What to do for Fatty Liver
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a type of liver disease affecting people who drink little to no alcohol. As the name implies, the main characteristics of NAFLD is too much fat stored in liver cells. According to Liver.ca, Fatty Liver is the most common liver disease in Canada affecting about 20% or over 7 million Canadians.
Why is this problem getting so widespread ? You may be wondering whether it is because we eat too much greasy fast food or because we are a society dependent on Acetaminophen (Tylenol) – the leading cause of acute liver failure – for silencing the chronic pains we are experiencing?
I think you are reading this article because you care about where we are heading as well. If you are wondering what changes you can make in your diet and lifestyle to prevent a fatty liver diagnosis, I have some note worthy points that I want to share.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been brought to my attention a couple of times since I started working as a holistic nutritionist focusing on digestion. In fact, my mom was one of the cases that I decided to do extensive research for. She was not diagnosed with fatty liver disease right away but the numbers on her blood tests and her symptoms showed she was on the borderline. If she did not make some lifestyle and diet changes, her liver would have been in trouble.
Her blood analysis and the four main liver enzymes (ALT, AST, GGTP and ALP) all appeared to be in the normal range, while she was gaining weight specifically around her waist line. She had trouble digesting greasy food, and often complained from having a very dry skin, hair loss and fatigue. It was time to take control of some habits and prevent things from getting more complicated than they were.
How Can I protect My Liver?
The good news is that your liver can regenerate itself and bounce back to its healthy & normal state if it is not too late yet obviously it takes time. Your goal must be to reduce inflammation in any way possible to protect your liver.
Kick starting a new exercise routine or being more active can seem challenging if you’re overweight. However, trust me when I say it’s worth the sweat. Physical activity will support your liver and improve your mood. You will start to notice a change in the way you feel about yourself by getting active even if its for 20 minutes every other day. Have in mind that you should make sure you keep it consistent to reap the benefits.
We all know regular exercise increases fat oxidation. In a 4-week study, obese individuals who trained for 30-60 minutes, five days per day, saw an impressive 10% loss in liver fat even though their weight remained unchanged. When you focus on being consistent with movement, weight loss will be a bonus that is manifested automatically.
Always start off exercising gradually. You can begin with 20 to 30 minutes of low-intensity activity each day, and then gently increase the intensity and length of your workout sessions. Always choose a workout you enjoy! and remember, the fact that you’re exercising is much more important than the type of activity. Also give yourself credit for sticking to a new exercise regimen because it’s a huge achievement.
Reduce Consumption of Sugary foods
Dietary Sugars such as Fructose and Sucrose play a huge role in development of insulin resistance and fatty liver. Major culprits include store-bought and commercially processed foods, such as:
baked goods, like cakes, cookies, doughnuts, pastries, and pies, candy, ice cream, cereals, soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened dairy products, like flavored yogurts ( yes…! there’s sometimes added sugar in our dairy too )
To identify whether a packaged food contains added sugar, read the ingredients list on the product packaging. Words that end in “ose,” including sucrose, fructose, and maltose, are sugars. Other sugars commonly added to food products include:
Cane sugar, high-fructose corn syrup, corn sweetener, fruit juice concentrate, honey, molasse, syrup
Another way to tell how much sugar is in a food item is to read the nutrition facts label and to look at the number of grams of sugar that are in a serving for that item — the lower, the better.
Take Steps to Keep your Triglyceride and Cholesterol Levels Under Control
Try to limit your intake of trans fats to help control your cholesterol and prevent NAFLD. They are often found in processed baked goods, crackers, and fried foods.
Those who frequently consume fast food tend to have higher cholesterol and triglyceride, more belly fat, higher levels of inflammation, and impaired blood sugar regulation.
When you actively reduce your consumption of processed food and cook more meals at home you will automatically notice lower body weight and less body fat specially around your waist. This new habit will help you reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering your high LDL cholesterol levels.
It’s best to avoid foods, such as fast foods, processed meats, fried foods and sugary desserts to keep your cholesterol levels balanced.
In addition, I highly encourage everyone to increase their consumption of produce. Research shows that people who consume more high fiber fruits and vegetables have lower LDL cholesterol levels and are less likely to develop heart disease than those who eat less.
After one year of implementing these changes in her routine and her diet, my mom is now off her cholesterol medications completely. Your goal must be to reduce inflammation and insulin resistance to help protect your liver. In a sedentary lifestyle, the body cannot burn glucose (sugar) and the sugars are converted and stored as fat. You help burn the sugars and ideally more fat off your liver (fat oxidation) by getting active and modifying your eating habits. The ideal state is when your body taps into fat as a source of energy. You can learn more about this, here.
Links to other Liver & Holistic Lifestyle articles.