  I don't intend to suggest that they are all dishonest parasites but don't think for a minute that just because it has an impressive label you are getting what it claims.

Your best defense against liver disease is a good diet.  If you want to know more about that you might start with this link.
Compare Diets and other helpful information.

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